Grandma, New York

Bright lights, big city--New York!

The main reason for heading to the East Coast was to attend Eric's grandmother's 90th birthday party.  It was a huge family gathering, everyone in the Vasilik clan attended.Here's Eric's parents, brothers, and grandmother.

We weren't the only ones taking photos...After spending Saturday and Sunday in Clifton, New Jersey, spending time with the Vasiliks, we went on to New York City on Monday.  Our hotel was great--we had a wonderful view of Central Park from the hotel window.

Monday was our ethnic neighborhood walking tour day.  We started out taking the subway to Chinatown.  This is a surreptitious subway shot--the camera we had allows you to take a picture without actually holding the camera up to your eye, by looking down at the LCD screen.Here's some street scenes in Chinatown

There were dozens of outside vendors selling fake you-name-it.  The most popular counterfeit was watches (Rolex for $30?)This woman was selling counterfeit music CDs.  I believe all of these people are illegal immigrants.

There were also people selling fake DVDs.  Eric has watched a DVD bought from one of these vendors, and apparently they're very low quality.  Notice her stand--on wheels so she can quickly move away in case the police come.Fake perfume was another hot item.

Check out the "doughnut peaches".  They were quite flat, and very sweet and tasty.  We bought a couple--luckily they didn't get crushed before we could eat them.We walked through Little Italy, which is now exclusively a tourist area, chock full of "authentic" Italian restaurants .  The next goal was a Hasidic neighborhood which was supposed to be close by according to my guidebook.  We walked around that area, but only saw a couple Hasidic Jews, not the crowds we had expected.  I asked one of the Hasidic Jews if we were in the right area...he got insulted.   Too bad I didn't get a picture of him. On our walk we walked by about a dozen restaurant equipment supply stores, selling used and new deli and restaurant machinery.

Bikes are a popular way to get around in NYC.  We saw lots of them locked up with massive chains.  I think another means of deterring thieves is having a really ratty bike, like most of them were.Sometimes chains didn't help.

More street scenes from our walk...

We took a walk to Alphabet City/Thompkin park, because I wanted to see a rougher neighborhood.  Eric surreptitiously took these pictures of a big group of young anarchist/punks that were all congregated in one area.

Here's some pictures for you dog lovers out there, especially the ones who have access to dog friendly parks like Marymoor.  This is a New York dog area... all 300 square feet of it

That night we met up with Eric's friend John and girlfriend Eva.  We went to a French restaurant.  Service was...French.  The peppered steak was great, though.Eric MADE them pose for this picture.

Tuesday we went through Central Park.  Lots of exposed rock there...This is in Central Park looking back to the area where our hotel is.

What do you know...we asked a couple to take a picture of us in Central Park, and he turned out to be a patent attorney from Seattle.We rented some bikes and toured the park that way.  There was a footrace going on in the park, the Tommy Hilfinger 4 mile race.  By the time we got there, the adult portion was over, but we were just in time for the 3 to 4 year old races.

The Marines had participated in the race as well.This is the northern end of Central Park, poking into Harlem.

And here's the big lake right in the middle of the park."Fleet week" was going on when we were in NYC, so there were lots of Navy men around, doing the touristy things just like us.  We asked these guys if we could get a picture with them, and they were quite friendly.

We went to the little pond where you can rent remote control sailboats.This is me on the Alice in Wonderland sculpture.

This lady was doing the "silent sculpture" act for money right outside of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  When I put a dollar in the bucket she stretched out her hand to me and smiled.  It was a little embarrassing.And here's the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Here's some knights in shining armor from the Met.And here's my knight next to some shining armor...

The Guggenheim Museum is famous for it's architecture. You see the paintings as you walk down a spiral, inside the building.

You weren't supposed to take pictures, but the spy feature of the digital camera came in really handy here.  We would pretend to be admiring a picture, while around waist level we would actually take a photo.

This was Eric's favorite.  We got caught taking this one by the guard, and so had to take it from a different angle which wasn't as good.

Around 2 that day, we met Eric's friend David Bau.  We walked around 5th Avenue a bit, looking into stores, which were mostly closed.Glitz capital of the world?

These are from around the Rockefeller Center.

And this is Times Square.  Very, very crowded, but I'm not sure I understood what all the crowds were there for.

There were still tons of vendors selling all kinds of counterfeit goods.  Oakley sunglasses were very popular, all sold by very dark-skinned Africans.  They had the sunglasses in large garbage bags with the sides rolled down neatly, and would pack up and move as soon as they saw police in the area.  We actually saw this happen.  The cop below was posing for us......and later walked up the street where the counterfeit goods vendors were.  They packed up immediately, but as you can see below, were selling again seconds after he left.  You can still see the cop in this picture (horseback on the street, with the light blue helmet) and the black vendor on the right side is just about to put his bag of sunglasses down again.

Eric got us tickets for the David Letterman show--we were to be part of the live studio audience!  I was psyched.  Unfortunately, there were absolutely no pictures allowed inside, and the had guards along just about every other aisle of the seats, plus along the back, so were weren't able to sneak any photos.  This will have to do.We saw one of these tiny electric cars as we were waiting in line for the Letterman show.

Wednesday we went to the Financial district...Wall Street!  After a pretty hefty wait we were inside the observation area, looking down at all the traders in the pit.Then we walked to the World Trade Center, and went up.  107 floors!  This is looking north to the Empire State building.

The goodyear blimp!This is us, looking north again

And this is the Statue of Liberty and Ellis IslandThis is me and the World Trade Center.

Then we took the Staten Island ferry--free!  You get a great view of downtown Manhattan, and the Statue of Liberty

This barge had a huge digging shovel on it, and was dredging the canal.

The Staten Island Ferry...This is a Navy or Coast Guard base next to Manhatten.