My cranky grandpa grew up in Brooklyn, and while he has only recently begun sharing stories of those days with us, he has always gotten misty-eyed when speaking of the bagels and lox of his childhood.
Our guidebook recommended Murray's Bagels, which was only a few blocks away from our hotel. Their proud motto is "We Don't Toast," which I am totally on board with. If your bagel is made properly, it's sacrilege to toast it.
Alas, by the time we arrived at Murray's Bagels on our second morning, I was queasy from the heat and the strange hours we'd been keeping. The huge list of smoked fish options completely overwhelmed me. Feeling like a failure, I simply ordered a bagel with cream cheese that had the lox cut up and mixed into it. It was still delicious, and probably easier to stomach than a big soft slab of fish. (Shaun and I ended up scraping off a significant amount of the VERY generous portion of cream cheese.)
With full (if uneasy) stomachs, we headed to the Natural History Museum, or, as Shaun referred to it afterward, the Natural Taxidermy Museum. In hindsight, we would have skipped that and gone to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (which we never made it to) instead. Next time.
It was interesting to me to see how such an iconic institution dealt with its heritage. There were displays from all different eras, and half the fun was seeing how the presentation of material has changed over time. The exhibit on the state of New York was a total time capsule. The sea exhibits were obviously newer:
I'm sure it comes as no surprise that the the gem and mineral area was one of my favorites. I made Shaun take lots of pictures. He is a good man.
It's not technically a crime to go to the Natural History Museum without one's boys ages 4 and 6, but it still feels wrong.
Our next stop was Top of the Rock, which I'd never heard of before I started researching for this trip. We bought a combined ticket to do that along with our MOMA admission. Top of the Rock is an observation deck at the top of 30 Rockefeller Plaza, with views similar to those from the Empire State Building, except that you get to see the Empire State Building.
And here I am, succumbing to nausea at last. I am not terribly fond of heights to start with, and the strange food and strange hours did not help. Sitting for a spell was a welcome break.
Next stop: our Broadway show! We weren't even thinking we would go see one, but when we found out that our friends' friend's cousin is the producer of Wicked and Lend Me a Tenor, and that we could get house seats for half the listed ticket price, we couldn't pass it up. We opted for Lend Me a Tenor, the non-musical.
Here we are in Times Square, tourist central. I didn't notice the sign indicating 42nd St. behind us until just now.
I'm sure locals probably come out to the openings of the shows, but the night we were there it was wall-to-wall tourists streaming into every theater as far as I could see. It was a little depressing. Only a handful of people were dressed even remotely appropriately for a night at the theater.
Our seats were only seven rows back, and right on the aisle. Fantastic. The interior of the theater was kitschy perfection.
I'd read up on the show a bit, and the less-than-stellar reviews left me with low expectations. Which was great, because I thoroughly enjoyed the show.
Tony Shalhoub was uneven but still entertaining, as was Justin Bartha. Anthony LaPaglia, who has always been a favorite of mine, was great. The most unexpected point of the evening for me came when the female romantic lead uttered the last line of the play and I started to cry. The show was a comedy, a farce of mistaken identity, etc. etc. The cast launched into a frenzied shorthand re-cap up the entire show as a prelude to the curtain call, and tears streamed down my face.
By the time I left the theater, I was trying hard not to sob, and feeling utterly ridiculous. The last time I did a play was ten years ago, and apparently I miss it more than I realized.
Also, crowded places like Times Square make me really crabby.
What to do next? I was still struggling to keep it all together. We decided to head over to The Breslin, which is the restaurant and bar attached to New York's outpost of the Ace Hotel. They have a Stumptown Coffee there too. Apparently it is the place to be these days, which amuses me, since I think of the Ace and Stumptown as so quintessentially Portland.
We had cocktails and a Scotch egg, and a lamb burger to die for. Shaun rated it as one of his top five burgers of all time. Which is saying something.
Still feeling a bit off my feed, I needed a digestif and ordered a brandy.