Day 2 – Take Plenty of Shoes

Our first full day in Manhattan typically begins with breakfast at the Red Flame, a classic New York diner just a few steps from the Algonquin Hotel on West 44th Street. We then walk to the Times Square subway on 42nd Street, taking the R train to City Hall and walk a half block to the Fountain Pen Hospital at 10 Warren St. For lovers of beautiful fountain pens, this store is nirvana, and Barbara enjoys trying out different pens and inks under the advice of the amazingly gracious experts in residence.

We then embark on our annual hike through Manhattan, which typically takes us on a winding trek through different neighborhoods and visiting different spots. This year we planned on walking down to Battery Place to visit the Skyscraper Museum, then past the Freedom Tower and the Oculus and up West Broadway to Washington Square Park. Eventually we would wind our way uptown, stopping by the Strand Bookstore (“18 Miles of Books”), the Flatiron Building and west on 23rd Street, where the Astaires lived in 1905 when they took their first dancing classes. Here is a short video with an annotated/animated map of our hike and the sites we would visit. The hike’s soundtrack includes two songs. The first is an antique novelty “Take Plenty of Shoes” (recorded in 1909 by Arthur Collins), and the second is the better known “Sidewalks of New York” sung by Bobby Short.

After the hike back to Midtown, we cap Day 2 with dinner at La Grenouille, a classic French restaurant on East 52nd Street. For years we walked by this restaurant every year on our way to the Four Seasons in the Seagram Building at Park Avenue. We always gazed at the flower-filled window, but we never dined there until the Four Seasons closed several years ago. The extravagant service and the exquisite food have since made this our favorite expensive restaurant in New York. We always request the pistachio soufflé, so tonight I’ll be trying my hand at one. Here’s the recipe.

Tonight’s Movie: The Belle of New York, starring Fred Astaire, dancing around and atop the Washington Square Arch