Several years ago, I moved to Maine to escape the craziness that is life in the New York City Metro area. The people, the noise, the smell…it was all too much, so I went north to escape the mess and clear my lungs and my mind. And boy, did it work. But, when my fiancée bought tickets to see Newsies on Broadway, I was excited to finally head back to Gotham. And The City did not disappoint.
We drove the five hours from Lewiston, ME to Norwalk, CT, to park the car at a friend’s house. Despite having a bad back, I’m still a sucker for a road trip. We enjoyed a beautiful Maine sunrise, a rather unhealthy breakfast, and some fantastic conversation ranging from spoiled kids of celebrities (“Born on third base, thinking they hit a triple.”) to music trends of the 80s and 90s.
And then there was New York City itself. An hour long train ride brought us into Grand Central Station, and while I had spent a lot of time in NYC, it was one of only a few times my fiancée had been there. When you live in the area, you rarely do the touristy things, so I found myself in the unique position of knowing the city pretty well, but also enjoying being a tourist.
The fiancée had never walked through Central Park, so that’s just what we did. The park is beautiful this time of year, with autumn foliage dotting the trees, a warning that winter’s harsh desolation is on its way, but still filled with the sounds of people enjoying good weather in the outdoor space. We walked through Sheep’s Meadow, where hundreds of people still picnicked and tossed frisbees; we watched the free-spirits at the makeshift roller dancing rink twist, roll, and gyrate to the steady musical beat; and we walked along the several ponds and among the short nature paths, where newly minted brides and their grooms posed for iconic pictures.
Sunday was theater day, and we set out a bit later in the morning. Times Square, Broadway, and the Theater District are always an exercise in patience mixed with a dose of wonder. While tourists hog the sidewalks, stop suddenly, or simply stare up a the myriad colorful signs and tall buildings, a more advanced tourist (or former local) always has a destination in mind. For me, it was the Yankees Clubhouse store, where my die-hard Red Sox fan fiancée nearly passed out from the pain of being around so much Yankees paraphernalia.
After a quick lunch, we walked under newly purchased $5.00 umbrellas to the theater for the matinee performance of Newsies. This isn’t a review of the musical, but I will say that even as an avid Newsies (the movie) fan, I found many of the changes to the story in Newsies (the musical) tolerable, if not enjoyable.
The Freedom Tower at 1 World Trade Center is going to be a beautiful modern building when it’s completed. When I left NYC in 2009, it was little more than a few steel beams rising 50 feet in the air. Today it’s close to its full height, and very impressive. We wanted to tour the 9/11 Memorial, but found that you needed tickets to do so. After a quick search on my phone, I found that there were still tickets available for that evening, so we called our Friend and invited her to dinner and to view the memorial. While the Friend traveled in from Queens, the fiancée and I headed over to the Financial District, where I took her to see Wall Street and the famous Charging Bull statue just outside Bowling Green. A few pictures later, and we were on our way to meet the Friend for dinner.
There were two humble meals I have desperately missed since leaving the NYC area: a real New York bagel with Lox cream cheese, and of course, New York style pizza. I’m happy to report that I had both meals. I am a happy boy.
And that’s a good place to end this trip report. The journey home was relatively uneventful, but enjoyable. As always, I had a great traveling companion. And I am once again content that the itch at the back of my head to visit New York City once more has been scratched.