The Big Apple! City of Lights! Home of Broadway! SO MANY PEOPLE!!

Steve and I made it to the Big Apple! It’s hard to know exactly where to start – after living in a pandemic world for 18+ months in California – which means a lot of not leaving the house, and not a lot of people – being physically surrounded by so many people was a little disorienting. Walking from the train station to hotel was around 30 blocks of wading through a sea of humanity, in all its colorful, noisy, smelly glory. We dodged foot traffic, and steam vents and taxis, making our way to The Row, just a block from Time Square, passing hot-dog stands all along the way. We arrived mid to late afternoon, so had just enough time to get to the hotel and clean up before we were to meet with Sarah, and old friend of Steve’s.

As to the room, to say it was small is being considerate. But most of NY hotel rooms are like that. We did have a great view and we’d definitely recommend the NY Row to others.

Actually Sarah had dated Steve years ago, but they still kept in touch. In fact, at one point Sarah pointed out that the Row Hotel used to be the Milford; a hotel that the two of them had stayed in a long time ago.  Totally coincidental. We got along very well and, no, we didn’t exchange little Steve-comparisons. However, I can only imagine what was going through his mind as he watched the two of us. “Steve? Steve? You have that silly grin on your face again.”

Sarah guided us to a favorite restaurant of hers for dinner, Friedman’s At The Edison. Vaccination cards are required all over NYC for indoor dining, shows etc, and they seem to have the system down pretty well – show the host stand your card, then get seated. It made me a lot more comfortable given that everything in NYC seems to be close-quarters. The food and the company were fantastic and we socialized late into the evening.  

Dragging ourselves out of bed the following morning we put our names in to wait for a table at Friedman’s again for Brunch and, at Sarah’s suggestion, moseyed down to Broadway, for the Broadway Flea Market. This, for the uninformed (which I most certainly was at the time) is an all-day event featuring tables overflowing with theatrical memorabilia, rare mementos, and unique Broadway treasures – there’s also an instant raffle where you buy a handful of tickets and see if you have won any tickets to shows or other raffle items. Sarah joined us and bought twenty or forty raffle tickets. I stood there, accepting the discards as Sarah went through her tickets. Luck was with her, several of the tickets were winners! There were also quite a few cool items available for purchase – (Signed posters by the original cast of Hamilton as an example) but we did not get to see the entire thing, as after half an hour we got the buzz that our table was ready (and I was hungry enough to gnaw off Steve’s arm at that point, so food seemed prudent.)

I love musicals. That afternoon was a magical journey into Wicked. While I read the book when it came out, I have never seen the musical, and I’d never been to a proper Broadway show, on Broadway. Needless to say, I was more than a tad excited. We were in line early, Vax card at the ready. There was a huge line to get in, and ultimately the theater was packed – Steve very sensibly suggested we do our souvenir shopping before the show. (Note for future shows – that was the best idea ever. No pushy people, very little line, we had a hot minute to browse and make decisions without being crushed by everyone else.)

The show was amazing. The cast did a phenomenal job. I 100% want to see it again. (and then maybe again again). Did I mention that I love musicals and that the cast was amazing?

And the experience was immersive!  To explain, during intermission, Steve went to the restroom. He came out chuckling. Apparently the name of the company which made the urinals was “Toto”. Every one of them had the name.  Wicked – from the page, to the stage, to the urinals. Quite the all-encompassing experience.

As the show let out, and we escaped the crush of people, the natural route back to our hotel was through Time Square.

As we walked along, Steve stopped suddenly and looked at me. I was a bit perplexed by his smile. Suddenly, the orchestral music of the Heavens overcame me, light shined down from above, and Steve gestured toward the store we had stopped in front of.  THE M&M’s STORE!!!

Seriously, a multi-floored store with EVERYthing M&M. Apparently there are a few of these around the country, but this is the first time I had seen one. As I stood there in awe, I sensed movement. It was me! My feet, without any input from my brain, began shuffling forward.  Closer and closer to the door. Closer to sugar rush… chocolate delights… I… I confess that I don’t fully know what came over me. But I was firm, I finally got control of my impulses, and said “NO!” However, my “NO” did included allowances for 4 kinds of specialty M&M’s, 1 tub of customized M&M’s, 2 M&M T-shirts, 1 M&M coffee mug, and a luggage lock in the shape of the  blue M&M. Under our bounty we staggered back to the hotel mainlining M&M’s.

Soon, it was time for dinner. Sarah met up with us again and introduced us to a delightful burger place called BareBurger on restaurant row. We sat outside, at one of the covered street tables, wherein we proceeded to stuff ourselves yet again. One thing about New York; you hold your breath near the steam vents, but walking around these small restaurant streets was pure aroma heaven!  Finally, we headed back to the hotel, exhausted.

The past two days in New York felt like a vacation in and of itself, and we’re not even done yet! And we’ve got two and a half weeks of vacation to go after this!

Day 3 in New York was cloudy and cool with a threat of rain. We wandered the city streets in the general direction of Central Park, though our path zig-zagged back and forth quite a bit, and included another tour through Time Square, where we heard the eerie tones of Christmas Music in October. We stumbled upon a movie shoot in Time Square that included a choir belting out Christmas tunes from the top of a double decker bus. I’ll be keeping an eye on movies this Christmas to see if I can spot the scene!

On our delightful jaunt up to Central Park we found the best coffee that we had outside of Ground & Pound in Atlanta, Frisson Espresso. This tiny little hole in the wall shop had excellent coffee, friendly staff, and introduced us to a pastry known as a Canelé – which I must now learn to make.

There is just absolutely too much to see in New York, and we tried to see as much as we could in the time allotted. Central Park was misty and damp, cool and green after all the hustle and bustle of the streets. This will forever be, in my mind, the most romantic place in New York, where my sweetie and I danced under bridges, clowned along the trails, cuddled on park benches, and dreamed about future what-ifs together.

But as I’ve discovered on this trip – every place is romantic when you’re with the right person.

Eventually, as the rain started, we made our way out of the park and back toward the hotel. The tops of the skyscrapers were lost in the clouds as our route took us via a couple of landmark locations like Lincoln Center.

We had one more dinner date 30 blocks from the hotel. Not wanting to walk 30 blocks in the rain, we had another quintessential New York experience – the Taxi. We did arrive. We didn’t die. I do now have a few more grey hairs… after dinner we walked back.

Dinner was with Rob Pruitt – a friend of Steve’s from Florida State, who incidentally is also the actor who voiced the Blue M&M in the commercials, and his son Robbie, who is a paleontologist (really should have gotten my Blue M&M T-shirt autographed but I forgot to take it with me). They are absolutely delightful. Rob and Steve talked about old times, and Steve and Robbie got into some really geeky discussions on paleontology and archeology. We stayed there for a long time, the two of them really made us feel at home.

We decided to start walking toward the hotel, but to hail a taxi along the way.  For those more familiar, we were on East 33rd and needed to get to 8th & 46th. As each block passed by, we couldn’t find a taxi. Yes, really, even in New York. Well, it was pretty late. However, we realized we were heading toward the Empire State Building, lit up but clothed with a mysterious mist. Soon, our trek became a game.  We were determined to walk the distance, screw the taxi idea! We cheered each other along, rallying to make the last few blocks to the hotel without having to call a cab. I will say this – if we ever moved to New York, we would instantly be in better shape due to all the walking. I more than doubled my normal step count every day that we were here.

We arranged for late checkout on our last day in NY. This gave us time to get breakfast, re-pack, and find places for all the souvenirs before making our way to the Train station for our return trip to Atlanta.

The trip back, on the train, was pretty much the same as the trip up. A blog about that and photos would be redundant, so just reread the Train blog if you need to.

We made it back, we picked up the Jeep. Next stop: Charleston!

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