Wednesday, July 15, 2015

NYC Part 1: Times Square, Rockefeller Plaza, Ballet at the Met, Fourth of July Fireworks

Our hotel was in midtown Manhattan, a close walk away from Times Square, Bryant Park, The Empire State Building, and many other New York City landmarks. Our first evening in New York after we arrived and checked into our place, we just wanted to relax. After supper we headed out for a walk and discovered just how close we were to everything. 

My first glimpse of New York City coming up from the subway station after leaving the airport was just like what I'd seen in TV and movies - tall buildings, yellow taxi cabs, crowds of people walking quickly on wide sidewalks. And Times Square is all that plus ads everywhere on billboards and flashing screens.

We went to the Disney Store in Times Square - a huge two-story store filled entirely with Disney merchandise, with Disney characters and quotes painted on the wall.
We also went to the M&M store which is one of the weirdest places I've ever been. It is four entire floors with walls and walls of candy dispensers filled with M&Ms in every color imaginable. I didn't even know they made M&Ms in so many colors. But the weirder part was all the M&M merchandise - shirts and stuffed animals and weird things you can't imagine anybody wanting an M&M logo on, like golf balls. It was a crazy cultural phenomenon. And it was packed with people checking it out.

We were pretty tired after travelling all day so we didn't do much else that first night. The next day we checked out Rockefeller Plaza. We saw Radio City Music Hall and the Observation Deck for the NBC Comcast Building ("Top of the Rock") from the outside. Rockefeller Plaza is Greek-themed. There is a big statue of Atlas carrying the world, and a huge fountain of Prometheus in the centre of the plaza, and above 30 Rock Zeus proclaims "Wisdom and Knowledge shall be the stability of they times."

We enjoyed this little oasis of palm trees and fountains. Then we went into the NBC store, which is just full of merchandise from all their shows. Then we went to the Lego store. 

This sign is made out of Lego men. 

This Lego sculpture is an imatation of/tribute to the famous Atlas sculpture in Rockefeller Plaza.

At the doorway to the Lego Store, Zeus proclaims, "Creativity and Imagination shall be the stability of thy times."
The Lego store had every type, size, and color of piece you could want and different size buckets people could fill for a price to build what they wanted. It had Lego sculptures everywhere including an impressive dragon coming out of the ceiling. 

Then we went to the Nintendo World store, which was two floors full of merchandise like shirts, Amiibos, stuffed animals, socks, mugs, books about Nintendo characters, and it also had art like this huge Donkey Kong sculpture by the stairs and some exhibits like an entire showcase of Legend of Zelda games and merchandise, and a showcase of all the different Gameboys/hand-held gaming systems over the generations. It was a cool store. 

That afternoon we went to Lincoln Center because we had tickets to see the American Ballet production of Cinderella at the Metropolitan Opera House. The Ballet has their own theatre in Lincoln Center but when there is no show at the Met they are able to perform there. 

The Met itself is a beautiful building. The theatre reminded me of the Golden Hall in Vienna . I loved the starburst chandeliers. Our seats were in the "mezzanine," the highest balcony but that was pretty cool because we could see down into the orchestra, and we could see the entire stage to appreciate the choreography. 

The ballet itself was amazing. (I snapped this sneaky photo when the dancers were taking their bows.) It was an interesting interpretation in which Cinderella's father was still alive but her stepmother was dead. The stepsisters were danced by two men and they were hilarious. The set and costumes were beautiful and the dancing and music were so moving. We loved it!

It was Fourth of July so that night we headed to Lower Manhattan to watch the fireworks over the East River.

On our way back to our hotel we saw the Empire State building and Macy's (the world's biggest store) lit up in red, white, and blue for the Fourth of July. It was a great first full day in NYC. 

Check out my packing tutorial for advice about packing for New York in the summer, and some general tips.

Check out the rest of our NYC trip:
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7

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