Back in the Borough: Shakespeare in the Park

Hi friends,

I was telling Chris yesterday that I feel like this has been the summer of Central Park. First we saw the NY Philharmonic in the park, then we took a bike ride through it, on Sunday we took my 4-month-old nephew there, and last night we partook in a long-time New York City bucket list item of both of ours … seeing Shakespeare in the Park.

Allow me to explain. You see, every summer The Public Theater provides free tickets to eager New Yorkers willing to do insane things (like get up at 4:30 a.m. to camp out in line for said free tickets) for performances at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. The tickets are, as you can imagine, very popular, and therefore very hard to get. There’s a public lottery online—but I’m convinced no one ever wins tickets that way (at least I never have!)—you can purchase a $175 summer supporter membership and get one free ticket to one show, OR (and this is a popular one) … you can camp out in Central Park, starting at around 6 a.m., until they open their doors at noon and start passing out tickets.

Yesterday my friend Carla and I bit the bullet and just did it — we camped out in Central Park for six hours, starting at 6 a.m., to get free tickets.

And I have to say, my friends, it was TOTALLY. WORTH. IT. Honestly, I’d do it again in a heartbeat. (Of course weather is key, here, people. If you’re going to be laying in the grass for six hours, you must have nice weather, which we did. Couldn’t have asked for better.)

Anyway, here’s a bit from the morning:

^^I took this hazy Central Park path photo around 5:50 a.m. as I was entering the park. It reflects my mood nicely. Hazy.

^^I took this hazy Central Park path photo around 5:50 a.m. as I was entering the park. It reflects my mood nicely. Hazy.

^^The line pass beyond the point where we could see it. Turns out there's something called "The Rock of No Hope." Rumor has it if you try to get in line past that rock for tickets, you're probably out of luck.

^^The line passed beyond the point where we could see it. Turns out there’s something called “The Rock of No Hope.” Rumor has it if you try to get in line past that rock for tickets, you’re probably out of luck.

^^Along with the free play tickets, the New York Times was passing out this lovely book to people in the line, for free.

^^Along with the free play tickets, the New York Times was passing out this lovely book to people in the line, for free.

^^This lovely gentleman serenaded us with his flute while we waited in line. Then asked for money, which of course we were happy to give him. When we returned 8 hours later for the actual play, he was playing a saxophone. So talented.

^^This lovely gentleman serenaded us with his flute while we waited in line. Then asked for money, which of course we were happy to give him. When we returned 8 hours later for the actual performance, he was playing a saxophone. So talented.

^^At one point I took a short nap. When I woke up, this was my view. Not too shabby.

^^At one point I took a short nap. When I woke up, this was my view. Not too shabby.

Now just because this could be considered a crazy thing to do, don’t be fooled. There’s a method to the madness, people. Theater workers walk the lines every so often, keeping count and making sure no one cuts in line. (There’s no holding spots for other people, and no one was meant to join you later on, is what we were told. Going to the bathroom. That was the only time you were allowed to vacate your spot (thank God!)).

There was also a cute little delivery man on a bike who smartly handed out take-out menus from a restaurant located right outside of the park. Carla and I were all too happy to ask our neighbors to add two cappuccinos for us to the delivery they ordered for themselves at around 9 a.m.

Tickets are handed out randomly–so as long as you’re in the line before they run out, it actually doesn’t matter if you’re the first person or the last person–both are just as likely to get good seats. Unfortunately, despite our pretty amazing location in line (I’d say about 25-35 people deep), our seats were pretty high up. The theater is on the smaller side, though, so no seat is really a bad seat, per se.

So you wait in line for six hours (or at least we did), you get your tickets, then you leave and come back around 8, when the doors open. Performances start at 8:30, and there are no intermissions. That’s okay, though, because the performances are so amazing, you don’t even want a break.

The performance we saw was called ‘Love’s Labour’s Lost’. The gist of it is that the King and three of his friends decide at their five-year college reunion to swear off women. When four cute girls–including the princess–show up from their past, though, things get ca-razy. (And ca-razy funny, too!)

You aren’t meant to take photos from inside the theater, but Chris went rogue and shot this one quickly:

Delacorte_Theater

Is that not the cutest ever? With Turtle Pond in the background, the skyscrapers in view from the Upper West Side and the vague noises from people enjoying the park all around the outside of the theater … it’s honestly a moment where you think: “Am I really watching a Shakespeare play, for free, in the middle of Central Park?”

It’s pretty incredible.

You’re also allowed to bring food and drink into the theater, as long as you don’t take in any glass bottles. So we loaded up on sandwiches and snacks and little bottles of boxed wine–and had ourselves a merry Shakespearean Central Park night … just the four of us!

I would highly recommend this to any tourists, too. It gives you an excuse to get up early enough to start your day, and if the weather’s nice, there’s nothing better than camping out in CP in the early morning, watching everyone with their dogs running around, ecstatic, off their leashes.  Then you have your tickets by 12:30 at the latest, and you have until 8 p.m. to spend the rest of the day however you like. And you can end the evening with a magnificent (free of charge!) play.

What can be better than that?

Bis bald, friends! I purchased my ticket for D.C. for next week yesterday–I cannot wait!

A Last-Minute Labor Day Trip

A row of sunflowers on the drive back from New Paltz. I made my stepdad pull over so I could take a picture. He obliged. Good man.

Hi friends,

So after a full week of dealing with some seriously hard-core jet lag (I mean, we’re talking serious jet lag here!), I’ve finally managed to drag myself out of the foggy haze.

It’s always worth the jet-lag in the end though, isn’t it? I can’t believe my trip to Italy is already a thing of the past. So sad.

Anyway, after pulling myself through the haze, I was facing a 3 and 1/2 day weekend, and I was feeling … antsy. Chris and I had plans to head to Far Rockaway with some friends for one last beach-filled weekend, but I bailed at the last minute. So instead, as Chris caught the subway to meet up with our friends, I hopped the train and headed upstate to my mom’s, where we took in a wine and crafts festival in New Paltz (which has seriously become my new favorite place to spend my falls, with its wineries, hiking trails, breweries and gorgeous fall foliage), ate dinner at The Gilded Otter and just generally chilled out.

I even managed to wake up early Monday morning and drag myself out to the back porch swing with my blanket, coffee and the book I’m currently reading.

I truly believe that only if you actually live in a city can you really appreciate what it means to get out of the city every now and then. I mean, I spent my entire high school career living in this same house, and never found as much solace in its back yard as I do these days.

So that was my Labor day! What did you guys get up to?

If you’re like me…

you are always looking for inspiration for new trips. That’s why I love this roundup on the LHJ Website “Bon Voyage: 19 Tips from the Best Travel Writers.” In it, the writer interviews the contributors from the Best Women’s Travel Writing of 2011, asking for some of their tips, tricks, and travel habits.

One of my favorites comes from Sarah Katin when asked ‘What’s next on your must-visit list?’ She responds, “Argentina! Or Istanbul! Or New Zealand! Or Zanzibar! Wait. Where is Zanzibar? I have to go look at a map.”

Sounds familiar :) What’s next on my must-visit list? Anywhere and everywhere, people!

Bis bald!