by Deb Seminary

Twenty women departed Bismarck (very early) on September 27th for the Inspired Woman New York City trip. There were mothers and daughters, cousins, friends – all excited and maybe a little apprehensive. My friend, Becky joined me for the adventure. Our connections were on time, everyone’s luggage arrived and our tour guide was waiting at the airport, just as promised. We were off to a great start.

Our hotel was just south of Times Square and once we checked in, we wasted no time in getting acquainted with the area. Bryant Park was getting set up for ‘A Taste of France’ and Rockefeller Plaza was bustling with tourists and the local lunch crowd. We walked around St. Patrick’s Cathedral – in the process of getting a facelift, but still beautiful. We shopped on 5th Avenue, peeked into FAO Schwartz, tried not to look at the Naked Cowboy and thoroughly enjoyed our first hours in the Big Apple.
Dinner reservations were at Ellen’s Stardust Diner, home of the singing waitstaff who hope to make it big on broadway someday. They entertained us between serving food and drinks, talked about some of the staff who have gone on to star in big productions and then, of course, passed the bucket so we could help pay for their acting and singing classes. We were happy to chip in, they were fabulous.

We were free to wander after dinner – some went in search of the perfect New York cheesecake, Becky and I walked up to Central Park, checked out the numerous carriages, then ducked into the Plaza Hotel and explored a bit, taking a lot of time in the Food Hall. Yum!

This trip was designed to incorporate group activities and optional guided tours so we would feel free to go off on our own. However, our tour guide, Brian, was so full of information and knowledge about the city, we hung with him almost the whole time. He lived in Manhattan for eleven years and we never would have learned so much about NYC had we not stuck with the ‘optional’ tour. Poor Brian, he never did get to go off on his own.

Day two began with some familiar sights: Madame Tussauds, the Ed Sullivan Theatre, Hello Deli, Lincoln Center and Juilliard. We then walked several blocks to find the best cookie in New York City. I think it was just nice to relax for a few moments. We did A LOT of walking!

After getting all sugared up, it was time to head to Central Park. We first passed the place where John Lennon was shot, then headed into the gorgeous green park. The weather, by the way, was perfect the whole time we were there. We saw street musicians and entertainers, many movie locations, including the Ghostbuster hotel, and lots and lots of people. Becky and I headed back to Bryant Park to check out ‘The Taste of France’. We never found anyone from France, but we did see 200 pounds of butter being transformed into the Eiffel Tower.

IMG_0709Then it was time for Broadway. We all cleaned up very well and headed to Newsies. It was a great show and we ended the evening with dinner at Carmines to celebrate Melissa and Melinda’s birthdays.

Sunday, day three, was probably my favorite day. We began with a subway ride to Wall Street, which is scary quiet on the weekend. We learned why it is called Wall Street (there really was a wall) and saw a real porterhouse. (not a steak).

Then, the highlight of the day, the 9/11 Memorial and Freedom Tower. What made it so special was Brian’s first hand account of his experience that day. He lived four blocks away from Ground Zero and had actually visited a friend in the World Trade Center that morning before he headed to work. His best friend was on Flight 93 and he is now godfather to his son. His emotional story and connections made our visit very poignant, and I will never forget it.

We had another touching experience after we left the Memorial. The Tunnel to Tower race was taking place that day. As we were leaving, and making our way to our next destination, we saw the end of the race – a very solemn parade honoring the 9/11 responders. Accompanied by bagpipes, each parade walker was carrying a large sign with the photo of a first responder who died that day. I have no words to describe what I felt as I watched.

DSC08391It was time to head to the harbor and the Statue of Liberty. The boat ride over and back offered great views of Ellis Island, the Brooklyn Bridge, Staten Island and the New York City skyline.

Did I mention we walked a lot? It was on to Chinatown, Little Italy and SoHo. And that was not the end of our day! We had a group dinner right next to the Empire State Building so we could head up to the top after dessert. Awesome.

We did not have to leave until mid-afternoon on day four, so Brian took us in a new direction. We lost a few at Macy’s, a few more at the Chelsea Market. I think everyone was realizing it was now or never to get some shopping in. We walked a bit on the High Line, then Becky and I headed back to Bryant Park for lunch, passing Madison Square Garden and Penn Station.

We got to see the shopping results and then it was time to head to the airport. On the way, Brian and I discussed where we should go next year. We decided to head to the west coast – San Francisco with a day trip to Napa Valley!

Visit Global Travel Alliance, Group Leader: Seminary / Group ID: 5338 for details and to sign up. We hope to see on the next Inspired Woman trip!