I know, I know, you can’t wait to hear every single detail about the Winns taking Manhattan, but I’m going to drag spread the trip out over three posts for each of our three days in the Big Apple, offering you the high and lowlights of our first trip to NYC!

We stayed at a Toronto airport hotel the night before the trip, and flew to LaGuardia without a hitch…unless you consider waking up at 3:45 to catch the shuttle a hitch! We had prearranged another shuttle to take us to our hotel, and arrived at the brand-new (10 days old) Cassa NY Hotel and Residences around 10:00 in the morning…five hours before their check-in time. Lucky for us, they had a room available, and we were able to freshen up and unpack before hitting the town!

Cassa is a very modern boutique hotel, where we stayed for an incredible price thanks to Travelzoo. Now, since they are so new, the building isn’t completely finished (our free breakfast was provided at a restaurant around the corner, as they have no facilities of their own yet) but the room was perfect for what we needed, and was right midtown (West 45th between 5th and 6th Avenues), convenient for walking everywhere. The service was also incredible, and the staff went out of their way to greet us, answer questions, and assist us with restaurant ideas, directions…on the last night they even let us print out our boarding passes using their main laptop, since mine had crashed that day! The only thing I might have liked in the room was a bathtub as well as a shower, but I had no time for luxurious bubble baths on this trip anyway.

First on our agenda was heading down to Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises. I had pre-purchased one of their tours (which you’ll hear about on Day 3), and also got a discount on several other attractions by purchasing through them. The catch was that even though our boat cruise wasn’t until the third night, I had to physically take my printed receipt to their building in order to get vouchers for all of the other attractions which we needed right away. I wasn’t too concerned, because we had enough time, plus we saved enough money to make it worthwhile. 

Next, we walked up to Central Park (you may have heard of it), and splurged for a pedicab ride, which gave us a one-hour overview of the park’s highlights, such as:

Bethesda Fountain
Loeb Boathouse (used in the movie 27 Dresses – yes, I’m a sucker for anything movie-related)
Strawberry Fields
The Fountain Used in the Opening Credits of Friends
(I’m a bit of a fan. I actually thought I was pretty innovative because I used to record and save the episodes on VHS when the show first started. I thought maybe they’d be worth something someday! Then along came DVD collections. Sigh.)

After the Park…wait a second. I need to explain that I have been asked to use the pronoun “I” for the next portion of the trip. The pronoun “we” would imply that my husband took part in the following tourist activity, which apparently is not something to which a man wishes to admit.

Therefore, next “I” hopped on a Sex and the City tourbus, and spent three hours navigating the island for a glimpse of settings used in the shows and movies. While it was great to quickly visit some of the neighbourhoods we didn’t explore on the rest of our trip (Chelsea, SoHo, etc.) this is something I would only recommend for a die-hard fan, and to tell you the truth I found it a bit long. I’m also not usually a frequenter of bars or…well, some of the other locations we visited (I’ll leave it at that – Catholic schoolteacher, remember?), although I was totally on board with the Magnolia Bakery cupcake stop:

After being up since 3:45 (and barely sleeping before that) we should have headed back to the hotel at this point, but I insisted on another exciting stop. I had read in my Entertainment Weekly that Eat Pray Love was premiering in NYC that very night, and after a bit of internet sleuthing I was able to find out the location: The Ziegfeld Theatre on 54th Street.

I must admit that I have been torn about how to present certain portions of our trip on this blog. Part of me wishes to come across as a worldly, unaffected, New York type who doesn’t even flinch at the glimpse of a well-known personality. But who am I kidding? I may possess some city tendencies, but my country-girl heart was racing with the excitement of being near a red-carpet premiere!!! (And I doubt many worldly, unaffected, New York types are reading this blog…so I assume none of you will judge me!)

Josh Brolin chatted with the group gathered outside
(a much smaller group than I anticipated, actually)
Eat Pray Love author Elizabeth Gilbert (who avoided the crowd)
Eat, Pray, Love star Julia Roberts, proving just why she is such a fan favourite, spent several minutes shaking hands and signing autographs.
 (I was way too cool for THAT…I just kept barking orders at my 6’2″ husband to keep taking pictures!
And yes, we were this close! Only a couple of feet away.)
On an interesting note, I found an article on the web written by someone who actually attended the premiere, but barely got a glimpse of Julia (“The scene was set up so the mere plebes and press attending could not see or get on or gawk at the red carpet”, she writes, and it’s true, the “normal people” entering the building were rerouted around the celeb entrance) so I no longer feel sorry for myself for not actually getting inside. Heck, I’ll go see the movie at home, but I think we had the best view of the action stationed right across the street from the entrance.
And that, my dear readers, was my first red-carpet premiere, and the conclusion to our first day in New York City. Now, you may think that would be the highlight of my trip, but things got even more exciting the next morning. Stay tuned for more tips and tales when I share Day 2 of The Winns Take Manhattan…coming soon!

17 comments on “New York City Day 1: Julia Roberts”

  1. I'm so excited for you. I haven't been in NYC in years. And to be at a premiere and be so close to Julia Roberts – oh what fun ;D

    I have this book sitting around and I haven't picked it up yet. I must now before the movie swallows it up and I'll prefer to watch it than to read the book.

  2. How exciting! I went to school in the city so it's great to see all these familiar places.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and the nice comments about my photos. I'm your newset follower.


  3. Wow, how cool. I would have been the one jumping up and down screaming, 'autograph pleeeeease!' lol. Forget being cool. I've never seen anyone famous 🙁

    Sounds like you had a great time. Just wanted to say thanks for the comment and to tell you i am following you back 🙂

  4. HOW COOL IS THAT!! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE NYC! One of my favorite places on earth! How fun all the star sightings-SO FUN! Thanks for stopping by and for the sweet comment…following you back as well 🙂

  5. At the risk of redundancy…….very cool, indeed! What a great first day in an Manhattan – can't wait for tomorrow's report.

    Thanks for stopping by today (from Nestwork, featured blogger) and for following. I'm following back and…ummm….just so you know. Small town girl here too and living just down the road from you. Well….about 400 clicks probably (Montreal) but close enough…..eh?

  6. Wow, I only live an hour and a half away from NYC, and I've never seen or been part of anything as cool as you did. How fun! Oh, and I love that your husband joined you for the Sex and the City tour bus. I saw your post on A Masters and a Mom, and I had to stop by, visit, and follow. Plus, I see that you write for some excellent magazines–I can't wait to read more of your blog!

  7. So glad you enjoyed your NYC trip Kate! Can't wait to read your next few blogs about it! Wow…celebrities…I would have been super star struck! How exciting for you!
    Krista S.

  8. That's exciting! Wow, nice first red-carpet encounter with Julia Roberts!! Thanks for stopping by my site through Mama's Nestwork – now following you! ~Jinnia

  9. WOW – sounds like an amazing trip! Thanks for sharing your photos with us. I read Eat Pray Love and get to see the movie in just over a week. Thanks for stopping by and showing your support via the nestwork.

  10. That sounds very, very cool – and anything with cupcakes is clearly worth getting excited about 😉 I had a weekend in NY last summer, but it was so hot I just wanted to hide in nice places with air-con (I've never spent so much time in Starbucks!). But it was great to see all the famous places I've heard about.

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