We decided to slip away for the July 4th weekend to New York, combining a family wedding with rediscovering NYC and a trip to the Adirondacks in upstate.
We used United miles and Hilton points to make the most of our time in NYC and give us maximum flexibility for spending money along the way. We designed our itinerary to arrive in to Newark on Thursday night (Jun 28), stay in FiDi (Financial District/Lower Manhattan) for 3 nights, and then take the Amtrak train to Albany where we would pick up a rental car, and continue our adventure for 4 nights at a B&B in the Lake George/Lake Placid area upstate.
Our United flight from Denver to Newark was delayed by about 90 minutes. Our bag arrived quickly and we grabbed a Lyft to our Doubletree Hotel on Hilton points in Lower Manhattan. We chose this location because it was central to everything we needed to do – within a 30 minute subway ride from Brooklyn or mid-town (Times Square). We arrived around 11PM (the Lyft ride took 45 minutes from EWR due to construction on the bridge from NJ to NY), had our warm chocolate chip cookie, and hit the pillow – we wanted to be well rested for rediscovering NYC together in the morning.
Unfortunately, we were not. The A/C started dripping and making weird clicking noises in the middle of the night that woke me up, and both of our pillows were too soft. It sucks being finicky sleepers when traveling.
We had our free hot breakfast through my Hilton points by 11AM, and decided that we would take in a VR exhibit at Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum in mid-town prior to the pre-wedding Ethiopian dinner in Brooklyn. It was an easy 20 minute Subway ride away on the 1 line North. I do love NYC public transportation, and this was a big part of rediscovering NYC.
I am not a fan of Times Square because of the crowds, prices, chaos etc., but Brendan convinced me that a VR Ghostbuster’s experience could be worth it. Turns out it wasn’t, but the wax museum part was actually alright. It’s a surprise that I had never done one of these before.
The Ghostbuster’s VR experience was better for Brendan than it was for me. The packs and helmets were heavy and hot, and you “felt” like you were in VR – with the field of view sometimes being blurry looking or fake. What I did like about it was that you walked through rooms and interacted with actual physical objects that augmented the VR, and you “felt” certain things like a breeze when you stepped outside. I still enjoyed the VR Haunted House we did in Denver loads more from an emotional connection standpoint.
We both made it out alive, which is something.
On a whim, when then decided to see which Broadway plays were in town for a show later the same evening after our wedding party dinner. We had narrowed it down between Harry Potter, Wicked, and Phantom. We immediately eliminated Harry Potter since we could only catch Part 2 later that night (Part 1 was the previous night). Then we checked prices for Wicked and Phantom, as well as when they may or may not be coming to Denver, which led us to the decision of …. Phantom of the Opera!
Unfortunately it was still too early to buy 50% off tickets at the discount ticket booth in Times Square (they opened at 3PM), so we ended up buying two tickets in the upper mezzanine center (highest section) directly from the box office for the 8PM show. We would return later that evening.
After rediscovering NYC and Times Square (and rediscovering that I still hate Times Square), we went back to FiDi to shower and get ready for our Ethiopian wedding party dinner in Brooklyn (separate wedding blog here).
Later that night, we returned for our Phantom experience on Broadway from Brooklyn, making it with enough time to take in the theater prior to the show.
The show did not disappoint – the set, the music, the singing, and the performers were phenomenal, and it was fun to share Brendan’s first Phantom of the Opera experience with him. It was my third time. The theater was also gorgeous and the experience was good, despite shelling out $40 for drinks and having to sit near rude people using their cell phones and talking CONTINUOUSLY throughout the performance. Sometimes, I just don’t get people at all.
After taking the Subway back to Lower Manhattan, we decided to stop for desert at a bar across the way from our hotel called Broadstone Bar & Kitchen. We first stopped in at a place called Fraunces, where George Washington supposedly frequented, but they had stopped serving food already (although the place was charming, had live music and the bartender was really friendly, leading to us wanting to stay despite having no dessert). Service at Broadstone was super slow, and the sticky toffee was in an unusual form factor (3 small pieces rather than one large piece, leading to it being, disappointingly, mostly crunchy dough with no soft gooey center). The atmosphere on the second floor patio bar was nice, however, and we had a good view of Stone Street below, where we saw and heard not only trash being picked up, but also got to see a man literally Donald Ducking it (read: no pants!) while chilling on the street. How I missed thee NYC!
We made it back to our hotel by 1130PM and decided anyway to have a leisurely morning. It was a perfect day rediscovering NYC.