Saturday, November 19, 2011

Friday: Crazy Tourist

While I did spend my week going to all these fun places that I see and hear about so much, Friday I went crazy tourist. I had a long list of sites I still wanted to see.

First stop of the day was to have breakfast...

Yeah I went there: danish and coffee at Tiffany's Holly Golightly style. In the four days since I had been there they had also started decorating for Christmas.

I then wanted to head downtown to find another landmark. The problem was that my directions said to get on the subway at 59th and 5th, yet no matter how hard I looked I couldn't find it. I finally, out of being cold, gave up and headed down 5th hoping that my GPS would find a different route. Luckily it did.

Here is where I went next:

Know what that is? Yup! The stoop from Sex and the City. This is located at 66 Perry in Greenwich Village. According to the show Carrie lives on the Upper West Side, 245 E. 73rd to be exact. That address, however, was completely fictional and actually looks like this:

Smack dab in the middle of 2nd Avenue.

I checked out another SATC landmark, the Magnolia Bakery.

I then hopped on the subway and headed way uptown to one of my favorite places in the city: Columbia University.

I then headed back towards the park for a last visit to Gray's Papaya and a few places in the park. First stop was Belvedere Castle, the highest point in the park and where they do the weather reports.

Then I was determined to find the Alice and Wonderland statue. I don't know why this is always so hard for me to find, but it always seems to escape me.

By this time it was time to head back to the apartment to pack up and get ready to leave. On the way, however, there was still one last site to see: Holly Golightly's apartment building.

I got all packed up and ready and headed back to Penn Station to head back to Newark. I am all over running around the city, but I am not all about doing it with a huge suitcase, a bag and a purse.

The flight was really long and was delayed because they couldn't find a cleaning crew for the plane. The flight next to my gate was offering people a $500 voucher and a hotel to wait until the morning to fly. Unfortunately they were going to Detroit. Our OKC flight had plenty of room. We didn't get off the ground until around 9:00 local time and returned to OKC around 11:25 pm. I did most of my blogging narrative in the airport and on the phone, hence me being all ready to post today!

I do so love New York. I can't really explain how I feel about it in words. It is so strange to me to feel so at home somewhere that I've never lived. I'll own it, I cried on the plane as I was leaving. Now I'm back home and back to my normal life. I just have to figure out the next time I'm going and I'll start counting down again!

Thursday: I do NOT Art

The forecast for Thursday called for rain again. This wet stuff was putting quite the damper on my site seeing plans. I was trying to think of what I could do that would be inside, so I asked Whitney about museums. She suggested the New Museum downtown because they had a new exhibit. Bright(ish) and early(ish) I headed to the subway and downtown to check this thing out.

Well Whitney said there was a slide. Little did I know what was to come. When I got there I almost backed out and just went the other way. I’m not a big art fan. Give me photography, but other art I have little use for. I like reality. However, this trip is about jumping outside my comfort zone, so I went in. The lady taking money explained how everything would work and pointed me to the desk to sign the waiver.

WAIVER??? What was I getting myself into?

So I signed the waiver and headed to the fourth floor, where the excitement started. In the elevator there were flat panel televisions on either side with identical women (same woman? Twins? Not sure) saying “I say the opposite of what you say” then the other would repeat it, then one would say “I say the same thing you say” and the other would repeat it. To say I was out of my comfort zone was beyond an understatement.

When I got upstairs, there was a slide. And a mirror carousel. And some cages hanging from the ceiling with canaries in them. You couldn’t take bags down the slide, so I went back down the elevator with the creepy tv women and put my bag in a locker in the basement. Then I headed back up for the “experience.”

First I got on the carousel (after listening to the end of the docent tour, I still didn’t get the “art”). That wasn’t so bad. Next was the slide. It went from the fourth floor through the third floor and ended on the second floor. You had to use a mat and wear a helmet. I figured, when in Rome.

Yeah it was a slide. I mean it was a nice slide, but I just didn’t get the “art” about it. On the second floor, where you landed, there were flashing lights and large brightly colored animals.

Let me mention the third floor, which I did not visit. There was a “psycho tank.” You might ask what that is. Well I’m not going to give you a very good answer because I didn’t get it so much. Apparently it is a big tank that you can get into and it is 98 degrees and filled with a large amount of Epsom salt. You could only stay in 10-15 minutes because otherwise it could have ill effects on your health. You could not get in with clothes on, however you could check your clothes or wear a bathing suit. Clearly I did not have a bathing suit and I wasn’t really up for getting naked in an art museum, so I passed on that experience.

The last thing was the upside down goggles. I got in line, but they wanted a credit card as a deposit and I just wasn’t feeling it. I figured I had gotten my fill of “experiences” for quite some time.

I left the museum and the rain had returned.

I had to make a little post on facebook regarding this event to a friend. You see in high school my friend Katie got me hooked on a movie, If Lucy Fell. It is set in New York and has Sarah Jessica Parker in it and overall if just fabulous. In it she has to date anyone who asks and one of those guys is a character, played by Ben Stiller, named Bwick who is an artist. When describing himself to her he says “I…art…”. Well my comment was:

You remember in If Lucy Fell when Bwick said "" well today, much as I expected, I learned that NOT art! At all!
She had actually messaged me the night before asking about restaurant suggestions for another friend’s parents who would be in the city after Thanksgiving. When I’m on vacation I tend to forget to eat (I had McDonald’s after On a Clear Day because I had forgotten about real food). I do snack, but rarely go sit down and eat. I turned to Whitney for suggestions and she suggested the Cubana CafĂ©. It just happened that it was down in Soho close to the museum. My favorite Cuban restaurant in Dallas closed or changed food type or something and I was quite sad, so I was all for this.
I headed that direction. It was such a cute little place.

And the food was to DIE for. Seriously. I had a Cuban sandwich and home fries. I could eat a bathtub full of those home fries. SO good.

Thursday was supposed to be the big protest day for Occupy Wall Street and it was supposed to go through NYU. Okay I’m a sucker for things like this, so I headed to NYU, just to see if there might be something.

There wasn’t, but there were lots of cops at Washington Square Park, just in case.

I roamed through the park, which was gorgeous.

By this point it was still raining and was getting cold, so I decided a trip to the subway was in order. I headed to one of my favorite places in New York: Bryant Park and the New York City Library.

The skating rink was already up and I just wandered through.

From there I wandered up 5th Avenue. Did a little souvenir shopping and just enjoyed it not being as busy as it has been before when I’ve been there. I do love New York at Christmas; there really is no better place to celebrate the holidays. However, everyone else thinks that as well. It’s kind of like loving Norman, but loving it more in the summer when the students are gone.

The Christmas tree at Rockefeller is up, though still behind scaffolding. The star is proudly displayed as well. The Rockettes have already started the Christmas Spectacular. Christmas is in the air.

I stopped in at Au Bon Pain, which we came to love on the last trip for hot chocolate and a scone.

From there I found the subway and headed back to the apartment. When Whitney got home we ordered pizza and chatted for the rest of the night. By the way, that pizza was so much better than anything I found in Times Square before!

I checked in on my flight and headed to bed before what was going to be an extremely jam packed day.

Wednesday: When It Rains

The forecast for the week had predicted rain, however it didn’t appear that it was going to happen until Thursday. Like I said about Tuesday night it started to sprinkle and I had bought a new umbrella. Well Wednesday I don’t get up early, at all (since I was up late blogging about Harry). By the time I rolled out of the apartment it was around noon. I checked my weather app on my phone, which said it was sunny. I make my way down the stairs and get outside and it is NOT sunny.

I had left the umbrella upstairs, so I trudged back up the two flights of stairs and grab the umbrella. Back down I go. I head towards York to get on the M72, though I haven’t a clue where I had decided to go (probably back to Gray’s Papaya and more wandering around the Upper West Side). This is when I realized that it was really raining. And it was cold. And site seeing was not going to be fun in these conditions.

What’s a girl to do?

That’s right, go see Spiderman again! I figured the matinee started at 2:00 or 2:30, so being that it was around noon I had plenty of time. So I headed back upstairs and got on the computer to order tickets. I had two real options: one price, which was totally in my budget, would put me on the highest level (where we were before) in the back. OR I could spend $20 more and be in the Orchestra, eight rows back.

Best twenty dollars I have spent. (More on that soon).

The first thing I noticed was that the show was at 1:30. At this point it is around 12:00-12:15, so I knew I had to book it to get to Times Square. Luckily the shuttle from Grand Central happens to pop you out right on 42nd street, less than a block from the Foxwoods Theater.

Now you might be wondering why I wouldn’t want to go see another show, since I saw Spiderman the last time I was in NYC, less than eleven months ago. Well there was some drama and the show was completely changed, as was the director. I wanted to see the changes.

My initial two shows that I wanted to see on this trip were Book of Mormon and Spiderman, though Harry trumped Mormon because I figure it will tour, Harry won’t. Spiderman was necessary though, since that show will never tour.

The one thing I was sacrificing by going to the matinee was that Reeve Carney would not be playing Peter Parker. I accepted that it would be good to see it from another angle and decided it was worth it. And I was right.

There were a lot of technical elements that were different as well as a lot of story changes. In the previews the show opens with Mary Jane dangling from a “building” and Spiderman saving her from the Green Goblin. This time around it started with Peter doing a report at school on spiders. Another element that was removed from the story were the four teen narrators. I think that was a good plan. I was excited that they left the aerial weaving sequence with Aracne. It is visually stunning. There are six female actors hanging from yellow material ribbons. The swing forward and backward as other ribbons move upward (horizontally). This tells the story of Aracne.

Another element missing this time around was the members of Carney being on stage right through the show. That really disappointed me. I thought it was very different from anything I had seen before and I liked it.

There is a song called “Bullying by Numbers” and in the preview they had conversation bubbles with words like “whack” and “pow” that people would pop up behind the action. This was cut as well. I liked that because it gave a very comic book element to the show. If you never knew they were there you wouldn’t really miss them though, as they did something like that on the screens later in the show.

The story was dramatically changed and that was a good thing. It was much more cohesive this time around. There was only one villain: the Green Goblin. In previews Aracne was kind of jealous and tried to do bad things as well. I’m glad they cut that.

I don’t know if I didn’t notice it before, but there were several U2 references this time. In a boxing match scene the announcer said “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and the Green Goblin’s ring tone was another song. Prior to turning into the Goblin the scientist puts on Bono-esque glasses and says something about being a rockstar. I’m pretty sure I remember the dance club scene with Vertigo playing, however.

Now onto the Green Goblin. He was a riot. He really appears at the end of the first act for a bit, then comes on at the beginning of the second act. He came out after intermission and there were people that had not made it to their seats and he stared them down. He was very interactive with the audience which made it even better. There was a whole scene where he’s trying to call the newspaper and is put through an automated call system. Anyone who has called Cox Communications before understands that frustration. He also made some comment about how much his company spent on research or something like that and the quote was “well it was about 65 million dollars, well really more like 75,” which is the total cost to date of the show. Hilarious.

The first act was pretty slow, to be honest. Very little flying, which of course is the most exciting part. The second act, however, they were all over the place. It was amazing being in the front with them flying over your head. I won’t lie I was a wee bit concerned about someone landing on my lap, but I didn’t worry too much. I am really glad I cut my hair off because there was some Willow Smith action happening (whipping my hair back and forth) and I could have taken an eye out.

Acting and singing wise the show was phenomenal. The actor playing Peter was very different than Reeve, but you could tell he was trying to pick up some of Reeve’s mannerisms. He had an incredible voice though. A new Mary Jane started a few weeks ago and she was beyond amazing. Unfortunately I thought she was a lot better than the first MJ. Aracne was also different; not in a good way or a bad way, but there were extreme physical differences from the previous actress which gave it a different feel, plus the character itself had changed so much.

After the curtain call they sweeped the orchestra, however since the orchestra was below the stage (different from most shows) they showed them on the screens on stage. When it was all said and done Mr. Green Goblin spoke to the audience about a charity that the Broadway shows support during this time of the year called Broadway Cares. It is a charity that raises money for AIDS patients a well as breast cancer patients. I knew immediately that one of my CrossTimbers dollars had to go to it. Well then he started talking about the “stuff” for sale. It was all tax deductible! I ended up with a Broadway Cares Christmas album and a bracelet made of the flying rope and Spiderman costumes. Yeah I’m a nerd, deal with it. I also managed to come home with some “spider webs” from the last big fight scene.

Overall it was an excellent way to spend a rainy afternoon in Manhattan. I think the changes that were made were for the best, however there were a few minor things that I didn’t like.

On my way back to the apartment I made a quick stop to Grand Central to take a few pictures.

When I got back to the apartment Whitney suggested we check out this new store that had opened on 5th Avenue. It is call Uniqlo and it is Japanese. They have a lot of warm weather stuff, which I have little use for in Oklahoma. There was, however, a coat that I almost had to take home with me. It seriously felt like a marshmallow and it fits into a teeny bag and would be ideal for traveling in the winter, since taking a heavy coat is always a pain. Alas, they didn’t really have a color I wanted, so I chose not to buy it (this isn’t to say that I might not try to order it online or have Whitney go buy me one!).

After that we met up with her boyfriend and went to Chipotle. When we got done it was 8:50 and apparently around the corner is an excellent bakery for cupcakes, however it closed at 9:00. We booked it, made it in time, and ended up with free muffins for breakfast the next day!

I was sad that it rained and I felt like I missed a day in the city, however I think I used my time quite wisely!

Tuesday: Ten Years in the Making

First thing Tuesday I headed to the Upper West Side for a bagel, cream cheese and lox at Zabar's (if you've read the Babysitters Club books you understand).

From there I headed downtown to the 9/11 Memorial. September 11, 2001, though I have no actual attachment to NYC, was a very emotional day for me. It was a period in time where I was seriously considering moving because I was really unhappy with events transpiring in Norman. I remember when the attacks happened one of my friends freaking out because I had so seriously been talking about moving. Though I didn’t know anyone it felt extremely personal to me. In anticipation of seeing the memorial I seriously was choking back tears the whole way down and while I was picking up my visitor pass (which you have to reserve ahead of time).

On the way to pick up my pass I found Occupy Wall Street:

They were still pretty riled up, however they had been evicted at 1:00 am, so the park was clear, though there were TONS of NYPD floating around.

On my walk to the memorial I ended up behind some Kansas fans in town for a basketball game (because we know they don’t care about football!)

Then came the nice, long, Six Flags line to get in. There is a ton of construction going on around the WTC, including the building of One WTC, which will take the place of the Twin Towers.

I found this pretty funny:

It says what is not allowed and one is “demonstrations of any kind.” With all the hoopla around the corner I found that pretty funny, even though my picture got cut off.

When you entered the memorial there are two pools, the north and south.

The names are adjacent to one another based on relationship, whether family or where they were. You can look up the names on a kiosk and print off maps. Since I didn’t actually know anyone I used the little girl from Flight 77:

When I went to the north pool there was a family doing a rubbing of a name.

I was really surprised at the peace that I felt while in the memorial. I really expected to be in tears the entire time, but that was not how I felt at all. Peace is the best way to describe it. If that’s what they were aiming for then they certainly did a great job.

Eventually there will be a museum on site.

For the time being there is a small museum around the corner. Seeing all the artifacts from the attacks nearly brought me to tears, but probably none more that this:

It is always interesting to put names and faces together. To see the people that were lost during this attack. To see the wall of their smiling faces; graduation pictures, wedding photos, snapshots of them with their kids. It was quite overwhelming.

I spent quite awhile at both of these, but knew that I had theatre tickets for that evening and wanted to make it back to the apartment in time to chat with Whitney, so the memorial and museum was all I did on Tuesday.

I did however manage to get lost downtown. I always get lost in downtown. The worst part was that my trusty phone, with Google maps, was on its last legs. I did a quick search of which trains to take and tried to take a picture of it with my camera. That was worthless, so I jotted the directions down.

While trying to find the subway station (I swear they hide sometimes) I managed to end up IN Occupy Wall Street. Yeah that wasn’t so much fun. I was afraid I would get in the middle of something I didn’t really want to be in the middle of (however I apparently have a “thing” for NYPD because there were several I would have taken home with me, I think it’s the hat).

Finally I found where I needed to be and made the trek back to the Upper East Side.

Monday: I Heart NY

To say that I slept in out of ridiculous exhaustion Monday is an understatement. I finally woke up and knew exactly what my first stop would be and I knew that the M72 would take me right to it. The problem was that I had an empty Metrocard and no change, thus I needed to make a trip to a subway station to fill my Metrocard.

The closest subway station was at 77th and Lexington: three and a half long blocks and four short blocks. I fully intended to head there and then walk back to 72nd and York to catch the bus. Again, best laid plans. When I got done with my new, and full, Metrocard I realized I was really close to another landmark that I was interested in seeing: the New York Junior League headquarters at 80th between Madison and Park. So off I went.

It was fabulous, not that I expected much else.

From there I was only a block or so from the park, so why not just head that way, it would get me to my intended destination.

Again, Google maps on my phone became my best friend because the park is confusing! While looking for what I wanted to be my first “official” stop I did manage to get several gorgeous fall park pictures.

Then, after missing it once, I managed to get where I wanted to be:

The Imagine Mosaic in Strawberry Fields: the memorial to John Lennon. This is part of my New York obsession. I love that song, that word, everything about it. (note to future husband: this is where I want to be proposed to!)

After a nice little trip around Strawberry Fields and lots of pictures I snapped one of the Dakota (where John Lennon lived and was killed) and headed to my next destination: Gray’s Papaya. This was featured in one of my favorite New York movies that actually does not take place in New York: Fools Rush In.

I’m not a big hot dog fan, but these were incredible.

I then meandered through the Upper West Side and back into the park. I found Tavern on the Green, now the visitor center. Then had a Serendipity moment:

Found the zoo.

Then wandered around taking a lot more pictures (all of which are public on my facebook profile for your viewing pleasure).

I went through Columbus Circle and over to Lincoln Center, then decided to have a Sex and the City moment:

Yes, Manolo Blahnik. Be still my heart.

I wandered across 54th and then up 5th to 5th and 57th, also known as Mecca, or Tiffany and Company to most.

Next on the agenda was something sweet, but of course, this came first:
 And then…

Though some people don’t understand the idea of “frozen” hot chocolate I love it. I decided that I needed some food first, so I ordered a “high heel pump” which was amazing.

And then it was dessert time.

Worth. Every. Calorie.

I didn’t really intend to not take public transportation, but I guess I subconsciously was still a bit flustered from the night before.

After a trip through Dylan’s Candy Bar and what I’m sure was to be a sugar coma I headed back to Whitney’s for a nice low key evening. I made a few reservations for things that night, but you have to wait and see what!