travel

Honeymooning, the Traditional Way

times squareThere is a family tradition of honeymooning in New York’s Waldorf Astoria, at least for my mother (circa 1941) and my sister (1995). I too, longed to embark on that family tradition by hopping aboard the Amtrak Crescent, compact suitcase tightly in hand, scurrying behind my beloved and agreeable husband who would have sanctioned any destination fit for our honeymoon, to the lights of Broadway.

As always, I do my homework, and consult the New York Times travel section for the goods on a 5 block radius that surrounds Times Square. And as always, pull up a complete list of names and addresses—bookstores on drama, pizza on the cheap, and hotel rooms big enough for two! I am NOT continuing the family tradition of a Waldorf Astoria suite carrying a price tag that now strattles the equivalent of a month’s pay. It is Easter weekend, and well, let’s just say we opt to share the cozy yet oh-so-hip ambiance of a 9 x 12 room with a character from the paramount hotelhow-very-dark Vermeer painting looming over our heads on the almost-to-the-floor bed in the Paramount Hotel on 46th Street. With just enough room for my boots and his knapsack, my husband and I are able to move about the room freely if one of us stays in bed! We both do. A classic brick wall serves as backdrop, where we befriend pigeons who coo as we woo in happy matrimony.

Forgoing the month’s income on a room, we turn to the theater for our investment and head to the Gershwin for a night of “Wicked,” my first Broadway experience since Granny of the Beverly Hillbillies performed in “Pippin” 38 years ago. Neither my husband nor I have much hope in theater, and are only now, hoping that to change. After three escalators, we bushwack to the front row of the highest tier, and settle in the rafters. Elpheba and Linda, along with the other townspeople of Oz, carry us to new heights, so high that at the show’s end, I deem Broadway and its industry the saving grace of Manhattan, if not the world! The audience cheers and jeers the Oz alongside the lollipop kids, and emotion pours from all corners of the theater. This is war time, and if a little song and dance can make us feel this hopeful, how can anyone put a price tag on that?

sheep's meadowWe’re hungry but without a guide this time, we peruse the storefronts and hone in on a Turkish cafe, graciously greeted and amply fed. The next morning finds us hiking through Central Park, multi-layered and gloved (found them in the knapsack), scarved and wrapped, viewing the grandeur setting of Sheep’s Meadow, easily a scene from the Waldorf’s back door. And so we pretend, entering the grounds adorned with a lonesome saxophone player, a gold-lacquered mime waiting for the drop of a coin to set her free, and two swans tucked together, floating over ice. Obviously, honeymooning.

 

Julia Gillern loves to travel in addition to shaping minds for future service to America.

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