A couple of weekends ago I had the good fortune to spend a long weekend in New York City with three of my growing up/high school friends. Oh, what a time we had! We arrived on St. Patrick’s Day, and got to our hotel in Times Square just as the parade was ending, so we got to see just enough revelry and wearing of the green. Our main purpose in coming to the Big Apple was to see ‘the century’s biggest hit’, Hamilton, and we had tickets for it that night.
In case you haven’t heard about Hamilton, it’s a biographical musical about Alexander Hamilton, first Secretary of the Treasury of the United States. In addition to the mostly hip-hop nature of the score, another thing that sets Hamilton apart is that the cast is almost entirely African American and Latino. Given that the main characters are people like George Washington, King George, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Aaron Burr, you can imagine that this show takes things to a whole ‘nother level! Written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who also plays the lead role on Broadway, Hamilton lived up to the hype! We were lucky to have gotten tickets to it before the cast appeared on the Grammy awards this year, as the musical is sold out for the rest of the year.
But I’m getting ahead of myself – before the show, we feasted on family-style Italian food at Carmine’s. What a treat! This is how huge the portions are – four of us shared a salad and an entree, and we had loads left over!! The place was packed, and we had a great table in the middle of an area right in front of the window, so we had a fantastic view of the people on the street. Still lots of green running around! After dinner, it was a short walk to the Richard Rodgers theater, where we had incredible seats in the eighth row. We were so close that in addition to seeing the actors’ faces up close, we had a clear view of the hilariously played King George’s spittle. We were glad we were not front and center…like the guy that looked like Bono was!
After the show, we spent an hour or so in the bar in our hotel, watching basketball, rehashing the play, having a drink, and watching all of the action below us in Times Square. What a day!
Friday we had booked a walking food tour of Greenwich Village. Let me just say we should have skipped breakfast! The tour lasted about three and a half hours, and we sampled artichoke and spinach pizza, an Indian dish that was spicy scrambled eggs in a wrap, followed by a mango lasse, a delicious Bolognese sauce over homemade pasta, a scratch-made oatmeal cookie, Cuban empanadas, plantains, and mojitos, a lovely herbal tea, and a melt-in-your-mouth salted caramel macaron. We saw Bob Dylan’s home (from the 60’s), the famous Cafe Wha? nightclub, curvy little Minetta Street, Washington Square Park (where I recognized my son’s NYU law school dorm!), a wonderful-smelling coffee shop with beans of all flavors, and a tiny Italian grocery store where they made homemade pasta and cut it on machines that looked like they had come over on the boat. I highly recommend this tour for anyone with time to spare in the city!
We had such fun at Hamilton that we decided to go to another show on Friday night, which is how we ended up at She Loves Me, which had just opened the night before in Studio 54. It was hard to imagine that the theater we were in was once the famous fun and naughty place to be in the disco era! The play was wonderful! It was a remake of the musical that the movie You’ve Got Mail was based on. Set in a Hungarian parfumerie, the cast was great, the music and singing wonderful, and the sets were like really cool dollhouses. The story was fun, and even though you knew how it ended, it was delightful to watch. Lead actors Laura Benanti (Nashville), Zachary Levi, and Jane Krakowski (30 Rock) were fantastic!
After the play, we were finally hungry enough to seek out a burger at The Burger Joint, a tiny little tucked away (almost hidden) eatery inside Le Parker Meridien. The line wasn’t too long, and there’s something about a late night burger! We walked back to our hotel down 5th Avenue, and got to Rockefeller Center just as the skating rink was closing. We saw a movie scene being filmed and had fun window shopping after midnight. We were dismayed to find that the cool bar in our hotel was closed (!) by the time we got back. What happened to the city that never sleeps? And on Times Square??
Saturday morning, three of us headed to Central Park for a delicious brunch at the Boathouse. I’m not sure how we could have been hungry, but evidently we were! We were there for a few hours – it was a fun way to start the day – eating, drinking, and people watching in the Park. It was a lovely day – albeit a bit chilly – and we enjoyed seeing people attempting to row their boats on the lake. We walked across the Park to Strawberry Fields, then we walked down toward Columbus Circle, where there was an anti-Trump rally about to happen. We decided a taxi back to our hotel might be a good idea….
We watched more hoops and more people in the bar all afternoon, and then decided to go see another play! This time, we opted for Finding Neverland, which is the story of J.M. Barrie’s inspiration for writing Peter Pan. Kelsey Grammer was in this one, so that was fun, and again, we had really good seats. I thoroughly enjoyed this play – the story was sweet and the special effects were spectacular. Afterwards, we walked down to Orso for another late night meal before we headed back home to reality the next day. Leaving Sunday morning was tricky, as we had to dodge the runners in the half marathon whose finish line was right in front of our hotel!
I feel blessed to have stayed in touch with my growing-up friends – the four of us (and two husbands) went to England and Ireland together last summer – and once again, Facebook has played a role in that. We are so lucky to have a way that we can connect and stay in touch. Like they say, there is no friend like an old friend. Not that we are old….
I can’t wait to go back!
Here are a couple of pages from our NYC adventure:
P.S. Update on my Page a Day goal – As expected, March was tough!! I think I only did about 10 pages – hope to get back on track in April!