With the stagehand strike settled and darkened theaters now open, it’s a good time to visit NYC, because it’s sssooo beautiful at Christmas. Here are a few pointers in case any military folks out there plan a trip to the Big Apple. Take advantage of some cost-saving discounts.
We stayed at the Hilton on Times Square, a four star hotel in the heart of Broadway. We paid substantially less than the listed price by bidding at Priceline.com. When you bid, you don’t know the name of the hotel until after you commit to the transaction. If you put in “four stars” as a parameter you won’t be surprised with a scary fleabag. (Fair warning: lodging is expensive in NYC.)
As we left the Martha Stewart studio, we walked right past the Fashion Institute on 26th Street. Their first floor museum had a free exhibit called “Chic Chicago” which featured breathtaking haut couture gowns by various designers. Our hour there was an unexpected and totally enjoyable diversion. See the online exhibit: http://www.fitnyc.edu/museum
After a long dinner at the cozy Antique Cafe, we stopped in a bar for happy hour where we foolishly engaged in Red Sox talk with some avid Yankees fans. Before the brawl began, we ducked out to go to “Top of the Rock,” the observation deck at Rockefeller Plaza. I knew nothing about it, but Pat clutched a newspaper clipping and knew it had reopened in 2005. The iconic stop in NYC is the top of the Empire State Building. The cool thing about Top of the Rock is you can actually see the Empire State Building from that vantage point, which adds a meta-dimension to the experience. Plus I had never looked out upon the Manhattan skyline at night—it was surreal. To the south is the Chrysler Building and the Brooklyn Bridge. Turning north, I could see the dark rectangle that is Central Park, and of course the Hudson and East Rivers on either side of us. Even from the dizzying height I could hear the steady thrum of the city that never sleeps. If you go to the Rock, remember to ask for a military discount and you’ll get half off. http://www.topoftherocknyc.com
The next day Pat departed to visit her daughter at Fordham for the afternoon. After making plans to link up later, we went our separate ways. My first stop was MOOD, the fabric store they always mention on Project Runway. I was surprised to discover I had been there years earlier during a December visit, hot on the trail for some plaid taffeta for my son’s Christmas stocking. For a fabric afficionado, this place is a little slice of paradise: two stories of floor-to-ceiling bolts, organized by type. I didn’t buy anything because, frankly, I still have sewing projects I started 16 years ago, but it’s a blast just walking the aisles. If fabric interests you, be sure and stop at the Fashion District kiosk on west 38th for a complimentary list of fabric and trimmings shops in the area. http://www.fashioncenter.com
Afterward I ran the few blocks to the New Amsterdam Theater to see Mary Poppins. All I can say is WOW! I’ve seen the Mary Poppins movie about 1000 times (not exaggerating) so I know all the words to the songs. You’d think I’d be jaded, but the Broadway production is a horse of another color. They added a few new musical/dance numbers, omitted others, and tweaked the theme and ending. The choreography and special effects were fantastic! Over the years I haven’t been able to convince my children OR my husband that this would be a worthwhile matinee, so I ultimately went alone. Too bad THEY didn’t get to see Bert tap dance on the ceiling!
Attending a Broadway production is never cheap, but this splurge is well worth it. I secured a ticket to Mary Poppins for a reduced price. If you want to see a show in the city, call the USO ahead of time (212) 695-6160 and see if they have any discounted tickets for the military.
Our whirlwind trip to Manhattan quickly ended so we joined the throngs of 5 pm pedestrians streaming to Penn Station. There a gracious local pointed out our correct track when we couldn’t find it and we caught a train home.