DAY 5 – Fri 25th October
NBC, Top Of The Rock And Brooklyn Baby!!
I started off Day 5 by accidentally dropping my sock down the toilet. This was followed by a Subway ride into Times Square sat in total silence where we were both so burned out we couldn’t even find the effort to speak. Needless to say, it wasn’t the most glamorous start to the morning. This was most definitely our grumpiest day, but luckily it was all uphill from that point onward!
Our first stop was the NBC Studios where we had booked a guided tour through our New York Pass. We weren’t a hundred percent sure if we wanted to do the tour or not because it was based around a lot of TV shows and News Programmes that we don’t get in UK, but we decided to give it a go anyway. Even though we didn’t get the references, it was still really interesting to get to see the inner workings of a TV studio so we enjoyed it a lot more than we had anticipated.
At the start we lined up along a glass cabinet filled with different things such as old radios, Broadway costumes (dresses from Wicked eee!) and a Lamb Chop puppet. (I looooooved Lamb Chop as a kid!!) I tried to get a photo but it was a bit tricky and from this point on we weren’t allowed cameras so you’ll have to use your imagination as you read on….
Our tour guide was a show runner from the network and had a really sarcastic sense of humour so Lou and I loved her. You could tell she had to give the same old spiel every single tour and was kind of dead behind the eyes because of it. We liked that, reminded us of home. We were all ushered into a movie room by her and shown a film about all the different NBC shows and the history of television. I didn’t recognise many of the shows and all the news clips seemed so silly and contrived to me, give me BBC any day!!
We were then shown around behind the scenes in a group to loads of different areas of the studio. We saw the big set where Saturday Night Live is filmed (through a glass window, but it was pretty impressive!) , one of the newsrooms and a room filled with plaster cast faces for making up celebrity guests. It was really interesting to see all the camera equipment and learn some of the “TV magic” that make the sets look much bigger onscreen than they really are.
Near the end of the tour, there was a little bit where two kids from the audience got to play with the green screen and we had to watch them like we were a real audience. Two little boys who were around 11 or 12 were picked to be a weatherman and a newsreader. We all sat and watched expecting them to be adorably gawky as they played the roles. BUT OH MY GOD, they were literally amazing!! Especially the kid playing the newsreader who read the autocue with more intonation and articulation than a grown adult! I told him that he was awesome on the escalator out and he seemed pleased – as he should be, I was dead impressed!! One thing I noticed in general while we were in New York was that people seemed to interact much more with their children. Kids seemed a lot more well behaved and engaged in things around them than many of the children I witness in Portsmouth. It was a nice thing to see.
Overall it was well worth doing the tour – here are some more quotes from our favourite tour guide:
“(In the make up room)
GUESS WHAT? WE’RE ALL GETTING MAKEOVERS!!
(Everyone’s eyes light up in excitement)
(Everyone hangs head in disappointment)”
- – -
“(Someone in the camera-room) Err, excuse me… are we being filmed right now?
Of course not!
But… that camera has a light on…
No. Of course you’re not being filmed. (shifty eyes) Err, let’s move on.
- – -
“(Talking about what happens if the TV cuts out due to a power failure) If there’s no power for *however many days* it will take *however long to get back on air”*…. If there’s no power for 14 days…. Well you need to stop watching TV and gather your loved ones because the apocalypse is here.
(Kids cower into their parents arms)”
- – -
Oh man, we loved that lady!!
We definitely felt in higher spirits after such a good tour and our next stop would cheer us up even more – shopping in the Rockefeller Centre!!
I love shopping at the best of times, and I love it even more when I’m in a different country and can peruse all the cool stuff we don’t get in UK. We didn’t waste too much time in the shops but we did have a good mose around a couple of places including a card shop which was selling loads of amazingly tacky Christmas decorations. I got a Taylor Swift guitar that plays “Long Live” when you press the back (I swear it’s the most amazing Christmas related item I ever bought) and Lou got her own Elmo tree decoration. (What is up with America’s unhealthy obsession with Elmo?!)
There was also a whole rack of Halloween cards which was a bit of a novelty for us. I bought one for Mat and my Nana, but you could even get “Happy Halloween From The Dog”. What the heck haha!
We looked in a few other places including a cute book shop and a supermarket for US snacks to bring home. We also grabbed a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream from a shop that did flavours we had never even heard of before. AMAZING!
Inside the Rockefeller Centre was the entrance to Top Of The Rock, which aside from shopping was our mean reason for coming in. Top Of The Rock and The Empire State Building are the two highest views of the city and since we went to the Empire State at night we thought we would do the second view in the daytime. There were designated time slots to go up and as with many other attractions, there was a whole tedious security system to go through before we were allowed in.
As we took off our coats and jewellery to put into the plastic scanner trays, a very stern man started barking “BAGS, CAMERAS, PHONES” over and over as he pointed at the trays. He must have had to say it for hours, I can’t imagine a more horrible job in my life!! Then as if he wasn’t bad enough, there was a loud, repetitive photographer forcing everyone to pose for a souvineer photo of the iconic workers on top of the steel structure. She made everyone take a “nice” photo then yelled “AHHH, YOU’RE FALLING!!” to make everyone pose and gasp as if they were falling off the bit of steel. So here’s the scene… We are shimmied into this tiny dark tunnel bit to watch a film about the history of the building… But from the left we can hear is “BAGS, CAMERAS, PHONES” and on the right all we can hear is “AHHH, YOU’RE FALLING!!!”. And it goes on and on like this for literally a thousand years. Lou just looked at me and said “I think this is our slow descent into hell….”
Finally the movie ended and we could escape the endless repetitive loop of horror. We got the lift up to the top of the building and it was another really amazing view. I don’t think it wowed me in the way seeing the city at night did, but it really was beautiful and looked so different in the daytime! There were a few different levels to view from so Lou managed to get some nice pictures from a variety of angles.
I was trying to get some nice shots with my video camera and was worrying I’d accidentally drop it off the top. It was a long way down!! Lou said she was going to push me off….
According to our New York Pass Guide, there was a Fire Station tour just around the corner from the Rockefeller Station. It sounded really interesting and I remember my friends from college meeting hot firemen when they went on the class trip so when we got back to ground level we went to check it out. When we got there, we were told by a grumpy fireman in no uncertain terms that 1) it was a health and safety lesson, not a guided tour 2) it was for CHILDREN and 3) it wasn’t running anyway. We were well gutted. We were however permitted to take souvenir fire truck photos.
Feeling suitably embarrassed after our chastising, we went back to shopping for a bit. There was an amazing MOMA book shop which had gorgeous art-related gifts including cultured children’s books about artists and cities. It was so cute and inspiring! We also went to a Body Shop where the sales assistant was super excited to be serving British people. She told us she loved how big our eyes were (which we think was due to being deliriously tired rather than any UK make-up trend, they must have been boggling out of heads). She also told me I sounded like her favourite singer Adele which led me to jokingly sing “Someone Like You” at the counter which she loved. Afterwards Lou was like, hang on… Adele is really common and rough spoken ha ha. Oh yeah, maybe it wasn’t so great a compliment after all…
In the afternoon we decided to go somewhere new and caught the Subway up to Brooklyn, home of the “real New Yorkers”. It was quite far out from where we were and tricky to navigate around but I really loved the area. It felt very different from the glitz of Times Square, it was much more urban and gritty whilst still having some beautiful scenery.
There were lots of police cars along the street when we got there (proper NYPD blue ones).
I’m not sure what was going on but everything seemed quite chaotic and all the traffic on the road was being diverted. It was very confusing figuring out where and when we could cross the road and I even had a rude New Yorker barging me with a buggy and insisting I cross the road – “Go on! Go ahead!” - To which I replied snappily, “Well there’s cars coming. So no.” Ahh felt just like being back in Portsmouth!
We were trying to find the famous Brooklyn Bridge, we could see it in the distance but we just couldn’t get to it for some reason. After all the crossing confusion we ended up walking along some unknown side-streets in the vague hope we were going in the right direction. As we ambled along, a man in a Kebab Van spotted us (or should I say, he spotted Lou) and started driving very slowly alongside us and asking us how we were. I’m not going to lie, my life did flash before my eyes a little as I had visions of us being kidnapped and stuffed into the back of the van. Luckily he drove off after a little while of stalking us – this was just the first of a string of eligible bachelors who were after Lou’s heart on this holiday, but you’ll hear about the rest later.
We soon ended up in this lovely park area out-looking a stretch of water and the bridges. I’m sure this place and water has an official name, I don’t know what it was called. I do know that the view was completely stunning.
It was a glorious day and I just tried to drink in the view. I know it sounds cheesy but it uplifted me in ways I can’t explain. I knew this trip was changing me as a person and I wanted to actively remember these beautiful scenes.
We carried on walking along the area – there was a dog park behind us and further along a giant merry-go-round where a pair of newlyweds were taking some wedding photographs. It was so lovely!
In the end we didn’t manage to find the entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge and we got a bit too tired to keep searching for it. We did however stumble across a pizzeria which Lou had really hoped to go to as it was famed for having the nicest pizzas in New York. We ordered a massive pepperoni pizza to share and it was GOOOOD!! Lou took photos that made it look like I ate the entire pizza myself, but I assure you that she was stuffing it into her own gob just as heartily as I was.
It was a very cool, authentic place with amazing pizzas and was a lovely way to end our jaunt into Brooklyn. We headed back to Harlem soon after and decided to have a nice evening in being friends again and watching DVDs from Mr. S’s collection out in the hallways. This idea turned out to be a disaster because we couldn’t get the DVD player to work and when I rang Mr. S, he had absolutely no intention of coming downstairs and helping us in any way, shape or form. We didn’t ask for much from the host of our apartment but considering we were two young girls on our own, you’d think he would come and give us a tiny bit of time to fix the TV which was supposed to be working. Having no evening entertainment really did put a dampener on our trip because it gave us nothing to do but retreat to our rooms and read. Sometimes all you need is to veg out and watch music videos or the shopping channel or ANYTHING!! I will never take my television for granted ever again!!
So there we go… no Four Weddings And A Funeral for us. But we did have lots more adventures ahead!
Additonal Notes Worth Mentioning:
- A Stanley Tucci lookalike being in our NBC tour group
- In my notes I have written “pizza toilets with lock on the hinges”. I don’t really remember this, but it obviously traumatised me a lot on the day.
- Lou: “What would you do if you woke up in the night and I was smothering you with a pillow?”
- Lou: “Bags, Cameras… wait, what was it again? It’s not that catchy!!”
NEXT TIME…. Central Park, The Zoo and….Poor Gus….
Written by Becky – Send her a tweet here: @beckyjerams