A Travellerspoint blog

These are a few of my favorite things

I'm changing the lyrics to the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic...

sunny 85 °F

A new opportunity beckons in Atlanta and my Manhattan chapter is coming to a close. Before I zip the final suitcase, I'm savoring every morsel of New York City and compiling a list of my favorite things about living here. Over the last year, I've tried to cover a lot of ground in the city that never sleeps.

This list will expand shortly. My favorites are in no particular order:

Spring is vibrant along the Park Avenue Mall. It's a stunning walk anytime of day.

Summer polo on Governors Island with my friend Christine. We were on the 'commoner's side' for the Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic. The entry for the VIP Section was $50,000 per table.

Three undeniable favorites: ice cream, tulips and the Met. It was a perfect afternoon spent in my Upper East Side neighborhood.

My ladies' book club that travels from restaurant to restaurant. This particular evening we had Italian at the popular marketplace Eataly at 5th and 23rd.

Annual Fleet Week. U.S. Navy ships dock along the Hudson and at Staten Island. The city is a flutter with handsome members of the Navy.

Central Park is one of my favorite places to be. My temptation for ice cream proved too strong on this afternoon walk home from work.

No lighting up in parks, beaches and pedestrian plazas, like Times Square! This past May, Mayor Bloomberg's sweeping ban on smoking became official.

Sunset drinks with dear friends Sarah and Cali at the Met rooftop. The panoramic view of Manhattan is one of the best.

More favorites to come...

Posted by Mel2010 05:44 Archived in USA Comments (1)

The Curtain was Calling Me

Winter in New York City means I was Broadway bound...

semi-overcast 50 °F

I’ve had a love affair with the stage since I was in grade school, so it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that week after week, I’ve emerged from the 42nd Street subway station to find the bright lights of Broadway welcoming me.

Over the last few months, I’ve been steadily adding to my already enormous Playbill collection. From Laura Linney’s drama, “Time Stands Still,” a love story framed around the war in Iraq to “Million Dollar Quartet,” about one musical night in 1956 that united Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash in a tiny Memphis studio, I’m trying to see, dare I say, them all.

I’ll admit, I’d make a horrendous theatre critic. I’m not capable of tearing into the talent that night after night creates magic on the stage. Even "Spiderman," which has been panned in seemingly every review, I enjoyed enough to find some redeeming qualities in the 65-million dollar production. Even though I got antsy when my watch hit three hours, the score didn’t resonate with me, and a few of the characters didn't seem to have a purpose, the costumes were superb, the set was creative and injury-prone acrobatics were impressive. Since I had the opportunity to see the troubled show in previews, when it re-opens (if it opens), I‘d like to see the new revamped version of this pricey production.

"Spiderman" is currently dark and slated to open early this Summer

“Lombardi” was a surprise treat one night when I snagged discounted tickets with my resident theatre buddy, Rocco. I’ve never seen so many straight men, together, for a boys’ night out at the theatre. But it makes perfect sense since the play was about the legendary Green Bay Packers’ coach. It was a perfect way to spend a chilly Saturday evening.

Dan Lauria (Remember him from Wonder Years?) and Judith Light with fellow "Lombardi" cast members

Obviously, Times Square, also known as "The Crossroads of the World," is also terrific for entertaining family and friends. During Laura’s visit, we took in not one, but two shows, and they couldn’t be more different. “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” was a comedic rock musical about America's seventh President while “Next to Normal” was an unconventional dark musical about bipolar disorder, death, drug abuse, divorce and suburban life.

"Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson" closed January 2011

During my mom’s visit, we were drawn to one of the more flamboyant shows about drag entertainers. Kelsey Grammer took the lead role in the revival of “La Cage aux Folles.” You may also remember the 1996 film adapted from the musical, starring Robin Williams and Nathan Lane.

With one of the colorful cast members of "La Cage" collecting cash for AIDS research through Broadway Cares.

I guess you can always depend on drag queens to entertain. “Priscilla Queen of the Desert” rocked too! My friend Rajat was more than a good sport to check out this elaborate production about a tricked-up tour bus packed with three road-tripping drag-show performers on a road trip of personal discovery. The show based on the 1994 Australian film really is one of my favorites because of the memorable and fun 1970s music, elaborate costumes and the performers with stunning muscles. My long-time idol Bette Midler is one of the producers behind this fun, heart-warming, crass production. In addition to a playbill, I have another souvenir from the show. A pink ping-pong ball! It took me straight back to the live ping-pong show I experienced in Thailand in 2010.

My most recent show was “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo” starring Robin Williams. In his Broadway debut, I thought Williams was terrific in this dark play about the chaos in Baghdad shortly after the invasion of Iraq. Days after walking out of the Richard Rodgers theatre, I was still thinking about the intensity of this production.

Exploring Times Square with Kimmy, my little sister through Big Brothers Big Sisters

Shows I’d still like to see? “Memphis,” “Book of Mormon” and “Sister Act.” Yet, I may not be able to squeeze them in right now. As a warm weather person, the theatre kept me cozy and entertained during my first true winter in five years. Now that the birds are chirping at 5am and the buds are just about to burst, rather than taking in the sights and sounds of the Great White Way, I’m ready to explore the parks and neighborhoods again.

Posted by Mel2010 12:46 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Remembering the Victims during New Zealand's 'Darkest Day'

Rescuers search through rubble after a 6.3 magnitude quake rocks Christchurch

It's New Zealand's worst natural disaster in 80 years. At least 75 people have been killed and hundreds are missing. Sarah, a friend and colleague in Sydney, tells me her family is safe but some friends are missing in this historic community.

A hazards expert at Geoscience Australia says the epicentre was 10 kilometres southeast of Christchurch, the country's second largest city. Last September, a 7.1 magnitude quake also rocked the same region in the northern part of the South Island, but no one was killed.

Prime Minister John Key has described the deadly earthquake as 'New Zealand's darkest day.'

Christchurch Cathedral in the heart of the charming city in 2010

Local photograph of the collapsed cathedral on February 21, 2011

Posted by Mel2010 17:30 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

A White Wonderland

Enjoying the beauty of yet another blast of winter...

snow 32 °F

Fifth Avenue just outside the Metropolitan of Art.

With all of the reports of Mother Nature repeatedly bombarding the Northeast with blasts of winter, perhaps you wondered if I’ve been buried in a snowbank. Understandable, considering how I normally complain incessantly about cold weather. Nope. For no good reason, I took a blog break.

Today, many New Yorkers seemed fed up.

"I'm so over it," said the young lady at the CVS cash register.

“Oh, it’s the worst winter in five years,” a colleague proclaimed with an exasperated tone.

I wouldn’t know. When I moved to Atlanta in 2005, I was overjoyed to donate my durable snow boots, pass along the can of car door lock de-icer and give away my collection of heavy-duty ice scrapers. I never imagined I’d be living in a cold climate again.

Aside from a few bitterly cold days this past weekend, I don’t think it’s been all that bad. I’ll admit to hibernating for a couple of days when the mercury dipped near zero, but today since the temperature climbed just above freezing, I bundled up for a speedy walk through my neighborhood park.

With or without the snow, the architecture along 82nd between 5th and Madison is pretty fabulous.

In comparison to upstate NY, snow in the city is minimal.

NY generally records 21 inches per winter. So far this year, 36 inches have fallen.

The snow fell for much of the day. During the morning, it was light fluffy snow and looked like cotton floating through the air. By the afternoon, the consistency changed. While walking home from school, teenage boys figured out it was ideal for snowball fights. It was also perfect packing snow for creating snowmen around the expansive park.

Perfect packing snow to make little men come to life.

Snow-covered Belvedere Castle towering above Central Park.

Instead of making snow angels I opted to wander the hills and check out the Great Lawn, Belvedere Castle and the grounds around the Met.

Maybe I’m able to see the beauty of the season, rather than the annoyance, because I’m not stranded at the airport or getting another jug of antifreeze for my vehicle. I spent a large chunk of my life chipping ice from my car after a fierce storm or driving to work at 4am before the snowplows were out. So I wonder, while New Yorkers are supposed to be tough, maybe there really is something to be said about Buffalonians being especially hardy. My positive attitude could also be because I’m not shoveling a sidewalk or driving through the boroughs. For me, the snow makes Manhattan more of a playground. I grew up spending hours outside making snow forts, sledding, skiing, snowmobiling and maybe I’m just channeling my inner child.

Paul Manship's 'Group of Bears' sculpture.

Along the side of the Met. Residential buildings are just across the street.

Now, as I’m wrapped in fleece and jotting down random thoughts about my one-hour trek around Central Park, I can hear ice pellets colliding with the windows and even thundersnow (a pretty rare weather event). There’s another weather emergency with 8-12 inches in the forecast tonight.

If we really do get this winter wallop overnight, and car services, cabs and subways aren’t running in the morning, with the fresh snow turning to yellow and brown slushy muck, I’m well aware my glass half-full sentiment may do an abrupt 180.

Posted by Mel2010 18:18 Archived in USA Comments (3)

The Most Populated City in America--Plus One.

I'm spreading the news about what I've been up to...

sunny 55 °F

It’s nice to be in a New York state of mind for longer than a three-day weekend or a few days while on assignment. I love that I don’t have to race in and out of town; weeks are now adding up to months and the calendar keeps flipping.

Manhattan is the most densely-populated of the five boroughs.

The view of Lady Liberty from the Staten Island ferry.

The flexibility means I'm a New Yorker who isn't racing around. Sound like an oxymoron? There’s so much to see and do—you couldn’t cram it into a lifetime, and yet, I’m not speeding to my next destination. Instead, I’m experiencing a different side of Manhattan, and some might say, a different side of me.

When you're constantly racing around Manhattan, this is what happens!

But don’t get the wrong idea! I’m not curled up on the couch watching TV. I'm far from ignoring the electric world around me.

I’m quick to hop on the subway, but if the weather is inviting, I let my feet take me around. Colleagues raise an eyebrow when they learn I’ve walked 30 blocks to reach a destination.

Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge during a Utica TV reunion weekend.

Kimmy visits Manhattan and admires the view from the top of the Marriott Marquis. She's been my "little" through Big Brothers Big Sisters for 10 years.

Exploring the High Line and Chelsea with Rocco.

A dinner on the UWS with friends from work. Momoe is visiting from Hong Kong.

Considering how much Manhattan has to offer, some also are intrigued that I’d leave what some believe is the best city in the world (and it is pretty fabulous) to hop on the train bound for Westchester or Connecticut. But friends and adventures have been waiting for me along the Hudson River and outside Greenwich.

Kayaking the Hudson River with Keri.

A Sunday afternoon perfect for polo in Connecticut.

Despite my occasional weekend excursions, I'm firmly planted in New York without any sort of travel itch--I can't recall the last time I said that! And with time on my side, now when it strikes my fancy, I’ll plop on a park bench and watch bikers, runners and parents with their prams pass by. I know I’ll be waking up in the city that never sleeps and I’ll be able to check out whatever show, exhibit or restaurant happens to pique my interest, tomorrow.

Rowboats near the Central Park Boathouse in the heart of the urban oasis.

Strolling along Fifth Avenue near Central Park on a warm fall day.

Posted by Mel2010 19:40 Archived in USA Comments (1)

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