Beyond a quick weekend in Texas after Thanksgiving, this is our first trip since Paris & Switzerland in September, and we are happy to be back on the road again. Ash has a friend in San Francisco who is from NYC and is here for a few months to be with her mother. Ash wanted to come visit and help them some so that was the initial idea for the trip. I of course don’t need an excuse to get to New York but didn’t want to take vacation time, so we picked this week to come since I have Monday off, and then I will work from here Tuesday through Friday.

So, it will be a different kind of blog from that perspective: each day won’t be packed with stuff we’re doing. And since Ash used to live here and this is my 6th time here it definitely won’t be a typical tourist trip. We plan on spending time with friends and see what shows we can work in while we are here. We only booked tickets for three things coming into it and will see what we pick up along the way. It’s still weird to travel – there’s a pandemic going on if you hadn’t heard – since you’re never quite sure what will be open. Things close at the last minute often with this most recent highly contagious variant because staff is sick. The whole week is a bit of a crap shoot but we’re super happy to be here.

We had an 11:15pm flight out of Sacramento Friday night. Paul is with us and sat at our feet the whole flight. It was nearly impossible to sleep with some turbulence and an infant behind us crying (loudly) over half the trip, but otherwise uneventful. Everything was on time, and we arrived safely with all of our luggage around 7:30am.

screen shot of weather - 13 degrees

Brrr. This is pretty much what we have to look forward to all week. At least there’s just one rainy day in the forecast so we shouldn’t have too much wet in addition to the cold. This was when we landed, it never got above 20 degrees today.

entrance to the building, with a classic canvas canopy over a circular driveway

We landed in Newark and took a Lyft to our place. Through a friend we were able to get an amazing deal on an apartment at the top of Midtown, on 58th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues. It’s a typical NYC apartment building with a door man and the whole bit.

living room with a dining room table behind the couch

We are on the 32nd floor. The guy who lives here is “snowbirding” for the winter (we’re not clear on exactly where he is but it doesn’t matter!) so we get his place exactly as he left it. With full closets and everything so we’ll be living out of our suitcases because there’s no room to unpack anywhere. Oh well, it’s a pretty comfortable place, the price was ridiculous, and the location is superb.

A teeny kitchen. He told Ash he cooks all the time but the pots and knives literally have dust on them so we’re thinking not. We’ll see how much cooking we do here.

A pretty comfortable bed.

We were starving at this point, about 9am, and there’s a Pret A Manger around the corner. It’s a chain but not one we have access to at home so we’re not breaking the rules by going. It’s pretty decent food, I’ve eaten at them here and in London, and Ash and I stopped at one in Paris last August.

Breakfast sandwiches, juice and coffee. We just needed a little something in our stomach before a nap.

This was our view while sitting there. That’s 59th Street with the start of Central Park across the street. I’m sure we’ll make it over there a few times on this trip which I’m looking forward to.

After breakfast we went back to the apartment and set an alarm for Noon to take naps. We got up and took Paul out and went to a nearby pet store to get him food for the week. This is on 57th Street on the walk back to the apartment. I just love all the tall, skinny buildings in this part of Midtown.

Street sign for 52nd St over 7th Ave, Times Square in the far background

We left about 1:20pm to walk to our 2pm matinee on 52nd Street between 7th & 8th Aves. There are people out but nothing like when I was here in the summer of 2019. Probably a combo of cold and pandemic.

Speaking of the pandemic: NYC was the epicenter in this country back when this all started. What I noticed right away is people take their mask-wearing very seriously. Easily 95% of everyone is wearing them outside, and probably 75% or more are the more recommended masks – N95 or surgical as opposed to cloth. It was good to see, as was “being carded” for vaccinations everywhere we went.

Marquee of the August Wilson theater, Ash standing below it with his arms raised up like "we're here"

We’d just bought these tickets the day before, for Slave Play. When it originally ran on Broadway in 2018 it was nominated for 12 Tonys, although it didn’t win any. It’s a complicated and controversial story line, with warnings of nudity, sexual violence, racial slurs, etc.

The story centers around 3 interracial couples in a group therapy setting, exploring the meaning and impact of race in their relationships. And it took me Much Longer than it Should Have to realize that “slave play” is used like “puppy play.” (And if you don’t understand that, you can read up on it here…)

That’s a cantaloupe on the playbill. You kinda had to be there to get it. If you must know, feel free to ask….

The staging was great. All those mirrors are also doors so props and furniture slide in and out from behind them quite a bit. We only paid $39 for these tickets and originally were in the last row, which were still decent seats because, like most venues in this theater district, it’s actually fairly small so there aren’t really any bad seats. But there were lots of empty seats, so right before the show started the usher came and got us and put us in 4th row mezzanine, which were $119 seats. Not bad.

group selfie from our theater seats

My friend Del’Esa, who moved here from Sacramento in 2017, met us for the show! If you’ve been a long-time reader, you met her when I was here in 2018 and 2019.

After the show we made our way to an early dinner about 7 blocks away walking through the heart of Times Square. I know it’s gauche, but I really never get tired of it.

Random group selfie stop. I didn’t notice the marquee for Book of Mormon behind us until I was writing this. I saw that there on my first trip in 2011 and again in 2019.

We went to Becco on 46th Street between 8th & 9th Aves. I came here twice on my 2019 trip and was happy to see it’s still around. The main attraction – which we all got – is the daily pasta special: 3 pastas served tableside, all you can eat. The waiters just roam around with these big pans and dish it up as you want more. The hit of today’s collection was a seafood risotto with lobster, crab, and shrimp that was heavenly. The others were a pesto rigatoni which was good, and a spaghetti with tomato sauce that was surprisingly good in its simplicity. There were also shareable starters which was an antipasto plate and Ceasar salad.

Photo of me and Del'Esa at the center of Times Square

I couldn’t decide which of these I liked best….

Photo of me and Del'Esa at the center of Times Square

….so you’re getting both. Del’Esa doesn’t get down here very much – typical of folks who live here – and she was enjoying it as well.

We decided to skip dessert at the restaurant and head to Junior’s instead, a NYC institution for cheesecake. This was established in Brooklyn in 1950 but there are 3 of them in the theater district so it’s a traditional stop after a show.

Last Times Square photo I promise. For this day anyway!

Del’Esa got strawberry cheesecake at the top, Ash got the carrot cheesecake on the left. We’ve been getting Junior’s cheesecake at home because we discovered Costco sells it!, so I got a coconut lemon cake at the bottom. And yes, I forgot to take this on time, so everything is half eaten.

We said our goodbyes after this. Del’Esa lives in Brooklyn and headed home. We made our way back to the apartment but stopped at a market across the street first to get some things for breakfast.

tall buildings foreground, Central Park behind them on the right.

The night view from the west window, looking a bit north. The dark flatness is Central Park.

Just a mass of skyscrapers all lit up

Looking south from the living room.

Ash made some phone calls, I started working on this, and we were in bed by 10pm. I’m finishing this up the next morning, Sunday. We don’t have much planned today: brunch with a friend of Ash’s, and a friend from home joining us for a couple of nights. We’ll see what else we come up with. Have a great Sunday!


  1. […] is a bit much to manage, it wouldn’t have been any fun for me. We did that in January in New York and a 3-hour time difference was weird enough as it is. (Although, in the other direction, it […]

  2. Melanie Kay Luckenbach January 20, 2022 at 7:58 pm - Reply

    I love the look and sound of Becco! it sounds delicious. Tell Del’Esa that coat is WOW! That kitchen is tiny but you have enough Gatorade for a whole sports team! Cool place to stay!

    • Steve Haas January 20, 2022 at 8:03 pm - Reply

      Not sure what’s up with the Gatorade. You should see his collection of canola oil!

  3. ash January 16, 2022 at 8:29 am - Reply

    The only downside to Becco… our favorite was the seafood rissotto which they stopped after the 2nd serving. After asking for it twice and waiting for 10 minutes we gave up.

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