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New York 2017 - Day 1

For Sarah’s 40th birthday, I took her to New York City. I arranged a dream of a vacation, shouldering all of the planning and arrangements. All she had to do was show up and enjoy it! BWAHAHAHAHA! Just kidding – Sarah did all the planning because I’m a terrible husband! Okay, I’m a moderately okay husband, but I’m terrible at planning travel. Had I’d arranged things, it would have been like, “Honey, we’re going to New York City! It’s going to cost forty grand and we’ll only be there for three days. Also, we have to drive. But hey, NYC!”

We left Ottawa in the late morning, connected through Pearson, and got to Laguardia in the early afternoon. (This may be news to no one, but Laguardia is a surprisingly ugly airport. I'm always amazed when major, modern American cities have run-down airports. See also: LAX.) Our hotel was The Belvedere, which had a totally excellent location in Hell's Kitchen a few blocks away from the theatre district. The hotel itself was a little worn, but who really cares because it was just place to sleep and keep our stuff, and Sarah got it for free on points. (My only really complaint about the hotel was the absence of free wifi, because introvert Dave needs his restorative internets at the end of a long day.) Before heading out to the city, we had a moment to reflect on the ease of travelling without kids. It's not just physically hauling kids around that wipes you out, it's the emotional drain of trying to keep them happy all the time. Now this goes without saying, but: we have great kids and I love them. That said, travelling without them has perks.

All checked in, we went walking. Our first stop was the Richard Rodgers Theatre where we took in the Hamilton marquee, then we went into the pop-up store across the road to pick up Hamilton swag. We got shirts for the kids, and also a shot glass for me (the non-drinker) because it had "I am not throwing away my shot" written on it and, seriously, how can you not buy that? After this, we had dinner a Shake Shack, which was a first for both of us. We hit it at the perfect time and missed any massive lines, and we had a burger and a shake each. I forget the shake flavours we had, but I remember that mine tasted like cold, liquefied butter. (Delicious, sure, but still...)

Next, Sarah led us to the TKTS booth in Times Square where theaters release their unsold tickets at discounted prices. We wanted to see either Beautiful or Anastasia, and Anastasia had the better seats that evening so we went with that. I wasn't super-jazzed about the idea of seeing it (and I was even less enthused about Beautiful for that matter, which we'll get to later), but in an attempt to make up for my other husbandly shortcomings and in recognition of the fact that this
was a trip to celebrate Sarah's birthday, I kept my trap shut. In the end: the play was great! It's based on the Anastasia animated movie from the late 90s, with the main difference being that the villain was switched from a ludicrous, undead Rasputin to an over-zealous communist officer (wise choice, that). All the leads were great. Stand-out performer was probably Caroline O'Connor who played Countess Lily, lady in waiting to Dowager Empress (who, worth noting, was played by Grams from Dawson's Creek.) Also stand-out: the arms on the dude who played Dmitry. Apparently peasants of the Russian Revolution did a lot of crossfit. I didn't find the songs themselves especially memorable. Which is not to say they weren't good, I just couldn't remember a note of them after the show was over. (Excepting that "Have you heard, there's a rumour in St. Petersburg" business that Sarah has been singing at me for years.) Still a great show, and great seats, and I'm happy my trap remained shut.

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