Circling Eyjafjallajokul - Late Summer 2010 travel blog

Algonquin Hotel

naked cowboy


Times Square

wedding group

It would be easy to run out of money long before we would run out of things to do in NYC. Like London, this world class city has so much to offer, deciding how to spend our time here can be a challenge.

The first event today was a jazz brunch at the Algonquin Hotel, famous for the round table where Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, and other noted wits met daily to discuss their writing, make pithy comments, and get plastered. The performance space was opulent and intimate, with dark wood paneled walls and an audience of about 100. I have been reading The New Yorker for over forty years and local names and places lie deeply buried in my mind, to be retrieved on those lucky times when we find ourselves here. I vaguely remembered the name Barbara Carroll - she was the featured jazz pianist today. But I wasn't totally sure that she was a big deal until Tony Bennett walked in to attend the performance along with us. New Yorkers are used to seeing famous folks so no one jumped up to take his picture or get his autograph, but there was no question it was Tony. After a meal which reminded us of the cruise food we so recently enjoyed, Barbara and a bass player began a spontaneous improvising performance, floating effortlessly from one song to another, trading the lead and impressing inadequate musicians like me, who rely totally on sheet music to make their way from one end of a tune to another.

Then we headed two blocks away to attend a matinee theater performance, closely followed by an evening performance at a theater two more blocks away. Words are inadequate to describe Broadway shows. We love the theater in Chicago, but here the level of musicality, creativity, and innovation just knock our socks off. Theaters are fairly small, which makes us feel like the actors are performing just for us. And it's so nice to be staying near Times Square where many of the theaters are as well as the half price ticket place which makes attending two shows a day almost affordable and oh so convenient.

Times Square itself is an attraction worthy of multiple visits during day light and at night. The streets there are closed to traffic now and tables and chairs encourage lingering. Bleachers have been erected at one end so you can people watch and enjoy the lights and neon. Many new electronic signs have been added since we were here last and one especially popular one contains a camera that projects images of the people walking by below. People stop and wave and squeal with delight when they see themselves hundreds of feet above. It's hard to walk along without getting in someone else's photo. Even a bridal party came here to document their special day in this special spot. And the Naked Cowboy is still here. It's hard to believe that he has made a living here all these years, encouraging admiring ladies to take a photo with him, with his guitar strategically placed over his privates. It feels like this is a meeting spot for people from all over the world.

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