Sunday, 5 December 2010

Give my regards to Broadway - Day 6

Tuesday morning dawned and with it came the first anniversary of me and the Yorkshireman getting hitched. Our wedding day was of course a happy occasion but I must admit I was glad to be spending the day completely at leisure this time around, rather than worrying, stressing and rushing around. Instead we got up late-ish and wandered around the corner to the Malibu Diner again for breakfast. I had a bagel with cream cheese and grape jelly (I know it’s weird but it sort of tastes like cheesecake) and a salmon omelette, which came with their yummy potatoes. The Yorkshireman was slightly more successful at ordering breakfast-appropriate food than last time and he had a very enjoyable waffle with fruit salad and maple syrup. Stuffed once again (seriously, the portions in New York were immense) we set off uptown on the subway.

Our first stop was Rockefeller Center since we had planned to start our anniversary by ice-skating there. How romantic! How iconic! How... closed? Hmmm. I think we’d just missed a session, or perhaps the morning’s rain had temporarily closed the rink. Oh well, we thought, we can always come back later. So instead we made our way to a store the Yorkshireman had been chomping at the bit to visit: the Nintendo World Store.

My husband, bless him, is a bit of a geek and has an impressive (and, much to the detriment of the storage space in our tiny house, ever-increasing) collection of retro Nintendo systems and games. Y’know, NES, SNES, etc... or something. I was more of a Sega girl. Either way there was a whole store devoted to his passion so I figured he would enjoy it. I wasn’t wrong. He spent ages in the store, mesmerised by all the merchandise and the displays, while I showed a vague interest. I must admit I did take a shine to a T-shirt with Princess Peach on it, which said, “This princess saves herself!” Neither of us wanted to drag bags around for the rest of the day though, so the Yorkshireman eventually allowed himself to be torn away on the condition that we would return before we left New York.

Having satisfied the husband, it was time to satisfy the wife, and so we headed up Fifth Avenue. For those unfamiliar with Fifth Avenue, it’s one of those streets full of expensive stores selling luxury designer goods, much like Bond Street in London or the Champs-Élysées in Paris. I’m not really a material girl: I appreciate the beauty of some designer stuff but I could never bring myself to hand over so much money for something you could buy for about a tenth of the price on the High Street. However I had a New York-related burning ambition to fulfil and it involved Fifth Avenue.

Before we could get to realising said ambition, we both needed a restroom and I needed something to drink. We soon discovered that cafés and public restrooms are far from prevalent on 5th Avenue, but out of the blue we caught sight of a Starbucks sign from within a building. It turned out to be Trump Tower and also open to the public, so in we went. It was all very exquisitely decorated inside, almost to the point of being a little gaudy, but it’s hard not to be impressed with a water feature incorporated into an entire marble wall. Apprentice fan though I am, I declined to buy a Donald Trump tie in the lobby and we made our way back out on to the street. Then suddenly there it was, right next door. My ambition was about to be fulfilled.

The scene opens with a cab pulling up outside a sleek, expensive-looking building. A woman wearing a long black evening gown, a heavy pearl necklace and sunglasses steps out and looks up at the sign above the door. She walks over and spends some time looking in the windows while sipping a takeout coffee and eating a croissant.

I am, of course, talking about the opening scene of Breakfast at Tiffany’s:

Holly Golightly, the protagonist of the story, is famous for saying that nothing bad could ever happen at Tiffany’s and I was keen to find out whether the reputation was true.

Much like Holly herself, the Yorkshireman and I soon discovered that Tiffany's was a little out of our league, price-wise. Not that they advertise their prices; evidently if you have to ask, you can’t afford it. However it was my intention to leave that building carrying one of the famous Tiffany blue bags. Quelle dilemma! Eventually we settled on spending $30 on a very cute Christmas tree decoration: a little crystal snowman with the Tiffany's logo printed on the back. I can’t wait to put up our tree tomorrow so I can put it in pride of place. I also got my little blue bag to carry around so I was very happy.

Next it was back to the Rockefeller Center, where we discovered there was only about half an hour left of the current ice-skating session and the next one wouldn’t start until after we were supposed to be somewhere else – foiled again! And so to the Lego Store, which I loved. What’s not to love? There was a massive Lego dragon snaking around the roof of the store, a Lego replica of Rockefeller Plaza (featuring Stormtroopers and Pirates enjoying coffee by the ice-rink) and a huge pick ‘n mix style wall where you can fill up a little carton with any varieties and colours of Lego you can think of. I bought a little souvenir ‘I ♥ NY’ block for my desk at work.

Inner-children satisfied, we started off back towards Times Square. We called in to a few interesting stores on the way, including Godiva Chocolatier, Pylones and Magnolia Bakery. Having read many debates about which bakery sells the best cupcakes in Manhattan while planning for our trip, I was keen to try out one of the main competitors and so into Magnolia we went. I bought a vanilla cupcake and the Yorkshireman bought a creation called a magic cookie bar, which seemed to incorporate coconut, graham crackers, walnuts and chocolate chips. Both of them were absolutely delicious. The Yorkshireman even suggested that his cookie bar might surpass a Greggs Bavarian slice in the “nom” stakes – high praise indeed!

Sugar levels boosted, we made our way to the TKTS booth and joined the queue. The Yorkshireman and I have a shared interest in musicals and so a Broadway show or two was an absolute must on our New York “Bucket List”; and what better occasion to get all dolled up and take in a show than our wedding anniversary? Unfortunately standing in a queue to obtain the tickets is not the most romantic way to celebrate, but actually it only took about half an hour in all. We had originally wanted to see Avenue Q but it wasn’t listed on the red board (we later learned that Tuesday is their day off – sod’s law!) and so we had to make a spur of the moment decision about an alternative. Before long we were in possession of two Orchestra seats to see the highly-acclaimed Promises Promises that evening.

We were knackered by this point, so we headed back to our hotel to drop off our bags and get all spruced up for our night on the town. We firstly stopped by Chipotle near our hotel. It’s basically a Mexican version of Subway, where you can choose whatever you want in your burrito instead of in a sub. The Yorkshireman had chicken in his and I had steak and guacamole in mine. It was pretty nice and certainly very filling, but I think I would rather try an authentic, one-off Mexican restaurant next time, if only to avoid the stark décor and uncomfortable seats.

An hour or so later, dressed in our finery, we set off to find the Broadway theatre for Promises Promises. What should we find on the very same block as the theatre but Crumbs Bake Shop, another potential candidate for the ‘best cupcake in New York’. In the interests of fair comparison I thought it only right to purchase a Gobble Gobble cupcake (vanilla with sprinkles) for the interval and then we made our way into the theatre. The show itself was very good. To say that the plot involved multiple extra-marital affairs and a suicide attempt, it was fairly gentle, but quite funny in parts. Sean Hayes and Molly Shannon were fantastic. Kristin Chenoweth’s character grated on me but she acted it very well. My Gobble Gobble, however, was amazing. Sorry Magnolia but Crumbs definitely has the edge for me.

As if cupcakes weren’t enough, we had decided to end our big anniversary evening with the dessert and cheese buffet and a few drinks at the Marriott Marquis View Lounge. It’s basically a rotating restaurant on the 47th and 48th floors of a massive hotel in Times Square. I won’t go into details about their frustratingly confusing system of getting to the Lounge (although I will admit I may have startled a guest by loudly uttering the “F word” at one point) but eventually we settled ourselves in at a table by the window, looking out at the pouring rain we had squelched our way through to get there.

The views, in the dark and through the rain and cloud, weren’t spectacular but I quite enjoyed the novelty of a constantly changing view. I also quite enjoyed the buffet and very much enjoyed the rather strong Long Island Iced Teas I had. It was a nice experience but not one I would ever repeat, if only due to price. Between the cover charge, the buffet, two drinks each and the service charge, the bill came to over $120 – I nearly choked but then it was a special occasion and a bit of a one-off, so I shrugged it off and we attempted to leave. I say “attempted” because when we eventually managed to call the elevator via their stupid “type in the floor you want to go to” system, the doors opened and a rather surly member of staff told us we would just have to wait for the next one. How fecking rude! We’re paying your wages, bucko! About ten minutes later another elevator finally arrived – we were free!

And so back to the hotel we went, tired but happy and full of rich food. Overall it was a lovely anniversary, even though it sometimes didn’t go to plan. But then the whole holiday was really a celebration of our anniversary anyway and we were really looking forward to what we had planned the next day...

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