We arrived this morning around 4:30 am and decided to take a little time driving around the city and get our bearings. The city at 5 am is a very different place from any other town/city you will ever visit!
Our first planned fun for our day was to go to the Good Morning America: Concert in the park series featuring Lady Antebellum (Live). Check-in for this was between 5-6:30 am so we went on an adventure to find parking in the city! This was actually pretty easy and free at 5 am. We then hiked over to the line that was already forming for the GMA concert. The light was filling the sky and sounds were starting to fill the streets. It was overwhelming in a positive way… the sounds of people, cars, birds, dogs, and the pure vibe of the city is spectacular!
Once we were ushered in it was a huge learning experience. We got to watch them set things up, they discussed with everyone the expectations, they did sound tests, cheer lessons, and got everyone excited to see what was coming up!
The concert was great… everyone got free sunglasses and food thanks to Kings Hawaiian.
We got out of the park and decided, with the city awake, we were going to explore. We ended up in New Jersey and went to see Carlos Bakery (the original). Of course parking was not easy and after about 20 minutes we finally found a spot and started walking towards the bakery. Once we got closer our cameras came out and we started snapping photos of the exterior and getting thrilled about the chance to eat something from the cake bosses bakery! We walk in and everything is very well designed with a beautiful look. There is an area setup for lining up to order and receive your goodies but nobody is following the line. The staff is not pleasant and is not following the order of how people have been standing and waiting to order. They are just asking randomly as people are walking around who wants to order. None of the food looks fresh and when I order my goodies they are not what was expected. Everything looks as if the baking processed has been streamlined for proficiency and the food looks fake. When we get to the register she is insistent on up-selling us a bunch of other product. Leo and I were not happy about any of it. We sat down and tasted all of our pastries and that made the $40 price tag even worse. The cream puffs were under cooked, the cake was not moist and lacked in sweetness, and the environment was just not happy.
After our disappointing trip to Carlos Bakery we drove around New Jersey a bit to see the view of the Statue of Liberty from the NJ side of things. As we were on our way back into NYC to check-in at our hotel we almost hit a large box in the middle of the road. Leo got out picked it up put it in the car. It was enormous. We made it safely back into the city and started towards our hotel. We pulled up to our hotel and started into the building to check-in for our hotel. We stay at The Jewel at Rockefeller Center which we booked using Hotels.com for a 3 night stay. It was not an easy hotel to find because the door and signage was pretty small and not glaringly apparent to us when driving up. Checking-in was pretty smooth and they gave us a ticket for discounted parking a block away. It changed our total parking costs from $255 to $140 which was a fantastic bonus.
The room was neat, clean, bed had no bugs. The bathroom was wonderful and the television was a great size with a wonderful picture. My first complaint about the room was that the bedspread was very worn and old. We had requested a fridge and microwave prior to check-in but it was not in the room so I requested them again. We relaxed for a while and then got up and started preparing for our dinner reservation at Sparks Steak House.
Little background on Sparks Steak house:
The restaurant was founded by brothers Pasquale (Pat) and Mike Cetta in 1966. It was originally located at 123 East 18th Street, but moved to its current location in 1977. Pat had a heart attack and died in his apartment on the evening of January 24, 2000.
Gambino crime family boss Paul Castellano and underboss Thomas Bilotti were gunned down outside its entrance in 1985. The hit was given under the orders of John Gotti.
I was excited at the opportunity to eat at Sparks not only because of the cool history but also the great things I have heard about the food there. I am happy to report that the food was spectacular. The wait staff was wonderful, funny, very personable, and always at the ready! We enjoyed the atmosphere that was vibing with old world Italy yet fused in the NYC feel. It was not a rushed dinner which was also a delight compared to how the city feels so rushed with everything. The price tag was a bit excessive at about $200 for everything plus tip with only 2 of us eating. It was overall a great first full day in NYC!
Please head over to: Day 2 of our New York City Tourist Adventures!