Travel

Reflections on New York

Melt Shop. Great grilled cheese.

Melt Shop. Great grilled cheese.

Best Things:

  • Deciding to not eat at any chain restaurants that we had at home.
    This rule forced us to be creative about food – even late night snacks – because it eliminated 90% of fast food. And we ate really good food. I don’t know if I can pick a favourite meal. Maybe the Grilled Cheese we had for my birthday. Next time I would keep this rule for sure, but if travelling by myself or with a different friend I would try more of the ethnic foods available to me.
  • Seeing a wide range of types of shows.
    Vampire Cowboys’ Six Rounds of Vengeance, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, Sleep No More, Book of Mormon, An Act of God, Aladdin, Then She Fell and Something Rotten! Two site specific shows. Three Musicals. Three Plays. Four Broadway shows. One Off-Broadway. Two Off-Off Broadway. Three Comedies. One Drama. Two Dance/Movement Pieces. One Geek Theatre. Seeing this wide range of shows gave me good context and also kept things interesting. Next time I would try to do this as well – keeping the indie theatre that I love in the mix with the big budget spectacle that I also love.
  • Mixing Preparation with Spontaneity
    I am generally a planner. I like plans. Jaime is less of a planner. Our agreement going into this trip was that I could make a spreadsheet as long as she could toss the plans out the window (other than things we prebooked). This meant we had a good idea of what we wanted to do, but didn’t have to feel tied to doing it. Tickets to shows gave our days an anchor point with the flexibility to explore and meander off to check out things we hadn’t planned (like the library, Columbus Circle, or even riding the carousel in Central Park on the first day).
  • Meeting (Internet) Friends
    I ended up meeting up with four internet friends and two old friends who have moved to the city. These coffee or drink meet ups were a delightful change of pace from the crazy of exploring. For the new friends, it was wonderful to put faces to names and relationship on top of text messaging. For the old friends, it was great to catch up on 6-8 years worth of life. There were so many more people I would have liked to meet up with, but time is what it is and hopefully I’ll catch them on the next trip.
  • Leaving the Last Day Open
    We pre-planned NOTHING for our final day. Then the second to last night we made a list of all the things we wanted to go back to, things we hadn’t gotten to, and picked a show to see. It meant we were able to fit all of those things in. If I were on my own I probably would have just seen two shows that final day, but this system worked really great for travelling with a friend.
  • Travelling with Jaime is the best. Even when she's scared.

    Travelling with Jaime is the best. Even when she’s scared.

    Travelling with Jaime
    In the past I have always travelled on my own, but travelling with Jaime was a blast. Sure, there were moments of frustration on both sides, but it was wonderful to have a buddy to share the joy, the foot pain, the laughter, the confusion, and the adventure with.

Worst Things:

  • Blisters on blisters on blisters on my feet.
    Next time I will bring better walking shoes. I thought I had brought pretty good walking shoes, but we were often walking 14 hours a day and my shoes disintegrated and had to be thrown away at the end of the time.
  • The smells
    New York is a stinky city.
  • Being Poor
    It would be so easy to spend a lot more money on a trip like this. Another time I’d like to.

New York Day 10

Grand Central Station, view from the Apple Store on the Mezzanine.

Grand Central Station, view from the Apple Store on the Mezzanine.

Our final day in New York was a lot like most of our other days in New York: Full of walking. But like the other days I’m amazed at what we managed to fit in.

In order to make the morning a bit more manageable tomorrow, we spent some time after breakfast today packing our bags. i was very glad I brought an extra duffle bag as my suitcase would not have held everything now. Then we made our way uptown to Grand Central Station to check it out since our only previous time there had been very rushed as we had to make a connection. Architecturally it is beautiful and it is also amazing as a bustling transportation hub with an abundance of stores and restaurants.  We were going to get lunch there but found the amount of noise overwhelming and headed back to the street in search of food.

After lunch we finally found some stamps to mail all of our post cards and then walked up to Bryant Park where we came across a special NY Rangers snow-cone truck – yup, they were giving away free snowcones to celebrate being in the playoffs. We took them up on that, though I think it may have pained Jaime a little bit inside. Then we made our way into the NY Public Library. Sadly the main catalogue and reading room are closed right now, but we did the self-guided audio tour anyways and got to see the original Winnie the Pooh down in the basement and learned a bit about many of the rooms and collections housed in the building.

Jaime loves her gay ice cream.

Jaime loves her gay ice cream.

Continuing our day of being all over the place, we went down to the village to visit The Big Gay Ice Cream Shop because they have a specialty cone named the Bea Arthur and Jaime needed to eat it. Also the softserve was delicious and totally worth the detour.

Then it was back to Central Park to watch roller skaters, eat hot dogs by Bethesda Fountain, listen to various musical performers, and just spend a bit more time exploring.

Something Rotten? More like Something Awesome.

Something Rotten? More like Something Awesome.

We decided last night that we’d wrap up our time here in NYC by going to see Something Rotten! – a new musical that neither of us really knew anything about. It was so much fun. Tonight for the first time I saw an audience give a single song a standing ovation. There’s a song in the show called “God, I hate Shakespeare” (which made me think about my dear friend Christopher who doesn’t like Shakespeare much either).

Post show we got take-out cheesecake and now we’re back in the hotel room packing up the last of our things so that we can get up very early tomorrow morning and start making our ways home.

New York Day 9

Van Gough's Starry Night captures movement and passion in its brush strokes in a beautiful way.

Van Gough’s Starry Night captures movement and passion in its brush strokes in a beautiful way.

The Internet is such a magical place. I can’t really remember how I met Natalie and Marci but I’m so glad I did. We got together this morning for coffee and croissants and had a really lovely visit in a room with cool lighting and loads of books. Oh and these magical miniature waffles dipped in chocolate.

Then it was off to MoMA to meet up with Jaime. So many paintings and sculptures. The first room we went into housed Van Gough’s “Starry Night” which is Jaime’s favourite painting and one of mine. I generally like the impressionists, and then with my love of Doctor Who…anyways, there was also a really cool Andy Warhol exhibit that had all of his soup can paintings in one room and also a collection of paintings of shoes that he did which I really enjoyed. My museum and galleries part of my brain is very full. I don’t think I could handle going to another one immediately. Good thing we aren’t planning to visit any more. Well, I might in Ottawa but that’s not immediate.

Ms. Muppet is still nameless. All suggestions are welcome.

Ms. Muppet is still nameless. All suggestions are welcome.

MoMA has a gorgeous sculpture garden out back so we sat there for a bit to rest our feet before venturing up to FAO Schwartz to go to the muppet whatnot workshop and build our own custom muppets. Mine does not have a name yet, so suggestions are welcome. We didn’t want to haul our muppets around all night so we went to drop them off at the hotel where I promptly fell asleep for over an hour. I guess it was all catching up with me.

For supper we went to Shake Shack and despite one friend’s warning that we’d be in line for hours, we got our food in about 10 minutes and ate more food than we should have because it was delicious.  At that point we still had time to kill before our evening plans, so we walked up to Columbus Circle and watched kids play with the fountains before cutting through the park and then back down to 57th, popping into ridiculous souvenir shops and laughing at the tchotchkes in them.

Studio 54 has one of the most beautiful spaces I’ve seen here in New York. The entrance hallway has stunning chandeliers and the central arch in the theatre is also beautiful. We were there to see An Act of God starring Jim Parsons. Unfortunately, I felt like the show hadn’t found its feet (it is still in previews), but the audience who was mostly there just to see Jim Parsons was very happy to see him and he played that up a lot.

One more day in the city – looking forward to what it brings.

New York Day 8

There's something behind me!

There’s something behind me!

In all of our NYC shopping, I still have not found the perfect dress for Christies wedding. But shop we did.  We spent a couple of hours popping in and out of both boutiques and department stores. I tried on a few things, but nothing was the right thing.

When we were ready to give up we made our way to the American Museum of Natural History. Because dinosaurs. The staff were quick to remind us that they are where Night at the Museum is based, even tho they don’t have all those exhibits. But still: Dinosaurs. After looking at dinosaurs and space for a while we got on the train and headed north.

AMURIKA

AMURIKA

The train to Yankee stadium is a different experience. It’s fuller, sure, but it’s also buzzing with anticipation. We climbed to our seats which were NOT the last seats up in the house (but close) and I watched my first ever professional sports game. The sportsball was mostly long stretches of nothing, peppered with short bursts of busy, followed by the crowd going nuts. Oh, and eating hot dogs and cheese fries. As one does. And the Yankees won so that was a great reason to celebrate.

Compared to the rest of the trip, we were home early: 11pm!

New York Day 7

Statue of Liberty Selfie

Statue of Liberty Selfie

Today was a day of American landmarks. We spent the morning at the Statue of Liberty. My favorite part of that was the museum showing how it was built, from the methods used to hammer the copper to the interior support structure. We did the climb up to the pedestal but to be honest it was pretty boring. The statue itself is the interesting thing and like the Eiffel Tower the problem with climbing it is that you can no longer see it.

From there we went to Ellis Island and the immigration museum. Unfortunately the museum is still recovering from the effects of Superstorm Sandy and most of the artifacts are still in offsite storage. Huge sections were just empty which was disappointing. As such we didn’t spend as much time there as we thought we would.

For the first time all trip we made it back to the hotel midday and I was able to grab a quick nap before we headed out to grab dinner with my friend Mariah. She’s one of those people I’ve been internet friends with for ages and then we started texting at least three years ago but wed never met in person before. We had a really lovely visit.

Aladdin!

Aladdin!

Then it was time to head to Aladdin. But on our way we stopped for cupcakes after realizing we hadn’t had any real cupcakes on my birthday. Aladdin was one of those shows I had heard somewhat mixed things about, but everyone agreed that the guy playing the genie was brilliant. We had so much fun at the show. Sometimes it’s just fun to see a show that is big on glitz and effects with fireworks, flying carpet, and lots of traps/elevators in the set. I think I spent most of the show grinning.

New York City Lights

New York City Lights

Once the show got out, we headed to the NBC building to go to Top of the Rock and check out the nighttime city skyline. Because we weren’t going up the Empire State Building we were pleased to be as to see and photograph it.

New York Day 6

The Brooklyn Bridge

The Brooklyn Bridge

Today we spent the day exploring Brooklyn. We started with a walking tour that took us across the Brooklyn Bridge and then through Brooklyn Heights and Dumbo. We saw a lot of interesting and historic buildings and learned some things thanks to our guide.

2015-05-05 13.51.56When the tour ended we stopped for lunch at Juliana’s, which is right next to Grimaldi’s but is apparently better pizza. Better or not, it was delicious. From there we went our separate ways. Jaime headed back for the hotel and I headed deep into Brooklyn to meet up with my friend Gillian who was the GM at Pacific Theatre when I started working there and shot my first headshot so if have something for in the program. I hadn’t seen her in close to ten years and had never met her kids, so it was extra fun to spend a chunk of the afternoon with them.

When I left them, I went to meet up with another old friend – the darling Becky Branscom. Becky and I were part of a graduating class of three from our theatre program and then she did an apprenticeship at PT during my first season as resident SM. it was really delightful to catch up with her. There is a wonderful shared language that makes reconnecting easy.

Leaving her, I made my way into Williamsburg to the location for Then She Fell, an immersive theatre production based on Alice in Wonderland. In the opening moments of the show they define liminal and then invite us as an audience to live in a liminal space for the evening. It was a truly beautiful experience. Some of my favorite moments included mirroring Alice while peeling and eating an orange, painting the roses red with the white rabbit, and taking dictation for Lewis Carrol in a magical room.

By the time I returned to the hotel it was after two in the morning and I just collapsed into bed.

NYC Day 5

After telling ourselves that we were going to take it easier today we didn’t really succeed at that.

Street art viewed from the High Line

Street art viewed from the High Line

We headed over to Chelsea late morning, planning to hit the Chelsea Market for lunch and then walk the High Line, but we got distracted and ended up at Macy’s where I was trying on potential bridesmaid dresses for Christie’s wedding. We did make our way over to the high line which was a really neat park, but I think that if I were a local i would get irritated at the number of people stopping to take pictures while I was trying to jog (in this scenario I am a person who likes jogging. Ha!)

We ended up getting lunch at a diner in Chelsea where the portions were HUGE. I was unable to finish my meal.

Jaime and I with our delicious cocktails.

Jaime and I with our delicious cocktails.

After lunch we met up with my friend Debby who I worked with at the Vancouver Fringe. We made our way over to the McKitterick Hotel and up to the Gallow Green for happy hour before Sleep No More.  The cocktails were expensive but also DELICIOUS. And then we went in and did the Sleep No More thing.

We all had very different experiences of the show. I was really impressed by the production design, the performers and the intricacy of the timing to make a show like that move the way it needs to so that people are always in the right place at the right time. That said, i never really got fully immersed in the show – I was immersed enough to forget about the blisters on my feet, but not so immersed that I wasn’t calculating their monthly glow tape budget (Seriously. It was in full strips up every banister and outlining every stair!)

With my mask, outside the MicKittrick

With my mask, outside the MicKittrick

Some of my favourite moments: watching Lady M take her bath but through the window behind the tub, not in the room with her; Mackers & Banquo’s fight; and the matron & Mrs MacDuff(?) with the poison.

After the show we stopped for pizza before trecking back to the hotel, once again aware of our sore bodies. Time to crash before the adventures begin anew.

New York Day 4 – Coney Island

For a change of pace today we left Manhattan and headed out to Coney Island/Brighton Beach. And it was such a delightful day. Ice cream. Hot dogs. Roller Coasters. Dipping our toes in the Atlantic Ocean. Strawberry Daiquiris. Laying on the sand. Cotton Candy.

Around 5:30 the wind really starting picking up and we’d had an early supper on the boardwalk, so we headed back into town. I then headed out to have drinks with a friend from the internet – a delightful two hours of drinks and discussion, while Jaime had a chance to call home and watch some hockey.  A very wonderful day.

Onwards!

(Okay, here are the photos you’ve been waiting for!)

 

Jaime dips her toes in the freezing cold Ocean. I'm so glad I had my camera handy to capture this.

Jaime dips her toes in the freezing cold Ocean. I’m so glad I had my camera handy to capture this.

Such a beautifully sunny day! This was before I got a brutal sunburn.

Such a beautifully sunny day! This was before I got a brutal sunburn.

The view from the pier.

The view from the pier.

We did it! We rode the Cyclone. In our souvenir photo (taken at the bottom of the first steep drop) I look like I'm about to cry. It is hilarious.

We did it! We rode the Cyclone. In our souvenir photo (taken at the bottom of the first steep drop) I look like I’m about to cry. It is hilarious.

New York Day 3 – Happy Birthday to Me

Happy 29th birthday, self! I think that was about as perfect as a day could be.  Instead of describing it, you get photos. I’m much too tired to write a lot.

Brunch - complete with all you can drink mimosas on the upper east side.

Brunch – complete with all you can drink mimosas on the upper east side.

Our first broadway show: Curious Incident. Amazing design work and acting from the young lead.

Our first broadway show: Curious Incident. Amazing design work and acting from the young lead.

Grilled Cheese supper like the grown ups we are.

Grilled Cheese supper like the grown ups we are.

The hype did not lie: Book of Mormon was excellent.

The hype did not lie: Book of Mormon was excellent.

Ending the night right: NY Cheesecake & the bartender's special drink (I asked for something Fruity with Champagne, he came back with this - champagne, four kinds of vodka, triple sec, bourbon and something else in addition to the juice)

Ending the night right: NY Cheesecake & the bartender’s special drink (I asked for something Fruity with Champagne, he came back with this – champagne, four kinds of vodka, triple sec, bourbon and something else in addition to the juice)

New York Day 2

So. Much. Walking.

Soaking in some art

Soaking in some art

That’s the thing always forget about big museums is that you are going to end up walking for many many hours. And that’s exactly what we did.  This morning after trying out the breakfast included with our hotel (It’s pretty good!) we made our way up to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and began exploring. There is a big private party happening there on Monday, which means that a lot of the exhibits and areas are closed for set up. Security told us that Kanye West is performing at the party, but I’m not sure if he was serious or just pulling our legs. Anyways, we spent most of our time in the Egypt wing, American Wing, and European Art/Contermporary Art wings (though we did walk through the Roman, Oceanic, and Medieval areas as well). Jaime and I both share an affinity for the Impressionists, so we spent a substantial amount of time looking at the paintings of Monet, Manet, Van Gogh, Matisse, and Brauques (pre-cubism).

Real life is not like Mary Poppins

Real life is not like Mary Poppins

Leaving the museum, we made our way to Central Park where adult Lois made 4-year old Lois’ dreams come true. Yes, I rode the Central Park Carousel and grinned with delight the whole time!  As family lore goes, young Lois first rode a carousel shortly after watching Mary Poppins for the first time and was utterly terrified that the horses were all going to come to life and ride away like they did in the movie.

In wonderland

In wonderland

We also found the Alice in Wonderland statue. One of my favourite things about the photo that Jaime took of me on it is the young girls climbing on the statue as well. As we were walking away from there and over to the Bethesda Fountain, we heard a couple of women calling to the kids to leave so they could take a photo. The kids were smartly ignoring them and continue to play, exactly as the statue was designed for.

One of them is a chocolate dipped birthday cake

One of them is a chocolate dipped birthday cake

After leaving the park, we walked over to Madison Avenue to do some shopping. Jaime bought a beautiful new handbag and I looked at some very beautiful and expensive things. And then we bought cupcakes because it was almost my birthday and cupcakes are the greatest. These cupcakes were not any old cupcakes though – they are delicious mini-cupcake tops, and some of them are topped with macarons. So we got a box of 12 and ate them for dinner. Because we are adults and we will do what we please! They were delicious and disappeared far too quickly.

I'm a bad patron.

I’m a bad patron.

We made our way back to the hotel to drop off our treasures before heading out to the Village to see the Vampire Cowboys show Six Rounds of Vengeance. The show came highly recommended by most of the people I know in NYC and the playwright is a college friend of my former boss so we decided to see our first NYC show in a cool little theatre in the West Village. We got there early and walked down to the pier where we could stand between Manhattan and Hoboken and see both at once, as the sun was setting. And the show was a lot of fun. The company specializes in “geek” theatre, inspired by comic books with vampires, monsters and parallel worlds and I certainly enjoyed it.

After the show we met up for drinks with a local playwright who I know through twitter and had a good visit about theatre, fringe festivals, and Doctor Who. The three of us were walking down the street post-drinks when i looked at my phone and realized it was after midnight and therefor my birthday. Happy birthday to me! I can’t wait for tomorrow’s adventures!