Day 01: Blowing a fuse, tea and the Piano Man

After a great night sleep, we both slept like the dead, day 01 of our trip got underway. Before we went to bed last night I blew a fuse in the hotel room, literally.  All the lights ion our room were out.  Engineering fixed it pretty quickly, but I fried a cord and so we headed out to find a replacement. We left our hotel and got a SIM card sorted out for our phone and then walked to 5th Avenue to call in on Best Buy for a cord. Cord and sim in hand, we head to Grand Central for some Granola for our room and some breakfast.

The air is cool and the sun is beaming overhead as we wend our way through the crowded streets. Traffic streams down the streets as we wander along 43rd towards the iconic Grand Central terminal. The skyline is dotted with well renowned buildings, the Empire State, the Chrysler Building, The Bryant Park Hotel.  At street level the New York Library looms large, the dazzling sun reflecting off the glass towers opposite bathing the library in a series of bright sports.  The cold of Autumn has robbed the trees bounding the library of their leaves and they stand like skeletons as they reach for the sun.  They’ll stand idle for four months before the sun breathes life into them again.

We duck into Urbanspace for some brunch.  Urbanspace is a warehouse style food court, with anything from lobster rolls, tacos and sushi to burgers, pizza and shakes. The space is buzzing with people as we search for something to eat. I settle on a spicy chicken taco and Mardi has a Margarita pizza. We manage to secure a seat, its tight as we rub shoulders with people next to us, two friends chatting about work at their office. A group on our right talk about the food hall and how busy it is.  We enjoy the space, the throng of the crowd and the yummy food. We chat about a food tour we did to this space a few years ago and plan the rest of the day.

We leave and walk along 42nd street back to our hotel.

We have a short break and I check our charging devices, the new cord does the trick and we can charge everything we need.

We then head down town, in search of our favourite place in the city, Boise Tea Parlour. It has moved from its original location, so search is the operative word, we knew its old location very well. We decide to go to the old location to see if anything has moved into the space, more out of curiosity than anything. The shop is empty, brown paper covers the windows.

We wander back to Bleecker St,  pop into David’s Tea for some gifts and then map our way to the new location for Boise, a ten minute walk. We find the new store easily, its on a wide avenue in an old building.  We enter the space.  It’s bigger than before, more commercial, but maintains the charm and comfort of the original space. Jessica greets us, remembers us and we exchange hugs.  We chat about our trip and the new location.  Painted brick walls, wooden tables and chairs, an original tin ceiling and elegant lights adorn the space.  The same music plays, an eclectic style of jazz, blues and soft classical. A refined menu, but the tea service, our favourite, has changed, with a new and interesting selection of sandwiches and other sweet delights.

We order and sit back and take in the space for the next couple of hours. Couples and groups chat, the staff buzz about and like us, other regulars visit.  The new space is a hit and everyone is in a good mood.During our stay we chat it’s Jessica and explore the expanded menu, which now offers dinner and lunch. We might try dinner there one day, but it will remain our afternoon space I think.

We eventually drag ourselves away and bid farewell to Jessica, promising to return.

We catch the F train back to Bryant Park after a short walk along west Houston Street. The sun is setting and a beautiful pink sky is in the distance.  Mardi points out the Chrysler Building in the distance.  We are some 30 blocks downtown from it, but looking back up Broadway it looms large over the busy street as day starts to turn into night.  We board the train and within minutes are back at Midtown.

We take a break for an hour or so before heading to Madison Square Garden.  Bill Joel is on tonight and as we enter the venue security is tight as a stream of 20,000 people pile into this famous venue. As we walk along the long curving walkways, one of the original untouched since 1968, posters of the day adorn the walls.

We make it to our seats and settle in for a good night out with one of our generation’s great song writers. We crowd watch for a while: people taking photos, chatting, buying popcorn, searching for their seats, some determined for their seat, others look a little lost. At around 8.30 the lights go down and the show starts with a bang. “We Didn’t Start the Fire” is the opening track with the video screens showing images of each person/event mentioned in the song:

“Harry Truman, Doris Day, Red China, Johnnie Ray

South Pacific, Walter Winchell, Joe DiMaggio

Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Studebaker, television

North Korea, South Korea, Marilyn Monroe”

Bily Joel

For the next two and half hours he belts out 24 more songs, a veritable greatest hits show.  A full seat list is here:

During the show we both notice stream of people walking around, up and down aisles, seemingly uninterested in the performance happening right in front of them. The couple next to me are huddled around two phones chatting to each other and the lady on Mardi’s right is seemingly reading a blog fo some type.  She stops every now and then and takes a photo, barely looking up, and gets back to her blog reading!

A lady in front of me stands for most of the show filming it on her iPhone. A group of five people in front of us are up at least five times to go out and get a drink or something to eat.They sure aren’t watching the show!

Have we become so distracted as humans that sitting for a couple of hours enjoying a performance is now impossible for us? We have a need to share instantly with others, refuse to disconnect for a couple of hours, or simply cant sit still.  That’s aside, we have a ball, stand for the entire encore and sing and clap along despite the unrest around us.

As the lights come up, we exit and walk down the never ending stair case, before being poured out onto 8th Avenue as the crowd dispersing in every direction.  We walk home, its about 13 blocks from 41st back to our hotel.  It’s cool, but otherwise a perfect evening.  There crowd thins as we venture up town, crossing from 8th, to 7th to Broadway as we zig zag uptown from 31st to 44th. We stop in at Starbucks for a late night hot chocolate and hot dog from a street corner.

Its after midnight when we get home and we sit for a while to unwind after a busy first day.

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