When I came back from my NYC trip over the Christmas long weekend, I booked my flight back for the Easter long weekend. This is so that I could watch the Spring Spectacular show. This time my flights were with Porter Airlines for $284.16 CAD.
What I have finally learnt after 12 years of traveling is that I really should check my flight status before heading to the airport. Porter had delayed all of their flights due to the rain. I had checked my flight status last night (about 12 hours before departure) and it said that it was on time however I was in a rush this morning so I didn’t check, nor did my phone notify me of Porter’s delayed flight email. Granted the email was sent after I was on the TTC. It’s much easier to get to Porter than Pearson since you can easily take the TTC. I just went to Union station and took the 509 streetcar, got off at Bathurst St. and walked towards the airport ferry terminal where I waited to board the ferry. The ferry is mainly standing room with some benches along the side. It’s a really short ferry ride. After disembarking, you walk for a bit before reaching the check in counters and kiosks. Security is a breeze since you just have to go through the bag scanning and then you go down the escalators to the lounge. The complementary cafe with Starbucks Pike Roast coffee, Tazo teas, bottled water, soft drinks, salted almonds and chocolate cookies is hidden in the corner near the escalators and after the Billy Bishop cafe. There is free internet at the airport so the flight delay wasn’t tediously boring. On the flight itself, I got a bag of Terra vegetable chips and a glass of red wine (Porter offers cookies, almonds, Steamwhistle, white wine, juice, bottled water and soft drinks as well). It was nice of Porter to give you the US Customs form to fill out first before providing refreshments. After disembarking, I thought it was a breeze going through US Customs in which the only annoying part was the slow moving line up. Granted it may have been a breeze because my information is already in their system so I don’t need to have my fingerprints or retina scanned unlike many travellers before me. It wasn’t too hard to find the Sky Train and there was a kiosk located before the escalators to the sky train platform selling NJ Transit tickets and two employees to help you use the kiosk. I bought an adult one way ticket from Newark International Airport to NY Penn station ($12.50 USD). At the sky train platform, you want to take the train heading towards Terminal C in order to get to the NJ train station. After reaching the NJ train station, you have to walk for abit and then scan your ticket in order to go onto the train platform and you should ensure that you’re on the right platform and boarding the correct train. On the train, the conductor will come and take your ticket. Do ensure that you get off at your correct stop since the stop announcements can be very faint and at times it may be near impossible to double back. After reaching NY Penn station which is located near Madison Square Garden, I went to the metro station and used the kiosk to buy a 7 day unlimited pass (choose add time option in order to see the unlimited pass options) for $31 USD. I took the metro to Queen’s to drop off my bags before taking the metro to Radio City Music Hall.
I had bought a front row first mezzanine ticket ($199.17 CAD) for the Spring Spectacular which allows me to use the VIP entrance which is on 50th Ave off 6th Ave and it’s basically the gold doors. I had arrived abit early and so there wasn’t any line up at the VIP doors. I got my ticket scanned and bag checked before being given a Chase Interactive bracelet and I was told to wear it during the show. I was again given a pair of 3D glasses and the program before entering the theatre. I had chosen seat A408 and it is basically center stage and in the middle of the width of the entire theatre. The only bad thing about it is that there’s a video camera mounted in front of me so there’s a tiny bit of stage obstruction. The dress code for the show is casual, similar to the Christmas Spectacular.
The Spring Spectacular is a Rockettes show about NYC and it features Whoopi Goldberg, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, among others. The show opens with the orchestra making an appearance along with the Easter bunny and a minion from Despicable Me! It then cuts to a scene that’s very reminiscent of the opening scene of the movie It’s a Wonderful Life. The voice of God and the Statue of Liberty is Whoopi Goldberg while Derek Hough is the guardian angel. We’re then introduced to the other important main and supporting characters (Bernie the tour guide, Jenna the billionaire and her assistant Marshall). The Chase interactive bracelet comes into play with Derek Hough. He would snap his fingers and the bracelets would light up and change colours. It’s abit reminiscent of a music concert. The 3D glasses are used for a semi-guided tour of NYC before the scene cuts to the MET followed by the Alice in Wonderland statue in Central Park. My favourite number of the entire show is the Singing in the Rain tap dance number. It features the Rockettes in yellow raincoats and high heel rainboots with umbrellas tap dancing with the water sprinklers creating an indoor rain effect above them. Singing in the rain is being sung by Derek Hough which suits it perfectly with the indoor rain and dancing happening on stage and Jared Grimes is an amazing tap dancer. It then cuts into a movie montage of films filmed in NYC including when Harry Met Sally, Home Alone 2, Annie feat Cameron Diaz, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, etc. which leads into the Broadway segment followed by the New York fashion show segment which is a close second in terms of my favourite moments in the show. The New York fashion show features the Rockettes strutting their stuff on the runway to the tunes of Beyonce, Jessie J and Demi Lovato to name afew artists. It’s followed up with an engaging sports montage to hockey, basketball, football and baseball. We’re then whisked to the New York library on 5th Ave for a quiz show before heading to the Empire State Building where a couple dances while being suspended in the air. There is a video montage of Americans and immigrants in a nod to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty before the show wraps up with the Rockettes dancing on stage. The show is 1.5 hours long. For the Christmas spectacular, there were live animals in the show (sheep for the birth of Christ scene) and it is similar for the Spring Spectacular, there were a variety of dogs being walked across the stage or let loose to run across the stage. Overall, I recommend watching the Spring Spectacular when you’re in New York and the Radio City Music Hall is performing it.
After the show, I took the metro to have a late dinner at Max Brenner. Afterwards I headed back to Queen’s to sleep.
Here’s the link to my pictures for my trip
Due to the construction going on on the yellow NQR line I made a stop at Grand Central Station to see the constellations in the main concourse. The Sky Ceiling is worth the hype since it’s the depiction of the constellations above NYC in the wintertime and the constellations are lit by fiber optic light emitting cables with 59 stars surrounded by 24 karat gold. The brightness of the stars themselves reflect the star’s intensity in reality if you could see the stars in the night sky. The main concourse itself is also quite spectacular in its own way with gold and nickel plated chandeliers, Tennessee marble flooring, high windows allowing the natural sunlight to filter in and the brass clock at the central kiosk in the middle of the concourse. Grand Central Station is in the middle of Park Ave. After I finished admiring the Sky Ceiling I continue onwards on the metro to Wall Street. Once I was at Wall Street, I first went to visit Trinity Church. Trinity Church is built in the neo-Gothic style and is from 1846. The front doors feature biblical scenes. After my tour of Trinity Church, I went in search of the Wall St. bull. I had forgotten to visit the Wall St bull the last time I was here. Contrary to what you may think, the Wall St bull isn’t located at Wall St but it’s very close to Battery Park and the National Museum of the American Indian. It’s crowded with people so you’re unlikely to get a shot of the bull without other people in it. I then went to the National Museum of the American Indian. It’s free admission and you go through a security check at the entrance. The architecture is in the Beaux Arts style and it used to the US Customs House. The museum is also part of the Smithsonian Institution. There were 2 exhibition halls when I was there and they don’t allow photography inside the exhibition halls. The first exhibit was of the jewelry making of the Navajo tribe’s Yazzie family. The other is about the artifacts of Native Americans. The rotunda reminds me of being on a ship due to its elliptical shape and it’s aptly filled with naval artwork. I then went to have lunch at Shake Shack.
After lunch I went to City Hall Park. The park is surrounded by a variety of famous buildings in a variety of architectural styles. City Hall Park contains city hall which is surrounded by fences and high trees so you can’t get a clear shot of the building if you want a picture without tree branches. The City Hall building is in the style of French Renaissance and is from 1812. It took 9 years to build and Abraham Lincoln was laid in state there. Woolworth Building is one of the buildings surrounding the park. It’s built for a nickel and dime empire in 1913 and the architectural style is neo-Gothic and is one of the early skyscrapers of NYC. An interesting tidbit is that F.W. Woolworth paid cash for the building. The Municipal Building is just north of the park on the way to Foley Square. The Municipal Building is colossal in size with a variety of architectural influences including Classical and Italian Renaissance and the building is from 1915. What I found most interesting about it is the arches in the building that allow traffic to go through the building. I then went to Foley Square. Foley Square used to be a swamp and back in the 19th century it was a notorious slum known as Five Points. it is now a roundabout with artwork in the middle. The buildings that surround Foley Square include the NY State Supreme Court Building from 1913 and the Thurgood Marshall US Courthouse from 1932. The Supreme Court has a prettier facade of the two. I then went to St Paul’s Chapel. The furnishings inside are very simple and reminiscent of the olden times. The colour scheme is white, blue and pink. George Washington used to attend mass at St Paul’s Chapel.
I then took the metro to Union Square and explored a part of the Greenmarket. It’s the city’s largest farmer’s market and it sells a variety of things. I then went to President Theodore Roosevelt’s birthplace and childhood home at 28 East 20th Street and wandered around the museum and signed up for the tour (the 3pm one was fully booked so I had to go to the 4pm one). I then walked to Madison Square Park to take pictures of the Flatiron building. The Flatiron building is one of the more interesting buildings in NYC. It’s triangular in shape like a slice of pie at the intersection of Broadway and 5th Ave. It’s from 1902 and built with limestone and terra cotta rather than iron like the name would suggest and the name flatiron is actually the name of a laundry appliance which the building somehow resembles. It’s a 21 story building that’s one of the early skyscrapers which is only 6 feet across at the building’s tip. Other buildings around Madison Square Park that caught my eye include the MetLife Building and the New York Life Building.
I then went back to the Theodore Roosevelt home for the 4pm tour. It’s interesting to note that the main entrance to the home and museum is actually the servant entrance and the basement is the servants’ domain to do chores and where the kitchen was located. The second floor is where the dining room, reading room and parlour was located, along with the guests and family’s entrance. By the front entrance is a mirror stand where a calling card bucket was located to leave mail and messages since they didn’t even have telephones back then. The rooms were all period rooms with the original wallpapers, carpeting and furnishings. The reading room was quite dark and sombre. The dining room is the entire width of the house and there is a semi-discreet door at the side that contains the pulley elevator that is used to bring food and dishes up and down between the kitchen and dining room. We were then lead up another flight of stairs to the bedrooms. The bedrooms on the 3rd floor is the governess’ room which also features the crib where the babies would have initially slept in and the master bedroom. The wallpaper of the governess’ room actually had to be hand-painted every single time before it was printed or stamped onto the paper. The master bedroom features a matching bedroom set that costs $42,000 in present value to buy back in the mid 1800s. The 4th floor would be the children’s bedrooms but is now offices. The original house was destroyed and then reconstructed. It was initially destroyed because nobody wanted to buy it. Then Theodore Roosevelt passed away and it was bought back to be converted to a memorial house. Roosevelt’s family provided many of the original furnishings in the house.
After the tour, I went back to Union Square and explored the rest of the Greenmarket before taking the metro to have dinner at Takashi. While I waited, I walked around Greenwich Village to admire it’s architecture. Greenwich Village is famed for being the home to a variety of writers, painters and entertainers. 48 Commerce St used to be the home of dry goods merchant Alexander Stewart. There is a working gas lamp in front of it. Very close to it is Cherry Lane Theatre. It started out as a box factory back in 1817 before being converted into a playhouse in 1924 by Edna St. Vincent Millay who was a writer and poet. Cherry Lane Theatre is also famous for Lee Strasberg directing F. Scott Fitzgerald’s, of Great Gatsby fame, only published play titled The Vegetable in 1929. Across the street is 39-41 Commerce St. which are a pair of 3-story houses that mirror one another and are an example of early 19th century architecture in the neighbourhood from 1832. I then meandered my way to St. Luke in the Fields church. It used to be part of the Trinity Church Parish and the church itself is a reconstruction of the original which got burnt in 1981. An interesting fact to note is that one of the founders of the church was Clement Clarke Moore who is the author of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. I went and explored part of the church’s garden and it has an ok view. I then went to Grove Court which used to be a slum since it was built for blue-collared families in 1853 when the area was known as “Mixed Ale Alley”. It is a gated mews with a large open courtyard that’s set back from the street. The architectural style of the mews is Greek Revival. I then went to Twin Peaks which is a 1830 house in the Tudor style compared to the surrounding 19th century architectural buildings. 107-115 Bedford St. is just down the road from Twin Peaks and they’re mid-1800s Greek Revival townhouses. 107 Bedford features very nice crescent moon window shutters. I then went past 17 Grove St which is an 1822 wood-framed house and it’s one of the last ones in the neighbourhood. I then strolled along the West Bleecker Street shopping district which has varied boutique shops and it also has a Burberry storefront. I then went back to Takashi for dinner. After dinner, I took the metro to Times Square to wander around the Toys R Us store because I had read that it would be closing down soon and I wanted to see the indoor ferris wheel, Jurassic Park dinosaur, lego minitures of famous NYC landmarks, superheros suspended from the ceiling and the Star Wars characters. It was a pleasant surprise to see a life-sized minion there as well. Afterwards I went to Rockefeller Center but Nintendo World which has a Pokemon section was already closed. Ice skating was still ongoing at the Rockefeller Rink which I found interesting since I had initially expected it to be over. The “entrance way” during Christmas and New Year’s to the Rink had changed it’s theme to Easter/Spring and it was a very whimsical floral display featuring an Easter bunny that reminded me of a circus seal or performing seal balancing a ball on its nose and mermen statues. I then headed to Queen’s to sleep.
I took the metro and walked to St. John the Divine Cathedral for Easter Mass which was presided by the Bishop of New York. The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine is the world’s largest Gothic style cathedral. Similar to the Sagrada Família Basilica in Barcelona, Spain, it will take a long time to be completed. In 1887 the land was purchased with the cornerstone laid in 1892. Construction stopped when World War II started and continued in 1979. It is currently still unfinished and there is a debate about whether it would be fully completed. The cathedral is home to numerous artistic treasures including the Barberini Tapestries which depict scenes from the life of Christ and the gold triptych by Keith Haring. The rose window is the largest in the US while it’s the fifth largest in the world. The rose window is comprised of 10,000 pieces of coloured glass which is above the two bronze doors that are only open twice a year (Easter and Feast of St. Francis). The 3-ton bronze doors depict scenes from the Old Testament on the left and the New Testament on the right. There is a stone statue parapet that features a famous figure representing that particular century due to their historical contributions. The statues include St. Paul, William Shakespeare, Christopher Columbus, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., Susan B. Anthony, Mahatma Gandhi and Albert Einstein. The cathedral has thematic chapels which are dedicated to poetry, medicine, law, sports and firefighting to name a few. The stain glass windows of the cathedral are both traditional and untraditional. It’s traditional in the fact that it depicts Biblical scenes however it’s untraditional in the fact that it includes modern imagery. The Peace Fountain outside depicts Michael the archangel embracing one of the nine giraffes after his defeat of Satan as featured by his decapitated head and standing on a crab. The spiral base represents the double helix of DNA. There is also an image of a lion lying on a lamb which is below the depiction of the sun and on the opposite side is the moon. The fountain is surrounded by bronze-casted animal sculptures drawn by children.
After mass and my tour of the cathedral I took the metro to Columbus Square and walked the width of Central Park to the Plaza Hotel for brunch at Lady M. Afterwards I debated between going to Library Way or heading towards the airport and decided that I rather be early than miss my flight so I took the metro to Penn Station before finding the NJ Transit kiosks (after the Amtrak kiosks) to purchase my one way adult NY Penn to Newark International Airport ticket for $12.50 USD. I had just missed the train so I sat in the waiting area. The train is on track 8 which is just down the escalator which is right across the NJ Transit kiosks. I sat on the top floor of the double decker train and the view is quite industrial and dreary and polluted looking. I was lucky to have the foresight to arrive earlier at the airport because the skytrain decided to confuse everybody with it’s zigzag way of operating. You’d think that a train would stop sequentially rather than you needing to cross the platform to the other train to continue your journey since your original train will be doubling back to the previous station. When I arrived at Terminal B I asked the Porter check in counters if it was possible to be put on an earlier flight since it’s free of charge to do so at Newark and I was told that they were all fully booked and I should have came earlier for the slight off chance that it wasn’t fully booked. After going through the security check which now involves scanning your bags, coats and shoes as well as scanning yourself either in socks or barefoot, I went in search of the Porter lounge for the wifi and Tazo teas. On board the flight I got the Canadian Customs form to fill out and I got the Terra vegetable chips again and this time I got a can of Steamwhistle beer. Once I disembarked, I had to go through customs which wasn’t too bad aside from the line up for Canadians. Then I took the ferry before taking the shuttle bus which drops you off at the Starbucks near Fairmont Royal York and Union station on Front Street.