In April 2014, I visited Manhattan again, following up on last April’s trip: https://goldenbearflyer.wordpress.com/2013/04/. [If the link does not work, please look for my post “Impressions of NYC” in the April 2013 archives, or copy and paste the URL text above into your browser search box.] Re-reading my post about that excursion, I am very pleased with it, because I believe I captured, in words and pictures, the essence of New York from my personal perspective.
Although the recent vacation involved some exciting and different experiences, many of the sights and sounds were very familiar, and I feel hard-pressed to make it all sound wonderfully original. Avoiding cliches is not easy, because there is virtually nothing new under the sun. Just prior to leaving, I posted a comment on Facebook about heading for “The Big Apple”. Um, OK… In my defense, inventing a nickname for New York City is no easy task. Sometimes it is easier to rely on tried and true expressions, as I did.
Nevertheless, I feel compelled to share my sense of joy, amazement and gratitude for the many special experiences wrapped up in this latest visit to (wait for it… drum roll, please…) — oh hell, let’s just call it Gotham City! My hope is for others to know and understand my passion for travel and trying new things. I feed off that energy. It’s my fuel and life-blood.
After posting a pic of Times Square at night from our 41st floor hotel room (with the rather trite caption “the city that never sleeps!”), an acquaintance of mine commented “And that is exactly why I live in the country by the sea. To each his own. Enjoy the theater though.” Indeed, to each his own… a back-handed form of wishing another well.
(Ugh. I hate my old AT&T Pantech phone with its pathetic camera! My new smart phone is on its way!)
Hmmm, why do you suppose the city is so congested and busy? Could it be that it offers awe-inspiring attractions?! Millions of tourists cannot all be wrong. Sometimes you have to accept a little “bad” with the “good”. I love the countryside and a peaceful beach as much as anyone, but the point is, I have been there many times.
I had never, however, seen Les Miserables on Broadway, much less sat in Orchestra Center section in the 2nd row, nor had Lara, my daughter. Naturally, we were not allowed to take pictures of the actual performance, but here is a dark and admittedly lame picture looking back from our seats before most of the other patrons had arrived…
Basically the whole point of the trip was to see Les Mis in all its stunning glory at the venue which hosted the original production from 1990 through 2003. Even if you hate New York City, if you truly love Les Mis, you really must see it on Broadway. Puh-lease.
It was Lara’s idea. Months before, in December 2013, she bounded up to me one day and exclaimed, “Dad!”
“Guess what’s coming?”
“Les Mis on Broadway!”
I simply couldn’t refuse. I purchased the tickets right then and there. So, we planned a father-daughter trip focused specifically on our favorite musical!
Ramin Karimloo and a stellar cast gave the best performance I have ever seen. Unforgettable. A night I will never forget!
Everything else was just a scoop of ice cream with cake or a medal to go with the tech shirt. Due to time constraints, we were only allowing two full days of sight-seeing in addition to travel days, but I’ll be damned if I don’t know how to pack a lot of fun into a short period of time.
First, we toured the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, which we had missed in 2013, because they were closed for renovations. You’ve seen the Statue of Liberty, but have you seen her butt? Well, it’s hidden under those voluminous robes…
In all seriousness, Ellis Island is worth the time, simply from a historical perspective. We were very glad we took the time to visit. The fact that over 12 million immigrants entered the U.S. through Ellis is an impressive number, but what made it real for me is that I found a possible record of one of my ancestor’s arrival in 1897.
Not breaking new ground, but quenching my thirst, I took delight in heading to the Upper East Side and soaking in the Italian Futurism (1909-44) exhibit at the Guggenheim Museum, my favorite. Not only did I learn something about art history, I really liked many of the individual drawings and paintings, such that I would actually hang them on my wall if I could own them. That is rare for me, when it comes to modern art.
We also walked for nearly two hours in Central Park, traversing almost the entire north-to-south length of it! Lara was a real trooper.
The night of our second full day, we saw Avenue Q at New World Stages, and it was hilarious, truly laugh out loud funny — like muppets for adults, uncensored and unfiltered. We had a grand time!
I did not discover any new, breathtakingly delicious restaurants, but I was ecstatic about another meal at Momofuku Noodle Bar near East Village, and Ellen’s Stardust Diner on Broadway, complete with singing waitresses and waiters, was super fun with surprisingly good food.
All in all, I don’t know that I have found anything new and original to say about NYC, but it was for me an entirely new experience traveling with only my daughter, and I would not trade those special days for anything.
Perhaps what is important is not finding creative ways of describing New York City, but spending time there and exploring all it has to offer. New York has something for everyone, and yes, at times it seems everyone is there all at once! I can put up with the crowds, to an extent, because I love humanity and am outgoing and unafraid to approach strangers when I travel. Even I tire of the congestion eventually, which is another reason a short trip works for me.
Bottom line: you may think you don’t like New York City, but it’s possible you are passing up some incredible experiences. If you’re in that camp, maybe in smaller doses you would find it more enjoyable. I continue to love visiting there and will definitely go back again!