There’s a reason New York City is the subject of songs, TV shows, movies and our imaginations. It’s where the cool celebrities who are looking to escape the tacky lights of Hollywood live, where they remain part of the scene and still get photographed enough to maintain their place in the media spotlight.
New York city is amazing. It’s perfect. It’s so much more than I expected it to be.
Like Toronto, New York is a city of neighbourhoods. Low-rise apartment buildings, often with Parisian-style balconies and stone work, and trees line the streets. In many parts of Manhattan, the streets are surprisingly calm (and clean!) There are playgrounds (albeit concrete ones) with shouting children, cafés on the sidewalks, and street vendors selling wares on the sidewalk. Everywhere you look the city feels alive.
Times Square — where we stayed at the super-chic W Hotel, complete with see-through bathroom walls, and waterfall ceilings — is arguably the worst part of the city. Slow-moving tourists pack the streets, all staring up at the garish billboards and flashing lights, expecting to see something special that doesn’t exist. Times Square is the place to go if you’re looking for an Olive Garden or M & Ms store (why this is a thing I’ll never know). It’s convenient, central, and perfect for hitting up Broadway shows and shopping. But it’s not interesting. And unless you’re up at the crack of dawn, when the square is still and only yellow cabs and shop owners travel the streets, it’s best to keep away from it.
Highlight: The Alexander McQueen exhibit at the Met was stunning. Not being one for fashion, I knew very little about McQueen. But this collection is weird, dark, creepy, but still strangely beautiful. I walked out with my heart racing. Who knew I could be so affected by fashion?
Highlight: The Book of Mormon on Broadway
In my heart, I love musicals. But so often they work so hard to jam as many songs as possible into a show with no story that they’re just painful.
We saw Sister Act first. Besides not using any of the songs from the movie, they changed the already weak story into a pseudo-romance. Somehow, the audience ate it up. Maybe they had low expectations. But it wasn’t good.
So thank Jesus Christ for The Book of Mormon. In typical Stone/Parker style, it had its moments that made me uneasy. But it’s brilliant. Hilarious. Well-written. Well-acted. Totally worth the $150 I paid to sit in a cramped balcony with no-leg room and a cackling seat-mate.
Best buy: The New York Pass
When I first found the New York Pass online, I was skeptical. For $80 for a 1 daypass (multi-day passes are available) the pass grants the holder free entrance into almost every tourist site in the city. Because we had plenty of shopping to do, we decided we could devote only 1 full day to touring around so we’d have to jam everything in.
With that in mind, the pass seemed like a good bargain. And oh was it ever. In a single day we did the following: The Guggenheim, The Met, The Statue of Liberty, a river boat cruise, Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum, and the Empire State Building. But there was so much more we good have done. What’s more, the pass let’s you skip the ticket line at lots of locations (much to the chagrin of the suckers wrapped around the block to buy tickets for Lady Liberty).
If you’ve got the time, check out the multi-day pass for a real bargain. Purchase the pass at the Planet Hollywood gift shop on Broadway or online.