American in Spain

Fifth Avenue - NYC 2006 - Part 3 of 4

October 17, 2006

On Saturday, October 14, 2006, we hit Fifth Avenue. We had already done the southern part between Rockefeller Center and the Empire State Building, but that's not where all the memorable stores are. CIMG2677.JPG

The view out our hotel room window on Saturday morning. We were on the third floor (second floor to you Europeans) with no elevator.

Because we hadn't really seen Central Park much yet, we decided to walk through The Park to 5th Ave. Man, were the New Yorkers out in force to enjoy a sunny early autumn day, zipping around on rollerblades, bicycles and running in herds like wild buffalo with iPods. We were so impressed with the breakfast menu at Big Nick's on Wednesday, we headed there to try it out, before heading through The Park.


The menu is really a sensory overload of options. There are 28 pages at about 10-point font. They do pizzas in hundreds of ways, burgers in at least 50 ways with meat from at least a dozen different animals, lots of salads, sandwiches, kebabs, Greek food, Indian food, some Spanish liquids like sangria and gazpacho...the list goes on and on. I stole a copy of the menu as a souvenir. You can see pictures of Clinton and Giuliani behind me.


It's on the corner of Broadway and 77th St1, so if you're ever in the area, check it out. The way that New York's streets are laid out in a grid system is really, really handy for calculating distances and knowing how to get anywhere. I was often reminded of the term, Manhattan Distance, that I learned in my Artificial Intelligence classes.


The border between "nature" and concrete.


A gazebo. By coincidence, when I looked up "gazebo" just now to verify my spelling, the sample sentence was "The gazebo in the park was painted white."


A pond and a handsome silhouette.


Marga was amazed at the obesity of the goats and llamas at the Central Park Zoo. It turns out that constant snacking makes you fat.


Marga and some goats. Cool lighting on her face, huh?

At the south-east corner of Central Park on Fifth Avenue, we came to the holiest of shines...


The Apple Store on Fifth Avenue.


It's a glass cube. You enter and go down stairs to get to the store. Transparent objects are hard to photograph.



The logo is suspended in the middle.


Inside is a veritable playground for a Mac geek like me. Marga, for the first time that I'm aware of, had the "Thank god there's a place to sit down in this store," thought that I have oh so often.


Marga checks her company email.


I wrote a blog entry on this 24-inch iMac beauty.


The spiral stairs are magically suspended.


I had previously decided (and pre-ordered, even) a new iPod Shuffle, but I was so impressed with the quality of video on the new iPod screens that I broke down and bought a 30 GB iPod. I chose the 30 GB one because the 60 and 80 GB models are a little thicker and, although I have more than 30 GB of MP3 files on my computer, I didn't think I needed any more space on my iPod. My first iPod (from the very first generation) was 20 GB, had a tiny black and gray LCD screen, and was about twice as thick as this one. It died a few months ago. Plus, all Apple products cost about 30% more in Europe for some reason (there was a guy on the flight back with a whole iMac box on the plane).


Looking up from below.



Back on the Fifth Avenue in front of the Apple Store.

Right behind the Apple Store is FAO Schwarz, the biggest, most awesome, toy store in the world. (in my opinion)


They have huge (and thereby useless) stuffed animals there.


Know any kids looking for a stuffed bison for Christmas?


The ceiling was pretty neat.


Ah, the most famous toy of all. The piano from Big.

revver(80765) revver(80766) The little kid in the second video is pretty funny. He hasn't quite mastered jumping yet.


Yours today, for only a quarter!


The Barbie doll section was pretty incredible.


Tinny and strawface.


Want an Audi for your kid? The sign says:

This gasoline-powered miniature Audi is fully equipped with working lights, horn, and turn indicators. Fiberglass body, rack-and-pinion steering, full suspension, disc brakes, and adjust-able padded seats. Maximum speed 13 mph. Ages 6 and up. 87" x 40" x 30" $16,000

That's what our car costed! And it goes way faster than 13 mph!

Or, if an Audi isn't good enough for your kid, there's always a...


Ferrari! This sign says:

All the features you'd demand in a Ferrari, including gasoline-powered engine, fiberglass body, rack-and-pinion steering, four-wheel disc brakes, rubber tires, and full suspension. Three-speed transmission. Horn, lights, and signals all work. Maximum speed 15 mph. Ages 6 and up. 86" x 40" x 30" $50,000

You bet I'd demand rubber tires when I buy a Ferrari! Personally I might demand more than three gears out of my Ferrari, too. Can you imagine how humiliated your kid would be if you bought him the Audi, and the little Jones boy across the street got the Ferrari that goes 2 mph faster? I wouldn't risk it if I were you.


And obviously you want a car stereo in the Ferrari with a removable face plate. You wouldn't want a potential thief to know what kind of stereo you have, because he might "break" into the topless convertible and take it. If the interior wasn't leather, it sure felt like it.


Lego Vader.


A Lego version of New York City.


Good old FDNY.


Lego Hagrid.

revver(80768) A cool model train.

revver(80769) This guy impressed some kids by solving this 21st century Rubix cube, called Bedlam. He had a great sales pitch about how great a toy that could keep your kid quiet and thinking for hours. I asked him if he had the job before he mastered that game, or if his mastery helped him get the job. He said that he'd been there since before this game existed, but that his Rubix cube expertise did help land him in that section of the store. I wouldn't mind spending eight hours a day in a room full of cool puzzles, especially with gullible youngsters to impress.


They had these creepy life-like baby dolls in a section called the "Adoption Agency".


Complete with adoption nurses. (She was real.)

revver(80771) The dollhouse section was equally impressive. I asked a guy behind the counter how much a nice-looking diningroom table set was, and he said that the table was $30, and each of the chairs was $25. When I asked if the lovely nickel-sized fish platter on the table was included, he said, "No, that's $22." His face and attitude showed that he was aware that I was just asking to see how much it was and wasn't really interested in buying.

Nothing like Fifth Avenue to make you feel poor.


A fountain out by the Apple store.


We had a look in Tiffany's. There's not a single price tag in the whole store. It's the whole "If you have to ask..." bit.


Trump towers. It was a little too orange for our tastes.



The Gap on 5th Ave. didn't spare any expenses either. In several stores I was told that photos were not allowed, but it was always right after I had taken my picture.


I was surprised by the number of churches amidst the skyscrapers.


We stopped to take the weight off our feet. If you've never been to Manhattan, you don't have any idea how much walking is involved. I had a Brooklyn Lager. Marga had waterFoster's.


Radio City Music Hall. The Pet Shop Boys were performing.


This pub's decoration was pretty creepy. A bunch of miniature angry jockeys! Sounds like a novel by Stephen King and Dick Francis.


Beelzebub's offices.


Some trees on Trump Tower.


One last view of The Store. There were a lot more people around in the late afternoon.


Bye, Apple Store!


I had a Smiling Pumpkin seasonal beer at the Heartland Brewery.


Marga had a burger.


And I had ribs. Yummy!


Times Square at night.

That night we went to see The Producers. It wasn't terrible, but we didn't like it that much. It's kind of a meta-play, mocking Broadway plays. As with all parody, if you don't know much about what's being parodied, it's just absurdity. A lot of the humor was drawn from homosexuals and little old ladies. Over all, we wouldn't recommend it.

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1I think Big Nick owns quite a few places around Manhattan, so they all might be good. I only vouch for this one. It ain't clean (you have to walk through the kitchen to get to the bathroom), but it's definitely authentic (those two might be mutually exclusive).