It is a rainy Monday morning after record temperatures on Saturday – it reached 72 degrees farenheit which broke all previous records.

We continue to be entertained by some great shows in New York, some of which we paid for and others were free and unexpected.  Highlights include:
The Little Dog Laughed (a play about a film star with "closeted secrets" and his over intrusive agent);
25th Annual Putnam Spelling Bee (a musical about a Spelling Bee where all of the children have issues – this was a bit of a disappointment and we can't see how it will do well in Australia when presented by Sydney Theatre Company);
Die Fledermaus by the Amato Family Opera.  This group is an amateur group who perform on a stage little larger than a postage stamp and interval includes raffles and a little talk from the 80+ year old founder.  It was entertaining but oh so amateur.  At times the conductor just shook his head when cast members sang in opposition to the music.
A Mariachi Band  gave us an impromptu performance on the subway.  We couldn't understand what they were singing about but we were entertained at their ability to play whilst staying upright!!
Justin Ferate Grand Central Terminal Tour – a colourful and somewhat entertaining character doning a sportscoat and bowtie!  The 90 minute tour ended up stretching to two and a quarter hours and included discussions of what makes an authentic New York cheesecake to lying on the floor in the middle of Grand Central to demonstrate features of the architecture.  We also visited an original bronze sculpture of Abraham Lincoln in the Lincoln Building.
Piano Recital in McDonalds – a real live pianist at a grand piano inside McDonalds – only in America!!
Our hotel continues to be great with a very cheery African American maid named Pat.  The Breakfast Nazi (hotel employee who oversees the breakfast area) is not so cheery and is always on the lookout for a tip.  It is now our challenge to exit the breakfast room without him spotting us to yell out 'Thank You" which we interpret as "Where's my tip?"  Mind you, it is a self serve breakfast where we clear away our own plates and cups.  To date we have succeed once in getting out without being caught!!!
On Friday we caught up with Naomi Hart who is a friend from Australia living and working in New York.  We went to Fresco which is where she works as a waitress.  She tells us it is a mafia run establishment so were pleased to find everyone friendly towards her and therefore us!!  It was great to catch up with her and we plan on seeing a show with her next Tuesday.
Over the weekend we went to Harlem with a big apple greeter named Robert of Spanish decent and was born in Harlem.  The big apple greeter is a free service to travellers where local New Yorkers will show you the sights of their city.  We walked past Apollo Theatre where James Brown's body lied in state only a week ago with 200,000 people queued to view the body.  Lunch was at Manna's – a Soul Food establishment.  Interesting!!!!
Yesterday we went to Mass in St Patrick's Cathedral which we discovered was being televised!  The Cardinal had an announcement to make which pricked our ears but it was only to announce the bicentenary celebrations of the Archdiocese of New York.  The whole service went for 1 hour 45 mintues.  To recover we headed downtown to Century 21 – the bargain department store (opposite ground zero) and did a bit of retail therapy.  A chance visit to St Paul's Chapel nearby was quite moving.  This chapel was used as a place of rest and recovery for the workers on the recovery mission after 9/11.  The outside fence was where people posted messages and photos for their missing loved ones.  It is quite incredible that the church wasn't at all damaged despite trees crashing down around it and rubble being strewn all over it.
Today is a theatre free day as most shows don't have performances on Mondays.  We will probably watch a movie in Times Square!  More again soon!!

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