Sunday, May 27, 2012

New York City - Part 3

Porgy & Bess
After dinner we headed on over and got in line for the show.  When we got inside and saw how close our seats were to the stage, we may have geeked out a little.  Okay…a lot!  I don’t think I’ve ever been that close to the stage before.  Afterward, I felt like I actually knew the performers.  I’m not sure if it was our proximity to the stage or the powerful story or the unbelievably amazing talent, but I shed a few tears during the show.  Actually, I straight up cried…more than once.  The plot is for mature audiences, but the entire cast was incredible.  Perhaps that’s why it’s received TEN Tony Award Nominations.  I will be watching the Tony awards (on June 10th) and I’ll gladly tell anyone who listens that I saw Audra McDonald in Porgy & Bess.
Tracy’s Tip: Go see Porgy & Bess and take some tissues.
After the show we walked over the Sardi’s for some dessert.  The place was packed, but we walked right in and got a seat.  We shared the crème brulee.  How have I not had that before?   It was so delicious.  I would have ordered a second one, but I didn’t want the waiter to judge me. ;)
Tracy’s Tip:  Find some crème brulee and eat it.  Trust me, it’s awesome.
Night Life
Our return bus choices were 11 p.m. (too early) or 1:15 a.m. (ridiculously late).  When we left Sardi’s it had started to drizzle a little.  Thankfully Laura had brought an umbrella for us.  Our first mission was to find the Port Authority, where our bus was leaving from.  After wandering around looking for the MegaBus sign, a homeless guy directed us to the alley between two buildings.  He was right, but we didn’t feel comfortable waiting there so we started to look for a place to hang out.  Unfortunately most of the restaurants in the area closed at midnight.  We finally found a McDonalds, bought a coke, and just sat there and watched people for 45 minutes.  Did I mention that by now we had been going for 15 hours straight in NYC and that my feet were killing me???  Between the rain and the waiting, this was my least favorite part of the trip.
Around 12:30 we decided to walk over to see if the bus was there.  Thankfully it was and we hopped on and tried to sleep while we waited to leave.  Unfortunately, the bus was full of rowdy college students headed back to Philadelphia.  I tried to drown them out with music, but was unsuccessful.  Where were earplugs when I needed them?? This was my new least favorite part of the trip!
Tracy’s Tips: Be extra careful about the shoes you choose for a 15 hour day of walking.  Bring earplugs just in case you’re on a bus full of noisy people!
To Sum It Up
It seemed like before I knew it I was on a plane back to Austin and back in the classroom teaching.  What I really want to know is, when can I go back?  I’ve got at least a week full of NYC adventure in mind for my next trip, now I just need to start saving!

New York City - Part 2

On to Battery Park
From there we walked along Wall Street (past the sad three Occupy protesters and tons of tourists), by the Bull at Bowling Green and over to Battery Park.  I was beginning to feel a little peckish, so we stopped for pretzels and cokes at a street vendor. 
There were two lines to get on the ferry: one for those who bought tickets online ahead of time and one for the poor saps that waited until they got to the park to buy tickets.  At 12:30 we walked through the gate and were quickly merged through security with people who had been waiting over two hours in line. 
Tracy’s Tip: Buy your tickets to Liberty/Ellis Island in advance!

Lady Liberty
 I still can’t believe I’ve stood at the base of the Statue of Liberty.  It was everything I anticipated it would be and more.  It definitely helped that we had the most PERFECT weather.  The sky was clear blue, there was a nice breeze, and the sun was shining.  I took a ton of pictures just trying to show the how impressive the statue is.  I’m not sure I can adequately sum up the experience.  You’ll just have to go visit yourself!

After making it back to shore, we started walking north in the direction of our next subway stop.  We had planned it so that we could walk past Ground Zero.  You have to really plan in advance to see Ground Zero so that they can do a background check, but we had opted not to do that.  There was a lot of construction going on and tons of people wandering around just like us.  Even though there were huge construction barriers that blocked the view of the memorial, there was a very solemn atmosphere around the place.  It was hard to believe that such a monumental event happened 11 years ago.
Times Square
We rode the subway back to Times Square.  I’m going to go ahead and say it…Times Square was the only part of NYC that I really didn’t care for.  It was just WAY too crowded.  I was legitimately concerned that Laura and I were going to be separated.  We stayed long enough to take some pictures and figure out which street our musical was going to be on then we headed out.
Central Park
We walked past lots of famous places – Rockefeller Plaza, FAO Schwartz, Trump Tower (How many buildings does that guy own?) – on our way to the Park.  By the time we got there I was exhausted.  Laura bought a coke and I got an ice cream cone and we found a bench to sit on by the pond.  Again, it was the most beautiful day ever and I could have stayed there for hours, but we had places to go!

Tracy’s Tip: If you want to experience all that Central Park has to offer, plan on spending one (or maybe two) days there.
Dinner in Hell’s Kitchen
In planning out the day, we looked for somewhere close (but not too close) to Times Square for dinner.  We hoped to find a reasonably priced place since we wanted to save money for things like musical tickets.  We did a little internet hunting, randomly picked two places with interesting names, and went with our gut.  Vynl’s was the perfect pick.  It was a small restaurant with clean restrooms, a fantastic waiter, and an entire jug of water waiting for us on the table.  We both loved our meals.  In fact, I’d go back just to have another chicken parmesan sandwich.  I’d highly recommend it to anyone looking for a reasonably priced place to eat in that part of town.  

New York City - Part 1

Remember that trip I took to New York City?  It was only a month ago, but it seems like a lifetime.  I wanted to share my adventures (and tips) from my day in NYC.  I’m sure mom (and my three friends that read my blog) will appreciate it. J
You may ask, why only one day?  Was it worth it for such a sort trip?  Yes, yes it was.  Going to NYC was on the top of my list of things to do in life and I was determined to seize the opportunity.  And that’s what life’s about, right?  Taking advantage of those crazy moments.  Kinda like that weekend in college when we took a roadtrip from Abilene to Gatlinburg.  (But that’s another story…)
Getting There
After weighing our options – driving was out of the question and train tickets were too pricey – we opted for the MegaBus.  It was $50 roundtrip and actually quite comfortable.   Just in case you’re ever planning to take a MegaBus from the White Marsh Park & Ride in Baltimore, I highly recommended getting there extra early.  The parking lot is not very big and was already full from Thursday/Friday passengers.  It would be possible to walk over from the IKEA parking lot if needed, but we got there an hour early and were able to find a spot.  Our bus left at 6:30 a.m.  I was determined to stay awake to see all the state border signs (which I did), but I managed to catch a few catnaps in between.
Tracy’s Tip: Take the MegaBus and get there early to park.
On the MegaBus!
Making a Game Plan
Laura had been to NYC before, so she let me choose what I most wanted to do.  I narrowed it down to three things: see a Broadway musical, go to Liberty Island & Ellis Island, and visit Central Park.  We mapped out a route the night before and decided that we would take two subway trips and do the rest of our traveling on foot.
The Arrival
I was practically bouncing in my seat when the bus arrived in NYC.  The MegaBus dropped us off by Madison Square Gardens, so we decided to hop on the subway at Penn Station.  Finding a booth that sold Metro tickets in the train station was a little more difficult than expected, but we finally managed to get tickets and find the right train.
Buying Broadway Tickets
 Securing tickets to an evening musical was first on our list of priorities.  After extensive research, we figured out that it would be much smarter to go to the South Street Seaport TKTS booth because evening tickets went on sale at 11 a.m. (instead of 3 p.m. at the Times Sq. booth.)  We got there around 10:30 and joined the line.  While we waited for it to open, we tried to narrow down the potential choices.  Laura’s the musical expert, so I asked her to pick her top three choices.  We decided that Porgy & Bess was the best option because it starred Audra McDonald.  No one around us was even talking about it and we were thrilled to get tickets in our price range. 
We got the tickets
Tracy’s Tip: Buy discount Broadway tickets on the day of the show at the South Street Seaport TKTS location.