New York anniversary trip

posted by Jeff | Sunday, April 7, 2019, 10:37 PM | comments: 0

We went to New York a year ago for our anniversary, and I felt pretty strongly that we left unfinished business there. It was my first time, and Diana had only been back once since she lived there about two decades ago. This year's anniversary really crept up on us and we didn't really have any plans together until very recently. We got friends and family to watch Simon, but booking travel didn't come until a few weeks ago. Was it going to be lazy leisure travel (cruising) or adventure travel? We decided to pick up where we left off last year and go back to the city.

The only thing we booked in advance was the Harry Potter plays, and Waitress at the last minute. Seeing a bunch of shows was our first intention, and we planned to wing it the rest of the time. (Show reviews forthcoming in a separate post.)

We got in earlier than anticipated on Wednesday afternoon, and got into the city before rush hour even. Seeing as how it was our tenth anniversary, we were willing to spend more on stuff that was frankly unnecessary or excessive. That started with the travel, doing seat upgrades for the plane, and private cars to and from the airport. I had an overall budget in mind, a per diem cost, if you will, and we did stay under it. It was cheaper than our honeymoon. Flights were really cheap, we had some good deals on shows, and really the biggest splurge was on the hotel. That's the one thing I was a little disappointed with last year.

I wanted to stay in Midtown, generally close to the theater district, because I remember how fried I felt at the end of the day after shows and I wanted a quick walk back. We stayed on 41st next to Bryant Park in a hotel called Luma. It's about two-years-old, wedged between a couple of old office buildings, with only five or six rooms per floor. It's super trendy with beautiful rooms and exceptional service. It has a small restaurant and bar, but the building is not very large. From the 26th floor, our view was mostly the side of the Bank of America building and the back side of "the ball" at Times Square. We really liked it, as a not-cheap but not bank-breaking hotel.

To minimize friction after getting there, we hit this little Irish bar a few blocks away for dinner, eating there last year, knowing they had decent food. We got tickets for King Kong at the Broadway and started our week with that.

Thursday started with breakfast at the Red Flame Diner on 43rd, a very fast place to eat, also found last year. At this point we still weren't sure what show we would see that night, but after Lin-Manuel Miranda recommended The Prom on Twitter, that made it an easier choice. We figured we would get down to the TKTS booth at Lincoln Center later that afternoon to see what kind of deal we could get.

After breakfast, we made our way first to B&H Photo. It sounds kind of dumb to visit a store on your vacation, but understand that I've spent thousands there over the last 20 years on camera stuff. I wanted to go last year, but it was closed for Passover (a large percentage of the people who work there are Jewish). I got to see the two cameras I've been thinking about for a year or so, Panasonic's EVA1 and Canon's C200. My two previous video cameras were both Panasonic, as was much of my gear at my last video job. I was unimpressed with this offering. While it's cheaper, it feels like it, and it doesn't even have a proper viewfinder. The Canon, on the other hand, was very robust. Diana patiently waited while I nerded out for a little bit.

A few blocks away, we were going to meet up with one of Diana's friends for lunch, and hopefully see another who was working a gig at The Shed, a new performing arts center at Hudson Yards. It's always interesting to meet people from Diana's pre-me days. I know her pretty well after all of these years, but it's interesting to fill in the blanks with little bits. Her "sound guy" friend was there and gave us a quick peek in The Shed, and it's exactly what was described... a big open area with a roof structure that slides over it. It's hideous, but still pretty cool. After that, we had lunch with the other friend (also with theater history).

You may have seen recently that this big goofy structure called The Vessel opened. It's this big, 150-foot tall structure that looks kind of like a pineapple from the outside, and you can climb up all of the stairs in this open air thing until you get to the top. We did it, and the view is pretty cool when looking toward the river at least.

From The Vessel, we hopped on the 7 to Times Square, then jumped on to the 1 (or 2 or 3, I don't remember) up to Lincoln Center. I jokingly said we're checking off all of the Ghostbusters locations, but I didn't do a Bill Murray and twirl around or anything. The fountain has been replaced since the movie, and it was gloriously warm to sit on, so we did for a bit while the city chickens walked around us.

Two blocks up, we landed at the TKTS booth and scored tickets for that night for The Prom. The discount wasn't huge ($89 was face value I think), but they were the best seats of the trip, orchestra center, I think seven or eight rows back.

Next up, given the beautiful weather we were having, we decided to cross through Central Park and take the long way around back to the hotel before dinner. It's crazy to get into the park, surrounded by all of that chaos. I bet it's lovely (and crowded) in the summer. When we got back down to 59th, we got back on the subway and took it back to Times Square instead of walking the 18 blocks. We had already walked about 7 miles at that point.

After a robust nap, we ventured out to a Thai place call Pongsri near the Longacre Theatre, home of The Prom. Yeah, I can get curry anywhere, but it was so good, and the most satisfying meal I had. I did not leave a drop on the plate. From there we were two doors down from the show. After the show, we met up with the third of Diana's friends, this one an electrician at Kinky Boots, for a couple of glasses of wine.

On Friday, the weather took a serious turn for the worse. So did we... getting out of bed was a struggle, having logged about 8 miles and 30 floors on the Fitbit. We were seriously dehydrated, because when you aren't sweating a lot, because it's not very warm, you don't appreciate how much water you need to replace (#floridalife). We both had headaches and felt generally shitty. We went to this chicken place a few doors down called Sticky's that had some amazing sauces, and everything was hand-breaded. Fried food definitely helps. It was 39 degrees and raining, so we watched TV and hydrated. For dinner, we got stuff at Whole Foods across the street, and Tylenol at CVS.

We finally left the hotel, feeling much better, and went to the Brooks Atkinson for Waitress. We saw the tour in Orlando about a year prior, and I really wanted to see it again. They were currently featuring Shoshana Bean as Jenna, Joey McIntyre (NKOTB) as the doctor, and Eddie Jemison (the Oceans movies) as Ogie. Mercifully, Al Roker was no longer playing Joe. In fact, Dawn and Joe were the same actors we saw on the tour in Orlando. After the show, we had a drink at the hotel, because we certainly weren't ready to sleep.

The weather went back to amazing for Saturday, which in some ways is unfortunate because Harry Potter and The Cursed Child is a play in two parts. You see the first part in the matinee (2:00), the second part in the evening (7:30). We went out for breakfast, and from there just walked a few blocks out of our way to walk into Grand Central, just because, then up the Library Way. The shows were in the Lyric just across Times Square (did I mention I hate Times Square?), so it was easy enough to go see the first part, then return to the room with takeout before the second part. We capped the night by watching SNL, which was happening just a few blocks away.

This morning we went to breakfast again at The Red Flame, after getting up late, and before you knew it, our car was there to pick us up. It all went by so fast, and we had a lot of money left on our Metro cards (good for 18 months). I have a ton of thoughts about the city, again, but I'll write about them some other time. Again, I feel we have unfinished business. I wouldn't mind going back again next year, if we can find people to watch Simon, but maybe we'll wait until May, even if it's not our anniversary. I love visiting the city, but it reminds me why I live in Orlando. I don't care for the cold.


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