This morning we set out to find Tomas in his orange flannel shirt on the corner of Bryant Park. We aren’t creepy stalkers, we promise. We were on a 10am walking tour. Like our favourite Sandemans ones this was a free tour but put on by Free Tours by Foot. This company has you reserve a spot before the tour and in doing so the guide sends a confirmation email with a picture attached…and in this case a description of what he’d be wearing. How helpful!
In the course of the tour we visited Times Square and Grand Central Station again. We had Tomas take a photo of the two of us, as an actual staged photo featuring us both is a rarity. We learned that one of the central buildings in Times Square is actually empty. The money it makes in advertising more than covers the upkeep costs.
At Grand Central we were told the building was almost destroyed, like Penn Station, but Jackie Kennedy Onasis rallied the masses and played a large role in saving it. Tomas pointed out the Whispering Gallery where the architecture allows you to hear whispers from different the opposite corner of the foyer. Justine couldn’t hear much for whispers, but could hear Kris singing.
“So if you care to find me look to tgewestern sky…” -Wicked
We stopped by the Helmsley Building and Waldorf-Astoria. Both were very grand…to the point that you feel out of place standing in the lobby. Fun fact: the Waldorf-Astoria was built by the Astor family and John Jacob Astor IV died on the Titanic.
The tour ended at Rockefeller Center, home of NBC studios and the famous Rockefeller Christmas tree
& skating rink. When the land was bought John D. Rockefeller had potential tenants but when the Depression hit the New York Opera pulled out. He decided instead to build a huge commercial center to make his money back. Here we said goodbye to Tomas and continued on with our day.
By now it had started to cloud over but we decided to try to go up 30 Rock (or the top of Rockefeller Center). We had difficulty just finding the area where we buy tickets; Rockefeller is confusing to navigate. At this time it was an hour wait and they couldn’t guarantee good visibility. They mentioned we could exchange tickets for another time so we bought some and decided to see how it goes.
We had lunch in the food court at Rockefeller. We shared some sushi and blogged while we waited for our time. After an hour they told us visibility had decreased and wouldn’t be getting much better today. We rebooked for 9am tomorrow. Fingers crossed for good views!
With the rest of the afternoon free we embarked on another walking tour. This one of Greenwich Village. With all of the switch-y ticket business we were running a little late on the way to the Village (that’s what real NYers call Greenwich Village). Luckily we had received a photo of our next guide Mike as well. Mike turned out to be the greatest guide ever. He was an actor (because what tour guide in New York isn’t?) and treated our tour group not like children in a class but like friends he was conversing with. If Kris ever becomes a tour guide (it’s secretly something she’d love to do) she’d model herself after him. The tour took us through the Greenwich streets as we discussed radicals & artists. We saw The Stonewall Inn which is considered the birthplace of the Gay Rights movement. We saw Bob Dylan’s home from the early days of his career. And most importantly, we saw the apartment Rachel, Monica, Joey & Chandler lived in on Friends.
The tour concluded in Washington Park, which was originally a mass grave for disease-riddle New Yorkers of the 1800s, you can likely find bones just below the surface. Now it’s a lovely green space with a famous triumphal arch, a fountain that has been featured on Glee a couple of times now that the main characters reside in NYC, and plenty of nice places to sit & read/write/relax/contemplate life…just maybe don’t go digging!
We hopped the subway back uptown and made our second appearance in Central Park. This time we explored the lower central section around The Lake. We happened upon Strawberry Fields first, a memorial to John Lennon. We took a moment to imagine all the people living life in peace before continuing on to Bow Bridge.
Bow Bridge is recognizably featured in most any tv show or movie filmed in Central Park. Finn & Rachel wander across it on Glee. Giselle teaches us through song how she knows that you love her as she skips across it in Enchanted. But most importantly the Doctor & Amy perch on it for some important reading & discussion in Angels Take Manhattan (the Doctor Who series 7 mid-season finale). We may or may not have a video of Kris dashing across it in a similar fashion to the Doctor.
Continuing with the nerd sites, we visited another location where they filmed DW…this time where Rory gets captured by little baby cherub-weeping angels. This is in Bethesda Terrace, a lovely look out location on the lake. It’s apparently a great place to film because The Avengers can also be spotted here near the end of the film. It’s the spot where you see all the filming photos with Hawkeye standing in sassy butt-stuck-out positions.
Just off the Terrace is a lovely promenade wide enough for horses & carriages to carry fashionable folks past their equally influential counterparts. Now-a-days people sit on rows of benches and watch the tourists & locals jog & stroll by. Part way down the lane the Doctor sits and ponders a horrible future in the previously mentioned DW episode. Being as this episode marked the end of the Ponds-era of the show the images we tried to recreate here are rather iconic for Whovians.
Our Geekdom tour of Central Park left little time for supper so we stopped at a cafeteria-style place not far from the theater district, Villas. We each ordered a sandwich which ended up being really delicious but was such a struggle to get. The two girls serving us could not have been less enthused by their jobs…or more easily confused. For some reason the idea that the two of us wanted two sandwiches was just too much for them to take. Then we saw a lady order a salad which they put ranch dressing on despite the sign clearly saying you got to pick your dressing from a list of 12 or 15 options. When she asked for raspberry vinaigrette they just added it on top of the ranch instead of remaking her meal.
Our entertainment for the evening consisted of our first Broadway musical: Once. This show is based on a movie which was based on a book and won 8 Tonys in 2012. Fun fact: ‘Falling Slowly’ also won Best Original Song at the Oscars. Once is the story of a guy and a girl who sing and fall in love. Pretty simple concept, the tag line is ‘his music needed one thing…her’. As excited as we were to see the show it would have been indescribably more exciting if we had been here six months ago. At this time the show was starring Arthur Darvill aka the previously mentioned Rory from Doctor Who. Kris loves him. Like LOVES! It’s probably best we didn’t see him because she would have just cried through the entire show.
Once was amazing, everything we hoped it would be. The set design and production was very simple. Every member of the cast was on stage at all moments. The set was a worn bar set-up, where they actually served alcohol to audience members during intermission, where they created the feel of other locations by simply moving chairs & tables about. The music was perfect, with a folksy feel. A lot of the songs were meant to sound like they were Czech folk songs, or pop-rock songs with Irish influence. It gave us goosebumps to hear ‘Falling Slowly’ live. This is a must see for anyone, not just Broadway lovers. If your into Mumford & Sons or similar bands be sure to work this show into your New York viewing schedule.
After the show we were able to meet the cast and get autographs & photos. Our signed Playbills will make awesome souvenirs!
But our day was not over yet. We rode the subway to the southern-most tip of Manhattan and embarked on a ferry journey to Staten Island. You might wonder why we would choose to travel, to Staten Island of all places, and at 11 o’clock of all times. It wasn’t to go to SI; it was for the ferry ride itself. The Staten Island Ferry offers a great view both the Statue of Liberty and the New York skyline…and its free! Although it was a tad bit foggy we still enjoyed the iconic views and crisp night air. It was a perfect way to end the day.
WHAT WE LEARNED TODAY:
– A theatre is a Broadway theatre if it has more than 500 seats; Off-Broadway theatres have less than this. Most Broadway theatres aren’t actually on the street Broadway.
– Express trains do not stop at every stop.
– ‘Once’ is almost EGOT…someone get this show on tv so it can win an Emmy.
Love, Luck & Liberty,
Justine & Kris