Monday, June 8, 2009

Sunsent on Top of the Rock

Tourists are always told the best bird's eye views of Manhattan are from the top of the Empire State Building. The views from there are great, but if you had only one day to get a great bird's eye view, do it from the Top of the Rock at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. And if you're going to go to the Top of the Rock, go right before sunset. Then you get the 360-degree views when the day light is still out, when the sun is setting, and then finally when the city night lights are in full bloom. That's what we did on Saturday.

The three-level observation deck consists of the 67th, 69th and 70th floors of Rockefeller Plaza. The 70th level offers phenomenal unobstructed views of the city (something you can't get from the Empire State Building). The upper deck is 850 feet above street level.

The Statue of Liberty. The image, even blurred in the distance, still feels important.

Our favorite park - the majestic and elegant Central Park.

Please click on these pictures to get the larger images.

We had the best view of the sunset. We knew it was going to set at 8:24 pm and we waited at the right spot beginning at 8:00 pm.

Sunsets are one of our favorite things in this world. So stunning. So romantic.

We followed the changing sun and sky and took about a hundred photos.

And there it bids us adieu.

I wonder how many people were taking photos from the top of the Empire toward our direction as we were taking photos in their direction.

The Empire is most beautiful at night.

We were even lucky enough to get the beautiful full moon - another one of our favorite things in this world.

This was well worth the $20 per adult ticket and standing in line (which wasn't as horrific as the lines at the Empire State Building). Unfortunately, the security officer at my office building who works at Rockefeller reminded me he could have gotten us in for free and without standing in line. Oh well, we'll take him up on his offer for our next visit.

After a beautiful night on top of the world, we had to look for a place to eat. We couldn't afford the Rainbow Room (remember that scene in Sleepless in Seattle where she tells Walter she's in love with someone else with the clear view of the Empire State Building?), so we went to Havana Central for some Cuban cuisine and great live Cuban music. We had the most delicious Empanadas (the shrimp was especially delicious), mojitos, a succulent Ropa Vieja (marinated shredded steak, peppers and onions) and a Vegetable Paella (saffron rice, blend of tomatoes, pepper, onions, peas, garlic, eggplant, red pepper, green pepper, zucchini, yellow squash, and onions). The scent of the garlic from the paella was intoxicating and the portions of both dishes were enormous.

Unfortunately, this restaurant is in the horrible tourist trap area that is Times Square (over crowded and surrounded by crappy chain restaurants like The Olive Garden, TGI Fridays and Apple Bees). One amusing thing we saw at Times Square around 11:00 PM before we jumped into a cab was the sight of people sitting around in beach chairs on the street smack dab in the middle of the action as though they were sitting around in a park. There are many strange things you see in New York. And we love it all.