Song recommendation – Frank Sinatra – New York, New York
In my last post I gave a list of my top cities in the U.S.A. What I didn’t reveal was my favourite one (yes, I have reverted back to British spelling). That honour, without a doubt, goes to New York City.
If you’re going to New York, I would try and stay in Manhattan or Brooklyn. Close to the Subway is key. I made the mistake of staying in Queens for the first part of my trip, but then moved to Brooklyn for the second. I didn’t have any trouble in Queens, it was fine, it was just a little far from the Subway.
One of my first activities in the city was visiting Times Square. I may have even done a wee, mouth-opened spin to take in the sights ;). Video available on request (I joke).
If I were to go back in time I would see Times Square for the first time at night, that’s when it’s at the height of its beauty.
After visiting the “Square” (I don’t know if people actually call it that) I went down to the New York Public Library and met up with a guy called Kevin. I’d met Kevin on the Couchsurfing App.
There was a very short time where I posted a public trip on the Couchsurfing website. I basically put a vague post up saying I would be in the U.S.A. between dates X and Y. Don’t worry mum . . . I didn’t say exactly where I would be.
I got a lot of messages after I posted this, most of which I ignored. They would give me a big spiel asking me to stay at their homes, and then write a disclaimer at the bottom with something like, “. . . and just to let you know we are nudists”.
That was one of the reasons I abandoned the idea of actually Couchsurfing :D.
To make a long story short, I did get a message from a guy called Kevin. He seemed cool, and who coincidentally had recently moved to New York. Note, he was not one of the nudists! I took him up on his offer to give me a tour around the city (sorry for the four month delay in replying to your message Kevin!)
He was a great tour guide! It was a fast paced, fairly extensive tour of Manhattan.
The tour included a lot:
- New York Public Library
- Flatiron Building
- Grand Central Station
- Evolution Nature Store
- One World Trade Center
- 9/11 Memorial
- Chelsea Market
- The High Line
- Bowling Green
- Trump Tower
- Wall Street Bull/Financial District
- Alexander Hamilton’s Grave/Trinity Church
- One or two art galleries
Above – New York Public Library. Below – The Oculus.
Above – The Flatiron Building.
We also visited a shop which just sells cookie dough. New York at its finest! The line was long but was well worth it. Nothing is better than the sickly sweet taste of uncooked cookies. One of my goals for New York was to try as many out there and quirky things as I could (unfortunately I missed getting to a slam poetry reading).
Atlas Obscura is a website that includes weird or unusual sights around cities, and I was glad Kevin incorporated a few of these sights into the tour. We saw the Seaglass Carousel (sea creature themed carousel) near the Bowling Green, the weird and wonderful taxidermy of the Evolution Nature Store, and the whispering wall at Grand Central Station.
After parting ways I headed back to Times Square to see what was happening.
I have wanted to see a Broadway show called Dear Evan Hansen for a long time. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any reasonably priced tickets. Instead, on a whim, I figured I would try the cancellation line. These lines are relatively self explanatory. Basically if someone cancels their tickets, or if there are unsold tickets, they release them just prior to the show starting.
I turned up to the door at 7pm (the show was due to start at 8pm).
“Stand behind her,” said the guy at the door. He pointed to a woman who stood with a large group of about twenty people.
“There’s no way I’m getting a ticket,” I thought to myself (it was a Saturday, so I didn’t really expect to get in).
A moment later a bus appeared and collected everyone except myself. That meant I was the first in line! It wasn’t long before 1) a dozen people were in line behind me, and 2) a woman emerged from the Box Office and offered me a ticket. Nailed it!
The show was awesome. I had a good seat, a few rows back from the stage in the centre of the Orchestra. The songs were awesome, the acting amazing, and the story well worth hearing/seeing.
Listen to the soundtrack, it’s great. I can’t give a good synopsis of the show without making it sound weird, but do look it up!
If I were to rate this show I would give it a solid 4.8 stars. The loss of 0.2 is merely the fact that I have since seen a better show. Details to follow in a future post ;).
I waited for awhile after the show to get my playbill signed, and to get selfies with the actors. Unfortunately, at the time I didn’t realize how the stage door worked, so I missed out.
The next day I caught up with my friend Darien who i’d met in Los Angeles. Cast your mind back to me having a beer with a friend on the pier (also my Six Flags pal).
He gave me another tour of Manhattan, but this time visiting Central Park, and the walkway by the Hudson river. We ended up at a bar where you get a free pizza for every drink you buy, did part of their pub quiz, and then headed out to an improv comedy show at the Upright Citizens Brigade.
After the show we went to a piano bar. I’ve always wanted to try an Old Fashioned (a cocktail made with bitters, sugar, whiskey, and citrus peel), so we did. It was a pretty darn strong drink, and I’m not a huge fan of whiskey, but now I am a real man *laughing emoticon*. I guess I will have to try a whiskey sour next.
The next day I checked out Soho. I enjoyed browsing the overpriced stores. I didn’t buy anything, but did spot a $350 beanie. Don’t worry though . . . it was reduced down to $250, basically a steal.
I experienced a 4D theatre, watching Ready Player One. I enjoyed pizza in Little Italy, took a stroll through Chinatown, and then met up with Kevin again to watch more comedy.
We went to the Gotham Comedy Club to watch stand up. Some of the acts I didn’t find too funny. I must’ve looked tired and unimpressed, because one of the comics during her set asked me if I was stoned (we were sitting right below the mic). I politely responded “no”. She told me that I looked stoned. Internally I heckled her with a “I’m not stoned I just don’t find you funny.” But in reality I’m not that bold. That was my sarsaparilla (pronounced sass-puh-rilla) for the trip. Word choice inspired by Maz Bazzington (a.k.a. Tom Sainsbury).
There was this hilarious comedian Mark Normand (worth checking out) who I wanted to try and see in the city, but the only show I could find was one over in Jersey.
After the not-so-funny show (I’m just a sensitive soul) we exited the club and noticed a big line outside. We checked who was performing next. By a stroke of luck, it turned out that Mark Normand, and Todd Barry (one of Kevin’s favourite comics) were both performing. So we walked out of the club, basically turned around and then walked straight back in.
The second line up was great, and made up for any disappointment in the first. Tired, and “comidied” out (I just coined that term) I headed back to Queens.
And that, kids, concludes the solo part of my trip. Stay tuned for part two.
Thanks Kevin and Darien, you guys are awesome!