My Life as a Dog

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Brian Takes Manhattan!

Last week I spent 5 days on vacation with two of my good friends: Ty and Bryant. We left early on the morning of the 18th headed the Big Apple. I had never been to New York before so I was pretty excited. I had wanted to go for some time. So when my friends suggested that I go, I was all over it! In an effort to remember what all I did (I seem to have short-term memory sometimes) I decided to try my best to remember many of the details.

Wednesday April 18th

I met Ty and Bryant bright and early in SLC where we carpooled to airport. Bryant was flying on Delta and he flight departed first. We dropped him off at the curb and headed for some airplane snacks since our flight departed an hour later. Ty and I flew on the same Southwest flight to Newark Liberty International Airport via Denver. We had a few hours in Denver so we stopped and ate a burger at the Denver Chophouse. We arrived in New Jersey around 9pm where we met back up with Bryant. The airport we took the AirTrain to Penn Station in New York City which took about 30 minutes. We bought $10 metro cards and then we just hopped on the subway to get to our hotel. I was pretty amazed coming up out of the subway and seeing the city. Just down the street was the Chrysler Building all lit up in the night sky. It was an awesome first impression. We stayed at the New York Hilton. It was nice and close to almost everything. In fact after getting checked into the hotel, we took a nice walk over to Broadway seeing the Ed Sullivan Theater where the Late Show with David Letterman is filmed. Right next to the theater is a bakery called Pie Face. They make sweet and savory pies. The savory pie flavors are identified by the faces on them. I got a Thai chicken curry pie and a mini lemon pie. Yum! Then we wondered down Broadway to Time Square and back to our hotel.

Thursday April 19th

We began our first full day on Manhattan by visiting Jamba Juice for some nourishment. Surprisingly its just like it is in Utah. ;) Then we hopped on the Subway and headed downtown. I could have sworn that we were downtown my my definition but apparently downtown is the business section on the southern end of Manhattan. We were headed to see the World Trade Center Memorial. There was still a lot of construction but things seemed to be starting to take shape. The two large fountains were pretty impressive. It would have been interesting to see at night. Admission was free but a donation was strongly suggested. Ty bought our tickets online and they were for a specific time which made it so that there was no long lines to wait in. We hopped on the subway and headed over near the Brooklyn Bridge. I was really looking forward to this as the bridge would be great to photograph. Unfortunately there are a ton of people on it too. So every photo kind of felt rushed and not exactly the masterpiece I was hopping for. Nevertheless the bridge was impressive and fun to walk across. On the Brooklyn side of the bridge is a famous pizza place called Grimaldi's. We waited inline for around an hour to get us some lunch. It was worth the wait. The pizzas were made with fresh basil and mozzarella. After pizza we walked down to the pier to take photos and eat some ice cream from the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory. We walked back over the bridge to Manhattan again and took the subway over to Battery Park where we could get a good view of the Statue of Liberty. We could have gone out there but I thought since we were on a tight schedule that I'd rather not spend that much time there. I'm saving that for the next trip! Since we had some more time before we had to get to dinner, we hopped on the subway again and got out at Canal Street. I bought me some lovely knock-off Dolce & Gabbana sunglasses. I also tried to barter for a belt but apparently upset he store owner with my offer. Oh well. We also got to see a bit of Chinatown and Little Italy then it was back to the hotel to freshen up for the evening. For dinner we went to a Thai restaurant called Pongsri. I ordered Gang Ka-ree, a curry cooked in coconut milk with yellow curry, onion, bell pepper and sweet potatoes. It was yummy but not better than the pizza! Following dinner we walked over to The Lunt-Fontanne Theatre to watch our first show of the trip, Ghost. The show was great. It had an cool set. The show was still in preview I guess and at one point they had some difficulties with the set and needed to stop the show for a 15 minutes or so. Fortunately it wasn't something that prevented the show from continuing. For me the star of the show was the character, Oda Mae Brown. After the show we stuck around to meet the cast and get autographs and photos. Then it was back to the hotel. Right next to the hotel is street vendor called The Halal Guys. Their food smelled delicious and there was a super long line even though it was close to midnight. We couldn't resist trying it out. I bought a sandwich with chicken which I ate at the hotel followed by a cupcake that I had bought earlier in the day when we stopped by Crumbs. I knew before I got to NYC that this was going to be a "bulking" trip and with 4 meals a day, I was right!

Friday April 20th

Friday morning started with a visit to Au Bon Pain where I got me a cinnamon crunch bagel and a diet soda (of course). We sat and ate our bakery goods outside next to Radio Music City Hall. Then we were off and on our way to the Empire State Building passing an empty Bryant Park and the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building (New York Public Library) on our way. We stopped to take a few portraits in a pretty spot. Once we were to the Empire State Building we paid $23 to ride up to the 80th floor. The observation deck is on the 86th floor but you have to switch elevators a few times. We opted to hike the last 6 floors instead of waiting for an elevator. The hike made me think what it would have been like for the people stuck in the World Trade Center during 9/11. It would have been madness! Anyway on the 86th floor we got an awesome view of the city. I thought it would be cold and windy but it was neither. There were loads of people making it difficult to get great photos but we tried. They say that you can see 10 miles away from up there. We did have a decent view down to the Statue of Liberty even though it looked a little hazy. Then it was time to think about lunch. We headed to the Hale & Hearty. I got some delicious tomato basil soup and a sandwich. We took our lunch and walked across the street to eat it in Bryant Park. The park was empty when we passed through it that morning but now it was packed. Even the lawn was no longer roped off and people were out lounging on the grass. We found a little table and enjoyed our grub. The park is pretty cool. They have an outdoor "library" containing books and magazines that anyone has access to. They also have ping pong tables for anyone to use. Having eaten something savory, we then felt the need for something sweet. Fortunately for us there was a Crumbs close by. So we all chose a cupcake to eat as we walked over to do a little shopping at H&M. Sure we have two in SLC now but maybe they would have different stuff in NYC. It was pretty much the same but that didn't stop me from spending money. Fortunately I did find a sweatshirt that I had seen on a mannequin in SLC months ago. I couldn't ever find it after that and at the time the sales clerk said I couldn't take the one from the mannequin. So I was happy about that! With our purchase in hand we wondered over the the NBC Studios and Rockefeller Center. A few people on Facebook had commented that we should visit the Uniqlo store in Soho. After looking it up, we found that there was one on 5th Avenue pretty close to our hotel. So after a brief stop at the hotel to freshen up and grab Suzie, we did a little more shopping walking along 5th Avenue heading towards Central Park. At The Plaza we took Suzie out of the backpack for a few photos. Then over to Central Park for a few more. We got a few funny looks but my favorite was an older man who was getting a good laugh. Then he started taking photos of me and Suzie, I'm sure, to show the folks back home of the "crazies" in NYC. :) We dropped Suzie back at the hotel and headed out for dinner at Brooklyn Diner. I ordered Shelly’s Baked Macaroni and Cheese (fresh tagliolini pasta, Parmesan cheese, Black Forest Canadian ham). It was delicious and artery-clogging! I tried Ty's lasagna and decided that next time I am ordering that! With full tummies we headed over to the Bernard B Jacobs Theater to see Once which was just nominated for 11 Tonys! It was a great show. We stuck around afterwards for autographs and photos. Then it was back to the hotel. On the way I decided that I needed to try a little more street food. I got a polish dog with everything on it. It was good but it was no JDawgs! At the hotel I then ate another Crumbs cupcake because, hey, I was on vacation!

Saturday April 21st

Saturday morning we woke up fairly early and I was feeling like I had a brick in my stomach. All that food from the night before was just sitting heavy and undigested. I didn't feel like it but the plan was to go running in Central Park this morning. I knew that it would do me good after all the eating. So we walked a few blocks to the park and got our run on. We decided to run for 30 minutes. Each of us at our own pace would go for 15 minutes in one direction and then turn around so that we could find each other without taking our cell phones. Here's my Nike Plus information for the run that morning. This was actually one of my favorite things that we did. The park was beautiful and the weather was perfect. It felt like I was in the middle of a race there were so many people out running, walking, biking, etc... After the run we got to wonder around the park a bit. I wished that I had my big camera with me and that we had more time to explore. Before long it time to head back to the hotel to get cleaned up. We then stopped at Europa Cafe for a sandwich and some salad. While we were sitting there eating the Asian woman sitting next to me had an endless commentary to her friend about what we were doing, eating, etc... She said things like "They are sharing a large salad and he is a big boy!"  When we were all done eating she asked if she could have the lid from my Diet Dr Pepper. Strange! Next up was our only matinee of the trip, Newsies. Apparently getting tickets to this show was the hardest and none of us were sitting together. In fact, the tickets were all in different price ranges. Bryant mixed the tickets up and had me pick one. I felt bad that I ended up with the best and most expensive seat but he insisted on everyone keeping the seats that they drew. I was pretty excited for this show because there were 4 guys from previous seasons of So You Think You Can Dance. So I felt like I kind of new someone in the show. One of them was Thayne Jasperson from Springville, UT. The others were Alex Wong, Evan Kasprzak, and Jess LeProtto. This was my favorite show of the trip. Since our viewing it has now been nominated for 8 Tonys. After the show we got to meet a bunch of the cast and get a few photos. Since we had a little time before dinner and the evening show we caught the subway and headed back up town to do a little shopping at Century 21, which is a nice department store with good prices. I picked up a few things including a new bow tie. Next on our list was the Manhatten LDS Temple as we were trying to figure out where it was relative to the shopping I just happened to look up and see Moroni. It was literally across the street. I had seen plenty of photos of the temple but it was interesting to see it in relation to everything around it. It looked so small and no not temple-like. As I was taking a few photos of the building I noticed several people trying to see what I was photo graphing. On the way back to the hotel we wanted to find a Mister Softee, a mobile trunk selling ice cream. It was fate because we must have passed a 4 or 5 on the way back to the hotel. I got a vanilla cone dipped in chocolate. After freshening up a bit we headed out to Carmine's which had been recommended to us my my friend Melissa. When we got there we found out that the wait would be two hours. So that was out! Instead we went over to Junior's Restaurant which was right next to the theater for Evita. We still had to wait a long time to get seated. I got the SwissBurger (with Sautéed Mushrooms, Onion Rings & Steak Fries.) It was super tall and kind of messy but pretty good. We ate pretty fast so that we could make it over to the Marquis Theatre to see Evita with Ricky Martin as Che. This was the show that I was most excited to see. There were many things that I loved about the show: the music, the stage, Michael Cerveris, and the ensemble. But I really didn't care for Elena Roger was Evita. I just thought she was not very likable or sympathetic. As much as I was not a Madonna fan when I first saw the movie, I really felt for her. This Eva, not so much. After the show we waited outside a bit and caught a glimpse of Ricky. No one else came out at least not for a long time and we were some of the few still waiting around when we left. After the show it was time for evening treat and tonight we headed back to Junior's Restaurant to get some of the famous cheesecake. I bought the raspberry which I took back to the hotel. It was delicious! As we started to head back to the hotel our beautiful weather suddenly changed and the rain began to pour down in sheets. We tried waiting it out for a bit but decided to run instead. So we started the day running through Central Park in the beautiful sun and ended the day running through Times Square running through the pouring rain. I think we got it all covered! :)

Sunday April 22nd

Sunday morning we got all cleaned up and packed, caught the subway over to Penn Station stopping by 
Au Bon Pain for a little breakfast. Then we purchased AirTrain tickets to Newark Liberty International Airport. It was then that we realized that the train schedule was different because it was the weekend. We ended up barely getting Bryant to the airport in time to make his flight. We even checked his bag with us to save him time.

It was a great time! I'm looking forward to going back. :)

Sorry for the lengthy details. I just wanted to make sure that I remember it all!