Joe and I try to get back up to New York every year or two – besides giving us a chance to go “home” (Joe’s from New Jersey and I’m from Brooklyn and then Staten Island – although we’ve lived in Florida for 10 years now and love our adopted state, things just always feel more “normal” when we’re in Manhattan – the pace, the accents, the attitude – everything that I didn’t like about NY when I lived there (OK, except the weather – I still HATE the cold) gives me a happy sense of nostalgia when I go to visit), we get to eat “good” pizza and bagels, delight in drinking water straight from the tap and pack in as many Broadway shows as we can into a long weekend. With Anything Goes, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and The Book of Mormon all in previews, we decided now was a good time to go. So we made reservations for a Thursday to Sunday trip.

Of course, things can never go as perfectly as planned and this trip was no exception – we got the news that Joe’s grandmother passed away on Wednesday. Now, Grandma was very old and had already suffered many stokes so her passing was more of a “it’s just a matter of time” than any sort of surprise. Plus, as unfortunate as it was that she was gone, the timing couldn’t have been any better – the funeral was being held in NJ but we were going up there anyway, and the wake wasn’t going to be until the day we were scheduled to go home. So although it meant some changes in some plans (read: stay longer), and although she was never far from our minds, we were still able to go through with the trip in its entirety.

With the house and dog sitter in place, Joe’s dad picked us up at 8am and brought us to the airport. We made a quick stop at the restaurant where one of my former patients worked but alas, it was too early for them to be open. The wait at X-ray was no problem and, after getting something at Starbucks (By the way they still had Cranberry Bliss bars. I hope they weren’t left over from Christmas. As good as they are in December, and as decadent as I allow myself to be on vacations to NY, I didn’t get one, just to be on the safe side), we sat and waited for our plane.

I don’t remember the details of how we managed it, because it’s usually WAY beyond what we would consider to be a “worth it to us” purchase, but we had gotten Silver Medallion packages for Delta not long ago, with the hopes of being upgraded here and there. About 5 minutes before they started boarding the plane, they called out names for our new seat assignments. SCORE! So when they called “All First Class customers,” up we went. Now, they didn’t do priority seating for families with children because, let’s face it, 3/4 of the plane would be eligible. So it surprised me that so many people got up and queued for the First Class line. Then the woman ahead of us and her daughter, age 10 or so, got up to the ticket agent…

Ticket Agent: Well, hello there, ladies. May I see your tickets? (woman gives tickets to the agent) Oh, I’m sorry, ladies. This line is for First Class only. You’ll need to get off the line and wait until your Group is called. You’re in Group 4.

Woman: Oh, really? I’m sorry, we’re not frequent travelers. (they walk away)

(Um, yeah right. You mean you’ve never been on a plane? The term “First Class passengers only” didn’t give you a clue? Get off our line, lady! :-))

So we got settled in our seats (1A for me and 1D for Joe. Not next to each other but that’s OK – we both got window seats, which in some respects is even better ;-)). It had been a long while since we had flown First Class (we used frequent flyer miles to go Business Class to and from Japan the last time but that was over 2 years ago now) so I made sure to enjoy it – unlimited drinks, a halfway decent salad (with real metal utensils!) and even a peek at the airline hostess as she sat in her jump seat, reading the latest issue of the National Enquirer (“Angelina’s Emergency Surgery Drama!”).

View #1 of our room

The flight was uneventful and our

And the other side

taxi driver got us to our hotel, The Distrikt, without a problem (despite the plethora of drunks who were still celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. WOOOOOO!!!!). We still had about 45 minutes before the room would be ready, so we walked around Times Square for a while and then went back. The room was ready now so we went upstairs, unpacked and, after waking up so early, took a nap ;-).

Once we woke up, we decided to go downtown to get pizza. Joe had found Arturo’s, described as a worthy alternative to John’s Pizza (sometimes voted “The Best Pizza in NYC”) when John’s lines were too long. We started with sharing a salad and then we got a plain pie to share. OhmyGOD, was it good! The crust had the perfect amount of coal-fired crispness, the sauce wasn’t too salty or too sweet and the cheese was nice and thick. When you live in Florida, you forget what “good” pizza tastes like until you have it again. I’m ruined on Florida pizza once again. GOOD!

After a quick stop for ice cream (yes, we were already stuffed to the gills but it was organic ice cream and it looked SOOO good!), we took the subway back up to Midtown (we’ve traveled by subway all over the world…London, Paris, Tokyo. NYC’s subway may be better than it used to be but in comparison to all the other big cities’, it’s still dank, dark, dirty and smelly. Yuck.) and eventually made it to the theater to see Anything Goes, starring Sutton Foster and Joey Grey. The show was terrific and the experience was made even better because we had nabbed FIFTH ROW CENTER! I’ve always have had a soft spot in my heart for this show because I had been in the high school play rendition of it, when I was a sophomore in the early 1980’s. However I was highly insulted that the current version eliminated my 3 lines (“Snake Eyes Johnson! I never met a real criminal before! Let’s get him!”) ;-).

It had been a long day so after the show was over we went back to the room and promptly fell asleep. Friday morning came quickly enough, and with it, our friend Steve who was sharing part of the vacation with us. We met him in the late morning and went out for breakfast/lunch. We took the subway down towards Delancy Street and ate at the world-famous Katz’s Deli. After standing on line for 15 or 20 minutes, we got inside, where there was an almost overwhelming amount of people – some standing on line for food, some looking for tables and some sitting and eating. We go in the “Sandwich” line and, after giving us a sample of the corned beef, the guy behind the counter made us our sandwiches, plus my bowl of matzoh ball soup. Steve had gotten a table for the 3 of us so after we put our tray down, we got in line for fries and soda. Anyway, my soup was great and the sandwich was awesome. And the fries were AMAZING – I bet they hadn’t changed the oil in decades, LOL! Oh, we saw the “When Harry Met Sally” table – even sat next to it. But the people who had it while we were there were both “coughing up a lung”…Yuck, I didn’t want whatever they had!

Katz's Deli - Since 1888!

Inside Katz's

Now THAT'S whut I'M talkin' 'bout!

After we were done eating, we walked a few blocks to visit The Tenement Museum, a large building on

The Tenement Museum, 97 Orchard Street

Orchard Street that has been restored to how it looked when immigrant families lived there around the turn of the last century. Each floor depicts a different nationality (Italian, German, etc.) and how they lived, within large families but with little money, in 3-room apartments than took up less than 400 square feet. We took the Jewish tour, “Piecing it Together,” which described how the immigrant Jews helped develop the Garment District. Although Joe, Steve and I came from families that did not necessarily spend their early days in this country in the tenements of Manhattan, it was still a VERY interesting way to spend an hour.

When the tour was over, we went back up to the Times Square area. How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying was our Friday night show and it did not disappoint. It starred Daniel Radcliffe and John Larroquette and the music and comedy were great. Radcliffe made a terrific departure from “Harry Potter”, complete with an American accent (well, 99% of the time, LOL!) and the ability to sing and, if not DANCE dance, at least he can “move.” Oh, and did I mention that he’s a good bit of eye candy too? We were interested in seeing the show just for the sake of seeing the show, not JUST because Radcliffe was in it – but the hundreds of teenage girls in the audience appeared to have other ideas. Fortunately, except for the overwhelming SCREAMS when he first came onstage, the girls generally behaved. So yep, the show was good. 2 for 2!

When the show was over, we went to Don’t Tell Mama, a cabaret-style piano bar that we had visited on another trip to NY. Unfortunately, we had sucky seats in the back this time, where it was uncomfortably warm and since we were behind the performers, all we could see were their backs. We stayed for about an hour or two and towards the end I was hot, tired and crabby. I was happy when we left. It was probably the low point of the trip for me (but if that was the low point, I really had nothing to complain about).

I fell asleep FAST on Friday night and then it was Saturday and we went out to breakfast at a local market. Hello, happiness is a New York bagel with cream cheese and lox…MAN, was it good! Again, the bagels you can get in Florida are just “not right.”

I give "Book of Mormon" two thumbs up!

After walking around for a while and wasting time at the Hershey Store and a hotel bar, we walked to the theater to see The Book of Mormon. With “The South Park Guys” and “The Avenue Q Guys” as the creative forces behind it, this was the show I was most looking forward to seeing. I SO hoped that it didn’t suck…and it SOOO didn’t! It was HYSTERICAL! Just so, SO funny! Now granted, it is chock full of curse words, sexual situations and lots and LOTS of blasphemy – none of which bother Joe or I but if you’re not thrilled with any of the above, it’s probably not a show for you. But if you can look at it as the light-hearted satire that it is meant to be, and have the ability to laugh at the humor in those sorts of thing, well, I would STRONGLY encourage seeing it! Oh, and you’re probably going to have to go to NY to see it…I REALLY don’t see this show touring, LOL!

Once The Book of Mormon was done, we walked back to the hotel and said our goodbyes to Steve – from this point on our trip were going to be separate from his – he was off to see another show while we met some friends and then the next day I was going home, Steve was on his way to Philadelphia and Joe was staying in the area to attend his grandmother’s wake.

Joe and I spent the next hour or so in the room, packing. Then his friend John called and said he and his wife Lisa had just arrived at the Port Authority (they live in Northern NJ) and they would meet us by the Ralph Kramden (TV Land placed a statue of Ralphie Boy in front of the P.A. a few years back).

Joe and John had been good friends in college but eventually drifted apart. However through the power of Facebook, they became re-acquainted not long ago so when Joe told him we were coming up to NY for a long weekend, the 2 of them made plans to meet. All I have to say is, it’s a pity they hadn’t been in touch in 10 or more years because really, the 2 of them could be twins. Besides working in the same field, they wound up working for different arms of the same corporation and really, their personalities are very, VERY similar. You could tell that the 2 of them were having a blast as the 4 of us had dinner together (we went to Pietrasanta, an Italian place where Joe and I had eaten about 6 months after we started dating, more than a dozen years ago. The food is still REALLY good). His wife Lisa was a whole lot of fun too – really quick-witted, with a sense of humor and “general thoughts on life” that seemed to be very similar to mine (which would make sense since our husbands are so alike – if the pots are similar, so will be the covers ;-)). The 3 hours that we spent in Pietrasanta just flew by with catching up, reminiscing and stories and it was one of the highlights of the trip.

All too soon it was time to part ways. John and Lisa went back to the Port Authority to catch their bus back to NJ and Joe and I walked back to our hotel to finish packing.

We left the hotel on Sunday morning – Joe took the train to get him to Newark Airport to pick up the rental car he would need while in NJ and I took a taxi back to LaGuardia Airport. What a mess that airport was…3 flights were going to 3 separate places within 20 minutes of each other and the gates for all 3 were in a row so there were HUNDREDS of people standing and waiting to go on their respective flight. At one point there was a woman standing near me, scanning the crowd with her eyes, obviously looking for someone. She finally found him because she said, “Oh, there’s Marco. MARCO! (pause) MARCO!” Being me, I did say “Polo!” but it was so crowded that no one heard me. In 20/20 hindsight, that was probably a good thing ;-). Anyway, my Silver Medallion status didn’t get me an upgrade this time (poop!) and to add insult to injury, they made me gate check my carry-on luggage, claiming it was too big for the overhead bins in that plane (Um, HELLO, exact same plane going up and the luggage fit just fine). Fortunately, “last luggage in” = “first luggage out” so mine was one of the first suitcases on the carousel but even so, it added time that I didn’t need to spend.

My friend Darlene (“My oldest friend in Florida”) picked me up from the airport, since my father-in-law had already gone up to NJ to attend the funeral (it was his mom who passed). My vacation was over but really, as vacations went, it was a good one. All 3 of our shows were awesome, every restaurant pick rocked and meeting John and Lisa was just icing on the cake. Coming home was as bittersweet as ever but hey, the title of this blog is “The Adventures of Littlebit”…I’m sure there will be plenty more adventures to come!