Friday, April 26, 2013

Magnolia Bakery Cupcakes and Central Park


After a lovely meal of empanadas and pork dumplings from stationary food trucks in Times Square, I knew where my next destination would take me.

I walked by this neat pass-through to another street, however, and loved how it looked!


But my treat for today was a cupcake at the famous Magnolia Bakery.

Last time that I was in NYC, I didn’t own a smartphone. May I just say that it is a rather nice thing to have in this city? I walked straight to this place! And didn’t hardly get lost, yo!

In fact, that trip last fall was what helped me to decide to finally join the smartphone wagon. I wasted so much time trying to find things that I wanted to see!


Anyway, where was I?

Oh yeah. Cupcakes. At the famous Magnolia Bakery in Manhattan.

As you can see, I wasn’t the only one with a craving for portable cake this fine afternoon.


And I tried to order a slice from each of these decadent cakes before I remembered my true reason for being here.

A small portion of cake wouldn’t totally bust my healthy goals.

A slice of cake from eleven cakes may have thrown me a little off.


Now we’re talking. And they had almost as many worker bees behind the glass as patrons in the store! This place was busy!

Oooo, doesn’t the vanilla-with-chocolate-frosted cupcake look divine?

I’m hungry…


I got my personal favorite…the Red Velvet. When in doubt, go Red Velvet.

I have that tattoo.

It was just…OK. The frosting tasted more like marshmallow crème. It was kind of a weird taste and texture.

I’ll just say this: my cupcakes are better.

Sorry, Magnolia.


After my tummy had a sweet treat, I knew that I had lots of walking to do to burn it all off! So I headed north once again towards one of my favorite spots in the city!

First, I passed this headless woman and felt sorry for her.

And look at the size of that Hilton! Can you imagine how expensive it is to take up so much horizontal real estate in Manhattan?!

Build up, guys! Build up!


The Warwick Hotel! Actually, it is surprisingly affordable. For just $250 a night, you can stay here in Manhattan in a cool, old, original, probably-haunted hotel.


Looks like NYC has a little Philly envy since they’re trying to steal the same sculptures.

Poor Philly. Always number two.


But enough walking! Let’s get to the main event for today!


Any guesses? Or did the giant title of this post already give it away?


You’ll certainly know after seeing this horse-drawn carriage.

Once again, I’m freaking out NYC horses.

It’s a skill, what can I say?


With calories from marshmallow frosting to burn, I climbed this mountain anthill to get a better view. That little hut up there kind of reminds me of The Hobbit, for some reason!


This is probably my favorite picture from the entire day.

Can you see why?

It captured the real NYC by having a homeless person in the shot!

You can’t plan these things, people!

Well, you probably could. But that would be mean. This just happened.


From my tall vantage point, I took a gander around the beautiful Central Park. For some reason, I’ve never really gone inside this place before. I’ve always just walked by and waved like a creepy person.


I sat on this wooden bench to warm up…until I realized that this bench wouldn’t help my cold bum in any way. But it was a nice view!


I chit-chatted with this little guy for a few hours before he hastily ran away.

That fur coat looks like a good idea. I’ll have to remember that next time!


I came down from my mountain and even had a few stairs carved out of the rock to guide me along.

I think they gave up a little too quickly, don’t you?

Come on, guys. Only two stairs? You could do better than that.


This was an unexpected treasure today! I always hear of (and watch movies showing it really does exist) of ice skating in Central Park, but I got to witness it for myself today!

It was just a lot of kids taking lessons. Not very many romantic couples poorly skating, like I would have thought.


But these teenagers perched on a rock to watch the skaters was funny to me. Aren’t these random, huge boulders so cool?


You could get a nice workout with the inclines and declines found all throughout this place.

I love the old bridges and lamp posts.


Three lamp posts in a row! Sheesh!

I guess that I should move on?


It was mid-March when I was enjoying my lovely day in Manhattan, so there wasn’t much snow (but there had been the week before and was again just a few days after we left. Phew!). Every once in a while, some green grass came peeking through the brown stuff on the ground.

I can’t even imagine how pretty this would be with all of the leaves in!


This is called The Dairy, and that’s all I know about it. Except that it looks like something straight out of Fantasyland in Disneyland.

Don’t you think so, Mama? Is that the wicked queen peeking out the window up top?


Hello, little horse-drawn carriage! He looks a little down to me.

Someone, give that horse a carrot!

They like apples, too.


It just boggles the mind to think of all the drug deals that have taken place in this tunnel. Can you even imagine?


I sat like a creeper (I borrowed your word, Randi!), and watched this old-school carousel in action. It played modern music using old carny instruments. It was fun to listen to for a few minutes.

I was also on another bench. When walking for miles each day, proper resting is necessary.

I wasn’t tired yet, but, hey, free creepy music.


This guy just warmed my heart.

He was so proud of his poodles. And anyone who even looked their way was graced by his sweet conversation about them. He stopped to talk to dozens of people as I watched, and that was just in the fifty feet in front of me.

It’s probably the highlight of his day. Bless his heart. I thought that it was cute.


I had no idea that there were so many baseball diamonds located in Central Park. Wouldn’t it be fun to watch a Little League game from here with those gorgeous buildings rising behind?

Right behind the Essex House is a new high-rise building for residential living. What a view of the Park! I bet it’s a little steep in pricing, too.

Oh well. A girl can dream, right?


My final view of looking back over Central Park before I headed west.

This whole area is magical.


Just across the street from Central Park to the west was this gorgeous church. I literally caught my breath when I looked up to see it.

Or maybe I was just out of breath from all that cake?


Either way, it was fun to admire this old church. I love ancient buildings like this.


How ancient? Well, just look at the timeframe to complete it!

Who on earth has the patience to build a church for thirty-four years? It is so admirable of them!

So there you have it! Something for my sweet tooth, and then a lovely walk through the Park.


More NYC coming all next week. I tend to take way too many pictures of places that I love. And I’m only sharing a third of them, if you can imagine that!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Times Square, I Heart You


After a few crummy weather days in my hotel, it was finally warm (enough) and sunny. I could hardly wait to get into the city to wander around aimlessly!

My day began by taking the hotel shuttle to the New Jersey Transit bus stop. After paying $4.25, this giant tour bus took me all the way to the Port Authority Bus Station in Times Square!

Butterflies in my stomach, folks. I love this city.


Once I was off the bus, I walked through the Port Authority to get to Times Square.

As you can see, even the locals thought that it was cold. So wearing a sweater and a jacket didn’t make me feel silly at all!

The temperature for my two days of exploring was right around forty-eight degrees on both days. Not too shabby, huh?


On the base floor, I always stop to admire this flag honoring 9-11. I love how the flags are made to appear as the World Trade Center.


We’re getting closer to paradise! Let’s follow the signs to head outside to 42nd Street. We are right in the heart of Manhattan!

That is one expensive bus station!


I took a deep breath. Ah, at last.

Man, I love this place.

Can you see the Chrysler Building way down there?

And the hotdog(s) stand, of course?


The famous New York City cab. I’ve never been in one, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t take pictures of them as they attempt to maneuver through impossible Manhattan traffic.


I passed this Crumbs Bake shop by, thanks to some healthy goals. But I have eaten cupcakes from here before. Do you remember my trip from last September?

Really, how can you possibly go wrong with a Chocolate Chip Cookie Cupcake?


I’m pretty sure that this Tim Hortons is new, too. I would have definitely noticed if my favorite Canadian doughnut shop had been here previously!

Can you believe that I passed this by today, too?

Sheesh, am I developing willpower or what?!


Hi, Subway station! Amazingly, I walked during my entire visit these two days. I never even went down below to ride the subway, like I usually do. What a shame!


I walked a few blocks along 42nd Street, desperate to find somewhere to eat. I didn’t want to waste precious time at a sit-down place, but I didn’t want to trust one of the million food stands, either. But I was ready for some lunch!

There is the Amsterdam Theater, where I saw Mary Poppins last September. Playing there now is The Newsies.

I had no desire to drop $200 on a ticket. I guess I lucked out last fall paying only $67 for a great seat five rows back from the stage!


So New York City! Cop horses!

How do they deal with all of that noise?


I got closer and closer to Times Square, hoping to see something edible that also sounded reasonably-priced.

That’s not asking too much at all in one of the most expensive cities in the country, right?


I never tire of seeing this few blocks in New York City. Isn’t this place amazing?

It was way more crowded than I expected, too. I doubt that this place ever feels empty, but it seemed very busy to me for still being so cold!

Maybe they don’t have a tourist season, but it’s all year long?


Swoon. Look at this! I love you, Manhattan!


If you need to advertise, this is the place to be noticed by millions. Unfortunately, it also costs millions to advertise here! Catch-22!


I was really hungry by now, so I was tickled to see this stationary food truck as an option for lunch.

Baked empanadas? That sounds very healthy to me!


The hard part was deciding which empanada to try. I asked the worker’s professional opinion, and he highly recommended the Argentine.

Sounds good to me!


It was warm and flaky and flavorful.


And beefy. I rather enjoyed this. But, remember…I was pretty hungry.

Everything tastes better when you’re hungry!


I only had one little empanada, and it didn’t fill me up.

Luckily, this Rickshaw Dumplings Shack was right next door!

And, even more so than the empanadas that I had convinced myself were healthy, these guys were steamed and ready to be devoured!


I loved the little packaging. But I didn’t make it far carrying these…there are tables right next to the shack. Let’s eat some dumplings!


Pork dumplings for lunch. Yes, please!


It even came with a soy sauce-based dipping cup of goodness. This was just the right amount of flavor and salt added to the steamed and delicious dumplings.


They kind of looked creepy, thanks to the steamer bin in which they cooked. The bottoms kind of look like octopus to me, or something fishy!

But, if I closed my eyes and took a bite…mmmmmmm.

This was one of the best things I ate during my entire two days in Manhattan!

(Yes, I went back the next day. Why do you ask?)


Mr. Cop and Mr. Horse rode by while I ate. I waved, but he must have not seen me.

Well, it seems like the horse saw me. See how nervous he is? I have that effect on horses.


After my lunch, it was time to wander around Times Square just a little more. I’m just in awe of this place and am so tickled to be here!

Sorry about the underwear advertisement. Awkward!


You can glimpse a little of the New York Double Decker Tour Bus in this picture. I decided not to sign up for the New York Pass or do anything expensive like that during this visit.

My reason? Well, I’m going to Disneyland next week. I would much rather spend my money there!


Fortunately for you, this is not a picture of the Naked Cowboy, though I did see him.

And don’t be fooled by the hippie clown in the lower right-hand side of the shot! He’s not naked, either.

Appropriately, this is a statue of “The Man Who Owns Broadway," Mr. George Cohan.

I wonder what he would think of NYC almost one-hundred years after he made this part of town so wonderful?


Doesn’t this just make you want to visit NYC? If you haven’t been, may I highly recommend it to you?

Just make sure that you get a Crumbs Cupcake as soon as you arrive…


As I walked north towards Central Park, I passed the M&Ms Store.

I always think of my friend, Susan, when I see this place. She was here on vacation once and sent me a picture of this storefront from her phone. She thought that I would appreciate four stories of chocolate.

Boy, does she know me or what?! Hi, Susan!


Not to be outdone by Mars, Hershey’s also has a giant store just a block away. I am no respecter of chocolate stores in Manhattan…I love them all equally.

I hope that you’re ready for a whole lot more NYC, because we’ve only just begun! Tomorrow, we’ll head towards Central Park for an afternoon stroll with the locals.

And a million other tourists, apparently.

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