Tuesday, July 27, 2010

My first trip to NYC

What's that?  The forecast for today is 100 degrees and sunny?  Perfect!  Let's take a trip to NYC and walk around all day in it!  

Well, that's not entirely how it went.  I am 28 years old, but have never been to New York City, despite the fact that my brother lived in Brooklyn for two years.  (Our senior class trip was to NYC, but I was on the band trip in Australia at the time!)  If I was in New Jersey, there was no way I was leaving without seeing NYC.  After our week at the shore in Sea Isle City, NJ, we drove north to Secaucus, NJ on Saturday where Dave's slightly younger brother dropped us off at the NJ Transit train station.  We took the train to Penn Station in NYC and got there much later than planned, 1:40.  One of the main reasons I wanted to go to NYC was to see a Broadway show and matinees started at 2:00.  We got out of the train station and booked it 15 blocks to the theaters where Fela and then La Cage were showing, but decided to wait until we could walk into a performance on time and for a price we were comfortable with, which meant we'd be sticking around for an 8:00 pm performance.  We hadn't eaten, it was 100 degrees outside, I had just popped up into NYC for the first time in my life and powerwalked 15 blocks trying not to loose Dave through Time Square, and when Dave asked me where I wanted to eat, I picked the only restaurant I remembered seeing that wasn't McDonalds: Ruby Tuesdays in Time Square.  No, this is not where I dreamed of eating in NYC, a city famous for good food and filled with several gluten free opportunities, and in retrospect it was silly to have a sit down lunch at 3:00 pm when we could have had a local dinner a few hours later, but I'll blame the poor decision on the dizzying effect of the city, the heat, and the low blood sugar.  After we were seated, I realized my mistake and felt bad about it the rest of the day.  We had some yummy juice and iced tea and some lunch.

After a regretful lunch, we wandered by the tkts line in the middle of Time Square to see if we could get discount tickets for the 8:00 show and sure enough, there was already a full line formed.  We waited in it for probably a half an hour (just long enough to make a trip to the Natural History Museum out of reach, damn!) and snagged some tickets to La Cage Aux Folles for $70 each.  Dave was hoping to see Fela, but we both decided it could be a boring show and went with something more showy.   

We hit Rockerfeller Center where I saw the place where the xmas tree and skating rink would be.  We then turned the corner and saw huge crowds for a movie being filmed called "Friends with Benefits" staring Woody Harrelson, Justin Timberlake, and Jackie from "That 70s Show."  The possibility of being in a movie or seeing a star meant that several hundred people were crowding the area.  We made our way through and across the street we checked out St Patrick's Cathedral, which was beautiful.  We then walked down the street to the shopping district where we pretended to be even slightly interested in browsing at Louis Vuitton, Tiffany's, and then FAO Schwartz.  The highlight of the shopping district was when we heard Manu Chao's tunes come on over the radio just in time for me to grab a giant penguin in FAO Schwartz and make it dance. 

Central Park was across the street so we wandered through it from east to west.  I couldn't believe how beautiful and huge Central Park really was, and I only saw a small portion of it!  The whole day I was wondering how anyone could possibly live in this crowded, dirty city, but also realized I was only seeing the touristy area, then after seeing Central Park realized that New Yorkers aren't as in sane as I imagined.  It's like having a little piece of Boulder right in the middle of a city where I had yet to see a single strand of grass the whole day.  The whole time I was in Central Park I kept repeating a dumb line from Flight of the Conchords:  [in New Zealand accent] "No, not Central Park in New York, I said, A central park in Newark." 

We turned back towards where our show would be and grabbed a Jamba Juice for dinner in order to fight our dehydration, overheating, and lack of hunger for solid food.  We went to my first Broadway show, La Cage Aux Folles (The bird cage).  The show normally stars Kelsey Grammer, but we got his understudy, who did a great job.  The theater was one of the smaller ones on Broadway, but it was beautiful.  The show was hilarious!  The best part was the dancing transvestite chorus.

After the show, we had 25 minutes to get to Penn Station to catch our train home.  We were on 48th and the station is on 34th, so it was a major power-walk with uncooperative traffic lights, but we made the train.  Dave was disappointed that he didn't get a pretzel or peanuts at any of the stands on the way.  We took the train to Madison, NJ where Dave's brother lives, grabbed his parents' car, and drove to his parents' house about 30 minutes away.  It was a long day and we finally got to bed around 1:30. 

Things I would do differently the next time:  plan the day.  I found out the day of that we were going to NYC and had no time to so much as find a map of the city before showing up there.  Luckily Dave knows his way around, but I'm the kind of person who likes to know where I am and I didn't get a map until about half way through my day.  I'd also try to buy tickets ahead of time and see a bigger show.  Although I was pleasantly surprised with La Cage, I'd love to see some huge production of Lion King instead of something with more acting than singing, something with over the top costumes, harmonies, dancing, and chorus numbers.  There's nothing better than seeing 100 people on a stage at once singing and dancing.  I dream of seeing Les Miserables or Joseph on Broadway if they ever come back (I was in Joseph in community theater when I was young).  I have seen these in Chicago, but think I may appreciate them more as an adult and on Broadway.  I would also empty my purse of any unnecessary items like keys to my offices and car.  About mid-day my purse felt like it weighed 50 lbs.  I would also wear better shoes.  MaryJane Crocs are comfortable and can pass as dress shoes for getting into a show, but they are not worthy of 10 hours of walking in NYC.  I'd probably wear a cute, but comfortable outfit worthy of being photographed and bring a dress along in my purse to change into before the show.  Lastly, I'd arrive in the city with enough time to go to the museums before they close, because who are we kidding, I'd much rather spend hours in the Natural History Museum than shopping for purses and diamonds. I would also love to see the more residential areas of the city and avoid Time Square at all costs.  Hopefully I get my second chance to do the city right!


cassie said...

Great post! I'm thinking about planning a trip to the city the weekend before Christmas. And you were definitely missed on our senior class trip!

Becky said...

Ooh, definitely come back with more time sometime! I saw the subject of this post and thought maybe you were on a trip here and was all excited to recommend a couple gluten-free restaurants I've heard good things about, but I guess I was a little late! Next time definitely plan enough time to get the hell out of Times Square--there's just no good food to be had there. Glad you at least got to see a bit of the city, but I promise, there are much better (prettier, calmer, saner) parts of it than Midtown. :)