Saturday, August 31, 2013

One Direction Boy Band at the Madame Tussauds Musuem in New York and more

My intention in visiting the Madame Tussauds museum in New York was to play host to my visitors who expressed interest in visiting the wax museum.

There was a 25% discount online for New York City residents. Alas I did not purchase my tickets online and was not able to get the 25% discount at the ticket desk. Nevertheless, the sales staff offered me $5 discount for each ticket.

The museum presented wax figures from a variety of backgrounds ranging from political, sports, entertainment and so forth.  

The first exhibit hall showcased Hollywood celebrities such as Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Johnny Depp and Leo DiCaprio.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie at the Madame Tussauds museum in New York

A Rockette dancer wax figure at the Madame Tussauds museum in New York

Dorothy of Oz and Lucy at the Madame Tussauds museum in New York

Some figures were disappointing and bore no resemblance at all. For instance the Beatles were pretty nondescript. In my opinion, one of the best wax figure was that of the director Steven Spielberg.

Steven Spielberg at Madame Tussauds museum in New York 

The highlight of the current exhibit was the boy band, One Direction, which was the last exhibit. The wax figures were remarkably done with close resemblance to the band members. 

With a teenager in our group, we of course sat down with the One Direction members and had some snapshots taken by the museum staff. It came out very well. You can see how how remarkable the wax figures are of the group below.

One Direction at Madame Tussauds museum in New York

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Broadway Let It Be - A celebration of Beatles' music

Broadway Let It Me

We received a discount deal from the Living Social website promoting the Broadway "Let It Be" - a musical tribute to the Beatles. The show is an import from London West End and it is marketed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their music. 

I checked out the show reviews. Most tend to be positive. Since the ticket prices were discounted favorably (starting at $29 for the balcony general admission seats),  we decided to treat ourselves to a Sunday evening show. We went for the mezzanine seats. At the prices we were paying, it beat standing for an hour or so  at the TKTS booth to obtain discount tickets. Other websites that  I have checked were selling the balcony seats at much higher prices.

At purchase time, we did not get the option to select the seats. A voucher was given instead, instructing us to pick up the tickets at the box office on the day of the show. We were pleasantly surprised at the seats assigned. We got centre first row mezzanine. Great view.

For the $29 general admission tickets, the seatings were based on first come first served.

The show was a time passage depicting the Beatles from their humble beginnings at the Cavern club in Liverpool. Four musicians played and sang the Fab Four music on stage. "Paul" here played left handed. It was reviewed  that in other show sessions, the "Paul" musician played right handed.  The show moved along to their US appearances at the Ed Sullivan show. It then recreated their US debut concert at Shea Stadium. 

Broadway Let It Be - The Beatles USA debut concert at Shea Stadium, New York City

Next it progressed to their Sgt Pepper's  Lonely Hearts Club Band phase and then to their final years together. It was just pure music, one Beatles hit after another recreated by very accomplished musicians.

Broadway Let It Be in New York City

Broadway Let It Be in New York City

During "Twist and Shout", the audience were encouraged to stand up, twist and dance along to the song. The atmosphere loosened up a bit after that. "When I am 64" was dedicated to the youngsters in the audience. I have read reviews that pointed out that the rendition of George Harrison's "My Guitar Gently Weep" was one of the highlights of the show. It was indeed.

Broadway Let It Be in New York City

We were able to get autographs and met with the performers after the show. They were very obliging to the fans with photo and autograph requests.  The musician who played Paul posed for a few photos and apologized that he had to catch the train. Imagine that, after performing as Paul McCartney on Broadway, the gentleman took the train like an average Joe!

Thumbs up for the show!

Monday, August 5, 2013

2013 Bastille Day NYC

Crepe stand at the 2013 Bastille Day celebration in NYC

59th Street between Lexington Avenue and Fifth Avenue once again played host to the annual Bastille Day celebration in New York City this year.

The mouth watering crepe stands were as usual the most popular stands with long queues of customers waiting patiently to place their orders. Macaroons were abundant in sight too.

Can-can dancers at the 2013 Bastille Day celebration in NYC

Performances by a trio of can-can dancers were cheered on followed by a band who engaged the enthusiastic crowd in dancing to their musical offerings.

Entertainment at the 2013 Bastille Day celebration in NYC

It was a mouth-watering colorful spectacle.  Judging by the crowd attendance, the festival was a big hit.

2013 Bastille Day celebration in NYC

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Lights of New York City

New York City view from Gantry State Park

As described in a previous post, Gantry State Park is the place to capture panoramic view of the Manhattan skyline. Night time is just as dazzling as seen above.

A new New York City public library is also breaking ground for construction at the park. What a bonus for the library attendees to see this view over and over again.

As the temperatures soared up to high nineties degrees Fahrenheit during the last few days, the water's edge at the Gantry State Park was just the place to catch some cool breezes and time with family and friends.

Strolling along midtown around 34th Street, one can also catch glimpses of the Empire State Building in its various renditions of colors throughout the year. 

Here's the building in rainbow hues:

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Panda Bears | Washington D.C.

Panda bear Mei Xiang in National Zoo, Washington D.C.

Our visit to the National Zoo was delayed one day.  Our primary goal was to visit the panda bear exhibit. However, on our intended visit day, the female panda bear, Mei Xiang was being artificially inseminated hence the exhibit was closed. 

The next morning was overcast with showers.  Normally, we would prefer to visit the zoo on a sunny day. However, there were no entrance fees to the zoo. Having confirmed on the phone with the zoo that the panda bear exhibit would be opened, we drove there.  Since we were there for almost three hours, we paid $16 for the parking fees.

We arrived at the most opportune time since it was the feeding hours. We saw both the panda bears, the female Mei Xiang (meaning "beautiful fragrance") and the male Tian Tian (meaning "more and more"). Mei Xiang is approaching fifteen years old and Tien Tien is almost sixteen. A zoologist was there providing an informal Q and A session with the visitors.

According to the zoologist, Mei Xiang was feeding voraciously since she was not fed prior to being anesthetized for the artificial insemination procedure the day before. Only time will tell whether Mei Xiang will be a mom.

National Cherry Blossom Festival 2013 | Washington D.C.

Spring in Washington D.C.
I was an accidental tourist in Washington D.C. the last time I encountered the National Cherry Blossom festival. Yearning for another sweet encounter, we booked our hotel stay through Priceline as soon as the National Park Service announced that the peak bloom would emerged around March 26 and 30.

Alas, spring had been awakening very late this year. The National Park Service then revised the peak bloom dates to be April 3 - 7. 

Hence the cherry blossoms were hardly in full force when we were in the capital last week. Instead of a welcoming sight of pretty in pink blooming trees along the Tidal Basin, we only saw skeletal cherry tree branches during the Cherry Blossom Festival.

Having been deprived of seeing blooming trees for so long, I couldn't help capturing the beauty of a nearby magnolia tree in its full glory in a snapshot. The beautiful tree is shown in the picture above.

Kites in flight on the National Mall during Cherry Blossom Kite Festival 2013

Nevertheless, the capital was swarmed with tourists around the Tidal Basin last Saturday. The Cherry Blossom Kite Festival swung into action to brighten up the skies on the National Mall. 

National Cherry Blossom Festival 2013 flag in Washington D.C.
Cherry Blossom Festival souvenirs were available in a variety of shapes, sizes and prices. We purchased this lovely water bottle.

National Cherry Blossom Festival souvenir

Perhaps Mother Nature will finally dazzle the capital with the long awaited cherry blossoms in peak glory this weekend. 

A trip to see the panda bear at the National Zoo can be read here

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Orchid Show - New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) - 2013

Orchid show at the New York Botanical Garden - 2013

To me, floral shows in New York serve as the harbingers of spring. The bright infusion of colors accompanied by the fragrance of the beautiful blossoms give a lift to my steps. At my first orchid show, I learnt of the amazing fact that vanilla flavoring is derived from orchid pods!

Orchid show at the New York Botanical Garden - 2013

Orchid show at the New York Botanical Garden  - 2013

Orchid show at the New York Botanical Garden - 2013

The New York Botanical Garden 2013 Orchid Show in the borough of Bronx is housed in the landmark Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. Thousands of orchid blossoms in hues of pink, purple, magenta, yellow, orange and white splash across the conservatory. I found this exhibition to be less lavish and extravagant than the Brazilian-themed orchid show that I have attended in 2009. That Brazilian-themed exhibit seemed to present never ending cascades of breathtaking orchids flowing abundantly from overhead structures.

Orchid show at the New York Botanical Garden - 2013

Orchid show at the New York Botanical Garden - 2013

Orchid show at the New York Botanical Garden - 2013

Dazzling orchids for sale at the New York Botanical Garden gift shop.

Enid A. Haupt Conservatory - New York Botanical Garden

This year exhibit is still a very beautiful spring awakening as shown by the pictures in this post. Now if only I could have a small replica of the grand Victorian Enid A. Haupt conservatory to call my own to cultivate my own orchids during the frigid winter.

The NYBG is one of my favorite places in New York City. Beautiful roses bloom in this New York botanical garden during the summer. The spectacular Dale Chihuly sculpture exhibit held here a few years ago was an unforgettable event. A report of the exhibit can be viewed here: Dale Chihuly exhibit

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Maison de Victor Hugo | Victor Hugo Museum | Les Miserables

Place des Vosges in Paris

Our last six months of  2012 have been bookmarked by our indulgences in French essences. During the summer, we visited Victor Hugo's home in Paris. Located in the historical Marais district, the home is right across from the Place des Vosges, the oldest square in Paris. The home featured Victor Hugo's personal artifacts such his books, drawings, furniture and china collection.

Victor Hugo's home address in Paris

Having seen the Broadway adaptation of the Victor Hugo's Les Miserables, we waited eagerly to attend the screening of the Les Miserables movie during the Christmas season. We were not disappointed. There were so much raw emotion and poignance in Anne Hathaway's rendition of "I Dreamed A Dream" that the waterworks started flowing. Critics have been raving about her performance as Fantine with some saying she could just take home the Oscar for the best supporting actress now.

Another favorite performance was Samantha Bank's portrayal of Eponine. Her heartbreak of unrequited love bled through the "On My Own" rendition.  What an amazing voice !

After watching the Les Miserables movie, I fell in love with the music all over again. I bought the Les Miserables: The 25th Anniversary Concert [Blu-ray]  based on the overwhelming positive reviews. I have seen this special before on PBS and I know that I would enjoy watching it over and over again.

Victor Hugo's china collection, Paris

Les Miserables calls to light the need for social and moral justice. At Victor Hugo's house, we saw a picture of  Aung San Suu Kyi,, the Myanmar democracy leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner, taken in his china collection room. Victor Hugo was one of her inspirations.


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