Rude curt post office staff, flagship high street stores looking like a church jumble sale at closing time and taxi drivers who have no clue where anything is and don’t speak English. Welcome to New York. Fifteen years ago, when I last took a holiday here, this was my overall impression of the city. It’s taken me all this time to give it another try and now as a better traveller with more realistic expectations this time it’s been terrific. Broadway shows are expensive. In general I would say around twice the price of the West End, which is already over-priced. Premium tickets for The Jersey Boys run at $450 and my “discounted” seat in the Gods for West Side Story was still $97. It’s basically legalised extortion of tourists, but hey, that’s what we’re here for. I did see some great stuff. Altar Boyz (great off Broadway one act musical), and Fuerzabruta (radical dance, tactile, visual experience), God of Carnage (funny, intense play with a great cast including James Gondolfini. As we left this place we passed Hugh Jackman signing autographs next door!), Rock of Ages (very slick, fun, 80s rock musical).
I was lucky enough to catch Aretha Franklin at Radio City (two icons in one night), Manhattan Transfer at the tiny Blue Note, and after dinner at Sardi’s, “Kristina” at Carnegie Hall (a concert production of a “new” musical by Benny and Bjorn, a bit long for me, but wonderful voices and orchestra) and on the way home we popped in to Don’t Tell Mama’s a fun piano bar off Times Square with a raucous crowd drowning out the poor singer. A friend of mine from Crystal Cruises invited us to see a wonderful singer/songwriter Dallin Applebaum at a tiny venue in the Lower East Side. Quite like Fiona Apple – always humbling to see such talent.
It was a good move to spend half the week at Times Square and the rest in Greenwich Village. Both are great, but in future I would just stay here in “The Village”. It’s so much nicer and easy to get in to town for a show. We did a great walking/eating tour of restaurants here which give a great insight in to the history and what’s on offer.
Our guilty pleasure was the Movie and TV tour – herded around on a coach looked at where they filmed bits from Friends, Spiderman, Taxi Driver, Ghostbusters, Elf, Law and Order… you get the picture. The highlight of that was the location for Seinfeld’s “Soup Nazi” episode… “no soup for you!”.