Patti had to go to NY to pick up Lauren from a camp in Albany, NY, and suggested hey -- let's go to NYC while we're there. I'm game for going anywhere, so I said sure thing! Patti left a couple days before me to spend some quality time with her friend Marty, before we arrived. Max and I left on the 19th to meet the two of them there.
Phil was going out at the same time, so we all rode together on the plane. Phil's sister Liz and brother-in-law Patrick picked us up and took us to the city, which was an act of heroism, as it took us over an hour to get there and it took them over an hour to get back to New Jersey where they were staying.
Max and I met Lauren and Patti at the Excelsior Hotel, a nice, not too expensive, hotel on the upper west side, a block from the park, and right across from the Natural History Museum, a block from the subway and Starbucks, and 3 blocks from H&H bagels. We were set!
Unfortunately we didn't arrive in time to see a play that night, so we went to a local DVD store and bought "About a Boy" and got takeout Japanese food to eat in our room. A relaxing way to start our trip!
Sunday, after having bagels from H&H and coffee from Starbucks, we visited the Petropolis exhibit next to the Natural History Museum. This is an exhibit on urban pet living... very interesting, and rather short. We had a matinee to see, so from there we walked down to the theatre. We met Marty to see Hairspray. FANTASTIC! We all loved it! After the matinee, we ate at a nice Italian restaurant near the theatre, before returning home.
Monday, most of the museums are closed, so we decided to go to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. After our morning ritual of H&H and Starbucks, we took the subway down to Battery Park. We missed the first ferry, but quickly caught the second. First stop was the Statue of Liberty, good only for a picture, as you can no longer go into the statue. From there, we boarded a ferry and went to Ellis Island, a short hop and a skip away. We took the audio tour of the building where immigrants came in -- very interesting! I bought some computer time to see if I could find my relatives in the ship's manifests, but came up empty. Fortunately, I'll be able to continue the research from home.
We returned from Ellis Island in the afternoon. It was hot hot hot and humid. On our way out of Battery Park, Patti ran into a family from Max's school in Saratoga -- quel coincidence! We shared the subway ride back with them. We returned to the hotel to rest, before going to the next play, Movin' Out. Well, it's not really a play, it's more like a dance extravaganza set to Billy Joel music. There is a story, but it's all acted out in dance. Mixed reviews on this one. Lauren really liked it, Patti really didn't, and I was ambivalent. We had dinner afterwards at John's Pizzeria -- finally, NY pizza!!! It was excellent. (If it were up to me, we would have eaten there every night, but Lauren was a bit tired of pizza at that point.
Tuesday was museum and shopping day. After a quick jaunt over to H&H and Starbuck's again (Max and Lauren like onion bagels, Patti prefers sesame, and I am partial to everything), we were off to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (can you hear Max squealing with joy?). As we walked through the park, we noticed a helicopter hovering in place. We found out later that there had been a murder somewhere on the west side, and they'd tracked the suspect into the park. Scary when you think about it!
We toured the Met, with Lauren and Patti going off to look at their favorites, and Max and I going off together to look at ours. The Met is huge, so there really isn't any way to see more than a fraction of the museum in one visit. We visited an exhibit on Arms & Armor and looked at some modern art (paintings). Two hours in all. We met Marty on the steps of the Met to go shopping and out to lunch.
Outside the Met there was a huge funeral procession of a very famous salsa singer. The crowds were large. (The swankiest funeral home in town is only a couple of blocks away from the Met on the east side of town.)
We walked down Madison Ave, trying to avoid the crowds. We browsed in the shops along the way, making note of shops we wanted to go back to visit. The humidity at this point at turned into rain. And rain it did! We only had a couple of umbrellas between us, and we got rather wet. We ended up at Serendipity, a restaurant famous for its frozen hot chocolate, sopping wet and hungry. A 20-minute wait later, and we sat down to order. The meals were fantastic as was the frozen hot chocolate. It poured while we were eating lunch, and we were hopeful we'd seen the last of the bad weather, but it was not to be.
After lunch, Marty, Patti and Max set off for the Village because Patti wanted to go back to a shop she'd visited earlier in the week. Lauren and I retraced our steps along Madison Avenue, visiting the shops that we'd espied along the way. It was pouring rain still, and the shop keeper at Cole-Haan was very nice and made Lauren a cape out of a plastic bag. I bought Kurt some shoes on sale, and by the time we reached the hotel again, the bag had disintegrated due to the wet. Lauren and I slowly walked back towards the hotel, visiting shops along the way, but doing more browsing than actual buying.
We changed clothing and set off for the theatre. Tonight's performance was Big River, a musical adaptation of a Mark Twain Huck Finn story. It was quite inventive, with sets that were pages out of the book. The story was sung and signed at the same time, and some of the audience was deaf. The way they enacted it was quite inventive as well. Some of the performers were also deaf, so they had another actor sing the part for that person while they signed. Most of the actors, deaf or hearing, signed their parts as well. It took a while to get used to it, but it was funny and amusing!
Dinner? I think we must have had takeout Japanese again. Much quicker that way...
Wednesday, Lauren's pal Jen, and her mom Rhoda, came down from Connecticut to go shopping with us and hang for the day. We spent all day shopping, had lunch in Rockefeller Center at a very nice restaurant called "Cucina", and shopped some more. Max was a great sport, so I took him to F.A.O. Schwartz at the end of the day while Lauren, Jen, Rhoda and Patti continued their shopping experience.
We had a real scare that day. We were in the Village, having visited knockoff stores and the like, and we went to get on the train to go back uptown. Rhoda, Jen and I got on a very packed express, but Patti, Max and Lauren were too polite and didn't make it. "We'll wait for you at the next stop" we mouthed. Of course cell phones don't work in the subway, so connecting up that way is out of the question without coming up for air. We figured out that we should wait at the door we entered at, and were hopeful that Patti and the kids would get on at the same place they were. Fortunately, we both had people advising us what to do (who says New Yorker's aren't nice?). They indeed get on the next train in the same car, and we were quickly reunited. Phew!!
Marty met us at the hotel, and we all went together to see Thoroughly Modern Millie. Another FANTASTIC play! The singing and dancing were wonderful. The performers were great! The lead looked just like Mary Tyler Moore. The gal who plays Bebe, Frasier's agent on "Frasier", was the villain, and she was wonderful too. A must see!
After tearful goodbyes, we headed back to the hotel for another night of takeout while we packed. (Well, delivery, really.)
Thursday, a car picked us up to take us to the airport (well, a van, since we had so much luggage). The traffic is always bad bad bad! It took us about an hour to get to the airport, and then we hung around in the Red Carpet Club, where I had the best e-mail access I'd had during the whole trip!
Theatre in New York City
This time we had an "in". Marty is a playwrite, and his partner, Patrick, the President of the Stage Actor's Guild. So we were able to get fabulous seats to all the shows. (Thank you, thank you!!!)
Here are the plays we saw and my impressions (ordered from my favorite show down). I've also included the ticket prices in case you're interested in going. All plays we saw were good.