The Big, glorious, Apple: Day 2

Our first full day in NYC was jam-fricking-packed. Be under no illusion that we were just gonna roll around the place shopping all day…we had no time for that shit! We had a zillion sights to see and we werent about to waste any time wanging money on reduced price Levi’s (or whatever it is you serial shoppers like to buy over there)

Our Day 2 tick list:

  1. Top of the Rock
  2. Central Park
  3. Visit Serendipity
  4. Eat a classic NY pretzel
  5. Visit Bryant Park
  6. Go to Bloomingdales and buy something…anything!
  7. Visit a Broadway show
  8. Horse and carriage ride
  9. Grand Central station

 Mate, we were gonna be touristy as fuck, and not ashamed of it either.

We did seven hours of walking…SEVEN….and it was excellent. This, reader, if I had to choose one, was my favourite day of the whole trip.

So, as I was, as previously mentioned, obsessed with Rockerfeller Center, the first port of call for the day was to go see the tree AGAIN, and go up the Top of the Rock (TICK!). It was a stunningly sunny yet crisp day; perfect weather for viewing NYC from the top of some building. The views were so breathtaking and we spent about an hour up there absorbing the view and excitedly brandishing my selfie stick. (Seriously, SUCH tourist-wankers)

After that we went on a bit of a wander in the general direction of Central Park, but on the way we encountered a lot of other things on our list. The famous Serendipity café (from the film…and if you havent seen it, shame on you) was over on E60th Street, so we went there (TICK!) thinking that perhaps we’d be able to eat there. Er, no, caller, we could not eat there. It was rammed to high heaven…which was a shame because it looked so beautiful inside!

Next up was Bloomingdales (TICK!), which is essentially a glorified Debenhams. Mum and I both bought a Mac lippy so that we’d get a Bloomies bag. We didnt, we got a Mac bag. We did not think that through.

Man, I loved Central Park. A glorious haven amidst a crazy city. We went straight to the ice rink obviously, because that’s the iconic thing that everyone wants to see, right? We nabbed ourselves a coffee and big ol’ pretzel (TICK!) and watched the ice skaters as the sun beamed down. It was so peaceful…way more chilled than I thought it would be.

We then decided to splash out on a horse & carriage ride through the park (TICK!), which was great fun. Some Irish dude talked us through all the spots of the Park that were in famous films, which I subsequently then went and stood by so I could feel famous by extension, obvs. One of these spots was at the top of the cluster of rocks that’s by the entrance on the South West side – it features in the shit-yet-good rom com, Maid in Manhattan, as J-Lo stands up there with Ralph Fiennes.

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Photo that I took from the cluster of rocks at Central Park South West. Good right?

I got some awesome photos from this spot which I’ll treasure forever.

By this point, the jet lag was really hitting me. I was flagging BIG time so it was time to walk the 20 or so blocks back to the hotel for a pit stop.  I grabbed a Dunkin Donut mid-walk to give me energy (sidenote: after this donut I became obsessed, discovered there was a DD on the same road as our hotel, and proceeded to eat one daily) and diverted slightly so we could go and see Grand Central Station (TICK!).

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Not a great photo, but Grand Central Station is stunning, honest

What a beaut that place is…although we were clearly pissing off all the commuters by hanging around the central concourse taking photos. Again, TOURIST KLAXON!

By this point in the trip, I appeared to naturally lapse fairly easily into US lingo. I was all “crosswalk” this, and “intersection” that. I even dropped a few “restroom” and “happy holidays”. I even got to grips with the grid layout of the streets and avenues easily…which surprised me because when I studied them before actually arriving there, they made literally no sense to me. At all. I guess you have to just throw yourself into it and it’s the quickest way to work it all out. I felt well smug being all “yeah Mum so we need to head downtown to W34th & 7th for Macys and then hop on the 2 train to Chelsea, blah blah blah”. TWO tourists even asked me for directions. ME! They clearly mistook me for a native. I take this as a sign that I am meant to live there one day.

After Grand Central, we wandered across to Bryant Park (TICK!). I’d heard about it, as being famous for having the only FREE ice rink in the city. Not only did it have a rink, but a pretty big Christmas market, and what my Mum touted as her “favourite christmas tree in the City”.

It had a really nice vibe actually, and we ended up going back there a few times throughout our trip.But eventually, after all these diversions, we got back to the hotel to spruce ourselves up ready for our night on the town.

Now, when I’m away I like to use Trip Advisor to find good restaurants near my “current location” and then reserve a table half hour before getting there. It’s the best way to find decent eateries and avoid having to wander around aimlessly looking for somewhere that doesn’t look too rammed or rank. We needed somewhere to eat before we went to see the show we had booked (YAY!), and I found a place called O’Lunney’s which was an Irish Pub (you’d never guess…) just off Times Square.

photo-09-12-2016-18-49-17We had a lovely bangers and mash, and although it was actually pretty heaving in there, it was a really good festive vibe. Pre-booking was clearly essential. Lucky I’m so anally organized isn’t it, eh?

Next, it was time for the biggie. My first ever Broadway show (TICK!). Shit. This would be a big deal for anyone, but taking into account my love affair with theatre that’s been going on for 7 years now, this had even more significance for me. I’ve watched friend after friend go to New York and talk about all the shows they had seen; I’d heard how the US audiences are different to UK ones, I’d heard how the theatres are bigger and the lines are longer. But now it was my turn. I had pre-booked us tickets to see Waitress several weeks before we went, and for those of you not involved the theatre world, Waitress has been a much hyped show since it opened on Broadway in March.

It’s been critically and publicly acclaimed and its score, written by Sara Bareilles, heralded as basically the best modern score of our time. I was so THRILLED to be seeing it, and excuse me while I fangirl for a second because MY GOD IT WAS AMAZING. I can’t put into words how glorious this musical is, on every level. Instead of having the Tony Award winning Jesse Mueller in the lead role of Jenna, we had the understudy Stephanie Torns, and she was phenomenal.  I wept so hard, the music was joyous and there was a moment mid-show when I zoned out a little and just thought about where I was. I was on Broadway. I was seeing a show that I instantly loved…and I really mean ‘instantly’, like, within the first two bars of the overture.

Before the show, I had gone to the bar to get us two large wines. Now, “large wine”, in America, appears to mean, basically “a pint of wine”. Well, 11 ounces anyway (312ml), which is a lot. So that’s what we had, each. It cost me $48. FOR TWO WINES. WHAT THE F…… I decided to throw caution to the wind and repeat the process during the interval. I was in holiday spendthrift mode and couldnt have given less of a fuck.

I was buzzing my knackers off by this point (50% due to the show, 50% the wine), and to make it even better, Mum adored it too. I could see her loving every minute, and that made my enjoyment of it all the more elevated. I have sinced listened to the Cast Recording (which I bought during the interval) approximately 585648383 times.

We loved it SO much in fact, that we felt compelled to stage door afterwards. Some of you may be thinking, WTF, you weirdo groupies…but when you’ve been truly touched by the piece of art in front of you, you feel an inate need to let the creators of it understand just how much they’ve touched your heart (I know I sound like a proper knob there, but it’s true!)

By this time of the evening, it was MINUS TWO degrees outside but nevertheless, we hung out at stage door with a bunch of other people, and met all the cast members as they came out. All were very gracious and lovely as you’d expect, and came armed with Sharpies ready to sign everyone’s Playbills  (FREE PLAYBILLS, YES AMERICA!).

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We pranced home full of mirth and sprightly joy at what we had just seen (via McDonalds for our second dinner of the night, because, why not?) If anyone is reading this and going to NYC in early 2017, please book to see this show. It is heaven. And give it a kiss from me.

So, we packed in a lot, right? I felt such a sense of accomplishment, and felt myself falling more in love with this city by the minute.

 What would tomorrow hold?

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