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Of thee I sing

USA | Saturday, 2 July 2011 | Views [755]

Top of the Rock, NYC

Top of the Rock, NYC

The first place I headed this late morning was Rockefeller Center to do the “Top of the Rock” observation deck, located on floor 76. The sky was very blue when I woke up this morning, but from up that high there was a haze all around (or pollution). The views were still nice and seeing all of Central Park from that height was pretty unique. There were 3 levels to view the city from and the only slight disappointment was that you can't get a clear view of the Chrysler Building because it's right on the corner.

Then I walked around trying to find a place for lunch. I had written out locations from Let's Go New York online since I had left my book at home from my last NYC trip 4 years ago, but then the first 2 restaurants I tried were closed. I thought about trying to find another one but at this point I gave that up and stopped at the first restaurant I came across, which was Burger Heaven. It was like a diner so I just hopped on a stool at the counter to order my food. Don't worry, I didn't order an unhealthy greasy burger. I ordered the unhealthy fried chicken. But with steamed vegetables! (And also mashed potatoes with gravy). The food was actually very good, but they could have made the meal a little smaller. I was thirsty again today so I inhaled a glass of lemonade and also a glass of water. Then I headed back to Rockefeller Center because I wanted to do the NBC Studio tour. Unfortunately those were based on time slots, and the next available one I got was at 4:15, which was kind of annoying because that meant I had to find something quick to do for 2-3 hours and then return by 4. I walked through this open air market on Avenue of the Americas for 7 or so blocks and bought a smoothie. Then I decided to head back to Times Square and check out the Toys 'r us. The store is really more crowded than it deserves to be, even if it always has a couple of special toys. I think it's just more of the convenience of having all available toys grouped together in a big location.

I went back to my hotel to drop off my things and then back to Rockefeller for the NBC Studio tour. It was a group of 30 and we were guided by 2 NBC pages (Matt and Kyle) – a highly sought after job with many applicants. It seems like you need to have a certain personality type and be able to do some on-the-fly jokes to be able to do the job well. We started the tour with a short video on the owners of NBC, Universal and Comcast and then proceeded to a few sets. We kept having to jump into elevators to switch studios. Our first stop was Dr. Oz., who I've heard of but never watched. According to the page he was brought on Oprah during a ratings slump for 55 episodes and did so well that Oprah gave him his own show. Apparently he's some freak overachiever who went to Harvard for undegrad and then University of Pennsylvania where he got his joint MD/MBA degree in 4 years, he performed 250 heart surgeries in the span of 1 year, and he runs 5 miles every day. Impressive but not enough to make me hyped up over his studio. It was really small and they do some camera tricks to make it seem bigger, like rotating this inner circle where some audience members sit to make it seem like they're all different people in the camera. Then we went to the studio for Football Night in America, another small stage although slightly more interesting because of all the huge flat-panel tvs and we were actually able to get on set. This one football fan in my group got super-excited. Finally we stopped by Saturday Night Live, but the closest we got was viewing the set from a raised elevation up through glass windows. The stages are very small and there are only 3 total, but at least it was something I recognized. Finally we went to watch a video on Will Forte running to get his makeup done in 90 seconds during commercial break for the show, and then we went to a tiny makeshift newsroom where 2 volunteers got to read the teleprompter and weather in front of a green screen. Since I was only familiar with 1 of the shows I didn't really feel that it was worth my money. Everything was so hands off; we couldn't even sit in the audience seats. The NBC Experience souvenir store, however, was pretty cool. It's very funny the things they will make for the shows. I was very tempted to buy a real Dundie Award or a Bayside High Tigers t-shirt but restrained myself.

Then I made a quick stop at H&M since there was a big sale and there are no stores across any of the states in the middle of the U.S. Eh there wasn't anything that great. I got too lazy to make my Century 21 stop too. There's only so much you can squeeze in less than 2 days here and I had my show to catch. I went back to my hotel, ironed my dress that I carried in my luggage for 3 whole weeks just to wear one time, and then headed to the Al Hirschfeld Theatre in the Theater District to watch “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” I walked the whole way in my sandals, which is always a lot more uncomfortable. There's really no need to get really dressed up for Broadway shows since you will always see people in casual clothing in the audience, but I like to dress up anyway just so I can feel like I'm doing something important. Apparently that's also how people think you're not a tourist because I didn't have to walk far before I started getting questions on directions. I got to the theater with plenty of time to spare, and then went to the bathroom in the theater, and this was the first time I've ever seen a formal queue with velvet rope for the women's bathroom. I felt like I was lining up for the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland. Then when I was in my seat waiting for the show to start I checked into my flight using my Blackberry and upgraded to first class (yeah that's how I roll).

I really enjoyed the show. It was very funny and the song and dance numbers were crazy with the amounts of choreography and acrobatic moves. There was also a very energetic vibe in the audience that made you want to keep on cheering after every number. It put me in a good mood. And I had orchestra seats and the theater was small so I could see everything really well. Of course when Daniel Radcliffe appeared on stage the audience started screaming and then when John Larroquette appeared the audience went nuts. I used to watch Night Court reruns when I was a kid and loved John Larroquette on that show (so much so that I named one of my stuffed animals after him) so it was a real treat to watch him in all his hilarity (and at 63 years of age to boot) spring around on stage. And Daniel Radcliffe (a.k.a. Harry Potter) – the kid is talented. He can sing, he can dance, he can act, and he can fake a good American accent. I'm glad I was able to catch him starring in the show before he has to take a short break to do promotion for the final Harry Potter film.

When the show ended everyone rushed outside to catch the actors leaving the stage. John Larroquette and Daniel Radcliffe each had a separate SUV waiting for them right outside the theater. So there were huge crowds and frustrated police officers repeatedly telling people to get off the street and back on the sidewalk. I can't believe they have to do this every night. I couldn't get a good view from where I was standing so I jaywalked across the street. John Larroquette came out first and spent at least 15 minutes signing autographs before he hopped in his SUV. The only reason I could tell it was him is because he's 6'5” and I could see a scruff of gray hair above the car. Daniel Radcliffe came out last in a baseball cap and he was surrounded by 2 bodyguards so I did not get a good view of him. And yes, I was aware of the irony of lining up and dealing with a large crowd to see the actors leave the theater when I had just seen them on stage for 3 straight hours and with a great view.

I hadn't eaten dinner yet so I thought about walking around trying to find a good place, but it was past 11 p.m. and I was lazy so as I was walking back in the general direction of my hotel I passed by a 24-hour McDonald's. Yes, I went to eat at McDonald's in NYC, on my last night of vacation. But if you were dealing the insane crowds as I was walking you would have seen those golden arches as an oasis too. The lines to buy food were horrible, but when I went to sit down upstairs to eat it was very clean and not crowded, so that was nice. Then I walked back to my hotel and called it a night.

And that's the last full day of vacation! Tomorrow I am flying back to Texas. I can't believe it's almost over already but at the same time I feel like I've been traveling for a long time. London feels like ages ago, and I remember when I hit the halfway point of vacation when I was in Iceland, but that meant I still had a full week in Reykjavik. Then Boston and New York passed by quickly since they were only 5 days combined. I still feel great. Let's see how I feel once I am back home.

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