24 April 2008

If It's Thursday, It Must Be Boston

When it turned out that I would be going on my East Coast adventure by myself, I had the brilliant idea to contact a chum from EWS who has recently returned to the States after living in Eastern Europe for a few years.

Now living and work in suburban Mass, she had not yet experienced the frolicking adventure that is the Boston Duck Tour. So naturally, we had to try it!

After a tricky moment with her Charlie Card in the ticket machine, we were on the T "riding (not forever) 'neath the streets of Boston" and emerging at the Prudential Center.

What a great idea to connect several office buildings and hotels with an indoor arcade cum shopping mall! We purchased our Duck Tour tickets, had lunch, found a nice clean ladies room and did it all in air-conditioned comfort. I'm sure the climate control is even more appreciated in the winter! They even had a Catholic Chapel!! In a mall!!

It was quite windy at the Duck Stop, but we had a nice conversation with a young couple from England. They had just arrived from a stop in Canada where they had been impressed with the amount of snow. Apparently, no one piles on the snow like a Canadian, or something like that...

Our Duck Captain, Captain Kidding, wasn't super-duper funny, but he was amusing enough. Probably the highlight for me was crossing the finish line of the Boston Marathon. I know, I was on a Duck, but still, I have the photo to prove it! Bet you can't say that!

Speaking of being on a Duck, that is really what the vehicles are called. They are WWII amphibious landing craft to be precise. But it is just easier to call them Ducks. The second most fun part of the tour was going in and out of the Charles River.

After retrieving the car, we drove through the Big Dig tunnels and then got lost on the Tobin Bridge. No worries, just a short tour of Chelsea and Sommerville and then we were back on the right highway again.

After a brief tour of my friend's home and office, we headed to Lawrence for a nice dinner in an old factory. There are many old factories and mills along the river. it is nice that some of them have been reclaimed and re-purposed. Plus the food was pretty darn good! I think the place was called Salvatore's. My friend definitely plans to try it again.

We were both pretty tired after our day in Boston and decided to turn in early. I was staying in her daughter's room, with a bed under the eaves. I love that stuff!

Tomorrow, a bit of sightseeing and then back to New York on the ACELA.

19 April 2008

Wednesday In The Theatre With George and Dot

I must say that the current production of Sunday In The Park With George in New York is fabulous. I laughed, I cried, I had an excellent time.

I could tell that there were people who had never seen this show and were not familiar with either the story or, in fact, with Seurat himself. So I am not sure that anyone enjoyed it half as well as I.

But that is not important.

Because April is "Broadway Cares" month, at the end of the performance, the actor portraying George, Daniel Evans, announced that, not only would they be collecting cash, but they would also be selling signed playbills and posters and the sketches he does during Act I. YAY! I know what my souvenirs from this trip will be!

I purchased a playbill and a sketch - of the two dogs.

As I left, I noticed that the leading lady, Jenna Russell, was still collecting at the door. I stopped briefly to tell her how much I had enjoyed the show and her performance. I was nearly in tears I had liked it so much. She was geniuinely pleased at the compliment and thanked me profusely for coming and for stopping to say so.

I think if she had known that I had flown there from LA, she may have been doubly impressed.

Still humming as I left the theatre, I made my way to the subway and returned to the hotel. Exiting at Grand Central, I decided to buy dinner at the Grand Central Market. I purchased asparagus, my favourite thing, cheese, bread, sliced turkey and some fresh fruit. I was feeling slightly sleepy and there was a Starbucks right there so I had to imbibe again! I returned to my room, kicked off my shoes and had an excellent picnic while watching shows I had transferred from my Tivo to my laptop. Probably not the most exciting night, but I had really had no sleep the night before.

About 8:30pm, I was in bed and trying to get some sleep before having to get up at 4:15 to catch the morning train to Boston. At 10:30, I was up again because the gentleman speaking Japanese on his cell phone right outside my door made it a bit difficult to sleep. Plus I was awfully warm. So I turned on the AC and opened the window. About midnight, my phone rang. I had turned on the sound so I could use the alarm. The person who called had no idea that I was not in California and at least they left a message so I knew it was somewhat important. At 2am, I woke up freezing and got up to close the window and turn off the AC. That was really my complaint about the hotel - it was very difficult to control the temperature.

Anyway, my alarm went off on time, and I was up and packed and checking out at 5:20am right on time. There was a cab waiting and I was at Penn Station by 5:50 which was plenty of time for my 6:20 train.

I was taking the ACELA express. I highly recommend this form of transit if you are ever in need of going from DC to NY or Boston or somewhere in between. It is all business-class and first-class service. It is the most eco-friendly. It is reasonably priced and highly civilized. It is also extremely reliable time-wise. We arrived at Boston South Station at 10:10am which I believe was pretty darn close to on-time.

My high school chum was waiting in the station and we were off on our Boston Adventure. More on that later...

Wednesday Afternoon on the Island Of Manhattan

The main purpose of this trip to New York was to see a production of my favourite musical "Sunday In The Park With George". The award-winning London production was moved lock, stock and barrel to New York for a limited run. With no guarantee that it would come to LA, I knew I had to go to New York so I bought tickets as soon as they went on sale. Of course, since then, the run has been extended twice, but I am still glad that I made my plans when I did.

I asked several people to see who might like to go with me, but it ended up being just me which proved to my advantage later but I was somewhat disappointed to have no one to share my wonderful theatre experience with.

I took the red-eye from LA on Tuesday night, arriving from JFK at my midtown hotel, The Tudor Hotel At The United Nations, at 7:30am. I had booked on Priceline and was quite impressed with the result.

You can read my review on www.tripadvisor.com. I am Grandduchess there as well as here.

I had a few errands to run after check-in - pick up some things from the store, go to the bank (I had gotten paid while in the air), get some breakfast and a cup of coffee.

The Tudor is in a great location for someone who is comfortable enough in New York to walk, take the subway, or ride the bus. If you have a phobia of such things, it may not be the hotel for you. There are crosstown busses stopping directly in front, Grand Central with its many train and subway offerings is just a few short blocks. There are many shops, eateries, and services within easy walking distance.

My first stop was the nearest Starbucks. Not always my first coffee choice in New York, but as I was running on empty sleep-wise, I needed the nearest caffeine fix and Starbucks was on the corner opposite the hotel.

After Starbucks, the bank was my next destination. I knew there were WAMUs in the neighborhood, but couldn't remember exactly where. In my sleep-deprived state, I actually walked right past one, until I ended up at the WAMU Loan Center at Grand Central. The kind receptionist gave me directions to the branch I had passed.

My banking finished, I began to feel rather peckish. I went to the store and picked up the items I needed for the hotel room, but couldn't decide what I wanted for breakfast. I decided to head back to the hotel.

I arrived at the hotel, left everything in my room and prepared to spend the day on the town. Heading downstairs, I realized that I had missed breakfast in the hotel and would definitely have to forage. But this being New York, a bagel shop was just the other side of that first Starbucks, so I headed there for a bagel and a shmear which I think is a pretty good New York breakfast.

After breakfast, I made my way to Grand Central where I caught the 7 train to Times Square and then the C train uptown to the theatre. I arrived pretty early, but I wanted to see where the theatre was before having lunch.

I decided to head to my favourite little lunch place - Europe Cafe which is at 57th & 7th (I could have taken the subway directly there if I hadn't wanted to check out the theatre first). I had a lovely lunch and walked back in time for the lobby doors to open.

I waited in line with other hardy theatre-goers for the house doors to open and admit us.

I really enjoyed hearing the stories of the two couples in front of me in line who had seen every play that had had every big star imaginable (Liz Taylor, Mary Martin, etc.). I am sure they were amused by my story of having flown in from the coast to see this play.

As the lights went down, I knew I was going to be in for a wonderful experience. I was not disappointed...

10 April 2008


Today I joined Twitter. I have a friend who is on all my social networking sites and he is on Twitter. Plus I am always hearing Bob Boilen on NPR talk about Twitter so I decided to go ahead and sign up.

The best part is that I was able to add a banner to my blog so that my updates will post here and, Gentle Readers, you will be able to know what I am up to even if I am less than diligent about blogging.

Tres chouette!