New York City – Show Time

Shows, food, photography, pizza, and doughnuts. The second part of my journey in the Big Apple.

Song recommendation – Billy Joel – Uptown Girl**

Halfway through my time in New York I was joined by a friend from work, Jon. We stayed in a great Airbnb in Brooklyn, only a short walk to the nearest Subway Station.

I initially played tour guide, giving a tour of some of the sights I had been shown by my pals Darien and Kevin.

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Above – City Hall. Below – Grand Central Station.DSC_0159
Below – One World  Trade Center.DSC_0149That first night, when Jon was super tired from the long trip, we went to an improv comedy show at the Upright Citizens Brigade. The show was fine, although they got a bit stuck on some jokes that weren’t that funny. It’s just one of the risks of improv I guess, at least with stand-up they have time to plan their jokes beforehand.

I’d heard that the view from the Rockefeller Center was better than the view from the Empire State Building. One of the reasons is that on the top of “the Rock” you actually get a view of the Empire State Building in the skyline. Given this, we decided we would just go up the Rockefeller Center, and that we would give the Empire State Building a miss.

20180413_174054We were fortunate that it was a clear day, which meant for stellar views (the Empire State Building is the one in the middle of the picture above). The only thing that made this ascent less cool was that I didn’t have my DSLR camera (fancy camera) on me.

Another thing about the view from the Rockefeller Center, was that there were places where you were actually outside (there was no glass).

I don’t think I’ve mentioned before, but I am a bit of a photography snob. I hate taking photos through glass. It just means that you get a poor quality photo, and often have a reflection artefact, which can be a pain to remove. One thing that irks me is taking photos in a car without winding down the windows, I mean come on, when are you ever going to look at that photo again.

Later in the trip we went to the One World Trade Center. I actually had my DSLR this time, but I was a bit disappointed that the only photos I could take were through the windows.

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This one turned out well though! This is a view of Brooklyn (& the Brooklyn Bridge) from the top of the One World Trade Center.

Food Highlights:
We had good pizza at a place called Juliana’s Pizza in Brooklyn, close to the Brooklyn Bridge. I mean I wasn’t blown away, but it was decent. My favourite food in New York was doughnuts from a little place called Dough, also in Brooklyn.

We did a few other classic tourist activities:
– Visited the American Museum of Natural History
– Walked the Brooklyn Bridge
– Visited “the Met” (the Metropolitan Museum of Art)
– Saw more of Central Park

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The best of these was definitely visiting “the Met”.

We also saw two Broadway shows, The Lion King, and Chicago. A lot of you have probably already seen The Lion King, and probably already know, but damn their costumes were on point. I would give the show a well earned 4 out of 5. One of my favourite songs in the show was their version of He Lives in You, which I continued to hum and sing for the next few days.

Chicago was interesting, a bit different from what I expected it, but I would give it a 3.5 out of 5. It was entertaining, but it lacked the “wow” factor.

I am an old soul. The reason I was in New York at that particular time, was because there was a Billy Joel concert on at Madison Square Garden. I went along to that, while Jon went off to watch another show, and I rocked out to Piano Man, We Didn’t Start the Fire, River of Dreams and many more of his hits. I think it was his 51st show at Madison Square Garden, which has a capacity of over twenty thousand! The night I went it was sold out, and the crowd was buzzing!20180413_201923There are two main ways of seeing the statue of liberty, one is to take the free ferry to Staten Island, which is what we did, or you can actually spend money and visit Liberty Island. DSC_0240

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Above – Manhattan from the Staten Island ferry.

After ten days full of activities I was exhausted. It was time to head to the less population dense Buffalo to see some waterfalls.

Or so I thought . . . Dun. Dun. Dun.

 

 

 

**The reason for the song recommendation is that every time I read uptown on a subway sign, Uptown Girl popped into my head.

New York City – Comedy Central

Adventures of a solo traveller in New York City.

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).

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20180407_225948If 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
  • Oculus
  • 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

20180407_120844Above – New York Public Library.                                                                   Below – The Oculus.20180407_150705
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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!

20180407_193702The 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!