Wednesday, 16 January 2019

I Came From Away to Watch Come From Away

Just returned from five fabulous days in New York City with a good friend. I knew the trip was going to be delightful when the flight attendant on the way there introduced herself as Malaria. It only got better from there. We stayed at the Towneplace Suites at Times Square (Marriott) in the Theater District -- a place I highly recommend. I love staying in hotels, from the achingly white bedding to the white smooth tablet of soap like a Mah Jong tile. This particular hotel had fantastic breakfasts and friendly staff. I've decided all I need to get by in life can fit in my carry-on gym bag. And if the airline loses that, all I really need is in my purse. The feeling of travelling so light is so freeing!

We packed a lot into those five days and saw just about everything we had hoped to see despite the government shutdown -- the New York City Public Library (and went back to the hotel to watch an apocalyptic movie that took place there), The Met (after reading From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, of course), the Empire State Building, Times Square, the Staten Island ferry and Statue of Liberty, the M&M store, FAO Schwarz, Grand Central Station, Rockefeller Centre complete with ice skaters, the Nintendo store, St. Patrick's Cathedral, and a host of other things.  We went past Radio City, the Chrysler Building, Tiffany's (and went back to the hotel to watch Breakfast at Tiffany's), Wall Street, and Bryant Park and saw the Brooklyn Bridge. We rode the subway, which was surprisingly clean and easy to ride. We saw the graves of Alexander Hamilton, Robert Fulton, and James Lawrence at Trinity Church.

And the food! My first impression is that New York City smells good. Everywhere there is barbecue and sausages and just wonderful fragrances coming from the street vendor carts. We ate a delicious warm kale and brown rice salad at Cafe Metro, Junior's blueberry cheesecake, a salty pretzel from a street cart, and a great cheeseburger and fries at Shake Shack. And I had the best crisp thin-crust broccoli/black olive/red onion/green peppers pizza, and chicken/red peppers/ricotta/onion/parmesan stromboli as well, at the Pizza Cafe at 747 8th Avenue. And decided I need to move to New York just so I can eat there every day. Sunday we went to church (beautiful organ, stimulating discussion in Relief Society) and then walked through Central Park. The weather cooperated, and I couldn't have asked for a better time.

After pounding the streets most of the day, we returned to the hotel to watch the above movies along with some others with New York themes or settings. And read a couple of books. And ate bean burritos and drank Silk soy milk. And watched HGTV and fell asleep to the melodious harmony of car horns that is the night music of New York.

Three highlights stand out in my mind, though, from the trip. One was the 9/11 Memorial, which was a solemn and impactful place to visit. The water disappearing into the dark "bottomless" holes really affected me, the names row after row of the dead, the soaring height of the new building showing how tall the two towers had been... It was just a lot to take in, and I felt I was walking on hallowed ground, somehow.

The second thing that stays with me is the long walk we took on the Highline, an old raised railway berm that wanders from about 34th street to 15th street. In the summer it must be beautiful, though at this time of year it was brown and chilly. The condos along that park are amazing and the architecture was stunning. My friend and I imagined which one we would select to live in. Manhattan is remarkably walkable.

The third thing was the Broadway show we saw -- Come From Away. What a wonderful way to end our trip! The foot-stomping music, the high-energy performance, the incredible voices, the humour, the Newfoundland speech, the clever use of only a handful of actors to play so many parts---it was just fantastic all around. We sat in the same aisle as other Canadians, and I just basked in the whole evening. Want to listen to the soundtrack again, as it moved so fast I'm sure I missed some things. Canadians are such likable folk! I think it added something to the show to watch it in New York City, where I'm sure many of the people sitting around me in the audience were personally impacted by 9/11.

All in all, a marvelous five days! And a wonderful friend to travel with. Thanks, Sheri!

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