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Trip Report NYC Trip Report w/Book of Mormon Info

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March 27—31

Flew Southwest to LGA. While waiting for an airport shuttle bus, struck up a conversation with two new arrivals and we all shared a taxi. LGA to Midtown for $10 pp. Things were off to a good start!

We’d snagged a great deal on a “Mystery” hotel through Travelocity. Someone on another travel site tipped me off that the 4-star mystery hotel would be Flatotel. The Midtown West/Times Square vicinity location seemed perfect—and we’re not fussy. So we grabbed it for $137/night—including breakfast.

Imagine our surprise when we entered our room. We’d been upgraded to a “suite”—which was actually, an enormous apartment. The 38th floor location was completely quiet. We had a full living room, dining room, kitchen, a king-sized bed in the spacious bedroom; 2 bathrooms (!); and a Jacuzzi tub in the bathroom. Oh, and did I mention the walk-in closet and two flat-screen TVs? It was immense for Manhattan. I wouldn’t call it posh; some of the paint and furniture was chipped. It’s not the Ritz—but it was far beyond anything we needed or hoped for.

After checking in, it was time for a nap. (We’d started our day at 5:30AM.) Arrived 4:45PM for BOM lottery; approx 300 entries; didn’t win. Strolled over to TKTS and got excellent rear orchestra seat at 40% off for War Horse. It was a Tuesday at 5:15PM, and there was a wide variety of show choices at 40 – 50% percent off. Our wait in line was less than 5 minutes.

Dinner: take out from Halal Guys cart at 52nd and Ave. of Americas. Picked up Greek salad at a deli and took it back to our apartment. DELICIOUS!!! Too much food. FYI, the chicken and lamb plates (served with rice, pita & yogurt sauce were $6.00 each!)

Walked to Lincoln Center for War Horse. Astounding puppetry. Liked the show very much—but I think my expectations were too high after it won “Best Play” and multiple Tonys. Parts felt slow. But we both certainly enjoyed—and were glad we saw it.

The hotel's free continental breakfast was minimal—but fine for us: bagels with cream cheese; fresh fruit; muffins, danish, and scones. Most importantly: coffee!

Weds.

Walked more than 50 blocks to Lower East Side. Stopped en route at the Macy’s Flower Show. Not impressive. Maybe we’re jaded because we’ve been to Longwood Gardens and top botanic gardens, but this was “okay” at best.

Next stop: Katz’s Deli. The Pastrami reuben lived up to its reputation. We split it with a fantastic bowl of Matzo Ball soup (with noodles). Heaven!

We were stuffed but waddled up to Yonnah Schimmel’s knishes (down the block) and picked up a few for later. We continued on to the Museum at Eldridge Street in Chinatown—a restored spectacular synagogue from the 1880’s. Our tour guide (Barry) made the experience exceptional. His great-grandfather had been an exalted rabbi at the synagogue and Barry was full of interesting info.

That area is almost exclusively Asian now, and the tour really gave me a sense of how the waves of immigration have impacted the U.S., and how each new group settles into the Lower East Side (with its lowest housing costs in NYC) and how the subsequent generations become more Americanized and move out for the next groups of immigrants. We enjoyed walking through Chinatown, as well. Wish we could have eaten again!

Took a subway back uptown just in time to NOT win the Book of Mormon ticket lottery ☹. Headed to TKTS. We waited in line less than five minutes and chose “Peter and the Star Catcher.” It was NOT our cup of tea. It was certainly well done; had some marvelous performances; some very clever one-liners and puns … but I found myself wondering “why.” Why spend millions of dollars to mount this story—the prequel to Peter Pan? The show was quite stylized, a bit high-brow at times, and would break from its setting and time period to interject lines about Starbucks and other present cultural phenomena. It was not intended for children (who I think would hate it)—yet the story was essentially an adult telling of a children’s fantasy.

I enjoyed the ending and was quite moved by it—but it was not a favorite, nor something I could recommend. FYI, we LOVED “Wicked” which is essentially the same concept—a prequel to a famous children’s story. But that worked infinitely better for us. I know “Peter” got rave reviews off B’way. It’ll be interesting to see how it fares on the big stage.

Dinner was back in the apartment. Yonnah Schimmel’s knishes (yum!!!), salad from a deli, yogurt & fruit.

Thursday

Met a friend for lunch at Café Edison (attached to the Edison Hotel). Delicious matzo ball soup; the balls were much lighter and fluffier than Katz’s. Both were fantastic—but different. Got a very good corned beef sandwich and took ½ of it back for the next day.

After lunch went to the theater to stand in line for Standing Room tix to The Book of Mormon. We arrived a little before 2 PM and were #8 in the line. That meant we’d be guaranteed a spot. Yippee. FYI, the person in the front of the line had brought a chair and arrived at 11AM. No one else arrived for another hour after us. The last slots went to people who arrived between 3:30 and 4PM – but that could change any day.

Standing in line was actually fun. There were some interesting folks, and our friend hung out with us part of the time. Then I sat on the ground and did some work on my laptop. We periodically took breaks to p/u coffee and hit the restrooms. The time flew by and at 5PM there was the lottery … which we once again did NOT win. But at 6 PM we were able to buy our rear orchestra standing spots.

When I reached the box office they told me there was a premium orchestra cancelation. I could buy two tix in the first three rows … for a mere $954 (for the pair). Um, er … we paid our $27 each for standing room, then got some tasty soup and paninis at Pax Whole Foods down the block. It was fine—but the best part was that it was quick and close to the theater.

LOVED the show more than I can say. It lived up to every bit of the hype and more. I’ve NEVER laughed that hard at any show nor felt entertained to the max every minute. Believe me, it was more than worth 4 hours of standing in line—and standing for the show.

Friday:

Lovely walk through Central Park to the Frick. It’s a wonderful museum with some world class art, but I was disappointed in the Renoir exhibition. These weren’t among my favorites. But we enjoyed the day.

Lunch for me was yesterday’s leftover sandwich and a piece of fruit from a stand. DP enjoyed Ray’s pizza. Then to TKTS at Times Square. It was a few minutes before 3PM (when they open) and the lines were enormous. Knowing how short the lines had been when we’d arrived around 5PM, we decided to come back later.

Back to the TKTS at 5PM – and basically walked up and bought tix. There’s a special—much shorter—line for non-musicals—but there was basically no wait for any of the shows at 5PM. We’d decided on “The End of the Rainbow” – a drama with music depicting the last few weeks in Judy Garland’s life. EXCELLENT. I’d guarantee Tracie Bennett will win a Tony for her portrayal of Judy. Very intense portrayal of her drug addiction and insecurities—and amazing vocal recreations of some of Garland’s biggest songs. It was a big crowd pleaser (as it had been in London) and I predict a hit.

Dinner was with a friend at Uncle Nick’s Greek Restaurant on 9th in Hell’s Kitchen. Three of us shared a large Greek salad ($9.95) and it was big enough! We all enjoyed our entrees. It’s a reasonably priced place that’s one of our favorites.

Saturday

Almost time to leave … Dragged our bags (we pack very light) to the Times Square Discovery Center for the Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibit. It FAR exceeded expectations. For me, the scrolls were actually less the “star” than some of the other artifacts. Loved seeing an urn from a temple that would have been visited by Jesus—and an actual section of the Western Wall where one could leave prayers and messages that will delivered to the rest of the wall in Israel.

Then it was on to Penn Station and a train to visit my nephew and family in Jersey & Philadelphia … but that’s another story. I hope this helps some of you. We had a wonderful time in our favorite city in the world!

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