Fun in the City

Whew! Just got back from a whirlwind trip to NYC, and I’m still feeling the after-effects of transversing the city with my friend, Mitchell. My feet are begging for a long soak in fizzy bubbles!

DAY 1:
We emerged from the Lincoln Tunnel around 2 p.m. on Friday afternoon and promptly immersed ourselves into the bustling city, lit brilliantly with the sparkling winter sun. Having a few hours to spare before my dance class and Mitchell’s Billy Elliot farewell party, I suggested the most logical activity: a trip to Pinkberry! Ahh. Once a year is not nearly enough to satisfy my sweet tooth. Topped with strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, and kiwi galore, my frozen creation was a perfect treat.
Having fulfilled one of the trip’s required sugary stops, we headed off in our separate directions. I dropped in for a musical theater dance class taught by Richard Hines (associate choreographer for Newsies). Wow, what a fun, exciting experience! With my new LaDucas, I blended in with other professionals, who all enthusiastically cheered each other on as we performed the combination in groups. I can’t wait to return for a follow-up session in the future!
After I finished my class, Mitchell and I reunited down the street, where he informed me that he had won the fan essay contest for Billy Elliot– how thrilling! Our trip was off to a very good start.
I then invaded Times Square and bought souvenirs for my family, and we proceeded to walk uptown to the beautiful Lincoln Center. On my next trip, I definitely plan on exploring the wealth of archives available at the center. After sitting by the fountain, we walked back down through town and dined at a fabulous French restaurant, Marseilles. Even though I only ordered roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, and vegetables, it seemed like one of the best dishes I’ve ever tasted. That French touch does wonders!
DAY 2: Mitchell bravely accompanied crazy Kayla to Rockefeller Plaza, where we ice skated in the shadow of the towering Christmas tree, still standing after the holiday season. It was a magnificent sight; I was thrilled when I discovered that the wood from the tree is donated annually to a house in the Habitat for Humanity program. Truly, a gift that keeps on giving.
The ice was a bit rough, as it was the end of the three-hour session, but we enjoyed ourselves nonetheless. Peals of laughter rang through the unseasonably warm air as children attempted pirouettes and twirled around the ice, falling more often than gliding. It was a lovely time.  
Following our skating experience, we wandered over to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, which was still beautifully adorned with Christmas wreaths and emanated a welcoming, festive spirit to visitors. I lit a candle for my late grandfather, who passed away nearly a year ago, and reflected on his spirit. My candle joined the multitude of flickering flames, fragile alone, but vibrant when surrounded by others. They emanated a peaceful hope and optimism, and I left the church feeling renewed and calm. 
I carried my serenity with me as we took the subway from Grand Central Terminal down to the World Trade Center site, where a quiet curtain seemed to separate the memorial from the rest of the noisy city. The site was again filled with construction equipment, moving efficiently under a towering American flag that flew high and proud above the scene. Progress was clearly being made of the Freedom Tower, pictured at left.
Lunchtime was fast approaching, and we found a Shake Shack nestled between nearby buildings. I indulged in a malted chocolate milkshake, yum! Then we hopped on the subway and returned uptown.
We walked along 5th Avenue, and I bought a pretty silk blouse from H&M’s spring collection. Once we reached Central Park, we just had to visit the Apple store and check Facebook and the like as we tested new products.
Relieved that nothing insane was happening in our realms of social media, we trekked a few blocks to Serendipity 3 for a late afternoon snack. The poor souls waiting outside faced wait times of 2.5+ hours! Luckily, Mitchell had secured a reservation a few weeks ago, and we breezed right into the tiny restaurant, where visions of sugarplums and Christmas lights met my dazzled eyes.
The entire establishment was still decked out in holiday finery, and I wish I could have brought the decorations home with me! Vividly-colored lights and ornaments hung on every archway, illuminating decadent desserts on quaint, whitewashed tables. Patrons had a hard time deciding whether to focus on their food or focus on the distracting decor!
Although I had previously been to Serendipity, I hadn’t tried their classic “Frozen Hot Chocolate,” which has a cult following. This time, I went all out and took the frozen plunge into a wonderland of deliciousness. To top off the magical time, we discovered that an older couple seated next to us even paid for our meal! We were blown away by their surprising act of kindness, and I declared that this really was the best trip ever!
Abuzz with sugar and amazement at that random act of kindness, we walked to Dylan’s Candy Bar, where I tried a chocolate-dipped strawberry. Mhmmm, amazing!
Next stop for the evening was a trip to Follies, a star-studded show that blew my socks off with the legendary talent I witnessed that night. Bernadette Peters was spectacular, as was every single member of that cast. If I were to go through the list, I’d be talking for hours about their performances! Let’s just say that it was a very memorable show.
After meeting the stars and adorning our Playbills with autographs, we were shocked to realize it was nearly midnight! Many restaurants were about to close, so we made our way to 9th Avenue and found a cute Italian pizzeria (which had a signed poster from Mary Poppins adorning the walls). A midnight meal of arugula salad and delicious cheese pizza, complemented by candlelight and fun conversation,  finished off our second evening in New York City.

DAY 3: Although the temperatures dramatically dropped, our excitement for the day continued to climb. We rode the subway down to the West Village and admired the pristine architecture, glinting in the early Sunday morning. Walking to Washington Square, we decided on a whim to just continue walking, all the way up to Central Park! Massaging the bruises on my poor feet, I now regret that decision, but it was still fun to explore the city. I grabbed lunch from the Trump Tower Starbucks, and we relaxed for a bit in the tower’s atrium.

After a few hours of more wandering, we ventured back to the Imperial Theater for the closing performance of Billy Elliot. All of the “Billys” performed, making it a really cool show (and a really sentimental closing). After bidding Billy farewell, we were joined by my friend, Staś, a very talented director/choreographer. We paid the Times Square Shake Shack a visit and enjoyed very stimulating conversation, discussing current projects and the closing performances we had just seen (he had gone to Lysistrata Jones that afternoon).  It was wonderful to catch up!What a great way to end a perfect trip! I look forward to my next visit to NYC, and who knows…it could be permanent next time!

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