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Day 10 in NYC: Sat, 7/6 – (some) Brooklyn and Book of Mormon

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Yesterday was day 10 on the ground, 11 if you count the departure day which started as a red-eye flight. I was starting to feel the pace. Self-imposed as it is – and unlikely to change – I realized in most recent trips about this time I would be winding down, but I still have a full week to go. I reviewed my plans and decided to just make a weekend out of it – take a vacation from vacation if you will – and back off a little. (Somehow I still managed to walk 8.2 miles though. How does that happen!?)

I got the blog up around 9am and took my time getting ready, being lazy getting caught up on Facebook, Reddit, etc, as I do any other morning when I’m home. I made my way out for breakfast around 10:30 and went back to The Franklin where I had gone earlier in the week. It’s really the only place within a reasonable walking distance (like 5 blocks) and was good so why not.

French toast with strawberries, blueberries and mascarpone butter, and a side of sausage
French toast with strawberries, blueberries and mascarpone butter, and a side of sausage

Since I was in a lazy Saturday mood, I decided to try their French Toast. I hardly ever get sweet stuff for breakfast because it usually messes with my blood sugar and throws me off for the rest of the day. This didn’t, maybe because I didn’t use that much syrup. And boy was it good – what got my attention was the mascarpone butter which I’d never seen before. I love mascarpone and wanted to try it; glad I’m did, the whole dish was wonderful. Some protein on the side via the sausage to balance out all that sweet. A great start to the day.

Originally I was going to roam Brooklyn and Queens today but scratched the Queens idea. I took the bus from Jersey City back over to Port Authority Bus Terminal. Took the 7 subway into Queens, then dropped into Brooklyn from the G line which seems to be pretty new. When I was planning this trip back in January, I’d made notes about the Greenpoint and Williamsburg areas of Brooklyn being worth seeing from travel articles I’d read and that’s where I was headed.

First stop was Greenpoint, which is the first neighborhood below Queens, with Williamsburg just below that.

older red brick church with lots of white trip
St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church – 160 years old

Greenpoint is a little grimy but not unsafe, definitely not touristy. Which works for me since the point of neighborhood hopping is to see where real people live. Lots of interesting shops up and down Manhattan Ave but not very photogenic.

Lite Bites restaurant from the outside
Lite Bites in Greenpoint

I’d walked around for awhile and realized I would need something light to eat before my 6:30 dinner reservations; it was about 2:30pm now. This seemed like just the ticket.

Inside of Lite Bites - counter/display/cashier on the right, 2 rows of 2 seat tables center and left
Sort of normal size
Roast turkey wrap, chips and a pickle
Roast turkey wrap, chips and a pickle

This was the smallest thing I could find on the menu but it was still a ton of food, and for only $7. I liked this place quite a bit – an amazing array of sandwiches, wraps, salads, all pretty healthy, very reasonably priced. I only ate half the wrap, the pickle, and a few of the chips. Had the rest bagged up and gave the leftovers to a homeless woman sitting on the subway steps when I got off in Williamsburg.

One of the reasons you go to Greenpoint is to get views of NYC from the eastern banks of the East River, so I headed to Transmitter Park to get just that.

A mural on a walk of a girl lieing on her back, like looking at the clouds. Maybe 80 x 20.
Mural in Transmitter Park

I love that she appears to be looking up at the clouds. I didn’t think to take a photo of it, but behind me was this little playground that included a wet section where water was spouting up in various places from the ground.

View of downtown NYC from a pier at Transmitter Park, Greenpoint, Brooklyn
View of downtown NYC from a pier at Transmitter Park, Greenpoint, Brooklyn
Williamsburg bridge from the pier at Transmitter Park
Williamsburg bridge from the pier at Transmitter Park
Midtown from a pier in Transmitter Park
Midtown from a pier in Transmitter Park
A bar on the river bank, at the end of the building the mural is on, which extends onto a barge on the water
A bar on the river bank which extends onto a barge on the water
A very modern mural covering a square building 4 stories high, no discernible design excetp for a yellos start bottom left. Other colors include lime green, purple, orange, sky blue. There's a deli at the right bottom corner.
I loved the colors in this

I got back on the G subway line and went a few more stops into Williamsburg. This was actually a huge area. I had a travel article that outlined things to see which also literally mapped it out for you, but everything was very spread out, it was hard to know where to focus. So in the end I just wandered quite a bit.

Corner cafe in Williamsburg
Corner cafe in Williamburg
Decorated street in Williamsburg
You’d have to look closely to see that garland crosses the street further down the block, too; this is to the left of the shot above
The opposite corner from the shot above, another sidewalk cafe
The opposite view from the shot above
Russian Orthodox Cathedral of the Transfiguration of Our Lord
Russian Orthodox Cathedral of the Transfiguration of Our Lord

That’s a mouthful. This is across the street from McCarren Park, which sits between Greenpoint and Williamsburg.

Soccer field with an 8 lane race track around it
Soccer field with an 8 lane race track around it

This is the first time since I’ve been here I’ve seen anything like this that I can recall. I call it a soccer field only because that’s what was being played in this moment, I’m sure it can have many uses. There were a fair number of people using the track for their jog, although you can’t tell that from this photo. It was warm – about 82 degrees – and humidity was pretty bad all day. Good for them; running is definitely not my thing.

I started making my way back to Manhattan around 5:30pm, going back exactly the way I came, getting off at 42nd St. The restaurant was on 44th between 8th and 9th Ave.

Gyu-Kaku restaurant entrance
Gyu-Kaku restaurant entrance

Although I didn’t realize it when I made the reservation, this was a Japanese BBQ place. Mostly I’d found it on Open Table as one of the few things that had pre-show time slots available, yet it had good ratings. And was crowded, lots of Asians which I figured was a good sign. I’ve been to Korean restaurants like this – with the grill in the middle of the table – but not Japanese. It was essentially the same, sans the great side dishes you get with Korean food. I just had a couple of different cuts of steak; everything was very tasty, however I neglected to take photos.

Book of Mormon marquee from the sidewalk
Book of Mormon marquee from the sidewalk

The purpose of my first trip to New York in 2011 was set by Jon: he wanted to see Priscilla, Queen of the Desert on Broadway and did I want to join him? I’d never been to NYC and had always wanted to go so why not. Looking back, I realize now it was the start of my travel bug.

We had planned for 5 nights. I’d suggested we see another show since we’ll have time; he said, great, your pick. I was randomly watching Jon Stewart one night and the guests were Trey Parker and Matt Stone – aka the South Park guys – talking about a musical they’d written that just opened called The Book of Mormon. It sounded interesting enough so I ran it by Jon and he said go for it. I think the tickets were like $125.

Six weeks later it won 9 Tony awards, including Best Musical.

We had like 8th row orchestra seats; Jon (somewhat jokingly, maybe somewhat not) suggested we sell the tickets, which by then were going for like $600 a piece. I’m glad we didn’t. It was my very first Broadway experience – Priscilla was 2 nights later – so it will always be special to me. And it was still original cast. Add to it that I practically lost consciousness a couple of times I was laughing so hard. I tend to enjoy anything that pokes fun at religion and this was Over the Top.

Book of Mormon stage with the Playbill snuck in bottom left
Book of Mormon stage

The story is about Mormon missionaries assigned to Uganda. Coming from the South Park folks, much of the language is pretty hardcore and I can appreciate why some people would be offended at the language and/or some of the jokes. For a guy who has no room for religion yet has a very strong spiritual path, I find it brilliant. They completely trashed the concept of religion, while not only maintaining but encouraging the concept of faith – the importance of believing in something. it’s a nuanced trick which they pull off in a magnificently funny way.

So needless to say I enjoyed seeing it again. The cast was of course different. The leads were just as good if not better than original. It was interesting to see the different choices they made which I appreciated a lot. The original Elder Price was played by Andrew Rannels, and he played it appropriately earnest, as a true believer who then gets real. This was played by Davy Thomas Brown. Still earnest, he added this slight cheeky-used-car-salesman element that was so underplayed it worked and might have made it better. Elder Cunningham, originally played by Josh Gad who got pretty famous for this role, was played by Cody Jamison Strand. It’s a tougher role to pull off than Price in my opinion and he was amazing.

Book of Mormon marquee claiming "The Best Musical of the Century" on the long side of it, taken from across the street
Quite the claim.

I saw this as I was leaving at the end. I haven’t seen enough musicals to have an opinion about that proclamation, but it probably is my favorite of what I have seen. I love smart comedy and this sets a high bar for that.

I got back about 11:30pm.

Today is The Met. I have a feeling that will be enough.

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