In keeping with the theme of “Making the most of my time on the East Coast,” I decided to head to NYC for a couple days to see some Broadway shows. I’ve always really enjoyed the theater, and tried to go to the Fox (in STL) a couple times of year for this and that. With the great white way only a few hours away, this was too good to pass up.
I looked into a couple transportation options, and quickly realized that there were about a billion different ways to get to NYC. Considered driving, then found out the tolls would be about $50 alone! (Nevermind parking.) I love taking the train, but Amtrak was charging upwards of $300 for the round trip! Airfare was out of the question as well, so I looked into the bus option. I ended up taking Eastern, a 4.5 hour bus that went from DC’s Chinatown to NY’s Penn Station. Reviews online were horrific, but the $25 price tag made me believe I could handle it. Well I’m pleased to say that the round trip journey was actually way better than I had expected. The busses were clean, the drivers were skilled, and I was content to just recline my seat, pop in my headphones, and sleep the entire way. Two thumbs up for the DC2NY bus system.
Now, lodging. I couldn’t afford to pay Midtown/Theater District prices, but didn’t love the idea of taking the train or a taxi late at night out of the area, not to mention the forecast looked like rain and I knew having a home base nearby would prove pretty important. As I often do, I turned to Priceline and named my own price for a three-star hotel in midtown. Amazingly enough, the Manhattan at Times Square accepted my bid of $100, and I had myself a deal. I had actually stayed at this hotel during my previous visit, and while it isn’t anything overly fancy, the location is incredible and rooms were fine. (If you aren’t overly particular about a certain brand or certain amenities, you MUST look into the name your own price option. You can get wonderful, high end hotels for next to nothing, I’ve had nothing but great experiences with it.)
So I left for NY on Saturday morning, and was there by about 11:00am. I walked about a mile to the hotel (in the pouring rain) to drop off my bag, wandered around midtown for a bit, and realized I simply needed to head to a restaurant to get out of the rain. Well unfortunately everyone else had the same idea, and every restaurant I approached couldn’t seat me. I hung my head, begrudgingly headed to a Chipotle, and enjoyed getting to put my umbrella away. (I have nothing but love for Chipotle but who goes to New York to eat there? Me, apparently.) I then headed to my first show, “No Man’s Land.”
So No Mans Land is a play by Harold Pinter, and if I tried to summarize the plot here, I would fail, but I will say that it had serious comedic moments, plenty of sad ones, lots of drinking, and the ending left me pretty puzzled. I looked up the play online and found out that is exactly what it was supposed to do. Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart were incredible, and Billy Crudup has serious acting chops.
After the show I headed back to the room, showered and got pretty for my next show that evening: Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
This was, by far, the coolest show I’ve seen in NY. It was the opening preview, so there were a few tiny little kinks to work out, but overall I have to say NPH did an INCREDIBLE job with the very difficult material, and very difficult costumes.
I had never seen this show before, but as soon as I got home I downloaded several of the previous recordings, “Wicked Little Town” especially stuck with me. If you will be in NY for any reason in the next few months, I HIGHLY suggest catching this show. I was actually able to snag a “partial view” seat in the 2nd row, and he was about 5 ft from me quite often. For some pics check out this article, the wigs especially were pretty incredible. I would not recommend ordering drinks from the bar there, a double 7&7 cost me $25.00!!!
Side note, I bought a denim dress recently and wasn’t quite sure if I could pull it off. Decided to power through and wear the damn thing in NY, I rarely wear dresses and am looking to change that. Paired it with black tights and boots. I laughed out loud when NPH came on stage in a denim ensemble with back tights and boots…we were basically matching. Though mine wasn’t bedazzled.
The show ended, and at this point, it was late, the rain was coming down pretty hard, and I was essentially spent. I went back to the hotel and ordered some delivery takeout from Hell’s Kitchen. Enjoyed some delicious Thai noodles from the comfort of my bed, caught the Louis CK SNL, and drifted off to sleep.
The next morning I grabbed a bagel and coffee from the Starbucks down the street (again, it was raining, so I ditched original plan to seek out Ess-A-Bagel or even wait in line for the legendary Cronut from Dominique Ansel (good thing, they were just shut down for a mouse infestation!!) I packed up my stuff, left by bag with the concierge, and headed to 5th Avenue, then Times Square to do a little shopping and sight-seeing.
Suppressed my desire to buy everything at Michael Kors, did some damage at The Loft (hellooooo 40% off sale,) and braved the crowds at the Disney Store in a futile attempt to find Lex some Frozen swag. I then headed down the road to try out the iconic burgers and fries from Shake Shack.
I have a hard time getting too pumped up about burger joints (I mean how hard is it to make a burger, really?) but this place blew my expectations away. I was horrified to find out that there are locations in DC, and now I fear this will become a staple in my diet while I’m here. From locally sourced ingredients to hormone-free, 100% angus beef, the lunch was legit and I’ll be back.
It was now time for my 3rd and final show, I headed back to the Cort Theater for “Waiting for Godot.”
This show was just amazing in every sense. It’s an “absurdist” play by Samuel Beckett, in which Vladimir and Estragon (or how they are referred to in the play, GoGo and DiDi,) are waiting by this tree for the arrival of the elusive Mr. Godot. McKellen and Stewart played their roles perfectly, as two long-time besties talking and playing and reminiscing about their long history together. It was hilarious, brilliantly acted, and again, Billy Crudup proved that he’s an underrated actor. (There was a 4th, Schuler Hensley, and unfortunately his parts never really gave him the full chance to measure up to the others and show what he had to offer.)
At curtain calls, McKellen and Stewart stayed on stage, hugged it out, smiled brilliantly at one another and shared kisses on the cheek. I teared up, you rarely see such a openly-displayed bromance like that. It’s clear that they really love and respect one another, and was great to witness. See proof here.
So after the show I gathered up my suitcase and walked back to Penn Station in the pouring rain. I arrived early for the bus, and decided to kill some time in a nearby cafe, aptly named “Pie Face” (they served pot pies, meat pies, and dessert pies, food was fine but the name is awesome.) Headed back to the bus stop, grabbed a seat, and settled in for the long ride home. Made it back to DC’s Chinatown, grabbed a cab, and was home by 12:30am.
The next morning was a little rough, I was of course tired and had to hop myself up on coffee, but I’m so glad I took this trip. I’m getting ready to travel halfway around the world and live alone in a new country where I don’t speak the language, I need to practice my ability to travel alone. Overall the weather put a serious damper on my enjoyment, but I think I can call the trip a success! Another rewarding experience, all accomplished by stepping outside my comfort zone. The best ones usually are.