Fall Trip 2015 – New Brunswick to New York (via Connecticut).

A few months ago, I had heard that one of my favourite UK actresses, Nicola Walker, was coming to Broadway (along with her fellow theatre cast & crew) to reprise her role in Arthur Miller’s “A View From The Bridge”. I had seen it done via the National Theatre Live performances that our local cinema ran and I was duly impressed, so when the opportunity presented itself, I contacted some friends to see if they were interested in joining me. (More about that post about meeting Nicola Walker over here). Thus began the planning for my fall road trip. I’d bought a new car back in the summer (a red 2015 Hyundai Tucson) and I was itching to really give it a good road trip so this was the start. I kept record of the distances travelled, more for curiosity sake than anything else.

TravelDay_01_05November_ToCT

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My first part of the journey took me down to Newington, CT to visit my friend, Anna – as she and I were heading to New York together. Across an international border and through four States. A mostly uneventful drive, though was held up in traffic in a couple of spots but got there safe and sound. A lovely meal followed by relaxing evening (and a bit of a late night) getting caught up on two of Nicola’s shows that were currently airing in the UK – “River” and “Unforgotten”. Early morning came and we were getting everything ready to head into New York City by train.

New York was a lot of fun – as it usually is when I visit. We got into Penn Station then went about getting an MTA card for Anna for the subways (the one I had from my February trip was still valid), then we headed down to our hostel, which thankfully was all ready for us, albeit on the top floor of a 3 story walk-up. And NYC was strangely very warm for early November. We met up with another friend (Bettie) and grabbed some lunch at an English fish & chip shop called A Salt and Battery – very yummy! Followed by a nip into the Tea & Sympathy shop next door.

Bettie treated us to a NYC walk through Chelsea through the Meatpacking District where we stopped at the Gansevoort Market for a walkthrough. The photo on the left is of an English deli in the back right of the market, called ‘Myers of Keswick’. Along side the wall as we were leaving I found the corrugated metal wall very interesting so I took a shot.

Photo © J. Lynn Stapleton, 6th November 2015

Photo © J. Lynn Stapleton, 6th November 2015

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Photo © J. Lynn Stapleton, 6th November 2015.

Photo © J. Lynn Stapleton, 6th November 2015.

Following that stop, we headed up to The Highline. If you haven’t yet heard of this, The Highline is a 1.45 mile park that was built upon an abandoned elevated train line that runs from Gansevoort Street and Washington Street up around the rail yards finishing at 34th Street and 11th Avenue. This was my second time on The Highline, the first time was a few summers ago with some friends. The park is a great use of the old train line, with shops, artisans, musicians blending in with the trees and plants. There’s lots to see and check out. When we finished on the Highline, we took the subway (from the new Hudson Yards station, at the start of the 7-line) to get to the next stage of our evening.

Photo © J. Lynn Stapleton, 6th November 2015.

Photo © J. Lynn Stapleton, 6th November 2015.

Photo © J. Lynn Stapleton, 6th November 2015.

Photo © J. Lynn Stapleton, 6th November 2015.

Photo © J. Lynn Stapleton, 6th November 2015.

Photo © J. Lynn Stapleton, 6th November 2015.

Photo © J. Lynn Stapleton, 6th November 2015.

Photo © J. Lynn Stapleton, 6th November 2015.

Photo © J. Lynn Stapleton, 6th November 2015.

Photo © J. Lynn Stapleton, 6th November 2015.

Photo © J. Lynn Stapleton, 6th November 2015.

Photo © J. Lynn Stapleton, 6th November 2015.

We’d gone to Junior’s for supper then off to the theatre to see Nicola Walker in “A View from the Bridge”. If you have a chance to go see it, do so! It runs until 21st February 2016. After the show, I had the chance to meet some of the cast, including Nicola Walker, which was utterly fantastic!

Photo © J. Lynn Stapleton, 6th November 2015

Photo © J. Lynn Stapleton, 6th November 2015

After another stop at Junior’s for cheesecake, we concluded our night back at our hostel, still on a high from the show and the meeting. On Saturday, the 7th November, we had a bit more of a relaxing day, meeting up with friends for a fabulous lunch up at Spring Natural Kitchen (474 Columbus Ave & 83rd Street), then a meander through the American Museum of Natural History. I wanted to see their Butterfly Conservatory, the dinosaur skeleton, and the Hayden Planetarium.

Photo © J. Lynn Stapleton, 7th November 2015.

Photo © J. Lynn Stapleton, 7th November 2015.

Photo © J. Lynn Stapleton, 7th November 2015.

Photo © J. Lynn Stapleton, 7th November 2015.

Photo © J. Lynn Stapleton, 7th November 2015.

Photo © J. Lynn Stapleton, 7th November 2015.

Photo © J. Lynn Stapleton, 7th November 2015.

Photo © J. Lynn Stapleton, 7th November 2015.

After a rigamarole of trying to get to our hostel via subway via a roundabout run – weekend underground construction work meant some of the trains were only going uptown first then down on another line express. Which meant we had a very quick pitstop down to the hostel to pick up our bags from the lockers, then quickly get Penn Station for our train back to Connecticut.

More on my travel journey in my next posts.

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NYC 2012 Birthday Trip – Part 3

Sunday – 29th July – The Birthday 🙂

I actually slept in until nearly 9am. I’d made plans to meet up with Jill – she was coming to meet me by the hostel – to begin our day of fun together. We walked around a bit until we came to a restaurant – I’m blanking on the name, but it’s one we’ve been to before when we were in NYC last March (2011) and gave Jill the first season of the OVS. I’ve yet to find a way to get a chance to pay for a meal when Jill’s around. Started off with French Toast (me) and Flapjacks (her), then we caught the subway over to Brooklyn so we could walk the Brooklyn Bridge back into the city. Despite the overcast day, it was very humid.

I don’t think there are pictures of ME walking the bridge unless Jill took some, as I was doing a fair bit of picture taking myself. But these are some of my favourites:

Brooklyn Bridge Walk. New York, NY, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 29 July 2012

Brooklyn Bridge Walk. New York, NY, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 29 July 2012

Brooklyn Bridge Walk. New York, NY, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 29 July 2012

Brooklyn Bridge Walk. New York, NY, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 29 July 2012

Brooklyn Bridge City Hall Subway Station Elevator, New York, NY, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 29 July 2012

Heading uptown, walking, to Times Square. Now, having done TS a few times, I wasn’t thinking I’d make a run back there, but I did want to go to the Swatch store to get a watch, and we did need to come up in that general vicinity as I had to be up there to go to the Gershwin Theater to see “Wicked”, so off we went. About mid-way up, the sun came out and it was getting warmer. Much warmer. 🙂 We went up to the Ace Hotel on 29th Street and had pictures taken on the stairwell. There’s a story behind that, that belongs to Jill, but I was glad to be part of…where everything is going to be all right.

Jill Hurst, Ace Hotel, New York, NY, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 29 July 2012

One of my best friends, Patricia, had decided for my birthday that she was going to get me a ticket to a Broadway show of my choice. So having picked “Wicked” after hearing many wonderful things about the show, she arranged for the ticket. Words can barely express how much I appreciated that. Just wow. I mean, I appreciate all my birthday presents because they are given with thought and love behind them. Not necessary but fun all the same. 🙂 Thanks to Jill as a birthday present I got a “Wicked” t shirt and the program book/poster. We went our separate ways as it was time to go to the show, and we were meeting up later to go for supper.

I’d gone into Wicked, not hearing the music nor reading the book it was based on. And boy was I impressed. It didn’t take very long to get hooked into the show. To put it bluntly: spellbinding. And more than a few times did I identify with Elphaba. Misunderstood, intelligent, stubborn, an odd sense of humour, sensitive & protective…except, you know, having a thing for Fiyero. Defying Gravity and For Good will always give me goosebumps. Just awesome.

Wicked, Property of Universal Studios.

Oh, and I went back and bought one of the Wicked zipped sweatshirt. Obsessed? According to Bettie, I was a Wicked virgin anyway, and it’s going to be a while before I get to see it again. It being rather warm when I came out of the air-conditioned theatre I headed for the subway to head down to the hostel to shower & change for supper.

As the restaurant wasn’t too far away, I walked down to Pepe Verde on Hudson Ave and met up with Jill, then Bettie and her daughter, Barbara. Oh wow, the food was good. And there was plenty left over – leftovers. Just as well we were walking again afterwards. We wandered over to the 911 Message Memorial and read over many of the messages that were turned into ceramic tiles. Just heartfelt.

911 Message Memorial, New York, NY, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 29 July 2012

After that, we wandered over to the Magnolia bakery and got some cupcakes. Jill had some birthday candles but we had no matches/lighters, so they called over a couple of guys who had a packet of matches and they all sang Happy Birthday to me. I’m quite sure I turned beet red, thankful that it was dark out, though. Walking along, we headed down to Washington Square Park, where there was a few musicians playing, with quite a good sized crowd gathered around. I took the shot below just as we were headed back out of the park.

Washington Square Park Arch, New York, NY, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 29 July 2012

We walked over to Brother Jimmy’s on E14th, but alas Brian Malloy – Jessica Leccia’s husband, wasn’t working at that place that night. He’s also managing the Brother Jimmy’s up on 80th & Amsterdam. Jill & Bettie decided they were going to turn into pumpkins and headed to their homes, while Barbara and I stayed for a few drinks and watched some of the Olympics on the big screen tvs. We finally packed it in about 10:30 or so and headed over to the subway station where we parted ways. I finally got back to the hostel about 11pm more than a little buzzed. But hey, it was a great birthday with great friends.

To be continued…

NYC 2012 Birthday Trip – Part 1

So, it’s been nearly a month now that I went to New York for my birthday and I’m only now getting round to writing up about it. But first a bit of lead-up. I’d planned on taking the trip back in April and booked the hostel and the train from Portland, Maine to New York (with a change of trains in Boston).

About a week or so before, I’d suggested to a friend of mine, Donna, that if there was a way for her to join us in NYC, I’d pay for part of her train ticket, if she was able to cover the other part. For personal reasons, she didn’t feel she was able to at that point. However, serendipity happened. Donna was talking with a mutual friend of ours later that day who’d pretty much suggested the same thing I had. Within a day of back and forth conversations, our friend Jill (who lives in New York), and I had arranged for Donna to join us in the city, splitting the costs.

On Thursday, 26th July, I left home in New Brunswick and drove the five hours to Portland, Maine in order to get the Amtrak train to New York…well, technically to Boston first. It’s a two hr ride to Boston, then once I got to Boston North Station, I had to take the Orange Line subway to Boston Back Bay Station. I should have remembered from last year how hot Back Bay station was in the summertime. The sweat was literally pouring off me, and the large floor fans did little to alleviate it. Thankfully, the time came to get onto the train bound for Penn Station – New York – the air conditioned train. I was a happy woman again. It was a long day by the time I got into New York that evening. I made sure to call Jill once I got into the city to let her know I was there, safe & sound. After waiting in line outside Penn Station for a taxi, I headed down to the hostel I was staying at on West 14th (New York Central Hostel). As I was late arriving, they had me staying at their secondary site on West 22nd Street. I was sharing with five other women. Not too bad for $48-$52/night. But it was a lovely neighbourhood in Chelsea. Two of the women were from Switzerland, another from Germany, and I’m not sure where the other two were from as I think I only saw them once in passing. I was pretty exhausted, but excited to be back in the city. Thankfully, the hostel also had air conditioning, so I grabbed a shower after the other girls were heading out.

On Friday, I headed back up to Penn Station to greet my friend, Donna, who was coming in from Maryland. Last time I’d seen her was March 2011 when I was there for Jessica Leccia’s Fan Luncheon. I gave Jill a text to let her know Donna was here and that we were in a cab up to her place. Unfortunately, Jill’s husband, Tony, who’s a great guy, had left that morning with the dogs to head to his family, so we missed seeing him this time. However, it did mean that we had Molly cat all to ourselves…okay, really, Molly had us. So adorable kitty. After hanging out for a bit at Jill’s – and cooling down with the AC, we headed out on the bus for Central Park, wandering from the 72nd Street entrance, heading northbound by the Conservatory Water.

Conservative Water, Central Park, NY, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27 July 2012

Then we headed a little bit further north to the Alice in Wonderland statue, where there were some kids playing around the statue, which reminded me of when I was a child and climbing around a bronze Peter Pan statue in Bowring Park (St. John’s, NL).

Alice In Wonderland, Central Park, NY, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27 July 2012

Crossing over and down a bit, we came upon Bethesda Fountain, watching musicians and performers, locals and tourists, kids of all ages enjoy the lovely sunny afternoon. This area of the park is one of my favourites. There are the Minton Tiles, which are absolutely stunning, the wonderful arches that lead into the tiles and the fountain. That day, there was a group of young adults gathered in a circle, sharing the center, dancing. It was great fun to watch. I’m cheating here a little – the middle shot of the Minton Tiles I actually took last spring, but I’ve not posted it here before, and I was in there this time, but I preferred this shot.

Bethesda Terrace, Central Park, NY, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27 July 2012

Minton Tiles, Bethesda Terrace, Central Park, NY, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 12 March 2011

Bethesda Fountain, Central Park, NY, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 27 July 2012

After a while though we moved on, heading down towards Strawberry Fields and out of the park to a nearby subway station to head downtown. Heading up streetside, we ventured along the west side, passing by St. Malachy’s – The Actor’s Chapel on West 49th St. We didn’t go in at this time, but taking a look at the website, I’d love to visit it again another time, just to see the internal architecture. We then headed down to the High Line, walking and chatting the whole time. At one point we walked past a little area where there was a foot level water source we we walked through, soaking our feet, cooling down before finally heading over to the Olive Tree Café on MacDougall St for some lovely food. We walked a little more before taking a cab back up to Jill’s (I had my bag still up there). We watched some of the end of the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics and I headed back to the hostel.

Waiting at the 77th St & Lexington subway station, there was a woman – Laura Vecchione – performing on the platform; she was really good, so I bought one of her CDs, girl in the band. I happened to mention to her that her singing reminded me of Kyler England, and she seemed surprised, asking me about knowing Kyler – I’d told her about interviewing her last fall and seeing her in concert in Boston for her “Electric Hum” album tour. Laura mentioned that she’d gone to school with Kyler in Boston at Berklee College of Music. Small world. 🙂 We exchanged contact information, and I headed off on the train for downtown.

To Be Continued…