Why New York, you ask? Well, you see Hugh Jackman was winding up his sensational Broadway show “The Boy From Oz” and your editor had finally gotten tickets! ...so Jess, Jan (a very special guest) and I packed up and headed for the Great White Way. As research coordinator, Jess carried the camera, I carried the map and Jan could spot a restaurant a half mile away! So here’s what happened on those four days in New York..the way we saw it (except for Jan who spent the time looking for someplace to eat)!
Editor…(often referred to as Grandma) We traveled from Pittsburgh to Gotham City the old-fashioned way…by bus and from the bus to the hotel by cab (the long way). The cab driver seemed to forget the hotel was only two blocks from the depot but after riding around for a while we finally got there. The Hotel St. James is a very old and charming hotel but, at 11 p.m. on Labor Day, it was hidden behind bags of garbage piled 7 bags high and a block long. I got out and went in to check in while the cabbie brought in the bags…not! Jess had to bring in the bags while the cabbie stood there and steamed. Inside the lovely little lady behind the desk apologetically told me that “they” had forgotten to tell her we were coming late but she gave us a temporary room on the 12 th floor.
Jess…We got to the Port Authority around 9 that night. We had to wait awhile for someone to come and carry our luggage upstairs since the elevators were out and the escalator was the only other way to the main floor. We got it to the outside and into a cab who took the long route to the Hotel St. James.
The hotel was different then what we had expected so we were unsure
at first but the Taxi-guy went in and checked for us. Indeed it was the
Hotel St. James. We got our luggage out of the trunk and Grandma went
inside to situate the rooms. Mr. Taxi, as I shall call him from now on,
got impatient and asked if he was going to be paid and I told him that
my grandmother had the money so I couldn’t pay him. He got really
annoyed about it. He kept asking me why I didn’t carry money so
I took Jan inside to the lobby and sat her down and went to Grandma and
told her that Mr. Taxi was getting irritated. She couldn’t go yet.
Finally after I came in the second time she went out and paid him.
After a few reservation problems, I put the bags on the luggage rack and we went up to our room located on the 12th floor with a view of the street. It was a nice hotel, though some of the building was being renovated (the second floor and the back portion of the lobby). The elevator made noises as we went up and we were reminded of the scene in “Kate and Leopold”* where the elevator was on the fritz.
(* for more on Kate and Leopold, see bottom of the page)
Day 2 ...early
Editor…We were up early and rarin’ to go even before the hotel day staff were on board. It was off to Rockefeller Center in the rain. We went underground for coffee at Starbucks while most of New York seemed to be grabbing donuts and coffee at sidewalk stands and hustling down to the subway. Then it was back to the hotel to change rooms and off again to Central Park (our first “Kate & Leopold” site). The rain stopped so we were actually able to get a cab to 52 nd Street. We visited the Beatle memorial, took a carriage ride (like Kate & Leopold, of course) and went to the Tavern on the Green for lunch. Then it was back to the hotel to get ready for our “big night”!
Jess… On the second day, we once again reminded of Kate and Leopold when the elevator malfunctioned and the door to the floor closed before I could get though. It was an interesting experience but the problem was figured out.
We made our way to Central Park and walked around Strawberry Fields (at my request...a Beatle fan here). It’s really nice there. I took a lot of pictures of the Memorial mosaic. There was this little bird that came right up to us and watched us. He wanted some ice-cream that we had gotten from the local concession stand. I took several pictures of him as well (took a picture of a pigeon earlier…those things walk the streets right with you.)
We walked down the street a bit to find a carriage for a carriage ride though the Park. Our driver tried to be informative and pointed out the celebrity homes along the way, including the Dakota and told us that Yoko still lived there. The ride stopped where it began, the front of the Tavern on the Green. We decided since it was near noon we should eat at the Tavern so we could at least to say we did. We were taken to the outside dining area and we sat near the windows of the indoor part. It was decorated very nicely with Chinese lanterns. I ordered fish and chips as did Jan. I figure I should continue the Beatle-ish theme I had going for the day. Grandma got lobster salad, plus spinach and mushrooms for us all to share. We got our picture taken at the table and then left for the hotel passing the famous “Naked Cowboy” during the ride.
Day 2 ….later
Editor…Jess and I were so excited we couldn’t wait to get going. Jan just wanted to eat again. The Imperial Theater was just 2 blocks away but we left with plenty of time to spare. A long line had already formed so we got in it. But we found that the line was for hopefuls waiting to see if there were any cancellations at the box office. I was almost afraid to let on that I had a spare ticket but the gentleman just ahead in the line became a very happy man when I told him.
We had seats in the 13 th row but carried opera glasses for that up close and personal look at the object of our affections. But when the curtain came up and the spotlight found him at the piano singing…it simply took our breath away. Even Jan sat there mesmerized, all thoughts of food gone! Hugh Jackman was onstage for the entire production and he projected an unbelievable energy and chemistry to an audience that he held in the palm of his hand. He was awesome!
Jess.. We wanted to get down to the show around seven just in case Hugh Jackman came out and chatted with the fans. There was already a long line for people waiting for cancellations when we arrived, which didn’t surprise me as the show had been sold out for weeks. Once inside we waited some more. We got good seats (in my opinion) where we could see the stage very well, especially with the opera glasses we got in case we were further away then we thought.
The musical “The Boy from Oz” was fantastic. If it was
still around I would tell everyone they have to see it but the show closed
that Sunday because Hugh had other engagements he had to attend to.
One of the best parts of the musical was that he got the audience involved. There was a guy who had come in late named Jason who he talked to though out the whole thing. He was a helicopter pilot for the US military and had 10 day leave so he came to see his girlfriend and take her to see Boy from OZ. They had been dating for 8 months (six of which he spent in Iraq).
Hugh Jackman proved more than before that he is a great actor. He plays various parts (He went from Gabriel Van Helsing a monster hunter to Peter Allen, a bi-sexual entertainer [who was a wonderful musician by the way] to playing Wolverine) and yet plays them all very well. Again, if it hadn’t closed Sunday I would insist everyone see it.
Editor….Guess What? It was raining again and 12 blocks to the Empire State Building. I had gotten up early and brought back breakfast from the deli and when we finally went downstairs, a very nice man from the hotel staff hailed us a cab. But the weather had the last laugh and it was zero visibility from the observation deck. So we just had our pictures taken and went back down to earth to view New York at ground level. Unfortunately we had to walk back.
Jess… Wednesday was the day we continued our New York cab education. We found that it is almost impossible to find an empty cab on a rainy day...at least it was for us. Apparently there were quite a few who managed to find one. However, a nice man who worked in our hotel helped us grab a cab.
It was also the day we went to the Empire State Building and almost got lost. It's a lot larger then I imagined it. We had someone help us around. We had to go into the basement and get tickets before going on the elevators going up to the top floor. It took two elevator trips to get there due to the height of the building. At the top floor there was a gift shop with windows to look out of. Since we didn't go outside due to rain (it rains a lot harder at higher altitudes then at lower it seems) and wind that is where we stood for awhile. I could literally see the air move. It was cool. Not much visibility but I didn't care. I had gone up to the top of the ESB.
We ended up walking home 12 blocks with a stop in Bryant Park.
Editor…Supper was take-out from the deli while we rested our tired feet. At 9.30 we went back to the theater. It was do-or-die time to get those autographs we wanted so badly. At the stage door, we asked if we could wait there until Hugh Jackman came out. Apparently the stage manager had a soft spot for little old ladies because I got a hug and a kiss and a promise that we would be the very first to talk to him. And we were! That gorgeous man came right over to us and….I couldn’t say a word. I just handed him the books to sign and prayed I wouldn’t faint.
Jess… I have to say that that evening was one of the highs of my life. We walked down the street and to the back stage entrance to stand for autographs. Luckily we arrived before everyone so we got a front row standing position. After everyone arrived (and in drizzle no less) the group was on the road.
When Hugh finally arrived out of the door, I only managed to say “You’re great,” which wasn’t at all what I planned. I took pictures but they didn’t come out unfortunately. However I was on a natural high for the rest of the evening due to meeting a celebrity. I also managed to get the autograph of the actress who portrayed Judy Garland.
P.S. Hey, Jess..I found some pictures of him signing autographs..just the way he looked that night!
Day 4..our last day in New York…
Editor…The sun came out! We decided to try and find where they shot the scenes of the Brooklyn Bridge in K&L. But first we had to pack up for the noon checkout and leave our things in the care of the kind hotel staff. Then it was off to the Olive Garden near Times Square for a great lunch and to pick up our subway tickets. Has anyone ever counted all those steps up and down to the subway? Oh, well, the view from under the Bridge was well worth it. We had seen “The Boy From Oz” and followed Meg Ryan and Hugh Jackman as they played Kate and Leopold all over New York. We could go home happy!
Jess… Our last day in New York was spent with a morning packing session and then lunch at the Olive Garden. We then traveled to the Times Square Tourism center to get our metro-cards for the subway. On our way out I managed to forget my carry bag…. And returned to find it scrutinized by some officials. Needless to say, leaving a purse on the side of Times Square is not something you should do.
We then traveled on the subway (and got lost the first time) to the area around the Brooklyn Bridge to see where several plot areas in Kate and Leopold were located. We visited the wharf where Leopold drew the bridge and later took the dog for a walk for Stewart. We visited Pearl Street. It was interesting getting there, but it was worth it to end our trip there.
. About “Kate & Leopold”…..It was a movie released in 2001 about an ad executive and a Duke from time past who fell in love in New York City.. Some clips from the movie shot on location in New York with our guy Hugh and Meg Ryan….