12 Days In New York City

I love New York, but boy was I ready to come home after 12 days in it. Had the last 7 of those days not been so stressful it might be another story. But the fact was that I barely had enough money to get me through the 6 intended days, so the additional 7 weren’t overly enjoyable as I tried not to use much public transit or eat out or really do anything that involved spending any money…

But, despite all that, it was still a lovely and much needed holiday!

I arrived in the city on a Wednesday at which time I wandered to Vi’s and collapsed on her couch. On Thursday made my way to Brooklyn to go see the Botanic Gardens. I’d seen someone post about it somewhere, and thought it might be worth a visit. The weather was great, the colours gorgeous, and it turns out there’s not admission cost on Thursdays.

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That evening I headed to Times Square to meet up with Vi. We were hoping to the lottery for a show, but missed it for both The Last Ship and Hedwig. Instead we got omlettes and watched Netflix.

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On Friday I headed down to Union Square where I spent a couple hours getting lost in the racks at The Strand. Paul Giamatti was there. We stood in the ‘Banned Books’ section together. It was pretty cool.

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I then went and wandered around the West Village and people-watched in Washington Square Park. It was chilly, but sunny, so I was happy.

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That night I headed back to Times Square to meet Vi. We lost the lottery for Idina Menzel’s show If/Then, but were able to grab ‘Lottery Loser’ tickers for only $5 more. I guess the show isn’t doing so well… I thought it was okay. I’m glad I saw it, but really it’s only selling points are Idina Menzel and Anthony Rapp.

Speaking off, we did stage door, of course! I’ve seen them both before, but it’s always fun!

10422083_935529480984_5726191222963934932_nIdina Menzel

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On Saturday I met up with Carly, Sara, and Annie for an excellent 4 hour lunch. We’d never all gotten together as a group, so it was a lot of fun. Eventually Carly had to head to work and Annie to a housewarming party, so Sara and I met up Vi and went to dinner.

Vi and I saw ‘On The Town’. I liked it well enough. It’s a classic, so, you know. The dance numbers seemed a little drawn out, but the music was great.

On Sunday Vi and I went on a roadtrip to Baltimore. She rented a car and got tickets to see Next To Normal, I tagged along. Oh, and I can now say I’ve been to Delaware. Woo!

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On Monday it down-poured so we went to the movies to see ‘The Theory of Everything’. I also dragged Vi from shop to shop in search of a single magazine, as, you know, I do that. The weather cleared up later in the day though, so I went for a nice stroll around mid-town.

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On Tuesday I headed out at some ridiculously early hour only to reach the far end of West-nowhere (aka the Megabus stop) and learn that there were no buses. No one seemed to know why. So, my enormous backpack, suitcase and I hiked it over to Penn Station to see about a train. I got a ticket, all looked well, until it’s announced that all Toronto bound rail service will be suspended in Syracuse. Again, no one could say why. So I got a refund and started frantically texting everyone I knew for a place to stay. Annie was kind enough to offer her couch right away, so I made my way 160 blocks or so uptown to Washington Heights.

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I eventually came to learn about the horrendous storms in Buffalo and every 12 hours or so would get an update that train and bus service remained suspended. That week is a bit of a blur with regards to what happened when, and in what order. Again, I stayed in a lot. I mean I managed to watch the whole first season of Gilmore Girls on Netflix, so…

I did go for several nice walks around Washington Heights and Fort Tryon. One day I took the subway down to the Upper West Side to go to Barnes and Noble, and then took a very long city bus journey back to the George Washington Bridge (if you catch a bus within 2 hours (maybe 3 hours?) of catching the train they don’t charge you again- HEY OH!). Washington Heights was pretty cool though, I’m glad I had some time to explore it.

10339759_935648637194_174245830662665114_nView of Hudson Heights and the Bronx from Fort Tryon Park

10406411_935648617234_5416060134614959295_nHudson River, Fort Tryon Park

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And then of course Saturday was the insane Into The Woods evening. I’m still not over that one! Earlier that day though I met up with the wonderful Jennifer Eolin for tea and trading of horror life stories, and a couple hours later went for hot chocolate with another online friend. All that made for a very nice day. Adding in Meryl Streep, Chris Pine, and an early Into The Woods screening were just icing on the cake!

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I didn’t sleep Saturday night, and had to leave for my bus around 4:30am. Thankfully though when I arrived there was no one advising of a cancellation, and I even managed two seats to myself for the entire journey home.

It all kind of worked out. Sort of. Maybe.

I ♥ NY

I really, really do.

I mentioned in my last blog that in early September I was given medical clearance to travel again. As you can guess, I found myself in New York a week or so after getting this wonderful news. It was Vi’s birthday, the bus tickets were cheap, and it was 2 for 1 ticket week on Broadway. The decision was practically made for me!

I took the bus from Buffalo, and is what you’d expect from a Megabus. Cheap, 2 hours late, but you get where you need to go and the wifi works about 60% of the time. I was content. I arrived around 10pm on Thursday evening, and wandered across town to Vi’s apartment where she was waiting with a plate of cookies. She knows me well!

On Friday morning Vi headed off to work and I had a semi-lazy morning before heading out. I met up with Mimi at Penn Station and we spent the afternoon wandering around town. We grabbed lunch at an uber-cute diner in midtown and then walked down to the West Village, my new favourite place after my last NY adventure. Not as many celeb sightings as in May, but we walked past Arthur Darvill and I awkwardly smiled, and it was awesome.

West Village:

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After that we headed for the High Line. The weather was gorgeous that day, so it was a bit crowded, but we still managed to walk the entirety of it.

Chilling on the High Line:

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We then headed back up to Times Square to meet up with Vi for dinner before heading to a show. We went to Juniors, because I’m a bit obsessed, and being Vi’s birthday weekend, cake was necessary.

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That night we saw The Glass Menagerie, and it was absolutely extraordinary. Not that I expected much less. I’d read the play and found it powerful, and this stage version was starring Cherry Jones and Zachary Quinto, so… Yeah.

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I cried. A lot. It’s an incredibly emotional and quiet show, and we were sitting 2nd row centre which seemed to make it all the more intense. The set was minimalistic. They didn’t even include the photograph of the the father, a substantial set item in the written play. There was a small balcony, next to a living room containing only a few pieces of furniture and one piece of Laura’s glass collection. Next to that was a small dining room, with table and chairs. The set floor was three square pieces, merging at various angles, and the remainder of the stage was covered in water. This created a very neat and eerie effect.

There are four cast members, and if they don’t all win Tony’s for their performances I will burn Utica to the ground… Considering the praise that Cherry and Zach have been receiving, I have no doubt we’ll be seeing them win just about everything next year. I obviously knew ZQ was an amazing actor. It’s what made me such a big fan of his! But seeing him perform live was a whole new experience. You think he’s intense on screen? Yeah… nothing compared to live.

Though I’m pretty sure the biggest reason that I find myself so affected by this play is that I’m terrified that I might be Laura Wingfield. But that’s a whole other thing I probably shouldn’t get into in this post…

Anyway. It’s up there as being one of the most emotional experiences I’ve had in the theatre (top spot will probably always go to Porgy & Bess because that show basically ruined me!) and I’d love to get back and see the show again before it closes in the new year.

Here’s a montage from it:

After the show we headed to the stagedoor to meet the cast. They were all incredibly lovely and warm. Celia Keenan-Bolger has to be one of the most adorable human beings, I swear!

Celia:

1186267_806918742934_495727607_nBrian J. Smith and Cherry Jones:

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Zach came out last and went through the crowd, signing, taking photos with everyone:

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I asked for a photo, and he was like “of course!”. When I asked the guy next to me to take it Zach grabbed my camera and said it needed to be a “selfie”, which he then took:

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It appears that I grabbed onto his arm and neck. That’s not weird, right? It was super windy that night, so of course a gust came in the moment he snapped the photo. AGRH!

I noticed after, and Mimi and Vi both told me I should go and get another one, and I was like “can you do that?” Heh. But I went to the end of the line and babbled something like: “Hi, sorry, the wind blew my hair and I have a fancy mustache, can I get another photo? Sorry!” To which he just went: “Umm, sure.” LOL

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I grabbed the second one on my phone, so the quality it terrible, but he’s got a judgmental eyebrow happening, so it all evens out to a win.

After that we ran Mimi back to Penn Station to catch her train, and Vi I wandered back to the apartment. It was most definitely a good day!

Oh! We were also sitting in front of David Schwimmer, so, that was cool!

On Saturday we lazed around for a bit before heading up to Times Square to grab cheap tickets to First Date, starring the amazingly adorkable Zachary Levi. I honestly didn’t think I could love him more, but, oh boy, was I wrong!

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Before the show we grabbed lunch at a pub on Restaurant Row. We were the only people there! We sat outside in what was said out front to be there “beautiful garden patio”. They definitely oversold it with that description! It was charming though, and the food and service were good.

Restaurant Row:

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The beautiful garden patio:

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The show was definitely a lot of fun to watch. The music was upbeat, the cast was great, and I was entertained for the entire performance. If you’re in NYC, be sure to check it out. Here’s a preview clip:

After the show we headed to stagedoor, which was quite the experience. The crowd was MASSIVE. The barricades took up the entire sidewalk, plus one lane of the road, and was completely filled with people by the time the actors came out. Zach came out with his iPod and speakers and started up a “Stagedoor Playlist”, which was awesome. He then came around and signed for every single person in the massive crowd, chattering away to everyone.

At one point a woman leaned over us to hand him a piece of paper. He asked what it was, and she told him it was her number. He opened it up, and this was the priceless reaction:

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He then pulled out his wallet and put it inside. He chatted with Vi for a bit after she told him she’d seen the show previously and how much she enjoyed it.

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After he finished signing they asked anyone who wanted a photo to stick around inside the barriers. They then created an exit in one corner where Zach stood and you could get a photo as you were leaving. It was a much more efficient system than you’d find at most shows! Though, to be fair, I’m not sure most actors who draw that kind of crowd do photos at the stagedoor. At least not in any shows that I’ve seen!

Our awkward photo (well, awkward me, adorable him):

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That evening we went to movies and saw Austenland. It was amazing:

On Sunday we went out for brunch, and then met up with Carly. We wandered a street fair that was happening up around Columbus Circle before grabbing lunch. The sweet girls they are then indulged me when I headed back to the Booth Theatre to grab a print from The Glass Menagerie. I hadn’t seen the boards until after the show on Friday when we were already at the stage door and got it in my head that I needed one, because that’s how my head works sometimes.

They get it:

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The show let out, but it took a good hour for the actors to emerge. It looked like there were a lot of guests backstage though, so it’s understandable. Vi and I had tickets to Newsies (Carly had to head off to work), which started at 6:30. At about 6:28 I’d gotten my board signed by Zach, Celia, and Brian, as well as another dorky photo with Zach (I got super OCD and needed 4 photos with him because, again, my brain) before having to bolt it a few blocks to the theatre. I didn’t get Cherry’s signature on it, which I was bummed about, but what can you do?

We ran into the Nederlander, sat down, and about a second later the house lights went out. Phew! Newsies was fun, and had great music and Ian McKellen was in attendance. It was good time!

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Again, we hit the stagedoor. The entire cast was really sweet and appeared to be coming down from their nerdgasms over meeting Ian McKellen backstage after the show.

We then slowly meandered through the city back to Vi’s apartment. The weather the entire trip was beautiful, and that night was no exception.

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Early Monday morning I headed out to catch my bus home. And it was, surprisingly, on time! I even had the 2 seats to myself and slept a good chunk of the ride, which was perfect.

It was so nice to travel and feel good. I hadn’t realized just how awful I’d been feeling for the past year (possibly longer, according to doctors) until I suddenly wasn’t feeling like that anymore. It made the trip even more enjoyable!

I then followed the trip with working something like 60 hours over 8 straight days and am now fevered and disgusting and pneumonia ridden again. But, that seems par for the course at this point, doesn’t it? 😉

New York City, 2011

This may not be a first trip to New York, but it’s a first blog about it!

I had a great time this past weekend. I left horribly early Friday morning, but was sitting in a coffee shop in Manhattan by 10:30am. All was right with the world.

I soon after met up with Vi and tagged along as she ran some errands. One of said errands was in Limelight, which I’d never been to before. It’s an old church that’s been turned into a shopping centre. Very strange, but very cool. We also went to a Japanese restaurant for lunch.

That evening we headed to Times Square, grabbed dinner with a couple of Vi’s friends, and then went to see American Idiot. The show was excellent, as always, and after we were given a backstage tour by one of the cast members. Very surreal.

On the stage:

With Christina (Cast member/Tour guide!):

After the show we decided to do what any one who has been running around all day and has not slept the night before does: We caught a midnight movie. The King’s Speech. It was fantastic.

On Saturday we had a bit of a lazy morning and then headed out for lunch. At 2pm we saw a play at a tiny off Broadway theatre, called Three Sister’s. It was starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard. The show was quite long, and a bit confusing, but we enjoyed it.

Classic Stage Company:

After the show we headed back to Times Square and got dinner. That night we boarded a subway and went to Long Island City. The is probably the sketchiest part of New York I’ve ever seen! Lots of barbed wire fences, chained up doors, and boarded up windows. Also, all of the cross streets we passed had the same name. Seriously, weird.

Why were we wandering around Long Island City? We were going to see the awesome and uber talented funny lady, Jennifer Eolin perform in the Long Island City Theatre Festival. It was so nice to meet Jennifer, and she was great in the show!

With Jennifer after the show:

After the show we headed back to Vi’s place and I tried my very first bacon brownie. It… Did not go well. Heh. At least now I know, such things are not for me. I love bacon, and I love brownies, but I’ll continue to keep them separate.

On Sunday we got up early and headed to Penn Station to pick up Sara, who had come in from Long Island for the day. After (finally!) finding her, Vi headed back to the apartment to get her forgotten wallet, and Sara and I headed to Brooklyn for lunch with her friends Jessica and Courtney. That afternoon we headed back in to the city, found Vi at the St. James, and then got dinner.

Sara in Brooklyn:

Back in the city:

That evening we went to the Rockwood Music Hall where we saw one good band (NICKCASEY), one fantastic band (Jones Street Station), and lastly, the ever awesome John Gallagher Jr.

Myself, Vi, and Sara and Rockwood:

Jones Street Station:

Johnny:

Sara headed out to catch her train back to Long Island around 1am. Or, so we thought… Poor thing missed the train and was trapped at Penn Station all night. As my phone doesn’t work without wifi, and Vi’s phone died, we didn’t learn this until the following morning. So sorry, Sara!

On Monday morning I slept in a bit, got ready, and then headed off the airport around noon. I would up on an express train, once again, and was at the airport quite early. I’d rather be early than late, of course! I was just surprised to have gotten express trains both ways!

Anyway, there was some drama at the airport. Delays, cancellation of delays, more delays, gate changes. We left late, but got in to Buffalo early. Oh, JetBlue.