If you grew up loving the Disney original, then I highly recommend this show. And if you’re in Hawaii, then you have until March 9, 2014 to do so. You’ll find yourself mentally singing along. At the very least, check out the soundtrack.
Day 5 T-Shirt of Choice: FFB Raglan by Fur Face Boy
NYC Neighborhoods Visited: Theater District, City Hall, Brooklyn Bridge, Union Square, and TriBeCa.
Today was a big day and long day. We kicked it off by crossing one big and long bridge – the Brooklyn Bridge! Completed in 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the United States. It is 5,989 feet (1825 m) long and 85 feet (26 m) wide and it connects Manhattan to Brooklyn. This was my second time crossing the bridge so I knew what to expect, but this was Michelle’s first time. I kind of wish that I had timed the length of time it took us to cross the bridge.
Once we reached Brooklyn, we headed straight for Grimaldi’s Pizzeria. After getting lost for a little bit, we finally found this little pizza gem on Old Fulton St. The establishment has quite a storied history:
“Patsy Grimaldi, the founder of Grimaldi’s, learned to make pizza at his uncle Patsy Lancieri’s pizzeria (trained under pizza patriarch Gennaro Lombardi of Lombardi’s Pizzeria) in 1941 at age ten. He eventually opened his own restaurant, Patsy’s Pizzeria, in Brooklyn. Grimaldi originally planned to build it in Manhattan. However, he believed that coal-fired brick ovens produced the best pizza, and it was illegal to build new coal ovens in Manhattan. As a result, he moved to the current location at South Ferry, Brooklyn.”
We ordered a small pizza with pepperoni, italian sausage and mushrooms. My first bite reminded just how much I loved this place the first time I visited in 2007. Grimaldi’s is awesome and it will be one of those place that I will always visit whenever I visit New York. The crust is perfectly thin, the meats were nice and fresh and spiced perfectly, and the cheese was thick and plentiful. Mouthgasm? Hell yes. The amazing part is that the amount of time it takes to cook a Grimaldi’s pizza in their over 100 year old brick oven is faster than it takes a Pizza Hut to cook a pie in their modern ovens. Whenever I eat pizza, I will think of Grimaldi’s. Grimaldi’s is the real deal. If you want good pizza, you must pay a visit to the mecca of pizza, Grimaldi’s Pizzeria.
Once we had our fill of Grimaldi’s, we headed toward Union Square so that Michelle could make a stop at Trader Joe’s. What’s awesome about Union Square is it’s commanding and engaging intersection. People come to union square to relax, sit, people watch, mingle and even play chess. And since it’s surrounded by shops, it’s the perfect place for tourists who want to escape the madness of Times Square.
Saddled by bags of Trader Joe’s nuts, we headed back to the hotel for a little rest. We needed that rest so that we wouldn’t fall asleep during our broadway experience – American Idiot! In factor, American Idiot was the entire reason why we began planning this trip. I am a huge fan of Green Day so I had been dying to see this musical by Billy Joe Armstrong, featuring music from the iconic 2004 Album, American Idiot and select songs from their latest album, 21st Century Breakdown.
The St. James Theater is the home of American Idiot and lucky for us, Hotel Mela is located a measly 3 minute walk away. We left the hotel at 7:30 pm for an 8 pm show and arrived in our seats with ample time to spare and take in the inspiring interior of the St. James Theater. Once the curtains went up, the madness started and it was complete rock and roll for 90 minutes. Non-stop punk and non-stop Green Day for 90 minutes. I loved it. I loved every burning second of this musical. I loved it so much that I want to see it again. The songs came alive right before my eyes and I was in Green Day heaven. Did I say I loved it? I loved it.
After waiting around a bit for the stars of the show to meet and greet, we jetted off to TriBeCa to dine at Ninja Restaurant. I had been itching to go there ever since I first heard Dan Trachtenburg and the rest of the Totally Rad Show crew talk about it in one of their past episodes. I was sold when Dan mentioned that Ninjas appear out of nowhere. Awesome.
When you first arrive at the unassuming front door, you are greeted by a host in a small room with an elevator. I don’t want to spoil the experience for those of you planning to pay a vista to Ninja Restaurant, but, I will say that the Totally Rad Show guys swear right – Ninja do appear out of nowhere. Oh, and if given a chance, take the secret yet dangerous path. You’ll love it. Michelle and I found ourselves still talking about it the day after. It was that fun.
The food at the Ninja Restaurant was okay compared to the Ninja experience. We had the Four Elements sushi (California roll topped with tuna, salmon, yellowtail and eel) and the Spicy Tuna sushi to start. Being from Hawaii, we know good Sushi – this was just okay sushi. For the main entree, I had the Ninja Paella (orzo pasta with seasweed and miso marinated salmon, short-neck clams and veggies) and Michelle had the Poseidon’s Pot (a pot of mussels and calamari, steamed with white soy sauce and sake). The serving size of my entree was unexpectedly huge. Five large filets of salmon was the main attraction for my entree. The salmon was cooked well, but again, living in Hawaii, I’ve had better fish prepared and cooked much better. Still, the Ninja Restaurant is quite the experience. You’re even treated to a Ninja magic show prior to eating. Neat!
This is the first of a couple day-by-day updates that Iâ€™ll be doing during my trip to Toronto and New York. I thought it would be cool to keep you guys up to date on what Iâ€™m up to and what tees Iâ€™m wearing! If you want to check out the tee that I wore, just click on the orange links.
Arrival/Day 1 T-Shirt of Choice: Slide To Unlock by Milk and Eggs Co.
Michelle and I began our trip by leaving sunny Honolulu, Hawaii for the first part of our two-destination trip to Toronto, Canada. The total time to get from Honolulu to Toronto was 15 hours, which included a 4 hour stop in Detroit, Michigan. By the time we reached Toronto, we were pooped out from spending nearly a day in the air and at multiple airports.
We reached Toronto’s Pearson International Airport at around 2pm and then caught the subway to our hotel, the Courtyard by Marriott Toronto Downtown. It took us about 45 minutes to get from the airport to the Marriott. We didn’t have much down time once we reached the hotel. We unpacked and then got ready for our first experience of Toronto – Jersey Boys, which was playing at the Toronto Centre for the Arts.
No photos were allowed in the theater, but here’s an excellent shot from Broadway World.
Jersey Boys is the story of pop sensation Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. Not sure who The Four Seasons are? Think of the songs Sherry, Walk Like A Man, Big Girls Don’t Cry and Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You. We made it just in time to eat dinner at Milestones Bar and Grill and catch this limited engagement in Toronto. It costs at least 33% more to see it on Broadway – so we were able to save some bucks! The show was awesome and by the end the cast had a standing ovation.
The show finished at around 10 pm so we decided to check out Yonge-Dundas Square, also known as the Little Times Square of Toronto. This public open space is very much like a miniature Times Square, with its eye-catching billboards, shops and people traffic.
By the time we reached our hotel, we were both completely exhausted. Sleep was definitely needed to rejuvenate ourselves for tomorrow’s big adventure.
Day 2 T-Shirt of Choice: Bodega by Regan Smith Clarke
Today was all about Niagara Falls, but I am getting ahead of myself. First up was breakfast at Mystic Muffin. This Middle Eastern Sandwhich Shop and Bakery is known for their Falafels and Apple Cake. It was a bit too early for me to get Falafels, but I knew that I had to have a taste of the famous Mystic Muffin Apple Cake (take a look at their Yelp page, nearly every reviewer mentions the Apple Cake with high regard). Michelle decided on the Banana Bread. We thought the baked goods were yummy, but were not as blown away as the other Yelp reviewers.
After Mystic Muffin, we made our way to Yonge-Dundas Square to get a taste of it during the daytime. After a few pictures in front of the fountains that emerge from the surface of the southwest corner of the square. After a second visit to the Square, we headed towards CN Tower.
At 553.3 metres (1,815 ft) tall, CN Tower is the world’s 3rd tallest free-standing structure. This signature icon of Toronto’s skyline is known for the view from its observation deck and its glass floor. According to Wikipedia, the glass floor has an area of 24 square metres (258 sq ft) and can withstand a pressure of 4,100 kilopascals (595 psi). I didn’t hesitate to get on the glass, but once I was on it, I became very nervous. I think I might have even experienced a slight bout of acrophobia (fear of heights). I found myself freezing in place and I could feel my palms get very sweaty. Michelle had no problem on the glass floors. I observed one kid have a nervous breakdown after crawling his way off of the floor. Unfortunately, it was bait cloudy, so we decided not to pay extra to go up to the Sky Pod portion of the tower. They say that on a clear day, you can see Niagara Falls and even New York.
I couldn’t get a good photo of CN Tower because it was rather cloudy, but here’s a nice one by Flickr user SanGatiche.
After the Tower, we made a quick stop at Nathan Phillips Square and Toronto City Hall and then we both jetted back to the hotel – we had a 12:35 pm tour bus to Niagara Falls to catch! This comprehensive 12 hour tour including stops at Pillitteri Estate Winery for some wine tasting. I didn’t know this, but the Niagara area is also well known for their wineries. I had a taste of their award winning ice wine and I have to say that it was probably the sweetest wine that I’ve ever tasted. It was very good. A glass of the ice wine normally goes for 30-40 bucks, so we were lucky to taste a glass for just $2 – so worth it!
Following Pillitteri Winery, we drove through Niagara on the Lake, a quaint little town known for giving many black Americans their first taste of freedom. The town is also known for its Victorian style homes, gardens, art galleries, and antique shops. We also stopped by the Niagara Floral Clock, very large outdoor clock that features an extraordinary floral showpiece.
Niagara Falls was the main destination of the day, and we had finally made it to the falls. From a distance, Niagara Falls is very impressive. Up close, it is unbelievable and awe-inspiring. We took the Maid of the Mist bout tour and was able to get very close to both the American side of the falls and the Canadian side of the falls. The Canadian side of the falls trumps the American side in both size and sheer power. The boat to the Canadian side of the falls was like entering a rain storm, the mist was that powerful. It’s a good thing that they provided us with ponchos! Niagara Falls is definitely a must visit if you are even in the Toronto area. It will blow your mind!
After the boat tour of the falls, we had a group dinner at the Fallsview Restaurant at the top of the Sheraton. After the buffet dinner, we explored Fallsview. The mix of bright lights, restaurants, hotels and casinos make this side of the Niagara look like a miniature version of Las Vegas.
Since it was a Friday, we decided to wait for the fireworks show at 10 pm. To burn the time, we checked out the Niagara Whirlpool. Where the Niagara River makes a 90 degree turn, a level 6 rapids whirlpool is formed. Pretty insane.
And finally, the fireworks show made for an excellent end to our Niagara Falls experience. The trip back took about 1.5 hours and by the time we reached our hotel it was already 12 am! And with that, our short visit to Toronto came to an end. Our flight to New York leaves early tomorrow morning and I am excited for the Big Apple adventures ahead, but I am also sleep deprived. Maybe I’ll be able to get some sleep on the plane, I hope.