We were in NYC this weekend and I have a few new suggestions for you if you go:
1. Go see Come From Away: The musical about the "plane people" grounded in Gander, Newfoundland when the US closed its airspace on September 11 is AMAZING! Touching, tender yet powerful, funny, energetic. We loved it. It plays without intermission so the emotion of the show is not interrupted. And there are a lot of those! Grief, frustration, sadness, confusion, love, peace, hope. (I left with the belief that we should just let Canada be the leaders of the world.) The show follows about a dozen different characters, with more making cameos, all played by the core cast. And they do a remarkable job at distinguishing the different personas through accent, gestures, and costume changes. We had been enjoying the soundtrack, but the show was just so much better. We laughed, we cried. It was better than Cats. And afterwards, we stage-doored. The kids got autographs from every main member and at least one musician. Sis told the actress who played the animal-lover that she was her favorite. Mama told the actress playing the firefighter's mom that she brought her for tears. And we all gushed about Jenn Colella, who played one of the pilots, Capt Beverly Bass, actually the first female captain of a major airline. Colella was wearing a love trumps hate shirt and was really engaging. And after signing everyone's program, she just rode off into traffic on her push scooter! If you get a chance to see the show, definitely go.
2. Eat at BXL: Mama found this Belgian restaurant on 43rd and the menu sounded great. It was even better than that! First, it doesn't look like a touristy Time Square trap; it felt like a small English pub, with distressed wood and lots of soccer. But despite having a prominent bar, it is family-friendly (the owner and friends spoke French the whole time, so if they were cursing the game, we didn't know.) And the food was extraordinary: truffle croquettes, goat cheese with honey on toast, delicious dressing on fresh insalata, steak frites with this amazing pepper dressing, croque madame, all kinds of mussels, a really good spaghetti bolognese, and delicious tarte tatin and pot du chocolat. Oh, so good. And there were so many things we didn't get to try. Definitely a do-again.
3. Explore Gulliver's Gate: On Saturday morning, we were some of the first at Gulliver's Gate, an astonishing miniature exhibition near the Mariott Marquis in what was the Discovery Museum. I'd been hearing good things for awhile and would second all those and more. What a wonderful place! It's to scale but not exactly geographically correct, but the models and figures and all the details evoke places all over the world, with the first whole room dedicated to NYC. There are also big displays of England, Russia, and Israel. There's even a working Panama Canal with locks and REAL water! There are also lots of famous figures and icons hidden--Yoda, the Obamas, the new 13th Doctor, Wonder Woman, Spider Man, Batman, and so many we didn't see, like the Fiddler on the Roof (there's not exactly a list; ask the staff.) There are also spaces dedicated to the art of model making, and on our day it was staffed. The artist talked about making grass with a hair dryer/flashlight-like aparatus which ionized this green material and made it stand on end before it hardened in the glue. He also showed us a bamboo forest complete with pandas that will be added to China--it even has two figures in the treetops, straight out of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (and he was very impressed we knew that.) AND we had our photos taken in a special pod with 200+cameras that will then digitally convert us into teensy 3D models with a digital printer. Mama and I stood together and elected to be placed in Grand Central. Sis wants to be in Stonehenge. And Bud opted for the Brooklyn Bridge. Can't wait to see the photo of us in situ. You should go look for us. I know we'll be going again.
Lastly, I should add that we stayed at a hotel which used to be my old dorm building when I was in graduate school! I knew it had been converted into a hotel--Gommie has even stayed there--and I'd been in the lobby, but this was our first night to sleep there. No, not in my old room--804, which just has one double bed apparently--but in the penthouse with views north and south! (We got an upgrade for some reason--and it was bigger than our own first floor, with two full bathrooms!) The southern view was just like my old one albeit a few stories up. You can see the Woodstock (where the crane from the Conde Nast tower fell and killed a woman in her apartment on the top floor during construction), but many of the buildings out the window were new. It really was rather surreal. I could also see the air shaft which was the view of a few of my friends. The elevators are exactly the same--very slow and small. It was quite a treat. And I was just thrilled to be back "home." Mercy, I loved living in NYC, right there in Times Square. A lot of my old neighborhood has changed, but I always love going back.