NYC

Hey, remember that time that I went to San Francisco for Kalev’s 40th birthday? Turns out that was a DECADE ago, so it was time for another milestone birthday group trip and this time it was New York City. The Big Apple. The City That Never Sleeps1.

This blog posting is going to be epically long because New York City is epic and there is so much to do! There was a large group of us who travelled – some on different days and from different locations and to different airports, but the official birthday trip dates were Thurs, May 30 to Sun, June 2 and those were the days that I was there. The cast of characters was large and included 9 travellers (in alphabetical order: Andrea, Andrew, Ashely, Bas, Beth, Brett, Craig, Kalev, Kathryn) and 3 people who live in NYC (Jim, Pavi, Tim). Why 78% of the travellers have names starting with the first 3 letters of the alphabet and the other two start with K, I do not know. I also don’t know what 67% of the locals had rhyming names. The universe works in mysterious ways.

Day 1

Arriving

My adventure started upon arrival. I took the red eye, which I always taken when flying east2 I had decided to fly into Newark Airport because it had the best options for when I wanted to arrive and leave and price. And I am nothing if not a cheap, cheap woman. I was well aware that Newark Airport is in New Jersey, but it’s close to NYC and many people fly into Newark Airport to go to NYC3 so there are many options to get to the city. I’d looked briefly at what those options were but instead of remembering that I’m terrible at directions and nailing down the best option before I left, I decided to just check Google Maps once I got there. Apparently that was a bad idea. Google Maps told me to get on a bus at the airport, take that for a bit to another stop and then get on a second bus that would take me right by my hotel in NYC. I went outside and the bus in question was there, so I got on. I watched the little blue dot on my Google Maps as my bus at first followed the route that Google Maps said it would, and then veered wildly off course in the opposite direction. It was at least going north (Google Maps had told me it would go south a bit where I could catch a bus that would go east, then north), which was the direction I ultimately wanted to go, so after a quick “Omg, I’m in the wrong state and I don’t know where this bus is going!” panic, I thought “It’s OK. I have the internet. I will find out where this bus is going and then figure out how to get to NYC from there”. As luck would have it, the bus was going to Penn Station. Not New York Penn Station, which is right by my hotel, but New Jersey Penn Station, because both places have train stations named Penn Station! But there’s a train from New Jersey Penn Station to New York Penn Station, so I just needed to stay on the bus and then take that train, which I did. (I would later learn that I could have taken a train from the airport (well, sort of from the airport… but I’m getting ahead of myself). When I got out of NY Penn Station, I was like a one minute walk to my hotel. Kalev, who I was sharing a room with, was already there because he’d gone a day earlier, so I could go right to the room without having to worry about the fact that I’d arrived well before check-in time.

I got the room key from the front desk and went up to the appointed floor and then walked down a hallway, then another hallway, and then was confront with this:

I’m not sure why the room that Kalev and I got in this hotel was at the end of this narrow little corridor that looks like you are 100% for sure going to get murdered in. Did one or both of us get murdered in the murder corridor? You’ll just have to keep reading this blog posting to find out!

Brooklyn

Beth, Andrew, Kalev, and Brett in Brooklyn
Beth, Andrew, Kalev, and Brett in Brooklyn.

After settling in and grabbing a shower and some food, it was off to Brooklyn. Kalev and some of the others wanted to go to the New York Transit Museum. That isn’t really my jam, but I love Brooklyn, so I joined them for the subway ride there and then I just wandered around while they museumed.

Brooklyn

I walked around Brooklyn Bridge Park and DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass). It was a lovely day – perfect for wandering around along the river, checking out the awesome views of Manhattan, looking at the cool buildings and just enjoying the vibe.

Once the others were done museuming, we met up in DUMBO and had a late lunch at Front Street Pizza, where I would make one of many jokes about Brooklyn being the New Westminster of New York4.

Brooklyn
DUMBO, Brooklyn

After that, we walked over the Brooklyn Bridge back into Manhattan. I really enjoy this walk because (a) it has a spectacular view and (b) although I’m afraid of heights, the walkway part of the bridge is in the middle and it’s elevated above where the cars drive, so it only feels like you are just one level up because if you look down, you see the bridge deck where the cars go, instead of the long distance to the river far, far below.

Brooklyn Bridge

&Juliet

&Juliet on Broadway

That night, we went to see a musical called “&Juliet” at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre. It was fantastic! It’s a jukebox musical – which I learned is a musical where they use only pre-existing songs. I was aware of the concept, but not that it is called a jukebox musical.5 In this case, it used all pop songs. I’m amazed at how someone can take existing lyrics of a bunch of unrelated songs and turn them into a cohesive narrative. The premise of the play is that Shakespeare’s wife (who I learned was named Anne Hatheway)6 doesn’t like how Romeo & Juliet ends and she wants Juliet to not kill herself of some guy she just met and then have the play go on to show what happens after that. I won’t say more than that in case you are playing to go see it, but suffice it to say that it was awesome (assuming you like pop music, which I do)7. Great songs, lots of fantastic singers, great chorography. Loved the costumes and the set design. A++  would Juliet again.

Kalev, Beth, & Brett at &Juliet on Broadway
Kalev, Beth, & Brett at &Juliet. Others from the group were also there, but I failed to get everyone in a photo.

After the show, we headed to The Ivory Peacock for cocktails in the downstairs cocktail bar. This place had a really nice relaxed vibe and I had an excellent espresso martini8.

Other highlights of this day included that I walked 32,000 steps and Donald Trump was convicted on 34 felony counts. It was exciting to be in the same city where this happened!

Day 2

High Line

High Line Park has expanded quite a bit since the last time I walked it back in 20169. We decided to walk the entire length of it and it was very awesome.

The Vessel, NYC

On the way there we saw The Vessel, a very cool structure in Hudson Yards. It cost $200M to build and opened in 2019. It’s 16 stories tall with 2,500 steps and 80 landings, and was initially intended for people to be able to walk up but after several suicides, it was closed to the public while they tried to figure out how to make it safer. They were installing nets and it is expected to re-open at some point this year.

As we approched the High Line, we saw a plane flying a banner that said “President Trump did not wrong.”

Plane banner that says "President Trump Did Nothing Wrong"

Someone paid actual money – probably quite a lot of it – to do this. It was the only thing we saw the entire time we were in New York that acknowledged the historic conviction of a former president that occurred in the city while we were there.

High Line
High Line, NYC
High Line, NYC
High Line, NYC
High Line, NYC
High Line, NYC

At the end of the High Line, we went to Pier 57 for lunch:

Pier 57, NYC

Then we went to Little Island, which is, as described on its own website, a “park pier”, and not an island as its name would suggest. It only opened in 2021, so it wasn’t there the last time I was in NYC in 2020. it was pretty cool.

Little Island, NYC
Little Island, NYC
Little Island, NYC

We wandered around Little Island to check out all the various parts of it and then tried to sit in this seating area under the umbrellas, but they kept randomly folding up10, so we’d move to another spot under and umbrella and then it would randomly fold up. It was a very hot day and we would have burnt to a crisp without the shade11, so when the last of the umbrellas folded up, we decided it was time to head out.

Little Island, NYC

We then made our way to the New York Public Library, seeing some cool sights along the way.

Meat Packing District in NYC
NYC

The Library is a beautiful building and despite not seeing any ghosts or Ghostbusters, there was still lots to see, like this banner snapping back at all the book banning that been going on in the US:

New York Public Library

And the original Winnie the Pooh and friend stuffies!

Original Winnie the Pooh Stuffies at New York Public Library
New York Public Library
New York Public Library

Oscar Wilde Restaurant

Katherine, Craig, Brett, and I went to the Oscar Wilde Restaurant for dinner. The food and drinks were fantastic. The decour was cool, though inexplicably featured a lot of Alice in Wonderland theme items. Alice in Wonderland being a book that, famously, Oscar Wilde did not write.

Oscar Wilde Restaurant, NYC
Fancy drink at Oscar Wilde Restaurant, NYC
Fancy drink at Oscar Wilde Restaurant, NYC
Oscar Wilde Restaurant, NYC
Oscar Wilde Restaurant, NYC

But I did get this cool photo of me and Oscar:

Me & Oscar Wilde

Sleep No More

After dinner, the four of us headed to see Sleep No More. Andrew and Bas had gone to it the previous night and highly recommended it, so we decided to check it out. One the way in, they make you check your purse and if you don’t have a purse then they make you put your phone into phone jail12 so there are no photos from this event. Also, this section is very long and full of spoilers, so feel free to skip if uninterested. Also, content warning – this section mentions some distrubing things!

Sleep No More is immersive theatre set in a hotel (and some other locations) where you get to walk around the vast space (several floors and many differnt corridors and rooms) and the actors perform in various places and you can choose where you want to go. It’s been running since 2011 and it’s closing in July! I actually went to a performance in Vancouver called Deep into Darkness which was based on Sleep No More, so I had a vague idea of what I was getting myself into when I got there. But this performance space was was waaaaay bigger than the one in Vancouver13 – it’s set on multiple floors and multiple scenes are happening at the same time, so you are guaranteed to miss some things and sometimes you miss everything because you end up on a floor where there are no scenes happening (which may or may not have happened to me a few times). Audience members get let into the space a different times and on different floors and I spent the first what felt like 15 minutes trying, without success, to find actors. I finally found a scene to watch and then when I followed one of the actors when they left that scene , he ended up going somewhere and doing nothing, so I wandered off to find more action, which I didn’t really find much of (relative to all the things that happened that I would learn afterwards).

I ended up seeing two different scenes twice (one where three guys were performing some sort of ceremony with another guy who was dead, and the other one where a tailor ran into a cemetary, knelt before a grave, and picked up some dirt. I also saw a scene where a woman went into the tailor’s store, danced around with him and some fabric, then he left briefly, during which time she search his office and stole a bunch of money from him. This was amusing to me, because about half the audience members present chased the tailor out of the room, and when they returned with him, they would just have seen the woman standing where she was when they left and they, like the tailor, had no idea she just stole all this money from him. I also saw a random audience member get pulled into what looked like a closet by an actor and another scenere where the guys from the death ceremony were playing a weird card game and then got into a brawl.

At one point while I was running down a hallway after an actor (which is a common thing you do as the actors often run away from scenes so you have to run to keep up with them to find where they are going), the audience remember14 running ahead of me tried to slam a door on me to prevent me from following, which was very fucked up, as she could have really hurt me and some of the dozen people who were following immediately behind me if I’d been hit by that door. Thankfully my quick reflexes allowed to me grab the door as she slammed it at me, so it only hurt my wrist a little bit. Close to the end of the night was the first time I saw any of my friends, as Craig and Brett were both in a room where a couple of nurses were making a hospital bed with a large audience of people watching them. From there, if memory serves, I followed a nurse to a balcony areas overlooking a big room where most of the audience was no assembled and the whole cast (most of whom I had not seen during the entire night) was at a big table a la The Last Supper, and then brought one of the guys I had seen previously into the room and hanged him. That was the finale, at which point the ushers ushered everyone out.

My friends all saw way more interesting things than I did, though one friend missed the finale because she didn’t know there would be a finale and she left because she was concerned that we were going to be too late for the next thing we were going to. Honestly, I wish I was rich enough to go watch it again, as you would see a different show every time you go saw it! I’m sad that it’s closing down this month15 because it means I can’t go back another time to see it again.

Industry

After the show, we headed to Industry for clubbing. I have not been clubbing in one million years, or probably more accurately 10 years, when we went clubbing on Kalev’s last milestone birthday trip. It appears that I did not take any photos at the club, but that is only because I was having too much fun clubbing! A++, would Industry again.

Day 3

Staten Island

Rather than pay money to take the ferry to Liberty Island to see the Statue of Liberty, we took the free ferry to Staten Island and saw the Statue of Liberty. We grabbed a quick bite to eat at a Thai place, and then heading back as we had tickets to go to the Top of the Rock.

Kalev, Beth, & Brett on the Staten Island Ferry
Kalev, Beth, & Brett on the Staten Island Ferry.
Statue of Liberty seen from the Staten Island Ferry

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

When we got back, we had a wee bit of time before our scheduled entry to Top of the Rock, so Brett and I popped over to St. Patrick’s Cathedral to check out its beauty and it’s air conditioning.

St. Patrick's Cathedral
St. Patrick's Cathedral
St. Patrick's Cathedral
St. Patrick's Cathedral

Top of the Rock

I went to Top of the Rock (i.e., the roof of Rockafeller Centre) on my Feb 2020 trip to NYC, but the views are so spectacular that it’s well worth visiting again!

Top of the Rock

Since my last visit, they have created a new cash grab feature where you can sit on a beam that they raise up to make it look like you are sitting on a beam like in the famous photo of the ironworkers sitting on a beam having lunch during the construction of the building. It just raises you straight up, safely still on the roof, but even that seems too scary to me. Here’s a photo of some random family doing it:

Top of the Rock

Tacombi

We had a bit of time to kill betwee TotR and dinner, so some people went back to the hotel to freshen up, but a few of us went for margaritas at Tacombi in Nolita instead. I also had corn esquites, which was delciious!

Margarita at Tacombi
Corn esquitees at Tacombi, NYC

Bodhi Kosher Vegetarian Restaurant

The big birthday dinner was at Bodhi Kosher Vegetarian Restaurant. I’m not a huge fan of Chinese food but I will admit, this food was pretty delish! And it was actually quite reasonably priced! Here’s a photo of everyone at dinner!

Big group dinner for Kalev's 50th birthday
Clockwise from the left starting with the guy in the striped shirt: Pavi, Jim, me, Kalev, Tim, Ashely, Andrea, Craig, Katherine, Bas, Brett, and Andrew

After dinner we went somewhere for drinks. I have zero recollection of what the place we went to was called.

Departure Day

Central Park

My flight left at 6 pm, which meant I had some time to spend before I needed to leave for the airport, so we decided to visit to Central Park, which is just a lovely place to walk around! Kalev and I headed there after breakfast at a diner with comically terrible customer service and shortly after we arrived at the park, we learned that Andrea and Ashley were also there and were quite close to where they were, so we met up with them and then wandered around the park together. Highlight of the park was the turtles!

View from Central Park, NYC
Beth & Kalev in Central Park, NYC
Turtles in turtle pont  in Central Park, NYC
Cleopatra's Needle Turtles in Central Park, NYC

Train to Newark

And with that, it was time for the trip to end! During the trip, I’d discovered that I was on the same flight as Craig and Katherine, who also happened to know how to take the train from Newark to NYC, so I tagged along with them on the trip to the aiport. So we caught the train from New York Penn Station to Newark Airport Station. But the Newark Airport Station isn’t exactly at the airport. From there you have to get on the Air Train, which then drops you off at a place that is a 15 minute walk from the terminal (at least it was for the terminal we needed to go to) – thankfully there was also a shuttle bus that can take you that last stretch and the shuttle bus was there right when we got there. But I’m getting ahead of myself, beacuse the first train ride was an adventure unto itself.

When we got on the train, it was about to leave, which meant that a lot of people were on the train, so it was hard to find a seat. Not beacuse all the seats were full, but because almost every person on the train was blocking the seats around them – they had their bags on seats, or they were sitting in the aisle seat to block anyone from taking the window seat, etc. We walked through many train cars until Katherine found a seat, then several more cars before Craig and I found seats. At one point, some guys went up to the ticket taker and complained that at the last stop the doors at the back of the train car had not opened. The ticket taker told them that they could get off at the next stop (using the doors at the front of the train car, which were working) and there would be a train going back the other way that could take them to that stop. They moved to that door and the ticket taker keeps taking tickets until she got to some random guy who started yelling at her about the door not working. She pointed out that she had not known the doors weren’t working and that she’d told the other people what to do to to get to the stop they wanted. The rando kept yelling and finally she had had enough and laid into him. “This is my going home train and I DO NOT have time for this!” Other great lines included “You weren’t even trying to get off at that stop! You have nothing to do with the price of tea in China!” and “If you don’t like the service, you are welcome to drive your vehicle to wherever you need to go”. And my favourite “Write to corporate!” I honestly cannot do justice to this in written form – it was like being part of another immersive theatre experience!

We eventually got to the Airport Station which, to my surprise, is not actually at the airport. It’s a place where you get off this train and then get on the AirTrain. To get on said AirTrain, you have to show your ticket from the previous train. No one tells you this, however, so Craig left his ticket on the previous train, thinking it has done its job once it had been checked by the ticket taker on that train. After some arguing, Craig walked through with Katherine and no one stopped him. So we get on the AirTrain, which takes about elevently billion hours to get to the actual airport, which in fairness did include a delay caused by an airport employee at Terminal B telling us our train was no longer going to Terminal A, so we had to get off and wait for the next train to go to Terminal A, but then once we were off that train and it left, they told us “oh yeah, that problem just got fixed so the train you just got off was going to Terminal A after all. We got on the next AirTrain which did take us to Terminal A except it didn’t actually take us to Terminal A. It took us to a spot that is a 15 min walk to Terminal A, which apparently is the closest you can get to Termianl A on the AirTrain. Why you would build an AirTrain whose sole job is to take people from the big train to the airport and then make it not actually go to the place that people need to go in the airport is beyond me. But such is the logic of New Jersey. As previously mentioned, we did have the good fortune that there was a shuttle bus that was right there so we didn’t actually need to walk 15 minutes.

As a last fuck you to me, I learned that if you don’t put your Nexus number into your Air Canada app when you check in for your flight, you can’t use the Nexus line at security. So I had to go to the Air Canada line up to ask them to give me a new boarding pass with my Nexus number on it. But, of course, everyone and their dog16 was in that line up, so instead of just flying through the Nexus line, I spent eleventy billion years in the Air Canada line up. Still faster to do that than to go through regular security though.

Oh wait, that was actually a penultimate fuck you to me. The final fuck you to me was that not only did my flight not have live TV, the wifi on my flight was broken, so my grand plans of watching the Edmonton Oilers playoff game on the plane was thwarted.

So, all in all, a pretty great trip to NYC. Can’t wait to go back!

  1. Given this trend, Kalev is going to have to up the ante again in 10 years for his 60th birthday – we’ll need to leave the continent. Then for his 70th birthday we’ll have to go to the moon! []
  2. It’s the only way I can get onto the Eastern or Atlantic time zone. I take the red eye, get a few hours of shut eye on the plane, then arrive in the morning and push through the day so that at Eastern or Atlantic bed time, I’m tired enough to sleep. If I arrive at night, my brain is still on Pacific time, so I’m not tired until like 3 am local time. []
  3. Coincidentally, I just read the audiobook of Leslie Jones’ memoir and she talks about her first trip to NYC where she flew into Newark but didn’t know that it was in New Jersey and when she landed and the flight attendant said “welcome to New Jersey” she freaked out because she thought she’d booked a flight to the wrong place. []
  4. For that joke to make sense, one needs to know that New Westminster also has a Front Street, and to read the link. []
  5. The only other jukebox musical I’ve seen is Mamma Mia. []
  6. I think Anne Hatheway should play Anne Hatheway in a movie! []
  7. At this venue we discovered that a Broadway theatre may be the only place that has more expensive drinks than a Vancouver Canucks playoff game, which I didn’t think was possible. Which reminds me, I still owe Kalev another drink because he bought my outrageously overpriced spiced rum and diet Coke here and the drink I bought him at the next bar we went to only covered like half the cost of the theatre beverage. []
  8. Brett and I may also have run off to McDonald’s to grab McChickens because we arrived after the kitchen had closed and we are both lightweights who might have died of alcohol poisoning without some food to absorb it []
  9. When I was in NYC in Feb 2020, it was too freaking cold to walk it, so I didn’t. I’ve also just realized that I didn’t properly blog about my trip to NYC Feb 2020, though I did mention it briefly in this blog posting about how 2020 is the worst, which I wrote BEFORE the pandemic was declared and the world shut down. []
  10. Our best guess is that they had some sort of sensor that made them fold up if it got too windy, but I have not been able to find any information to confirm this hypothesis. []
  11. Despite our application and reapplication of sunscreen! []
  12. A locked bag that you then wear around your neck for the entire time and can only be unlocked when you leave. []
  13. It was at the Cultch []
  14. I could tell it was an audience member because all the audience members had to wear creepy white masks and she was wearing one of them. []
  15. From what I read, they just can’t afford to keep it running (thanks inflation!), what with the leasing of two giant warehouses and having to pay a massive cast and crew. []
  16. Literally, someone was checking in their dog for a flight. []

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