Traveling to New York City from the Tampa Bay area is a two-hour plane ride! You can fly from SRQ, Tampa or Orlando. All airports offer non-stop flights to all the NYC area major airports. You can stay in Manhattan where hotel prices are higher but convenient to all the tourist attractions you will want to see especially if you are a first time visitor.
I used to stay in Manhattan often but now I stay outside the city and take the train in. It is less expensive and it is more like being part of the city and not just visiting. I usually have an agenda of things I want to do when I go, since I never stay more than 2-3 days. Believe me, you can do a lot in 2 days if you plan ahead!
The initial reason for this trip to NYC started with seeing rock band Queen with Adam Lambert at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. They say “Brooklyn is the new Manhattan” and by the looks of things around the Barclays Center I would say they are right, whoever they are. Stores, hotels and new restaurants surround the area as well as a subway station right at the entrance to take the crowds to and from Manhattan and surrounding boroughs. Barclays Center is the home to the Brooklyn Nets.
The show was the spectacle I thought it would be with big graphics, lights, robots and the BIG voice of Adam Lambert! Taking the audience through the catalog of Queen hits and honoring Freddie Mercury with utmost respect. Lambert is his own character, that no doubt Freddie would find appealing. Adam is bringing new young audiences to see and hear Queen’s music. Guitarist Brian May, who is one of the best at his craft, dazzles with his own guitar theatrics and brought a Go Pro out to put the audience on the big screen! Drummer, singer/songwriter Roger Taylor dedicated “Under Pressure” to David Bowie, which brought the New York audience to its feet and to tears for the Starman who was a New Yorker. The show ended with the classic rock anthem “We Will Rock You/We Are The Champions”!
I love theatre so when I go to NYC, I always try to see a Broadway show! This is not always easy to do if you want to see a popular show. Your best bet is to plan months ahead and buy tickets early or some of the shows offer online digital lotteries or rush tickets. You can get a cheap ticket if you are willing to get up early and go to the box office for a limited number of seats or there is always the TKTS booth in Times Square. I decided I wanted to see “Hello Dolly”. Since their big win at the Tony Awards, the show is sold out for months! You can purchase tickets through Internet ticket sites which will cost more. I bought a ticket in the balcony which is really the nosebleed section but you can see and hear everything just fine, if you don’t mind the height.
The Divine Ms. Bette Midler and actor David Hyde Pierce are incredible in this revival of the iconic play. Choregraphy and costuming are simply amazing! Bette is perfect as Dolly Levi, the New Yorker who is a jack of all trades, she will give you a card to prove it, which has the audience in stitches. Hyde Pierce is a perfect foil for Midler. His comedic timing and mime like movements make for an interesting and humorous character in Horace Vandergelder. A skilled supporting cast makes this an great night of theatre! If you want to take the time to wait at the stage door, the cast will make its way out and autograph your Playbill if your are lucky! This night, Bette did not come out to greet fans but Hyde Pierce and other cast members did.
On occasion, I have gotten up early and made the trek out to the morning shows such as Good Morning America located in Times Square and the Today Show which is in Rockefeller Center. This trip I decided to enter the digital contest to get a fan pass to the Today Show Concert Series. You can do this at the Today Show website. The concert was for pop band, “Fitz and the Trantrums”, who are a talented and fun band I saw open for Hall & Oates a couple of years ago. Unbelievably, I won passes to the show! It took a couple of trains to get there but I made it. I was put near the stage in a restricted area right next to the riser of photographers. I thought that was pretty funny!
It is a crazy NYC early morning scene with fans, police, people on their way to work and the traffic of the city surrounding the area famously called “The Plaza”. Carson Daly, Hoda and Savannah were hosting on this day. Matt and Al Roker were off. The crowd was in high gear with free swag from the Today Show – hats, sunglasses and signs with cameras swinging around and people yelling at their loved ones on TV! Fitz and the Tantrums performed several songs as the crowd sang and danced along including Hoda, who introduced them. As soon as it hits 9:00 a.m. and the band leaves the stage, the place clears out like a ghost town. I went to the bakery next door and sat down to a croissant and watched them break the stage down like no one had ever been there.
I took a train to Central Park, something I always do when I go to NYC. The park is a world of its own in the city that never sleeps. People doing things you see them doing every day in your own hometown, walking the dog, running, riding bikes, kids playing ball and mothers walking babies in strollers. New York is a city constantly changing and on the move and yet in ways, it is comfortably always the same every time I go there. The places I go to and the shows may change, but the heart and soul of New York is always there.
photos by Vicky Sullivan / Rock the Lens Photography