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Trip Report New York City...Art, Shows, Food!!

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Roughly every 18 months or so, my mom and i meet in Manhattan to go see a couple of shows, eat some wonderful meals, and see an art exhibit or 3. Our timing is usually defined by when there is something we don't want to miss, and when hotel prices are a little bit lower. So this year, early January fit the bill.

We stayed at the brand new Hyatt Times Square, on 45th street just east of the intersection of broadway and 7th. Yes, this is a very busy location and may not appeal to everybody. But its extremely convenient for us. I love being close to the theaters, so after the show we only have to walk a couple of blocks. The Hyatt is quite nice. Being new, everything is shiny clean, and modern. The room was a good size and we were able to book a room with 2 beds without paying a huge premium. Service was very friendly. There is an attached diner where we ate breakfast, we got a discount as hotel guests. it was convenient and pretty good. All in all, I liked the hotel quite a bit and would definitely recommend it.

It was art that prompted the timing of this trip. We wanted to see both the Magritte exhibit at MOMA, and the Vermeer exhibit at the Frick before they closed. We also managed to fit in a visit to the Met to see the Balthus exhibit.

The Magritte was fabulous. I love his work, and it is always fun to see a bunch of them together, because you get a much better feel for his bizarre use of certain themes and symbols. We also saw the American exhibit ("from Hopper to OKeefe") which was quite good as well.

The Frick was a complete zoo. We bought timed tickets for 4:20 on Friday. When we arrived the line to get in was down the block and around the corner. We were able to go to the head of the line and get more or less right in, but nobody ever looked at the date or time on my ticket! And the crowd around the Girl With a Pearl Earring reminded me of going to see the Mona Lisa. I could barely see it through the crows. I love the Frick, but this exhibit was a disappointment. The rest of the exhibit was smaller than I expected. It did have a couple of very nice paintings (there was a Rembrandt I really liked), but everything was too crowded to see. Still, I'm glad we went on Friday. We went by there on Sunday and the line was around BOTH corners (basically half a block on 70th, then all the way up 5th to 71st, and half the block on 71st!).

The Balthus at the Met was interesting. I wasn't crazy about it...not as many cats as I hoped (its called "Girls and Cats", I thought there would be a higher percentage of paintings with cats). We also wandered the American wing to see the paintings, I think there are more exhibited than the last time I was there. I love the American wing at the Met. I always see something I didn't notice before.

We saw "Motown, The Musical" on Thursday night. A fun show. Plot was thin, but the music was great. I do think it was a little over-amplified, with the band drowning out the voices at times, but we thoroughly enjoyed it.

Even better, "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder". I'll probably post on the Broadway banter thread about this, but suffice to say, we adored this show. Its one of the funniest things I've seen in a while, and the performances were just outstanding. Highly, highly recommended if you are trying to decide what ticket to get. We even managed to get discount tickets.

Saturday Matinee of "Die Fledermaus" at the Met. I loved this too. Much funnier than I expected. The sets are spectacular, the singing excellent as always. I hadn't realized how much dialogue there would be in this opera...its actually more of an operetta. I liked that, it made it a bit more entertaining for me. There's even one role which is entirely spoken, its played by an actor, not a singer, and he was very, very funny. He went off script a couple of times, and it was great.

As usual, we ate wonderful food this trip. Dinner at Kellari taverna, a Greek place which focuses on fish was very good, and their prix fixe pre-theater menu was a good value. They did try to give us the crappiest table in the place, which we declined. I hate when restaurants see two women and try to give you a bad table (this really happens often). Made me wish I'd used my mother's Greek last name to make the reservation :)

We had lunch at the Bar Room at the Modern and loved it. It's pricy, and the portions are small, but the food is so very good. We both had wild mushroom soup that was lighter than expected, and frothy, and tasted purely of mushrooms, it was so yummy. I like that they serve small plates so you can order a few courses and get what you want. Its fun to share things too.

We had pre-opera brunch at Bar Boulud, which is across the street from Lincoln Center. We did the prix fixe here as well, and really enjoyed it. they make it very difficult to stick to a low-carb plan though...they keep bringing yummy stuff... a pastry, a bread basket, and so on. The pumpkin soup here was killer.

Another dinner at the Strip House, Midtown, a steakhouse on 44th, just 2 blocks from our hotel (which was very nice given the downpours on Saturday night). Had an excellent, and perfectly prepared steak. The caeser salad, and the asparagus side were kind of pedestrian, but fine. Probably the goose fat potatoes were the side to try, but I really was trying to cut the carbs at this point in the weekend (a fruitless endeavour, but I keep trying)

It was a great weekend, and I can't wait to go back. Even the rainy weather did not deter us, or spoil our fun.

I do wish I could figure out how to get a cab between 4:30 and 6:30 though. Man, that's my pet peeve about Manhattan. Mom hates the subways (she's 78, and while she walks extremely well, she has a hard time with crowded staircases), and prefers to call a cab when we need to get somewhere. We never have any trouble, except at the end of a long day of walking around museums when we want to get back to the hotel, or after the opera lets out. It's basically impossible to get a cab then. Is there a way to do it? can you call one? one of the iphone apps perhaps? Its the damn shift change, it makes me crazy. Hundreds of cabs headed downtown, and not a one with it's on-duty light on. We had an unmetered car offer to take us from 70th back to our hotel on 45th for $20, which I refused.

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