I signed up for the trip only a few days before, to see the Broadway musical "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying," at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre, starring Daniel Radcliffe and John Larroquette. I remember Larroquette from the TV series "Night Court." Fliers with the "Harry Potter" star in corporate attire were hanging around campus advertising the trip.
Saturday, March 19 arrived and I met the rest of the tour group early in the campus cafe. It wasn't long before we were on the bus heading for NYC's theatre district. Until that day, I had not been to NYC in well over a decade. Ready with my camera, I snapped photos of the Empire State Building upon first sight of it from the bus. Our view of Manhattan was from the opposite side of the Hudson and we passed the Newark Airport as we drew closer to our entrance into the city via the Lincoln Tunnel.
The bus followed a circular path from Weehawken, passing the town's charming library with its old-world architecture. I couldn't get a good photo of that, so I'll have to try next time. A billboard of relief efforts for the disaster in Japan was displayed just outside the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel, and directly over the entrances were some billboard ads for the Apple iPad.
Going through the Lincoln Tunnel, in a way, was an early moment of culture shock during the trip. I've been through the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel before. However, the traffic in the Lincoln Tunnel was much different, crawling slowly with numbers of tour buses. I don't remember how I crossed into NYC years ago, whether by bridge or tunnel. So the sight of the traffic squeezed together into two lanes toward the city just amazed me.
A staff member from campus who sat in the seat in front of my said to someone, "Can you imagine commuting into the city every day in this?"
I think part of my own amazement stemmed from being excited to visit NYC again after so long. Although I don't consider myself a city person, NYC is a place that I love for a day trip or even a weekend stay. There was still so much I hadn't seen there, and was about to see more of NYC's sites for the first time. Regarding the idea of being a city person, I would have said on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being city person, I was a four prior to this trip.
After exiting the Lincoln Tunnel the new addition of traffic emerging into NYC was greeted with signs directing vehicles with two options. Uptown / Theatre District, go to the left. Downtown / Madison Sq. Garden, go to the right. The Al Hirschfeld Theatre was only a few blocks, and many taxis, away now.
I continued snapping photos to capture moments of everyday life in New York City, as well as any objects that reflected the feel of being in the Big Apple. Images of taxis, the overflowing streets, signs of Broadway shows and NYC businesses were already filling up my camera's memory card. This sign warning of a hefty fine for honking also caught my attention. I had never seen a sign with this message anywhere else. Despite the warning, I did hear some honking all around.
Everything I had seen to this point built up my feelings of NYC fever. I couldn't wait to see where the day would take me, besides the one known place, the Al Hirschfeld.
As our group pulled p outside the theatre, I didn't know who I'd be exploring the city with. Not really wanting to wander NYC on my own, I randomly joined four other girls from the bus once my feet hit the pavement. I didn't know them and so far didn't have any classes with them. As a sort of "survival-in-the-city" instinctive measure, I made a mental note of what they were wearing. That way, I'd be able to spot them in the crowd of people we'd share the streets with. One girl in my group of five had on a royal blue t-shirt with the name of our college sports team and slogan on the back in white letters. So she would be easy to keep track of during our urban adventure.
We had some extra time on our hands, so the five of us started out in search of a place to grab some lunch. With my pocketbook draped over one should and my neck, the strap under my sweater, I followed the other girls' lead. Two of them seemed to know more about the city, which was a great help. As we walked on, I gripped my camera tightly, snapping some photos along the way. One of the other girls also captured some images on her compact camera.
"A Slice of New York" was our lunch spot of choice, where I decided to try a slice of baked ziti pizza. I never saw a pizza topped with baked ziti before, and wondered if it was a specialty that began in NYC. Either way, it was very good, reminding me of Julia Roberts in "Eat Pray Love," when she says, "I'm having a relationship with my pizza." My trip to NYC so far, including bus, theatre ticket and lunch, cost only $45...quite a bargain!
We made our way back to the Al Hirschfeld, snapping more photos as we went. Once there, a line going around the corner and nearly to the end of that block greeted us. A middle-aged couple joined the line behind us and I overheard the woman saying with a laugh, "They're all here to see the "Harry Potter" kid!"
The line moved quickly and we were inside the beautifully-detailed theatre before long. I bought a souvenir travel coffee mug with the musical's funny line about coffee going around it, then made my way to my seat. A theatre employee directed me where to go, the 2nd row from the top, 4th seat from the right. Near center, it was a prett good view of the stage and the show's backdrop detail. Further excitement built up in me as I awaited the start of the first Broadway show I'd see.