Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Big Apple

Grand Central Terminal

I went to NYC yesterday, to meet a friend who was coming from Pittsburgh. She's a fan of American Idol, I'm a fan of Monty Python, so we planned to see Clay Aiken as Brave Sir Robin in Monty Python's Spamalot.

I used to take the train to work in the city every day, but haven't been there for years. I was surprised at how crowded the train was on Saturday. I remember it as being pretty dead on Saturdays, especially that early (8am). Trains used to run every two hours, and mostly empty. But now the trains leave every hour, and are pretty full. Fuller than I remember the rush hour commuter trains being (though not as many people boarded along the way). Apparently, ridership has tripled as oil prices have risen. It's caused a bit of a problem, because so many of the newbie riders don't know how to read a train schedule, find the right track, or buy a ticket.

Parking is free at the station on Saturdays, and a lot of people take the train in for a day of shopping.

I met my friend at Grand Central, where we bought day passes that let you ride the subways and buses as much as you want. I think they were $7. We had originally hoped to tour Yankee Stadium before it's demolished. But the tour was sold out. Instead, we took the subway to Brooklyn to see the botanical garden there.

I saw some hybrid electric buses, though most were regular buses.

There were also a lot of pedicabs - bicycle taxis. A lot more than I remember, though not many people seemed to be using them.

The weather forecast for the day was awful. (One drawback with public transportation.) It was supposed to be very windy and rainy. But we lucked out. It was cloudy with occasional light rain, but nothing too bad. Cloudy days make for the best photography, so I didn't mind.

The Brooklyn Botanical Garden was gorgeous. I especially liked the Japanese garden.

All the trees were in bloom. Many different kinds of cherry blossoms, forests of magnolias in many sizes and colors. Here's a pink camellia:

Then it was time to head back to Manhattan for the play. We ate a quick Japanese bento lunch, then got in a truly immense line for Spamalot. I've been to a lot of Broadway plays, and some on the West End, too, and never been in a line like that. The only thing I can figure is that they only let people in through one door to force them to pass the counter where they were selling Clay Aiken merchandise. And a lot of people were stopping to look and buy, which is why the line was so slow.

The play was terrific. (I heard Clay didn't think it was funny when he first saw it. That boy ain't right.) We laughed so hard we cried. Particularly liked the "French taunting" scene.

After the play, we took a bus to the New York Public Library. My friend had just seen The Day After Tomorrow (a global warming disaster movie), and lot of the scenes were filmed at the library. Manhattan gets inundated with rising sea water, and some of the characters take refuse in the library. Chased up the stairs by a huge wave, of course.

One of the famous library lions:

It was a great day. We both had so much fun that we want to do it again. I'm under orders to keep my eyes peeled for other plays that might be interesting.

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