Monday, December 12, 2005

You Know You Need Unique New York

I know I do. In four days, we saw five Broadway shows, met up with two friends from California who now live in New York, did some shopping, some sightseeing, and basically admired the snowy city decorated for the holidays. Here's a not-too-brief account of our trip (so far, we're not home yet. We're visiting some friends of mine at Wellesley College, outside Boston, while my sister checks out the school).

Thursday basically doesn't exist. We woke up around 4:30am and didn't arrive in NYC until 4:30pm. Checked into our hotel, ate dinner at an organic food restaurant (Josie's? It was good, whatever it was called), and took a taxi downtown to see our first show, "Wicked." Unbelievably good. It's based on a book which is based on "The Wizard of Oz," and it basically tells the story of the friendship between Glinda and Elphaba, aka the Wicked Witch of the West (oh yes, it's true). The musical deviates from the plot in the book, but in some ways I think it's almost better because of it. The songs are great, kind of similar sounding, but still great. I was familiar with the music, too (actually, I was also relatively familiar with the costumes and sets from pictures I've seen online, so none of it was a big surprise in that sense), but it was amazing just to see how it all comes together. I'll admit, I got a little misty-eyed during the first song (and a few songs later, and again towards the end). So that was a surprise. I guess I just really liked the show. Anyway, I don't want to spoil the ending for anyone who hasn't seen the show, but I will say that it surprised me.

I'm trying to remember Friday. We went to visit Barnard College for my sister. I knew it was affiliated with Columbia, but I didn't know that it was essentially the same university, just different colleges. And I didn't picture the school being right in Manhattan. We really liked it, though. There was a snow storm that morning (I woke up and the sky was grey, and huge chunks of snow were falling), so the campus was pretty and snowy, and some girls were building a snowman and singing carols. We went on a tour, then went to eat lunch at a nearby Greek restaurant. My family visited Greece two years ago, and we definitely fell in love with Greek food (not to mention Greece and the people). So we were sitting around the table and all giddy because we were in New York and it was snowy and we were eating Greek food.

Next we went to the UN, because Becky wants to work there someday. We went on a tour, and it was pretty cool, although not all of the rooms looked quite as slick as the General Assembly (the cool room in "The Interpreter," which was not that cool of a movie). Some of them had some strange curtain decorations. Kind of odd. Anyway. The gift shop is amazing, though. They have stuff from all around the world, so that was exciting. The Ireland section wasn't quite representative of an accurate Irish gift shop - there wasn't any Guinness merchandise. They had some really cool Egyptian bottles, and there was a cool creepy looking wooden box from Romania. I was pretty excited about that. It probably was carved by Dracula or something. Or not.

Next we tried to go to an electronics store to buy some stuff (more accurately, my Christmas present: an iPod. Yes, I have decided to join the legions of the undead. And by "the undead," I mean those white earbudded types). However, it had closed at 1pm, and was definitely empty by the time we got there. And it was closed all day Saturday. That equals: Jewish! So that was pretty cool.

We got dinner food at Fairway Market across the street from our hotel. This place is amazing. It's like the New York version of Berkeley Bowl (the store where Dr. Wirth bought her weird fruit and stuff to show to her high school Spanish classes, if any of you were in those). Then we went to see "The Producers"! I was definitely very excited for that. I love Mel Brooks. I truly do. I've been watching the preview for the new movie for months now, and I'm even more excited now that I've seen the show. From what I can tell, the movie has almost identical costumes and sets to the stage version, so that's cool. When you're watching the movie, you should be thinking, "This is how the show looks on Broadway! Caroline told me so!"

Saturday we slept in. That was good. We met up with our friend Blair, who is a few years older than me and a grad student at Columbia. None of us know her very well, but she's my sister's idol, so that was probably most of the reason we got together. Also, she went to Wellesley, so most of the conversation was about both of the schools (Wellesley and Columbia). We had brunch at a little French cafe. Then we went to see "The Phantom of the Opera" at 2pm. It's my favorite musical, probably mostly because I saw it for the first time when I was eleven, and it was a formative experience for me. Obviously the music is good and the costumes and everything, but my favorite part has always been the story - the twisted love triangle, the Phantom's tortured soul, his power over Christine, that sort of thing. Anyway, this was our third time seeing it live, so not really any surprises there.

Afterwards, we met up with our friend, Susan. She's in the process of adopting twin boys from Guatemala, so we talked about that a lot. I've always wanted to adopt (not really sure why), so I was really interested in hearing about it. At one point we were at FAO Schwarz (damn the candy section!), and she was looking at the baby toys and stuff. I think it's really hard for her to wait for all of the paperwork to get finished. Hopefully they will be coming home in late January. We went to Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall, went inside St. Patrick's Cathedral, looked at all the window displays at Bloomingdale's (unbelievable), and actually looked around inside. We ended up in the section with gloves, scarves, and...fur. Apparently Norwegian foxes come in burgundy and teal. Who knew? Then we went to Grand Central Terminal (not "Station," you touristy types, you) and ate at one of their restaurants. I finally gave into my craving for a New York hot dog, and I had some cheesecake, because apparently they were the restaurant that invented it. I feel like I owe them a lot. I talk about food too much.

Oh, Sunday. We walked over to Central Park (only a few blocks from our hotel) and ended up at the American Museum of Natural History. Amazing. They have tons of stuffed animals, in a taxidermical sense (I hope I just invented "taxidermical"). And fake animals, too, like the huge whale they have hanging from the ceiling. I was a fan of the fake sharks. I think most little girls went through a phase where they wanted to be marine biologists and study bottlenosed dolphins. I liked sharks. They also had lots of awesome dinosaur bones. I got a T-Rex shirt, because I'm just that cool. I hope it glows in the dark.

We went to this awesome store that sells newspapers and magazines from around the world. I found the January edition of "Empire Magazine." I needed to mention this because it was the highlight of my month. If this magazine was a person, I would marry it. Enough said.

At 3pm, we went to see "Spamalot." I love Monty Python. They are the best ever. There is no question. So, clearly any musical that is based on "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" is a good thing. They had a lot of the same sketches from the movie (from the coconuts to the Knights of Ni), and some new stuff (like the Lady of the Lake). So, definitely good stuff. My family bought the soundtrack for it a while ago, but I haven't even seen the box, let alone listened to it. So many of the songs were new to me. Funny stuff.

For dinner, we ate at a British-type pub around the corner (hurray for British-type pubs! I definitely chose the restaurant). Then we went to see our second show of the day, which was "Avenue Q." Hahahahaha. Hurray for politically incorrect, offensive and hilarious show. If you aren't familiar with it, it's basically about a neighborhood in New York. And puppets live there. Reminiscent of Sesame Street, albeit the adult version. Definitely not for everyone, but we enjoyed it.

Today we got up early and flew to Boston, and basically spent the day at Wellesley. My friends showed us around, Bexy had an interview, we took a tour, and have basically been hanging out. We had lunch and dinner (I've really missed college cafeteria food. It's so pathetic. I'll get over it when I go back to school). Tomorrow we're meeting with a faculty member who is a relative of a family friend, then probably hanging out in Boston, then flying home and gaining back those hours that we lost on Thursday. Hurray for that. Okay then, TTFN.


At 12/13/2005 2:40 PM, Blogger gina said...

So, okay, you don't know me. My son was Nathan's roomie last year. I read your blog all the time and love it. You write well. I can see everything you describe, you do it so well. I am so jealous. How is it that you and your family do so much traveling? I am one of those poor souls who has never been anywhere to speak of. Oh sure, I grew up and went to college in California, know most every inch of the state, have been to most of the western states, but east of San Antonio, TX may as well be a foreign country to me. I've been to Chicago once on a whirlwind business trip, during which I took a couple of days to trek to my sister's farm in northwestern Wisconsin. That's the extent of my exposure to anything east of the Mississippi. You, on the other hand, have been so many places, have done so many things, and you appear to have a very culturally inclined family (getting my gang to a Broadway show, aside from the expense, would involve a minor miracle). Do you have any idea just how fortunate you are? Could we trade places for a month or two? My boss just returned from a 5 day trip to DC and NYC - his first ever east of Idaho. He was awarded as a librarian of the year by the NY Times and went to NYC for the presentation. Anyway, I digress. You are so lucky to have traveled and seen so much. Maybe your parents will adopt me. :) We are going, though, to the UK the day after Whitworth gets out in May - our first international trip ever (Canada and Tijuana don't count). Your posts about your adventures there during the BISP are going to help guide us during our trip. Thought you'd like to know. Hope you don't think it's weird that I am commenting. Just wanted you to know I love your blog and envy you all your experiences. You must have amazing parents!

Merry Christmas!

At 12/18/2005 10:33 PM, Blogger carpe_diem said...

My family has always made it a priority to travel, so that's probably why we manage to do it so often. I hope your trip to the UK is fantastic! Such a beautiful area. I think you'll have a great time.
As for my writing, maybe now I'll actually believe that it's kinda good, since someone I'm not related to says so. Thanks, I do try :)

At 12/19/2005 7:42 PM, Blogger gina said...

You do well! Keep it up. Finances have always been an issue when it came to traveling, especially when I was growing up with three siblings. If we couldn't drive there, we didn't go. Now, at last, we are in a stage of our lives we can afford to do more traveling, and with our timeshare, accommodations are the least expensive part of any excursion, so I suspect we will see more of the world in the next few years. Again, you are a very lucky young lady!

At 1/06/2006 12:33 PM, Anonymous robin said...

hey let me know where becky gets in!


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