The next morning we enjoyed a good breakfast in the hotel. From eggs to bagels and lots of yummy items in-between, the Staybridge offered quite a selection. Adding to the ambience of the dining area were the background sounds of Christmas music. Plus, it’s just a little thing, but I was impressed by the bamboo fence outside the huge windows that separated the Staybridge from some apartments. Throughout the room on both mornings that we were there, there was an anticipatory feel of excitement. Everyone was upbeat and looking forward to another day in New York.

When all six of us had finally gathered, we left the hotel with tour bus tickets in hand. We purchased a two-day tour with tickets to the Empire State Building for $74 each, and we perceived that as “a deal.” I still do. The bus tours are great in that they get you around the city and give you tons of information about the sights and history of New York. Plus, you can get off and jump back on all during the day, so it’s nice to know that if you want to spend a little extra time at the South Street Seaport, then a bus will come by about every 20 minutes.  Or say, if your friends want to go to the Tenement Museum and you’re determined to walk the Brooklyn Bridge, there’s no need for concern because a bus will be by shortly. Right, Lisa?

On the way to Empire State Building, we passed a Starbucks, and a couple of the “girls” wanted some hot chocolate. While waiting for them, I spied a friend from Elgin who just happened to be walking by at that moment. How likely is that??? I darted out of the store and ran her down. She and her party united with the six of us in Starbucks for a little conversation, and before parting company, Mary took a picture of the “Southern Girls” outside of Starbucks.

Next stop, Empire State Building. Although I’d been there before, it was just as exciting this time as it was before. For anyone who wants to have the total tourist adventure, I highly recommend it. The aerial sights of the city from all angles are awesome. We loved picking out various landmarks such as Bryant Park, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Flatiron Building. We even spied some ice skaters far in the distance.

In addition, the staff there were all helpful. For instance, when we got to the area just before being allowed outside to view the city, I realized that I didn’t have my new Macy’s hat or my gloves. I shared my plight with one of the attendants who called security downstairs to check on my items, and sure enough, the hat and gloves had been put aside for me. After a few calls between security personnel, Jeanita and I were allowed to go back downstairs to retrieve the items and then reclaim our places in line.

Leaving midtown, we continued the educational bus tour until we arrived in Chinatown. Hopping off, we were immediately immersed in a different culture. Loved that! We kept on walking until we got to Mulberry Street in Little Italy. Mary remembered a restaurant, Angelo’s, where she had dined before, and we decided to eat there.  It was marvelous. White tablecloths, candlelight, Christmas decorations, and Italian music added to the delightful ambience of the restaurant, and the food was delicious too. Dining and conversing with special friends as dusk fell was a treat I’ll always remember.

Dinner complete, we headed back to the bus. On the way, we stopped for some souvenirs, mainly scarves and t-shirts. Amazingly, no one in our group wanted purses. Because of our leisurely dinner, souvenir shopping, and bus tour, we made it back to our rooms with barely time enough to change for our evening at the theatre. Two of our group went to see Wicked, and I went with the three others to see A Little Night Music. I can’t speak for the others in my group, but I LOVED it. The music, the acting, the plot, and the set were superb, and the theatre itself was beautiful.

By the time we left the theatre, we were a bit weary and decided to go back to the hotel rather than dine so late at night, especially since we knew that tomorrow would be busy, busy, busy as we tried to pack as much into our last day as possible. We simply went back to the Staybridge and had some late night conversation before settling down for a long winter’s nap.

I hope someone out there (Connie?) is enjoying this travelogue. I’ll finish it tomorrow.

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