Monday, June 15, 2015

New York, New York - Day 4 - SoHo, Little Italy, Chinatown, Harlem and Beautiful The Musical

On Day 4 of our New York trip, we started the day with breakfast at Bouchon in the Rockefeller Centre again, and sat inside so that we could watch the goings on at the Today show, filmed right next door.

We then set off for the first of our Free by Foot tours - Soho, Little Italy and Chinatown, led by Lori.

Lori told us a lot about the architecture of SoHo (South of Houston) as we walked on through - here is a sampling of the buildings that we discussed:

For Sex and the City fans, Lori pointed out the Louis K Meisel Gallery, where Charlotte worked:

And for fans of the cronut, she pointed out Dominique Ansel Bakery, where people apparently still line up for over an hour in the early morning for cronuts:

The Dr Seuss fan in me was delighted to find Mulberry Street:

We moved on to Chinatown, which was an experience in exotic sights, sounds and chaos:

I was a little disturbed by the number of basement hatches left open and unfenced in the bustling Chinatown area - you have to pay attention to where you are walking to avoid serious injury.

The lamp posts in Chinatown bear this symbol:

I don't know its significance, but I have seen it hanging in the cars of Chinese friends.

We also saw the very small area which is Little Italy:

Lori pointed out some restaurants of significance in Little Italy, including where the Real Housewives of somewhere eat, but she said it's mainly a tourist trap these days.

We then continued walking until we reached Columbus Park, where Chinese locals play chess and mahjong and traditional Chinese instruments, and generally socialise, which according to Lori even happens in the snow:

After this tour ended, we boarded the subway bound for Harlem, where we were doing another walking tour (and incidentally, it was Malcolm X's birthday, so there were celebrations going on in Harlem).  We stopped for lunch at Hong Kong Chinese Food in Harlem, where the $6.50 lunch special bought me a rather delicious chicken and broccoli with a free can of soft drink (the alternative was a free egg roll!):

Our Free by Foot tour of Harlem, led by Derrick, started at The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, which has this very impressive mosaic in the entrance hall:

We had a brief look at the displays in the Schomburg centre before heading outside, where Derrick explained the significance of this striking mural on the Harlem Hospital Centre:

We continued walking, past this striking mural protesting against police treatment of black people: 

and stopped outside this traditional gospel church, where the Sunday service goes for around 4 hours: 


Derrick continued to lead us through the streets of Harlem, pointing out sites of significance.  I liked these gates which alluded to the days before cars:

We also saw rows and rows of brownstones:

We stopped at the Shrine Bar and Restaurant, a world music venue, for a refreshing drink:

I loved the interiors of the Shrine:

The ceiling and walls were lined with record sleeves, and there were also records on the walls:
After a brief respite from the heat, we continued our tour, and stopped at the New Amsterdam Musical Association, being the oldest Afro-American musical association in the United States:

Derrick completed our tour by leading us past more sites of significance in Harlem, old and new, including Red Rooster, the popular Marcus Samuelsson restaurant:
and the famous Apollo Theatre:

Our tour finished almost an hour later than we expected, so there was no rest for us - we raced back to our hotel and showered and changed for dinner before our theatre visit that evening.

We had dinner at the Brooklyn Diner, squarely in the theatre district and just across the road from our theatre engagement:

The staff at the Brooklyn Diner were very welcoming, and facilitated us having dinner within the half hour before our show began.
The ambience of the Brooklyn Diner is old school elegance:
Here's the dinner menu:
I started our meal with a carafe of Zinfandel:

while Tim opted for a pale ale:
For main, Tim ordered the bacon cheeseburger ($22.75):

 while I ordered the Cuban Chicken with saffron rice ($23.95):

Tim declared my dish to be the winner, and I have to agree that it was tasty.

After finishing dinner at lightning speed, we dashed across the road to the Stephen Sondheim Theatre for a performance of Beautiful, The Carole King Musical, which had been recommended to me by Alan from my cardio and fitness class: 

We both enjoyed the show, and were surprised at how many classic songs Carole King either wrote or co-wrote.  One of the most memorable experiences of my trip was the military precision by which the staff at the theatre directed the inevitable queue for the women's bathrooms at interval.  It was so efficient - the queue moved quickly, and there was no queue jumping - fabulous.

After I bought a Beautiful souvenir T-shirt, we headed back to our hotel, with the gorgeous fairy lights of  Rockefeller Plaza nearby:

112 Suffolk St
New York, NY
United States
Ph: +1 646 450 6831

Mott Street & Baxter Street
New York, NY
United States
527 Malcolm X Blvd
New York, NY 10037
United States
2271 Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard
New York, NY 10030
United States
Ph: +1 212 690 7807
155 W 43rd Street
New York, NY
United States
Ph: +1 212 977 1957
The Carole King Musical
Stephen Sondheim Theatre
124 W 43rd Street
New York, NY
United States
Ph: +1 212 239 6200



Beth said...

What a fantastic day! One of my favourite memories of New York City is the Gospel Tour my sister and I took of Harlem. Loved the church service and all the history of the area. Sounds like you enjoyed everything you did. Beautiful sounds like a lot of fun!

dedy oktavianus said...

wow, awesome trip on awesome places and having awesome meals, nothing else to ask for...
Dedy@Dentist Chef

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Ahh NY! It has been so many years. I've heard so much about Harlem's Red Rooster too. Hopefully one day I'll get to visit (it has been 20 years!).

Unknown said...

Your tours sound fantastic and I can't believe they were free! We've only been to NYC one time but I hope to go back and will definitely look for the free tours!

Kayte said...

You fit more into one day of touring around than anyone else I know...and that's saying a lot as I have some really die-hard true tourers in my life! Fun to see all the photos and read your comments, it always feels like I am right there with you. Brooklyn Diner prices are high! Probably because it is across from the theater, but still! I am enjoying all the photos and I am wondering just how many photos you took that I'm not getting to see because you can't post them all probably. I'm sure those missing photos are just as loss. That said, thankful for the ones you are posting so we can all live vicariously! :-)

Cakelaw said...

LOL - I would bore everyone to tears if I posted all of my photos. Also, sadly, there are some that I have no idea what they are, but must have seemed important at the time.

Kayte said...

Lol, well you would never bore me with all those photos!! I just love looking at travel photos. Do you have the feature on your camera or phone that lets you put in the setting that labels the location for the photos? I just discovered that on my iphone and it keeps me from forgetting where I was when I took certain photos, which is a good thing as I often forget! Thanks for sharing your trip, I always love your travel post so much!