There is a line in some movie or TV show (please someone help me out here) about living in the state of California. It says that the great thing about living there is that you can go surfing in the morning and then skiing in the afternoon. Now, whilst I would not say New York City is able to both of activities in their natural habitats, I have to say this has been one of the most varied days I have spent here.
We start off at Rockefeller Plaza. This is one of THE iconic areas in terms of film and TV. You have the likes everything from Saturday Night Live to 30 Rock, Futurama and Project Runway that have used this setting. Aside from the fact that I knew it was built by the wealthy (as in makes Scrooge McDuck look like a pauper) Rockefeller family, I knew nothing about this place.
Enter the first activity of the day: a 70 minute tour looking at the art and architecture of Rockefeller Plaza. Usually I don’t go in for these things, but I figured it would be s nice way to learn a bit more.
All I can say is: do this tour. The guide was funny and so incredibly knowledgeable and the stories of this area are far more interesting that I would have expected. Little tidbits about the statues and murals just helped put the whole thing into a greater context. A definite must if you have an extra hour or so.
Now, this lead into the second activity of the day which was going to the top of 30 Rockefeller Plaza. Having done both this and the Empire State on previous trips I realise that the best way to do it is Empire State at night and 30 Rock in the daylight.
I mean, how else are you going to get such a great birds eye view of Central Park? Also, the contrast between the view at night and during the day are essential to a good trip to New York.
I have to say that we were incredibly fortunate in how clear the weather was. Truly , you could see for miles. It was actually enlightening to see what New Jersey looked like from up there. Not exactly the best looking from the sky, but I’m sure there are places that are beautiful.
After leaving this view behind (and breaking my heart in the process) we hopped on a subway to the American Museum of Natural History. Unlike the first wet day in New York there was not a queue that would have taken hours to go down, which is a result no matter how slice it.
Still, in that time we managed to see most of the big attractions including the Blue Whale, the Easter Island head, that massive sequoia slice and the gigantic meteorite on display near the minerals section.
One thing that I found particularly interesting when comparing this museum to the Natural History Museum back home is the extensive use of diorama. There were so many scenes set up to visually accompany the information, which isn’t something I am necessarily used to. Especially, the sections talking about indigenous peoples and their traditions.
Something we had to see was the exhibition on evolution. Having taught in a Catholic school and knowing all the creationist issues they have in the U.S. I was interested to see how this museum took on the battle. The fact that the entire room was about evolution and the only mention was of scientist saying that you can be a Christian and agree with evolution really warmed my heart.
An unsuccessful sweep through the gift shop and 40 blocks of walking later we managed to find ourselves a good spot for dinner. Since I did the itinerary for this trip I think I have been taking the finding of food places way too personally. Then again I know how I am when disappointed by food.
We effectively stumbled this Thai place called Yum Yum Too on the way back to the hotel. Figuring it would make for a nice punctuation to all the American cuisine we thought it was worth a go. Especially since they had a fixed price menu that was incredibly customisable and had a soup featuring a list ingredient
The food at Yum Yum Too was exactly what we were after. Tasty, filling and some of the more unusual tastes compared to the pancakes and hot dogs we had been having. The pork with garlic and black pepper sauce was fantastic and worked well after the spotting galangal and coconut soup.
Now the final activity of the day was something that hub was really desperate to do because he listens to a lot of comedy podcasts. He wanted to see an improv show at one of the Upright Citizens Brigade theatres. Honestly I was skeptical after seeing some atrocious improv comedy at the Edinburgh Fringe festival, but I needn’t have worried. Sure, there were times where I was thinking ‘meh’ but then there would be bits where I was crying with laughter. It just depended on the group. I think it was Doctor Snakes that really made me giggle the most.
So there you go. Architectural tour, high rise view, Natural History museum, Thai food and an improv comedy night. That’s what I call a rich and varied day in New York (he says staying up to 1 am to write this with a finished slice of cheesecake gestating in his belly.)