Tuesday, December 19, 2017

MegaBytes of the Big Apple: Photos -- and a Recap -- from My Most Recent New York City Excursion

My taking a weekend trip to New York City isn't in itself very noteworthy.

I've been to the Big Apple often--18 times since 1993--and have seen dozens of Broadway shows, visited numerous museums & attractions, eaten at many restaurants and strolled through several neighborhoods, though mostly in Manhattan.

This three-day jaunt was fundamentally similar, yet special nonetheless.

The impetus for this trip was being able to get a face value ticket for Springsteen on Broadway, as The Boss has long been my favorite musical performer.

Even this wasn't all that new as I've seen Bruce Springsteen (& the E Street Band) nine previous times in New York or nearby New Jersey, providing the primary motivation for five prior trips to Manhattan.

But this time, he--without the band--was playing on Broadway. Though different from his typical concerts, it was fantastic, as you can read in my review here.

I think this was the latest in any given year that I'd visited New York, and though it was a tad cold and I'm Jewish, I enjoyed the wintry and Christmas aspects.

My arrival date was December 8, one of the saddest days in music and NYC history, as it was that date in 1980 when John Lennon was murdered.

But that anniversary made for some rather moving moments in a memorable trip.

Here's a rundown of what I did in New York on this trip, before getting to a large gallery of photos:

Friday, December 8, 2017
- Awoke at 4:15am and flew from Chicago's O'Hare airport into New York's LaGuardia
- For the first time, took the Q70-SBS bus from LaGuardia to the Jackson Heights/Roosevelt Ave. subway station in Queens, then the E train to my hotel
- Stayed at the Pod 51 hotel, on 51st St. near 2nd Ave. in Manhattan. The room was quite small and I had a bathroom down the hall, but for considerably less than rates elsewhere, it sufficed.
- Ate lunch on Friday at Cosme, a Mexican restaurant on 21st St. that is ranked at the 40th best in the world. It was opened by chef Enrique Olvera, noted for Pujol in Mexico City. (Ranked #20; I ate there in January 2015.) From Cosme's rather reasonable lunch menu, I had Cobia tacos with a pineapple puree, and their husk meringue dessert. It was all quite good. (Duck carnitas are supposedly the specialty, but I'm allergic to poultry.
- Walked along 23rd. St., past the Flatiron Building, with views of the Empire State and others.
- Went to the Chelsea Hotel, which is still closed for renovations, but took pictures in the El Quijote restaurant where Andy Warhol once held court, and grabbed a donut at the Doughnut Plant, my favorite such purveyor anywhere. Both are in or near the Chelsea Hotel building.
- Strolled to the Agora Gallery (on 25th W of 10th), where I was supposed to meet a contact who wasn't there. But on the way there I enjoyed noting the nifty little Saint Eleftherios Greek Orthodox Church. I did wind up touring the gallery, and also the nearby Pace Gallery.
- Walked along the High Line elevated trail. Enjoyed noting the Zaha Hadid Building, a condominium complex designed by the architect, who died in 2016.
- Not sure how I'd get from 30th & 10th to 72nd & Central Park West, I jumped on a passing bus -- M11 -- which got me to 72nd & Amsterdam, an easy walk to...
- The Dakota, where John Lennon lived, and was shot (in the vestibule).
- At the Imagine mural nearby in Central Park, observed and partook in a group singalong honoring John Lennon.
- Walked to 62nd & Columbus, where there's a Lincoln Center TKTS booth that allows for buying next-day tickets. 
- Took a cab to my hotel, where I had been too early to check in on arrival. Laid down for 30 minutes.
- Subway to Port Authority (tragically bombed just 3 days later), then walked to the Majestic Theatre.
- Saw The Phantom of the Opera. Have seen it several times, but this was the first in NYC, where in January its continuous run hits 30 years. It was great, but reiterated that it is decidedly not as good a show as Les Miserables. I'm not writing a formal review, but would bestow @@@@1/2.
- Subway back to the hotel.
- Got a brisket sandwich at the Morning Star Cafe on 2nd Ave.
- Went to sleep. 

Saturday, December 9
- Was going to grab a bagel at Ess-a-Bagel (3rd & 51st) near my hotel but the line was crazy.
- Walked west on 51st, stopped into St. Patrick's Cathedral, then saw the Atlas Statue and the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree.
- Got in line (per the ticket I'd bought the day before at TKTS) for the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall.
- Got inside, having never before been in Radio City. Heading to the rest room, noted a great mural by Stuart Davis.
- Enjoyed the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular from the 4th row (despite a check TKTS ticket) and was allowed to take pictures throughout
- It was snowing pretty heavily, so I took a cab to the Frick Collection. Toured its great art, including two Vermeers.
- Walked through snowy Central Park, past the Bethesda Fountain, to Imagine and the Dakota again.
- Via subway and strolling, reached Barbetta, an Italian restaurant dating to 1906. From their Pre-Theater menu, got Roasted Peppers, Braised Beef and Creme Brulee.
- Walked through Times Square
- Saw Springsteen on Broadway at the Walter Kerr Theatre
- I had wanted to see Jimmy Heath's Big Band at the Blue Note, but Bruce went too late. Decided to skip other late night options, such as Marie's Crisis, and just went back to Pod 51 and to sleep.

Sunday, December 10
- Again daunted by the long line at Ess-a-Bagel, was able to skip it by buying one dry "bulk" everything bagel. It was awesome.
- Took the subway down to Wall St. and went into Trinity Church, found Alexander Hamilton's tomb in the graveyard and saw the NYSE and Federal Hall.
- Walked through Zuccotti Park, stopped at the 9/11 Memorial pools
- Went into the new Oculus transportation hub & shopping center designed by Santiago Calatrava
- Subway up to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for an all-too-brief 2-hour visit
- Saw The Band's Visit musical on Broadway. My review here.
- Subway to the hotel to grab my bag, then to 74/Roosevelt and Q70 to LGA

All photos by Seth Arkin copyright 2017. Please do not repost without permission or attribution.

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