On the second morning fog blanketed the city leaving New York in a dream-like state which had us rubbing our eyes to make sure we were actually awake.
Still slightly tired from our previous day’s adventures we went in search of coffee and breakfast. This quest for the frothy good stuff led us to Irving Farm coffee shop which was tucked away in a quiet mall.
A friendly barista served us our cappuccinos and ham and cheese croissants. Again I boasted about how great New York Coffee is to anyone who would listen.
Satisfied and ready to take on the day, we headed out in the rain to the 9/11 museum. The weather echoed the emotions we were about to feel as if warning us as we waited to learn about this tragedy.
No day shall erase you from the memory of time.Virgil
After being security searched like we were in an airport, escalators took us down to the first floor where we got a birds eye view of the floor below. It showed just how big the museum is.
This was where we saw the part of the North Tower that was impacted by the plane. We saw some shocking sights in the museum and the whole morning quite honestly felt like an emotional blur.
Perhaps the most striking sight was one of the fire trucks which had been at the scene of the devastation. On the wall behind the battered vehicle was a mural which said: “No day shall erase you from the memory of time.” Words which rang true as we saw the faces of the lives that were lost on that fateful day.
The most surprising part of the museum was the section which was dedicated to the capture and killing of Osama Bin Laden. There was no mistaking that this man was responsible for this atrocity, and the Americans would have stopped at nothing until they got their justice. Thankfully they did, but it didn’t stop the pain of the lives lost.
We spent all morning in the museum, listening to phone calls of people who were on those deadly flights, reading eulogies, watching the planes crash into the twin towers, and seeing clothing, emergency vehicles and parts of the buildings. Understandably there was boxes of tissues scattered around.
To summarise, or indeed ‘review’ this museum doesn’t seem right or fitting, but what I would say is, it is a place not to be missed and should be a vital part of your trip.
For me, as a child, watching this on TV was a memory I will never forget as will many others. It was the first breaking news story I had ever paid attention to, so to be standing in the place it happened felt quite profound.
Outside the museum is two waterfalls where the towers once stood. They have all the names etched around the outside. On the fallen’s birthdays they will attach flowers to their names.
I didn’t take any photos around the memorial and museum as it wasn’t appropriate but here is a photo of one of the waterfalls from online.
We had to cut our time at Ground Zero short as we wanted to catch a matinee show and get shelter from the rain. We left feeling sombre and hollow never truly being able to understand the pain the city must have felt.
Making our way to Times Square we quietly reflected upon what we had learned. It made me want to hold everyone I love close because you never know what is around the corner.
We naively thought we would be able to get tickets for a matinee show, we soon learned after trekking from theatre-to-theatre in the rain that we were wrong.
From Burgers to Broadway
Refusing to be defeated we went to Ellen’s Stardust Diner which had been on our travel itinerary. Walking into Ellen’s is like stepping into a magical theatre world where your food is served with a side helping of cheese. Waiters and waitresses stand on platforms performing musical theatre songs as you dine. One minute they will be delivering your Philly cheesestake, the next they’ll be belting out a Grease medley. It was amazing.
The staff are Broadway actors and they work at Ellen’s in between jobs. Their catchphrase, which they will have you chanting, is that their workers go “from burgers to Broadway.” Be warned though, you will have to tip A LOT, but you’re guarantee to have a A LOT of fun so I guess it’s worth it in the end.
After a late lunch that had us dancing out the doors and literally singing in the rain, we decided to retreat back to our hotel and wait for the rain to stop. It was 4.30pm by this point, so a little recharge is exactly what we needed.
I had felt freezing cold all day after getting soaked in the rain so I decided to take a warm bath, whilst Ed went to the ticket booth near our hotel to see if he could get matinee tickets to see Chicago for the following day. Success! We got the best seats in the house for a reasonable $98 (£72). This made our afternoon struggle to see a show worth it!
A couple of hours of R&R later we made our way to Central Park. On our trip itinerary for the day we wanted to go ice skating in Central Park, but due to the weather we decided to wait until the rain had stopped.
There was something magical about seeing Central Park after dark, the illuminated buildings glimmered through the trees. You felt separated from the city whilst also having it at your finger tips. Unfortunately the ice rink was still closed after the ‘inclement weather’ but we didn’t feel like it was wasted trip – those views were worth the subway ride.
They free pour vodka at the bar into your glass and you all drink and sing until your heart is content, and mine went beyond that, it burst with happiness.
Next we headed to a place I was very excited about visiting; Greenwich Village. Having watched Richard Ayoade’s Travel Man: 48 Hours in New York on Channel 4, I was made aware of a gay bar called Marie’s Crisis Cafe. All I can say is thank god I watched that programme because I was about to enter the best bar I have ever been in, and I’m from Newcastle, a city famous for its nightlife.
Marie’s Crisis Cafe is a bar where there is a pianist and everyone gathers around a piano and sings show tunes all night long. They free pour vodka at the bar into your glass and you all drink and sing until your heart is content, and mine went beyond that, it burst with happiness. I was so excited in the bar that I think I jumped up and down at one stage; especially when singing songs from Chicago and Dreamgirls.
I literally could have stayed in the bar all night singing and listening to waiters and waitresses sing solos to a packed out room, whilst everyone stood silent. I have the time of my life and an evening I’ll never forget.
The night ended with a delicious New York pizza slice at Two Boots pizzaria.
I began day three feeling rather ropey after the night before, but after drinking plenty of water and finding a local pharmacy I plowed on with the day.
We had a lot to squeeze into our final day as we were determined to go ice skating in Central Park, but didn’t want to compromise on our other plans.
In true New York style we hailed a yellow cab from across the road and asked it to take us onto the other side of the Brooklyn Bridge. We then walked back from Brooklyn to Manhattan. I’m so thankful we didn’t compromise of this part of our trip because the views were breathtaking.
We saw a picture perfect view of Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty, the Hudson River and the Manhattan Bridge. It was stunning.
After reaching the end of the bridge we went in search of breakfast. This led us to Dunkin’ Donuts where I treated myself to breakfast muffin with a side portion of miniature hashbrowns. Ed, determined to get a New York bagel before departing, made it his mission to find this doughy sandwich.
District bagels served Ed with rounded satisfaction as he transported his Reuben bagel to our next destination: Central Park. Admittedly I am not a fan of bagels, but having tried his meaty snack I was converted.
Having been unable to ice skate the previous day we made our way back to the rink with ambitions to glide. A large Trump sign greeted us, alerting us to the owner of the rink, the one and only president himself.
Not letting this put us off, we squeezed our feet into blue ice skates and made our way onto the bright ice rink. Ed fearing for his life held onto the side, whilst I wobbled to get my balance. It had been a few years since I’d skated, so I was I need to refresh my memory. Luckily it was like riding a bike, you don’t forget and I picked it up half way around the rink.
Ed’s experience was somewhat different, having never properly ice skated before, he struggled to divorce himself from the side of the rink. After building his confidence on his first way around, he took off his coat as the sun was beaming down, and tried again.
By the third time his smile was as bright as the sun reflecting off the ice as his managed to coast his way across the rink. His glee after his third attempt, and his ability to get the hang of his skates was beautiful to witness, and I’m glad I can say I was part of his journey, but it’s safe to say Torvil and Dean don’t have anything to be worried about just yet.
A couple of hours later and in need of a break, we took retreat in the Ambassador Theatre and settled into our best seats in the house for Chicago.
Being a massive theatre nerd, Chicago has always been my favourite musical. It was the musical that made me fall in love with theatre. My most watched video tape was the 2002 film with Renée Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones. So seeing this show on Broadway was an experience I can tick off my bucket list.
What. a. show! It was absolutely fantastic and I was buzzing with excitement from the moment the orchestra played the overture. Real House Wives of Beverley Hills Erika Jayne played Roxie Hart, and I was shocked to learn that the actress who played Velma Kelly, Amra Faye Wright, was 60-years-old! She has been playing Velma since 2001, and although she did look older I wouldn’t have thought she was in her sixties. This didn’t distract from her talent, as the seasoned professional played Velma with sass and just the right amount of vulnerability.
This topped off an incredible time in New York and with our bags packed and heavy heart and head full of memories we took flight from JFK. We had a bite of the big apple which made us hungrier for more, but satisfied with what we got. New York is sophisticated, and glamorous but above all it’s familiar and friendly and offers a charm like no other.