Sandra's Canada, Alaska and North America Trip - 2019 travel blog

FAO Schwartz is ...... open!

Radio City Hall

From the stage


Overcast and damp view


A real mixed bag weather wise today - light showers, pouring rain and steamy sunshine. One could be excused for thinking we were in Melbourne except that the temperature was, at least, 24 degrees.

The weather, however, didn’t stop us from going out but did hamper our plans a little.... I’ll explain.

With umbrellas up and some light rain falling, Cheryl and I walked the short distance to the train stop. Once there, I realised I had left my phone back in the room so had to dash back to collect it. I needed it because it has my New York Pass on it.

Our first planned activity was the ‘Top of the Rock’ - a city observation area on the 67th and 70th floors of the Rockefeller Building. We were there a bit before 9 but when we went to get our tickets we were told that, due to the cloud and rain, there was 0% visibility at the top. We opted not to waste our tickets so decided to do something else and try again later in the day.

Next stop was just around the corner at the FAO Schwartz Toy shop which had live band music playing to herald its 9am opening. I went straight to the Barbie area to find something for Sophie (sshhh... don’t tell her!)

The Radio City Music Hall was next on the list... only a short block away. We wanted to book for the 9.30 tour but it was already full so we put our names down for the 10 o’clock one. (This was covered by the NY Pass).

With a gap of 35 minutes and not wanting to waste time, we decided to walk to Carnegie Hall... about 7 blocks away... to book a behind-the-scenes tour. So off we went... in quite heavy rain. 15 minutes later (around 9.45) we, sweatily, arrived to be told that they didn’t open until 11! So back we raced to Radio City for the tour there. It was great!

We were shown all over the building - on the stage, in numerous corridors, practise rooms, a costume storeroom, various lounges, the huge seating area etc etc. The guide gave us lots of information about the history of the theatre from its origin in 1932, its huge renovation in 1999 and its current use as an important theatre and concert hall.

One important use of the Hall are the yearly Christmas shows that run from November until the start of January. The stars of these shows are the fabulous Rockettes - the high kicking dancers who are a Radio City institution. Part of our tour included a short information session with one of the current Rockettes. She told us how competitive it was to become a Rockette, that there is a strict height restriction (they must be between 5’ 6” and 5’ 10” and that even current Rockettes need to audition to be part of the following year’s Christmas show.

The tour lasted just over an hour and was very interesting. Once it was finished, the skies had cleared a little so we hightailed it back to Top of the Rock. Visibility wasn’t 100% but much better than earlier. We zoomed up the first 67 floors in 42 seconds! (In an elevator - not by the stairs!) There is a large internal and a smaller external viewing area on this floor. An escalator is used to access the 70th floor. The views were OK but would have been even nicer, had the weather been kinder.

By the time we had a good walk around, visited the inevitable gift shop and found our way out to graound level, the rain still pouring down! Undaunted, we walked all the way back to Carnegie Hall.

There were dripping, dangerous umbrella wielding people everywhere- along with impatient tooting drivers. Street vendors who had, just the other day, been selling hats and caps were now selling umbrellas. We, finally, squelched our way into the foyer of Carnegie Hall to be confronted by a sign saying that all today’s tour had been cancelled! Bugger!! Bugger!! Bugger!!

We decided it was time to sit down, have lunch and reconsider our plans for the day. We had intended to visit the Empire State Building but decided to abandon that for today - it’s views would have been quite dismal and a waste of our ticket.

Cheryl wanted to see the Intrepid Museum (huge aircraft carrier also incorporating amongst other things lots of aircraft, the space shuttle Enterprise and Growler, a submarine). This was quite a long walk but off we set. It took us about half an hour to reach and, despite having umbrellas, we were quite sodden by the time we arrived. It was also rather warm and steamy. The areas that were air conditioned were a nice respite.

We walked around - both inside and out - for quite a while looking at the various exhibits. The place was much quieter than usual because of the weather.

Once finished looking and as we started to walk the gazillion blocks to the closest train station, the rain stopped and the sun started peeking its head out - making it very warm indeed.

I can say that the train system here is very good and, once we reached the station, we snaffled a seat and were soon on an air conditioned train making our way back ‘home’. As people were staring to finish work for the day, the train soon became quite crowded but we were contentedly seated. With just one change of train and a short walk, we were back at our hotel in around 30 minutes.

The hotel room now resembles a Chinese laundry as we dry our damp clothes, sodden shoes and wet backpacks. Umbrellas are drying in the bathroom.

We are in for the evening now...

Tomorrow we are booked to go on a two and a half walk over the Brooklyn Bridge. I will make sure to wear a rain poncho! Wish us luck with that activity!

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