A whirlwind July 4 weekend

Every time I have a visitor stay with me, I remind myself not to do TOO much. That just because they’re here for only a short time doesn’t mean we have to walk all over the city until our feet fall off. I told myself that again on Friday when I met my friend as she got off the train at Penn Station around 1 p.m. We knew that we wouldn’t want to come into Manhattan to do anything on the 4th itself so Friday afternoon and evening would be our time to wander.

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While I was waiting for the train, which was a little late, I pulled up the website for the Public Theater. Right before I’d left my apartment I had entered the Free Shakespeare in the Park lottery for two tickets to “The Tempest”. It was a long shot – the three times I’d managed to snag tickets in the past were due to a friend winning a Twitter contest, another friend waiting in the line in the morning, and me and some friends showing up after work on a rainy day. But I knew we wanted to see a show that night, and while spending $65 or so for balcony tickets to something isn’t a problem, I figured it couldn’t hurt to try to see something for free.

Remember how I thought winning the “Hedwig” lottery earlier this year used up all my ticket winning karma? Well, apparently I was wrong! When I checked in, the Public’s site told me I’d been selected for two tickets for that night’s show. I was totally surprised, especially since I figured the demand would be extra high due to the holiday weekend! But I guess SOMEONE has to win, and this time it was me!

That news put me in a great mood, just in time to greet my friend. We ambled over to check out the new section of the High Line before walking south along the Hudson toward the Frying Pan, where we thought we might grab some lunch. One look at the line sent us off farther south, to Chelsea Market.

It was my first visit to Chelsea Market – I’d been meaning to check it out for years and never got around to it. But we walked in, looked around at some of the food options, and hopped in line for some Mexican food at Los Tacos No. 1.

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When our food arrived (and it was delicious!) we found a spot to perch and scarf it down before we walked around the rest of the Market. We made a stop at People’s Pops for a post-lunch snack, then doubled back to hit up Eleni’s Bakery (the pink sugar cookies are my FAVORITE) and Anthropologie (too expensive) before heading back outside.

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We took the subway up to the American Museum of Natural History, hit a few of the spots on my highlights tour, and then picked up our tickets for the play! We people-watched and chatted in Central Park for a little while before heading back to Amsterdam Ave to get a slice of pizza before the show . . .

“The Tempest” was… underwhelming. The acting was great, the staging was interesting – it was the play itself! I hadn’t read it in years and I didn’t remember that the pacing is just terrible. There are some really lovely lines, and there are some interesting themes, but everything is jumbled together in a way that just got a little dull and felt a little stretched out. That said, seeing it in the park was still really fun, and if you have a chance to see “Cymbeline”, the other show being performed this summer (which I’ve neither seen nor read), I would take it!


On Saturday we took things a little easier – an afternoon trip to the movies to see “Inside Out” (it was great, go see it!), a stroll along the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, pizza at Ignazio’s near Brooklyn Bridge Park, and then fireworks over the river.

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The fireworks were a little disappointing from our vantage point – if I did it again, I’d be south of Brooklyn Bridge, where you could see the fireworks being shot off there, rather than in a spot where we had to look up the river to see the barges that were farther north.

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The next morning, after a quick trip to Barnes and Noble (and an episode of “The Astronauts Wives Club”), I dropped my friend off at Penn Station and came home to collapse. Once again I’d managed to pack a lot into a friend’s visit – and get some exercise in to boot, with all the walking we did!

I’m still recovering a little from the weekend, but I want to hear about what you all did for the 4th! And let me know if you have any suggestions for things to do when friends come to visit – between all the friends who have come this summer and spring I’ve hit almost all the items on my list!

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  1. Sounds like a fantastic weekend! I’m glad you got to see Shakespeare in the Park: I love it every time, even if the production isn’t the best- and I agree, the pacing of The Tempest draaaaaags. It’s a play that is way better served by the drastic cuttings most productions do of Shakespeare. At the near 3 hour run time, The Public didn’t cut all that much!

    • Sarah

      July 8, 2015 at 1:18 pm

      YES cutting it would have helped SO much! it was still a neat production (and didn’t drag as much as King Lear did last summer, but maybe that’s just me…), but some scenes just went on way too long, and it took so long for things to happen.

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