Natural History, Broadway and the Empire State Building

On our next day in New York we decided to visit the American Museum of Natural History. We started the day at Alice’s Tea House, a cafe decorated with AN Alice in Wonderland theme. I had an omelette with chicken hash (I was expecting something similar to hash browns, or at least the fried grated potato we’d had at Q Center, but this came as diced potato with small pieces of chicken, all fried together on the pan) and a pot of Alice’s Tea (a sweet tea with hints of rose and vanilla). It was a really cute cafe, with mismatched tea cups, quotes from Alice in Wonderland on the wall and other bits and pieces fitting in with the theme.

Breakfast at Alice's Tea House

After breakfast we made our way to the museum which is near Central Park. The entrance hall is massive, filled with three dinosaur skeletons reaching up to the ceiling. Julie had read that as Accenture employees we got free entry to the museum, so all we had to pay for was the space show in the planetarium, one of the highlights of the museum.

Dinosaur skeletons in the entrance hall

The next planetarium show was only 10 minutes after we arrived, so we didn’t that first. It was a pretty cool presentation about the galaxy, narrated by Whoopi Goldberg. The room was a big sphere, and the seats were slightly reclined so we were looking up towards the ceiling. The presentation was projected on the ceiling, and it really felt like we were floating in space at times. It was an interesting little film, talking about planets the solar system and the universe in general. Around the outside of the planetarium they had various models made to scale with the planetarium to give a comparison of planets and other elements of the universe in relation to one another. Looking at the exhibit makes Earth seem tiny!

Outside the spherical theatre

In addition to the planetarium there are four other floors of exhibits in the museum. There are several exhibits relating to different types of dinosaurs. There are also rooms covering evolution, birds, native people of the world, with a focus on Native American Indians, oceans with a massive (life size?) model whale in the room and several others. We spent about 3 hours there, ending in the exhibit with a 22 tonne meteor made of iron. It’s so heavy that rather than sitting directly on the floor of the museum, it’s on a solid concrete support which has been drilled down into the earth.

The 22 tonne meteor

After exploring the museum we were quite hungry, so we walked through the middle of Central Park in search for somewhere to eat. After wandering for a while we gave up on “proper” food and had our first New York hotdog. It wasn’t quite as exciting as the one I had in Chicago. This was just a hotdog with mustard and ketchup, but it was only $2 so no complaints!

While we were at training a couple of people had recommended the Spiderman Broadway show. So we caught the subway to Times Square to buy discounted tickets for the night. There’s a stall set up there called Tkts. They open at 3pm and sell heavily discounted tickets for shows on that night. Spiderman had 50% off so we managed to get sets in the middle of the third row of the mezzanine for only $70! When we got to the show that night we were really happy with the seats because a lot of the action takes place above the audience on cables so we had a perfect view from the front of the first level.

Maccas at Times Square

Since we were in the middle of Times Square and had a couple of hours to fill before the show, we split up and checked out the shops. While the girls were looking for clothes, I went back to the M&M store to buy a few things, then checked out the Disney Store and Toys R Us. Like the M&M store, the other two stores were also multi level. Disney had heaps of toys and merchandise on the lower floor, then heaps of kids costumes on the second floor, along with more stuffed toys and a big screen playing Disney animations. Some of the princess costumes were amazing, complete with shoes, tiaras and other accessories (each sold separately). It was such a cool store, and as I left the cashier wished me a magical day 🙂

Stuffed toys at the Disney store

Toys R Us was also amazing. It was spread over four levels, with a ferris wheel in the centre! There was a different section for each brand of toys – Lego, Barbie, Jurassic Park, Star Wars, Spiderman, Superman and more. There was an ice cream stand, an arcade hall and an area selling Willy Wonky confectionery, and you could have photos taken with Spiderman and the Toys R Us giraffe! (for a price…) I bought a tiny little souvenir, but otherwise just enjoyed drooling over all the different displays. For each of the different sections there were big models or statues to go with them.

A Lego model of the Incredible Hulk

By then it was time to meet up with the girls for dinner. We went to a Japanese restaurant just back from Times Square. It was nice to have something different to eat for a change! We then made our way to the theatre for Spiderman. As I mentioned earlier, our seats were great. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take any photos inside, but we had a perfect view of the stage and aerobatics. The storyline was the standard Spiderman story, with Peter Parker getting his powers, meeting a girl, fighting a villain then saving the world. It was a musical, so there naturally there were a lot of songs. The music was written by Bono from U2, and two of the songs were actually U2 songs. The set and props were designed to look like drawings from a comic strip which was pretty clever.

The highlight of the show was the stunts performed in the air. As he discovered his new powers, Spiderman was bouncing off the walls and walking on the ceiling. Later in the show as he was fighting crime, he was swinging above the crowd and actually landed on the balcony a few metres from where we were sitting! The final battle between Spiderman and the bad guy was very impressive, as they both jumped and flew over audience as they fought. Overall it was a pretty cool show – glad we went to see it.

Afterwards Julie and I went to the Empire State Building. Azuo was still adjusting to the time difference and had already been up the Empire State Building on a previous trip, so went back to the apartment. Being so late at night, we didn’t need to prebook tickets and there was no queue! We bought our tickets, passed through security and made our way up in the lift.

Riding the lift to the top

The views from the observation deck were spectacular. It was a very clear night and we could see out a long way. The observation deck is open air and was a bit chilly, but it was incredible. We spent about an hour up there taking photos and just enjoying the view. It was quite peaceful being so high above the city, looking down at the traffic and across the water at the Brooklyn Bridge and Statue of Liberty out in the distance. We were able to recognise a few buildings, like the Chrysler Building, Rockefeller Centre and Times Square. Now that we’ve seen more of the city we’d probably recognise even more landmarks.

Enjoying the view from the observation deck

Once back on the ground we asked the doorman where we could find somewhere for a quiet drink. He pointed us to an Irish pub around the corner, where the bar tender enjoyed our accents. After that we made our way back to the apartment.

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