Anyone who knows me knows that I am a big Broadway musicals fan, and I instantly fell in love with “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” when I discovered the movie back in 2010 or so. So when it was rumored that year that it would be coming to Broadway, and later when it was confirmed (and with Neil Patrick Harris in the role), I was so excited and simply had to find a way to go. Enter my rockin’ friend Serenity, fellow Broadway lover who happens to have an uncle who lives in Manhattan who is willing to let us crash there, which takes out quite a bit of the cost for a trip to New York City. Emails were exchanged, airline tickets were secured, and tickets were bought. Serenity and I had first tackled NYC together back in December 2010, but this time we’d be returning to the city at the opposite time of year and had two primary things in mind: musicals and food! Our first NYC adventure kept us to the main touristy areas (on purpose, as it was my first visit ever), but this time we wanted to venture a little more away from the typical tourist path in some regards, and I think we accomplished that. It was an amazing weekend that left us both with very fond memories.
* Weather that day was not really hot, but it was VERY humid, and I’d had some sprinkles on my walk downtown. (I didn’t have an umbrella with me, but I did end up putting on my hat to keep it off my face, at least.) When we left the restaurant, it was raining a little more, so instead of wandering to the Freedom Tower area like we thought we might do, we decided to head back to the apartment and wait for the rain to go away. On the way back, we ran across Strand Book Store, so I said I wanted to go in there, so we spent maybe half an hour or 45 minutes in there before returning to the apartment and hanging out for a bit.
* Around 4:30 p.m. or so, we headed back uptown to go to Times Square so we’d be near our show that night. The plan was to meet Serenity’s uncle and one of his friends for drinks at 7 before the 8 p.m. show. We originally hadn’t planned to eat dinner since we ate a late lunch, but we went to the drinks place and decided just to go ahead and eat a lighter dinner. Dinner/drinks were at Heartland Brewery Burger, and I had a southwest chicken salad, and we each had what they billed as “the world’s smallest ice cream sundae,” which was just the perfect amount in a little shot glass.
* Went over to the bar area to finish up drinks, then we went over to the Belasco Theater for Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Our seats were first row balcony, though we did have to lean forward a little to see over the balcony rail if there was anything going on at the front of the stage. I was a little afraid I’d built this show up too much in my mind and I was going to be disappointed, but I was not disappointed at ALL. It was all that I wanted it to be — and more. And definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I loved leaving there knowing I’d seen a musical, but with my ears feeling like I’d been at a concert. And Neil Patrick Harris rocked the role. I’m going to be high on seeing that show for quite a while! Anyway, after the show, we got on the subway and went back to the apartment and went to bed pretty soon after since I’d been up since like 4 a.m.
* The trek across the bridge took about an hour, mostly because there was a lot of foot traffic, and also accounting for stopping for pictures and just to enjoy the views. I’d say more than half of the people stopped and turned around about a third of the way on the bridge, with a small percentage of people making the whole trip over the Brooklyn, going by the fact that it was a lot less crowded after that point. We chose Grimaldi’s pizza for lunch, and there was a small wait for a table, but since we were just a party of two, we were able to keep it at a ten-minute wait. After all that walking, we were definitely hungry, and we ordered the basic pizza with basil and fresh mozzarella. We stuck to a small to share, and even that was pretty big. Mind you, we did finish it, but it was a lot of food! And it was so good! With stuffed bellies, we proceeded to the waterfront area of Brooklyn for some pictures and wandering. We went to a cookie shop that sold whoopie pies, which we bought with the intention of eating later, but they were small, and of course would have been smooshed in our bags, so we had to eat them then!
* We knew we’d have quite a hike back to Manhattan, so we went ahead and crossed the bridge again, then walked up to Canal Street and caught the subway up to Penn Station, then walked the rest of the way to Times Square to scope out our options for dinner that night. (Always thinking about food, remember?) We ended up at a pub called Emmett O’Lunney’s on 50th Street near our theater for that night. I got a chicken balsamic sandwich and fries, and it was sooo good! After dinner, we still had some time to kill before the show, so we found Junior’s and got slices of cheesecake and plopped on the sidewalk in a little courtyard area to enjoy that. The show was at 8 p.m., and it was terrific. I’d seen the show in college at the Actor’s Guild in our town, and I was hoping I hadn’t oversold Serenity on it, but it was so good. You can definitely see why Audra McDonald has won so many Tonys, including for this! After the show, we went to a restaurant called Bobby Van’s to meet Serenity’s uncle for drinks.
* After lunch, I said that I wanted to go to one of the Italian bakeries for cannoli, so we went to a place a couple doors down. Again, we bought a whole box of mini-goodies, with the intention of taking some with us, but we sat there long enough (probably another hour or more) that we ate all of them again. Oops. We ended up leaving there around 4 p.m., with one of the girls taking us back to a train station (this time in Harlem), though we got extra time in the car with her because we accidentally got stuck in traffic when a Yankees game let out.
* We took the subway from Harlem down to a stop near the south part of Central Park, walking through the park some on the way down to the Times Square TKTS booth. We had about a 20-minute wait in the TKTS line, and they had it fairly well organized (especially considering how chaotic Times Square itself can be). Got tickets to see Phantom of the Opera that night, again our top choice of the ones being offered.
* We went to a place called Playwright Celtic Pub on 8th Avenue where I had a cajun southwest chicken salad that was pretty good. We searched for some local ice cream, but it’s not all that abundant in the Times Square area, it turns out. Lots of bakeries, yes, but we were after ice cream. So we had to settle for going to Rockefeller Center and getting ice cream at a Ben and Jerry’s (which, in fairness, we don’t have their stores here, just the pints in the grocery stores). After ice cream and a phone-recharging break, we went back to 44th Street for Phantom (1st row mezzanine on the left), which we enjoyed, but I was mildly disappointed that we got the understudy that night, especially since I was really hoping to see this Sierra Boggess in the role. After the show, we braved Times Square again (which is madness on a Saturday night after theaters have let out) and went to the Disney store to collect souvenirs for our kids, then we walked back to the apartment, and had a couple glasses of wine with Serenity’s uncle, staying up until about 1 a.m. talking.
* By this point, I had a pretty bad blister on my left pinky toe, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as the blisters I had last trip, and I was able to bandage it fine and it wasn’t an issue (until after I got home and it was healing). I’m not sure how I could have prevented it, though — I wore my best walking shoes all around town, and just wore my black sandals right before a show (so, no walking for blocks and blocks in those). We just did an insane amount of walking. Miles and miles and miles.
* On Sunday, we decided to do brunch. First we went to the bagel place and got half a dozen to go, since that’s what I was taking The Husband back. We then stopped at a coffee shop for Serenity to get some coffee, and I ended up getting a homemade strawberry poptart there. (Yes, on the WAY to brunch. LOL) It was tasty!
* We walked a couple miles to the Village and picked Jane for our brunch location, which had about a half-hour wait. I had a farmhouse popover, which was a popover and on the inside it had scrambled eggs mixed with cheese, caramelized onion, and ham, and it was delicious! After brunch, we went up to the meatpacking district and walked the High Line, an old rail track that has been converted to a nice, raised urban walk. By the time we got over there, it was pretty crowded, but I’m glad we did it. We walked on that up to 30th Street, then took the subway from 30th up to 72nd Street so we could go to Central Park again and spend some more time there.
* It was again a very nice day weather-wise, so we found some green space in the park and plopped down, enjoying the day and relaxing some. After that, we went on another search for some local, unique ice cream, and we pretty much had given up, which I’ll admit disappointed me a little. But then we happened upon a street that was closed for a street fair, so we cut across through there, drawn to the music. And what did we find there but a food truck selling artisan ice cream! Exactly the kind of thing I was looking for! I got candied ginger and lavender honey, both really good and unique.
* My blister was kind of hurting, but we decided to walk from 72nd street down to the apartment (between 19th and 20th) because it was going to be my last time making my way through the city, and again, that’s how you experience things! We stopped briefly at an antique shop that caught my eye (and I’m not even an antiques person, but this store was neat), then went back to the apartment to finish packing up, which I’d mostly done before we left that morning, so that didn’t take long.
* Serenity’s uncle took us to dinner at one of his favorite nearby places, L’Express, where I had a delicious burger and fries, which sort of bookended the trip since I’d started the trip with that truffle burger. We went back to the apartment to get our suitcases a little after 6 p.m., and Serenity drove me to the airport on her way out of town. We boarded around 8:15 p.m., but we didn’t end up taking off (finally) until midnight. On the first attempt, we started taxiing, but we didn’t actually make it to the runway because they said we had to return to the gate for maintenance. After a long process, they got that fixed (supposedly), and we went back to taxiing and got to the runway this time. Lined up for takeoff, got about a third of the way down the runway for takeoff, but instead of lifting up, we came to a quick stop and aborted the takeoff. I’ll tell you, I’m not personally a nervous flyer, but there is something disconcerting about an aborted takeoff — it kind of rattles you! So we went back to the gate AGAIN for maintenance. Finally after getting that fixed, getting a new flight plan, etc., we took off right at midnight (having been on the plane for almost 4 hours by this point). I dozed for most of the flight, though it wasn’t a very restful sleep.
* We touched down right at 1:40 a.m., then I was home by about 2:15 a.m. by the time I got off the plane and walked to my car and paid for parking. I was so incredibly tired when I got home, and finally managed to get to sleep by 3 a.m. — and had a 5:30 a.m. alarm set for work the next day! Getting through Monday was very difficult, which I expected it would be (my original flight was going to arrive around 10:45 p.m.), but it was a lot more than I expected. I managed to go to bed by about 8:45 p.m. that night, and clearly I needed it, because I slept perfectly that night.