The Ottumwa Courier

September 4, 2012

Give our regards to Broadway

Et Cetera

Ottumwa Courier

OTTUMWA — “We can’t talk now. We’re under fire.” No kidding. That could have been our text message home.

Sunshine Club members from South Ottumwa Savings Bank had just started our city bus tour the first full day of our trip to New York City. Our motor coach went a few blocks and ran into police and barricades, so we went down another street. Most of us were thinking it was just another New York incident.

Pretty soon many of our cell phones started going off. “Are you OK? Are you safe? Are you at the Empire State building?”

Our bus group found out from friends and family back home that there had been a shooting at the Empire State building. I finally told the tour guide. Liz said, yes, she and the bus driver knew about it.

Actually, we were a few blocks from the scene and soon found out the shooter was taken out.

It was unnerving that we passengers weren’t told. It’s the cell phone era, duh. Of course we knew about it!

Aside from that, the five-day whirlwind trip was exciting and thrilling. A friend had told me you can walk anywhere in Manhattan and be just fine. She was so right. After the first day, I felt at home and moved along just like all the tourists and New Yorkers. To stand on a street corner and see about 20 different restaurants all serving various ethnic foods was mouth-watering. Let alone all of the Broadway marquees, the skyscrapers and the street food vendors — oh boy, there is nothing like a New York hot dog! Some of our group fell in love with the halal stands and gyros.

It helps to be good friends with the local tour director, so the four of us found a lot of adventure from Times Square shopping to the NBC Studio tour, Top of the Rock nighttime views and even a swell evening of karaoke.

Our tour included a ferry visit around the Statue of Liberty and a lunch stop at Ellis Island. We also opted for an evening dinner cruise around the island, and that was fabulous, with the food, the music and the dramatic skyline views. We also enjoyed some free time to wander around and just look.

The hotel was in a great location, a block from David Letterman’s theater, Rupert’s Deli and one theater where we saw “Mamma Mia.” Another night, we bused to “Mary Poppins” and got a back-stage tour of the renovated New Amsterdam Theatre. Rockefeller Center and St. Patrick’s Cathedral were both within walking distance, as was Fifth Avenue.

A word to the wise: Sales people vanish when they see Iowans coming into Saks Fifth Avenue. So they didn’t get any of our money.

A carriage ride in Central Park was fun, as was eating breakfast in Ellen’s Starlight Diner with the wanna-be-Broadway-stars wait staff singing and taking your order.

A two-hour departure delay didn’t deter most of our spirits. Our group was the best, and if you could keep up with Oscar and Mary, you were doing OK.

A New York City trip at Christmas time sounds very enticing. I think then we’d really find the crowds.

So thanks, Linda, for being a great roommate, and to Pam for being a great Sunshine guide.

Oh, Bill Allen made his Broadway debut — really singing on a Broadway stage.

Now, how’s that for a great trip?

Judy Krieger is a retired Courier editor.