Our destination was Redeemer Presbyterian Church's West Side campus, where I was fervently hoping to hear Tim Keller. He typically preaches at four of the church's six Sunday services, but they do not publish the schedule, so we just had to pick one and hope for the best. Unfortunately Keller wasn't around, but the service was still great. The music was stellar, as you might expect in New York: a piano and brass quintet played a Vivaldi concerto for the prelude/offertory/benediction! And a lovely soloist led the singing. David Bisgrove, the pastor who preached, gave a wonderful sermon on the story of Naaman--in fact, if I'd only heard it and not seen him, I might have thought it was Tim Keller. Not only was it a sermon I could imagine Keller preaching, but their voices even sounded alike.
After church we walked just around the corner to an Upper West Side brunch spot called Good Enough to Eat--only to find a long line stretching down the sidewalk.
Our next stop was the New York Public Library's "main branch," the landmark building on Fifth Avenue.
...and the stuffed animals that inspired A.A. Milne to write Winnie the Pooh. I was drooling over the children's collection.
Then it was on to Union Square for an interactive walking tour/scavenger hunt from Stray Boots. Given that I could be happy just walking up and down the streets of New York, this seemed ideal: a tour conducted via text messages. So you go on your own timetable, you have no annoying guide; you can make pit-stops and detours. They point out all kinds of things you wouldn't otherwise know to look for, and you get to learn fascinating trivia along the way. Stray Boots has these tours in several major cities, and more than a dozen of them in various Manhattan neighborhoods. We started with the Union Square and the Flatiron District tour, which took us up Broadway to the Flatiron Building and Madison Square Park.
While we were there, we grabbed dinner at the Shake Shack. It's technically a chain now, but it met my criteria since it started as a hot dog cart in Madison Square Park--the one where we ate was the original location. The burgers and fries were good but not spectacular (I think Five Guys is probably better), and the line was awfully long. I did really enjoy my Shack Attack Concrete though--"concrete" is their word for blizzard/McFlurry/etc., made with frozen custard, and mine included hot fudge, chocolate sprinkles, and chocolate truffle cookie dough. And it was a great spot for soaking up a gorgeous late summer evening.
Bellies full, we resumed our tour and explored a few more landmark buildings in the area
before it got completely dark and we decided to put the rest on hold for the next day.
[Day 3: Grand Central, Brooklyn Bridge, Gramercy Park, The High Line]
Prologue: how the trip came about
Day 1: 9/11 memorial, Thai food and a Broadway show