Friday, April 14, 2017

March 19, Our Last Day

It was Sunday morning, March 19, 2017. Our flight was leaving LaGuardia at 3:30. Our driver (David) would be picking us up at Noon to take us to the airport. So, if we get up early -- we still have HALF A DAY in the city.
On our last morning, enjoying the view from our hotel room.
We're ready to go! Our plan was to eat breakfast at the Plaza Hotel.  (in the lower level food court).
We took the subway up to Columbus Circle.
At the entrance to Central Park, there was a Pedi-cab driver trying to sell us a "tour of the park".
I'd never considered a Pedicab tour. And, hey -- at $120 for a complete two hour tour of the park, I told him "'s our last morning, I don't have that much money, and we have to be back at our hotel by Noon."

Then, the driver (Ali) said since were there so early, he could do a one hour tour for $60. (a special deal just for us).

Still too much money...and too much time...

But Ali kept on pitching...
And I am a big fan of people working this hard to make a we agreed on an abbreviated 30-minute tour for $30.
Ali had already figured out that Lilly was a big DOG LOVER -- and he wanted her to see the statue of Balto. She was excited!!
Ali told Lilly that in New York City, dogs are not pets, but they are more like children. It was the first time Lilly saw dogs wearing little booties.
Ali took this picture of us, right before we left for our tour. I apologized for being so fat -- but he assured me the cab was meant for THREE PEOPLE...and this was not hard for him at all.
We went by Tavern on the Green, and I took the picture I forgot to take the day before...
Here's the problem. There was a half-marathon being run that morning, and Ali could not actually GET INTO CENTRAL PARK. Ugh. He tried and tried...but we were turned away by police, guarding the route, at every entrance. Ali kept pedaling...and giving us a tour all along the way. He was a HUGE MOVIE BUFF -- and he pointed out the building where they filmed Ghostbusters...and Maid in Manhattan...the Night at the Museum...and many other NYC movies. He pointed out the building where Jerry Seinfeld lives...The Dakota, where John Lennon was shot.

Ali kept pedaling up West Central Park, hoping at the next entrance, he'd be able to enter the park.  But that never happened.  Lilly and I were having a wonderful time. It was a cold, clear winter day -- and we were snug in the pedicab...and learning a lot about Central Park and all the magnificent buildings that surround it.

But Ali kept saying, "I am so sorry...I will not charge you...Do not do not have to pay...I will take you wherever you want to go. May I drive you down to your hotel? This is such a disappointment..."

But it was NOT a disappointment! Lilly's mission became to count the dogs we saw -- and after nearly an hour of riding around in Ali's pedicab, she had seen 75 dogs...most of them dressed up for their Sunday stroll...and many of them wearing winter booties. I don't think she'll ever forget that number...
 When Ali finally accepted we were NOT going to be able to get into the park, he took us to a spot on the stone wall surrounding Central Park -- where you can almost see the sculpture of Balto.  He told Lilly the story of Balto (we've since been to the library, and she's read two books about this famous dog.)  Ali also told her the cartoon movie was better than the Disney version.  (we'll watch both)...
After the most entertaining hour you can imagine, Ali pedaled us over to the Plaza Hotel. 
Ali took this last picture of us, getting out of his pedicab in front of the Plaza Hotel. His "non-tour" of Central Park had lasted for over an hour. He took us from 59th Street up to 100th Street, and back down again, pointing out details and information about all the beautiful 200 year old buildings along the way.
Ali had provided us with the PERFECT ending to our nearly PERFECT visit to New York City, but he was still apologizing for not being able to give us the proper tour of the park.  As he delivered us to the Plaza, he again insisted we pay nothing.

But I wanted this morning to be as memorable for Ali as it had been for us.  So I not only paid him, but I gave him a gigantic tip.

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