A Manhattan Love Story | Day 9

Day 9 - Brooklyn Bridge day!!

One of the things I was most looking forward to while in the city was walking the Brooklyn Bridge. Each time I've seen the bridge in movies or various cityscapes, my love for the beautiful structure deepens. When we woke up to another sunny day with blue skies and no concrete plans, I declared it Brooklyn day and we headed south.

We wandered around Fulton Street and the base of the bridge on the Manhattan side for a little bit and I found a beautiful municipal building that I feel head over heels for.

I seriously have a gazillion photos of this building.

As we climbed up onto the bridge I kept looking out at the city all around us.  I can't get over how gorgeous this city is.

Before we got too far I had to pose for a picture with the first Gothic Arch.  Eeeeee!!!!

And then I had the perfect opportunity to take the exact picture that I've been dreaming of for so many years. The light, the symmetry, the lines... ahhh, perfection. 

Yeah, I wasn't enjoying it at all ;)

The view of the Manhattan skyline was beautiful of course too...

All over the bridge there were locks that people had placed there over the years.  I'm not one for vandalizing public property, but when I saw this one, I had to at least take a picture of it. It was too perfect not to.

After taking our time enjoying the walk over the bridge we sought out a pizza joint and enjoyed a slice. Sadly I don't have a picture, but trust me, it was GOOD.  We then found a tattoo shop for Hannah to get the tattoo she had been planning.  We ended up finding a great shop and she was overjoyed at the results.

I had heard about the Peter Pan Donut and Pastry Shop in Brooklyn and, of course, had to seek it out. Long-story-short we found it, it wasn't what I was expecting, and I was uncomfortable with our surroundings for the first time in New York.  I bought 4 donut holes (they were ok), took a picture and we headed back to Manhattan.

There were few things that Hannah had on her list to see or experience while in New York, but Katz's Delicatessen was near the top.  So we headed back to the Lower East Side (swoon) and had dinner.

It was chaotic, crazy packed and amazingly delicious!  Unfortunately Hannah had an allergic reaction to the fries (she has a potato allergy) and didn't fully enjoy her dinner, but at least now she can say she's been there!

We found a Duane Reade for Benadryl (poor Hannah) and headed back to the apartment to turn in for the day.  It was a great day full of adventure!

A Manhattan Love Story | Day 8

Day 8 was a lazy day.  

After staying up until the wee hours of the morning on a post NYE high, I slept until noon. After waking up we decided to get a little breakfast/lunch and head down to the southern tip of Manhattan to catch the Staten Island ferry and check out the view of the Statue of Liberty.

The view from the ferry of the Manhattan skyline was amazing.  We ended up missing the first ferry and had to wait longer than expected.  I was frustrated at first, but it ended up being great since our ferry took off during the sunset.  The light was amazing!

Not gonna lie, I was bit disappointed that Lady Liberty was so small.  It was cool to see, but not what I expected.

The view from the back of the ferry.  So pretty!

After we returned to Manhattan we wandered around Wall Street and then headed to my favorite discovery... the East Village.  It was like a mini Portland in the middle (okay the lower east side really) of Manhattan.  I fell in love.  We wandered around and ended up taking in a movie (Into the Woods) at the East Theater.

It was a great and relaxing day.

A Manhattan Love Story | Day 7

Day 7 was New Years Eve - the catalyst for this trip.

I can remember being 8 years old and finally old enough to stay up and watch the ball drop at midnight in Times Square. While everyone celebrated under the confetti dropping from the sky, I watched in awe and thought about how amazing it would be to be there in person some day. From that day on each New Years that passed fueled my dream of being there.  And even now it's hard for to believe that it actually happened.

I was really excited, but since our plans didn't really start until 11pm (more on that later) I decided to explore a few areas of town to pass the time.  We started out in Harlem and walked the historic 125th street, home to the legendary Apollo Theater.  Outside were many names of celebrities who played there, and it was neat to see how many big names started out on this same stage.

One of my favorite things to do while exploring the city was hop on the Subway and get off at a random stop and explore.  So that's what we did.  We ended up around 6th and 55th and stumbled upon Carnegie Hall.  One of the coolest parts about exploring the city was stumbling upon these truly legendary and iconic places.  They're just nestled among the city and you'd miss them if you don't keep your eyes open.

Right around the corner we stumbled into another fun discovery...

There had to be at least 100 NYPD cops on this corner!  It appeared they were going over the plan for the evening's festivities.  As we passed I asked a few if I could take a selfie with them, and they were more than happy to oblige.  The cutie Puerto Rican behind me gave me a hug and I wished them a Happy New Year as I skipped away.  It was a fun and unexpected highlight of the day.

I knew about this statue and knew we were in the right area to see it, but it was still really exciting to see it in person.  If you know anything about me, you know that "love" is my thing.  It's my favorite word, my favorite emotion and my favorite subject to talk about.  So I was more than happy to stand in a short line and wait patiently for my turn to have a photograph with this giant declaration of Love.

It was a full and amazing day, and it was time to head toward Times Square to find a coffee shop or pub and wait until we needed to meet our contact at 11:00 for our personal escort into the center of the party for New Years Eve.

Yes, you heard that right.
A personal escort.

Annette had the hookup and was gracious enough to include Hannah and I so that we could experience New Years right.  Most people had been waiting in Times Square since 1 or 2 in the afternoon in order to be in the confetti zone, but we were able to enjoy dinner and drinks at a nearby pub until about 10:45.  Then we headed out to meet a police sergeant at the corner of 6th and 45th at 11pm.

He met us and quickly walked us into the heart of Times Square.  We were surrounded by thousands of people and instantly joined the party with singing, dancing and general merriment.

Here's a little video I put together of the experience:

It was amazing, surreal and an experience I'll not soon forget.

A Manhattan Love Story | Day 6

Day 6 started out with a walk through two areas of Manhattan named Greenwich Village and Chelsea - otherwise known as the areas Macey first pictured herself living in New York.

I had begun falling in love with the city, but until this point still couldn't picture myself living in NYC.  I had started fantasizing about New York being my place to visit once a year, and who I was going to introduce my city to, but hadn't felt the pull to live there.  Within our first block of walking through Greenwich, that all changed.  It just felt different, and it felt like home.

The other thing that stood out thus far is that I hadn't seen any 'found hearts' yet.  If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you know that I love to take pictures of various heart formations I find.  I see them rather often and I was looking forward to capturing some in NYC.  Hannah and I had just been commenting on day 5 how strange it was that I hadn't seen any yet.

Within the first 5 minutes in Greenwich I spotted one, and all throughout the day I spotted many more.  

A sign?
Yeah, I think so too.

After a few hours of wandering around the Village I hopped back on the Subway and headed north to Harlem to meet up with the lovely Annette for lunch.  We met at the legendary Red Rooster and enjoyed conversation over amazing southern comfort cuisine.

I was connected to Annette through my sister-in-law Danielle a few months ago on Facebook and we quickly became friends.  Annette has lived in NYC for 17 years and runs a very successful event planning company.  She has TONS of connections in the city and I enjoyed learning about the different events she held in historic buildings around Manhattan.  Out of the many connections Annette has, one (my personal favorite) offered her a VIP experience for New Years in Times Square and she was more than happy to extend the invitation to Hannah and I so we could experience it with her.  I know, right?!

As Annette and I wrapped up our delicious meal she sent a text off to her contact and promised to let me know the details as they were figured out.  (more on that amazing experience to come on Day 7)

After parting with Annette I hopped back on the Subway once again and headed to Times Square to stake out a prime spot at the Richard Rogers Theater backdoor, hoping to catch Idina Menzel after her matinee performance.

After waiting an hour and half in the freezing (and I do mean freezing) cold, the crowd had formed, the door opened and... Anthony Rapp exited the building.  I didn't want to appear to snuff anyone in the cast who I had already received an autograph from, so I opened my Playbill to the page with the cast photos and asked him to sign his picture rather than the front of the bill.  He was gracious once again and began signing autographs for the crowd.  While doing so, he kept looking at me and appeared to be attempting to place my face.

After a few glances he said, "were you here the other night?"

I laughed and told him that yes I was and that I had come back hoping to get Idina's autograph as well. I also assured him that even though I hadn't seen the show that afternoon I was sure he was amazing, and that seeing him live on Sunday night is something I'll never forget.  He smiled, said thank you, wished me luck on meeting Idina and continued on.

Anthony Rapp remembered me!
Can we just pause on that for a second?!

After Anthony left the door opened again and the security guard stepped out.  He told us that no one else would be coming out to sign. The crowd was so disappointed and I felt a mixture of sadness for them that they didn't meet anyone else and gratefulness that I had attended the show on Sunday and met so many of them.  I chatted quickly with the guard and he was very honest with me and said that it wasn't worth my time coming back later in the week and that Idina very rarely signs autographs.  I thanked him for his honesty and left feeling as though the glass had been shattered a bit.  I guess that's why they say it's best to not meet your heroes.

Hannah had been waiting in a pub down the block from me so I headed out to meet up with her.  We enjoyed drinks, a warm fireplace and a bartender with a Scottish Brogue while we waited for our dinner reservations at a nearby restaurant, Don't Tell Mamma.  Not a bad way to kill an hour or two.

Dinner was great, but another bit of a letdown since it wasn't what I was expecting.  Our waiter more than made up for it with his flirting though, so that was nice.

After dinner we made our way back to the apartment after spotting a photo-op I couldn't pass up.

A Manhattan Love Story | Day 5

Day 5 was our "You've Got Mail" day!  We explored the Upper West Side and celebrated a few of the filming locations from one of my favorite movies.

We started with brunch at Cafe Lalo.

The meal was great, atmosphere was comfy and we met a little boy and his mom who totally stole our hearts. 

We bought cheese at Zabar's "This is a cash only line."
Bought coffee at "their" Starbucks "Tall. Decaf. Cappuccino."
Snapped pics of Gray's Papaya and tried to find the spot where they meet at the end of the movie in Central Park.  But we never did because we were distracted by other stores, street book sellers, and these weird sculptures in a children's park...

I mean, what are they?  Llamas? Sheep? Camels?  No idea.  But we decided to play for a bit anyway...

I found my perfect New York souvenir while we wandered too...

After a full afternoon of walking around we headed back to Midtown with the intent of exploring the New York Public Library's central branch... you know, the famous one.  But first we happened to wander by...

And Hannah and I both had another, "holy shit, New York!" moment.  We wandered around the halls of the New York Times offices a bit and then continued on to the library.

I have to be honest, as cool as it was to be at the NYPL, it wasn't what I was expecting.  It was PACKED with tourists and the librarians wouldn't let me into many of the reading rooms or areas with actual library materials because I didn't have a library card.  I'm definitely going to have to check it out during my next visit when it's not such a touristy time.  I was OVER the tourists by this point in our trip and found a corner to sit in while Hannah explored.

I think part of my problem was that we had walked about 9 miles by this point in our day and I was getting hangry.  So we found food and headed to our next night of theater antics... Drunk Shakespeare.

Now this was fun.  Macbeth with drunk actors, updated scripts, vulgarity, lewd behavior and a dash of iambic pentameter... pure awesome.  

On the way home I spotted my favorite literary name and paused for a quick pic.

Best I can factor I spent about 90 seconds geeking out over Peter Pan and taking a picture.  It would be about 2 minutes later I would discover Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka entering their apartment with their puppies after an evening walk.

That's right.  Had I not stopped to be silly about Peter Pan, I would have encountered Neil and David 90 seconds earlier and had the chance to actually say "hello" to them.

Fucking Peter Pan.

A Manhattan Love Story | Day 4

Now to be completely honest, up until this point I was not in love with New York.  Don't get me wrong, I was having a great time, but I just wasn't in love.  

Part of me had been hoping that I would either love or hate the city right away.  I was expecting an instant decision that my heart would notify me of.
Yes or no.
That way I could have an idea whether or not I needed to prepare my mom for a potential move to the East Coast in the next 5-10 years.  (My mom's the type of person that you need to give plenty of notice.)

But it didn't happen.  I enjoyed the city, and I was loving exploring, seeing and experiencing new things, but I felt like I was just visiting someone else's city. A tourist doing touristy things.  I was tired of Times Square, tired of all the people everywhere and ready to see something different.

So on the morning of day 4 I woke up with the idea of exploring an area on the southern tip of Manhattan.  I had struck a friendship with a lovely couple who sat next to me in the theater the day before.  They were from Pennsylvania and had a tradition of driving to the city every other month to see a show.  They always use TKTS, so they never know for sure what show they'll be seeing.  They gave me some great pointers on scoring discounted tickets and how to avoid the lines and crowds. Tip #1 was NOT using the TKTS booth in Times Square.  There are two more booths that fewer people (aka tourists) don't know about that have short lines and steeper discounts for tickets.  So that's where we headed!

When we popped up out of the subway in Wall Street there was an immediate different feel to the area.  There were far fewer people on the sidewalks, many more cabs on the streets, and everyone walked with purpose.

And the buildings.

Oh my word, the buildings are massively tall.
I immediately turned to Hannah and said, "now this is New York."

We started at TKTS, and I was super excited to see Idina's show If/Then on the discount board. Hannah was interested in seeing Avenue Q which was on the board too.  Both shows were going to run us about $80 each. Hannah wasn't interested in If/Then and I've seen Avenue Q twice already so we each bought a ticket to our respective show and planned to meet up and debrief after.  Easy-peasy!

I was sooooooo excited to have a ticket in my hand that would allow me to see Idina Menzel!  I almost couldn't believe it!  I immediately called the two people I know who could fully appreciate how exciting this was for me and squealed for a full 10 minutes.

Having our evening planned out (the shows didn't start until 7:30 that night) we headed out on foot to fully explore the area for the day.  I purposefully stayed off the map app on my phone and we just walked to see what we'd discover.  My phone could have easily led us to well known areas or monuments, but I just wanted to discover the area naturally.

At one point Hannah and I popped into a cute little marketplace to grab something to drink and eat. We stood outside chatting and eating and when I turned around to leave, BAM, there it was.  Nestled perfectly between a row of buildings lining the street on both sides, was the One World Trade Center.


We quickly took off toward it.

There's an unmistakable buzz around NYC.  There's a high energy and a purpose in the air.  The city just feels electric.  But that buzz was unmistakably missing from the area around Ground Zero.  It made sense, of course, but it was such a stark difference that it was almost eery.  Hannah and I spent quite a bit of time walking around the area, looking at the building, reading names on the memorials and just watching people taking it in.  Looking around at the many business buildings and apartments that face the area, it's impossible to be there and not think about how many lives were affected that day.

It was a very somber afternoon.

After taking in Wall Street and Ground Zero we headed back up to the apartment to get ready for Broadway!

First we stopped at Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka's house.  They live less than a block from where we were staying, and I was secretly (ok, not so secretly) hoping for a chance encounter each time we passed their place. This particular time I was brave enough to stop for a photo...

We made a quick costume change, posed for a selfie, and headed out for Broadway!

I was stoked to see this sign!

While waiting outside for the doors to open, I struck up a conversation with one of the security guards.  We talked about where I was from and how far I had traveled to see New York and experience Broadway.  He was impressed with how far I'd traveled and told me he'd always wanted to see the West Coast.  Then he let me in on a secret. He showed me the door the actors use to exit the theater and where I could wait to get their autographs.  A lot of people know this about Broadway, but the secret was when to leave the show (without missing any of the show) so I could be in front of the crowd.

Photography isn't allowed inside the theaters and the ushers take it very seriously.  However I couldn't help snapping just one pic as the actors all wrapped up their final scene.  I was as stealth as possible, and therefore wasn't able to line up the perfect moment, but this snapshot will give you an idea of just how close I was to the stage!  (Idina is in the blue jacket on the left side, walking away)

I quickly headed outside at the exact moment the usher told me to, and waited patiently.  The energy of the crowd was very high, and everyone was excited at the possibility of meeting the cast.  After 20 or so minutes the cast started to exit one-by-one to greet the fans and sign autographs.


Idina was the only one who didn't come out, and while it was a little sad, it was also understandable - it was her 5th show for the weekend, it was freezing, it was well after 10:30, and she has a young son at home.

But OMG.

I got to meet the rest of the cast, and they were so nice!  It was super exciting to meet Anthony Rapp (Rent) and LaChanze (The Help).  I told them they were amazing in the show and which numbers were my favorite.  They were very gracious and told me thank you.

It was an amazing experience, and one I'll not soon forget.  In the grand scheme of things having someone's autograph doesn't equate to much more than ink on paper, but the memories made when getting that autograph are just about as permanent.  There's something special about standing face-to-face with someone so full of talent and having them see you, even if it's only for a few seconds.

Hannah and I found another great pub and stopped in for drinks while we chatted about our Broadway experiences.  We both were pretty energized from the night and not at all eager to have it end.

I may not have realized it yet, but I was slowly beginning to fall in love with Manhattan.