First up, check-in, drop off our bags and wander around our Times Square neighbourhood. We started walking down Broadway, with no real plan, when I looked down one street and saw a gorgeous Christmas tree at the end of the block. As we got closer, we realized it was the Holiday Market in Bryant Park.
As we were walking by one store, I noticed the style of one artist to be very familiar. I knew I had seen his work before, in London, two years earlier. We both went in, and sure enough, it was the same artist I had purchased from in Camden Market, in 2010. Ilia, has a detailed whimsical sketchy style that he then uses water colours on. I had previously bought a London scene, and this time had New York skyline in my sights. Belinda and I both liked a similar scene, and we purchased them. Ilia was a delight to speak with, as he personalized both our sketches and was willing to change frames and even make us hand sketched business cards, newyorkbyilia.etsy.com. Ilia was good entertainment, and I was thrilled to have purchased such a great souvenir of our trip.
Next stop, Balthazar's in Soho for lunch. Balthazar's is one of those places that always has a buzz about it, inside, and out. I have been there several times, and never seen it not mobbed to capacity, all humming along with organized mayhem. It's decorated in a style of what you think a French bistro would look like, with antiqued mirrors surrounding banquets along two walls, and cosy little nooks of small tables, but seldom does in a real French bistro. It's a fun place and the food is great, and a perfect place to find sanctuary in, as we escaped out of the drizzle outside. Sparkling wine accompanied our lunch, after all, this was our birthday trip. We both left there stuffed, and smiling.
Still had time to wander across the street to the MOMA gift store, and down Broadway to the Pearl River Mart Chinese emporium of all things Asian. It is always fun to wander along the creaky wooden floors there, and discover some treasure. By now, it was rush hour, and we thought we should at least attempt to hail a cab back to our hotel, and finally get into our room to freshen up before our evening with Al, that's Al Pacino in Glengarry Glen Ross, playing at the Schoenfeld theatre.
The theatre was a close three doors down from our hotel. Talk about an easy commute. Our seats were side orchestra — close enough to easily take in those wide eyed faces Al Pacino can make. I always enjoy going for star power when I see plays in New York, as we seldom get that in Toronto. We had so many good options to choose from on this trip, but both agreed on this production. Dare I say it was a little lack lustre. But what do I know, it got a standing ovation at curtain call. I found the first half draggy and the second much more perky.
Off to Joe Allen's for post theatre light dinner, and that was the end of our lovely first day on this birthday celebration adventure.