Tag Archives: La Esquina

New York, New York: Day 4

19 Apr

Poor James did not have a good night of it after his lactose extravaganza. He was feeling a bit better the next day, though Julian pointed out that in the morning light James’ skin had this odd … green tint to it.

Our first plan was a cruise to go see the Statue of Liberty. They recommended that we get there 45 minutes early, and it’s a good thing we did because the outside deck filled up really quickly. You can see Jules and James (looking a bit worse for wear in his beanie and sunglasses) in the second row on the right.

It was (again!) a beautiful day so the tour was packed. There were two additional seating areas inside but they weren’t as busy as the outside deck. I think it was extra busy because there was a giant Chinese tour group on our cruise.

And I’m just going to get this out now – I hate Chinese tourists. They are the worst. The fucking worst. The announcer guy had to keep telling them not to block a particular area (it was a spot where people were supposed to take a quick photo or two then move away, but groups from the Chinese tour would just park themselves there for 10+ minutes at a time). It wasn’t too bad for most of the cruise but when the Statue of Liberty came into view it was a feeding frenzy.

And just because it was such a pain to get a crappy photo of the statue, here it is.

We were near the edge so you would have thought it was OK but a couple of women from the Chinese tour group stood in front of our view of the statue nearly the whole time! One woman took a bunch of photos with the other posing with the statue behind her (it was a really stupid pose too – ball both of your fists under your chin, tilt your head to the side and make a cutesy face). She took two photos, then a third – all of the same fucking pose – then a fourth, and that’s when I got cut. I glared at them and snapped “oh come on!” They looked scared and hurried off.

The most interesting part of the cruise was actually the announcer talking about the history of Manhattan (did you know it used to be hilly? They leveled it to build all the buildings). James enjoyed seeing the scale of the city and said that the cruise was actually his favourite part of the trip – which really surprised me because I thought it was one of the weakest. But I’m glad he enjoyed it. =)

Afterwards we went to a Mexican place that Julian recommended called La Esquina. The tacos were super fresh and delicious but like twice the price of regular tacos ($10 for 2). Julian said they’re the best tacos he’s ever had.

The ones closest to the camera are steak tacos, I think the ones with green on top are pulled pork, and the pink ones in the back are pork carnitas.

We also ordered a bunch of fish tacos.

The steak ones were my favourite but Jules and James both preferred the pork.

We briefly went to Wall Street, but it was really hot and crowded and there wasn’t much to see. You can’t get on the trading floor, which was the only thing I would have wanted to do, so we went back home and had a nap. It was so refreshing – I felt so much better afterwards!

And then it was time for what Jules and I thought was the highlight of our trip – Sleep No More. If you go to New York you have to see this play. Jules and James quizzed me about it but all I knew was that they had renovated some old warehouses to make the set, it was choose-your-own-adventurish and described as Macbeth meets Hitchcock.

This was the line outside.

After we picked up our tickets we had to walk through some pitch black hallways to get to the waiting area (I was feeling my way via the walls), which was done up like a 1920s jazz club with actors in character. The effect was actually pretty disconcerting and the guys were getting nervous that I had signed us up for a haunted house.

Oh and before I forget, how cool are the tickets? I think the card number you got determined when you could enter. In the background is one of the masks that we all had to wear.

So like I said earlier we had no idea what to expect. And if you’re planning on seeing the play please don’t read any further because it’s so much fun discovering everything for yourself!

We got into an escalator and they randomly let people off on different floors. I think there were maybe 5 floors in total but it’s hard to say – it was dark and I was pretty disoriented going up and down all the stairs.

We were told not to speak during the play and if we were in a group we were encouraged to split up. We were also given masks that we had to keep on at all times. How creepy were the masks? Pretty creepy.

Yes that’s blood on my mask. More on that later.

Like I said earlier, the play is based on Macbeth, but it’s kind of an open-ended experience. I wandered the hotel at my own pace, deciding which rooms I wanted to explore and which characters I wanted to follow. It was quite eerie to be part of the silent masked audience following them around.

The characters frequently moved from room to room and I guess it was deliberately choreographed so they often crossed paths. I’d have to decide whether I wanted to keep watching the same character or start following the new one. It took maybe an hour before I had a rough handle on who everyone was (I remember thinking “noo I’m going to be the only one who doesn’t understand the play!”) It was difficult because they didn’t speak so you had to go by context and body language – also there were maybe 3 male characters who looked similar and were dressed similarly which made it extra confusing.

Each character’s scenes took roughly the same amount of time and once they were done they lead their audience down to a main banquet room. There was a scene with the whole cast and then they split up again so this time I could pick who to follow from the beginning. They looped the first half of the play 2 or 3 times so I followed different characters and tried to piece stuff together. Then it was time for the next half and I was all like “nooo I wasn’t done with the first act!”

I primarily followed the main characters, who were all very popular – Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, the king, Macduff and his wife and also the witches. Talking to Jules later he did the same thing, though we each saw scenes that the other hadn’t. However James avoided the main characters (he hates crowds) and had a completely different experience to us. He mainly explored the hotel since so much thought had obviously been put into it – here’s a cool article about how detailed the set design was – and keep in mind that’s 6 rooms out of 100+!

James said that he followed minor characters and at one point was challenged to a game of luck by a bartender – he had to pick the Jack out of a hand of Kings. The people before him failed but James picked the correct card and was rewarded with a shot of scotch from a special locked box. James also managed to find his way to a candy store (I think there’s a picture of it in the article I linked). He tried one of them and said it was real, then just started handing them out to random people who walked in. He said they seemed a bit apprehensive but still ate them – maybe they thought he was part of the show.

So yeah, you could follow the major characters, the side characters, explore the set … oh and apparently there were secret passages as well! It was so much fun piecing stuff together afterwards – Julian witnessed seeing a lady with a suitcase steal some money and it turned out that later that night James saw the bellhop character going through her suitcase to discover the stolen money. It had nothing to do with the main story but how cool is it that everyone had their own side plots going on? Words really can’t get across what a rich, immersive experience it was and if you’re planning a trip to New York I highly, highly recommend that you go.

Oh yeah, and the blood (actually chocolate syrup). There was this pretty trippy blood orgy scene (there were strobes, there were boobs, there was scrotum, and also a guy with a giant animal headmask) – the witches and Macbeth were drinking blood and spraying it everywhere and since I was in the first row it went all over my mask (leaking onto my face), top and arms. The guy standing next to me was wearing a suit and I saw him sadly look down at his blood-spattered jacket. The blood orgy is probably the highlight of the play and James was a little bummed out that he’d missed it. He was also sad that he missed the Macbeth death scene.

I didn’t realise there was blood on my face until the end – the whole time I was thinking “someone in the audience really smells like chocolate!” Here I am after the show.

The play started at 7pm finished at 10pm and we were starving so we went to The Spotted Pig for dinner. I cleaned off the blood in the bathroom and had a couple of concerned people ask me if I was alright, which was very sweet. =)

Unfortunately my dinner photos came out too dark but we all had awesome beef and blue cheese burgers that came with a generous serve of shoestring rosemary fries ($20). I loved the fries! They was enough rosemary to be aromatic but not so much that it tasted bitter. The burger was perfectly done and one of three excellent burgers we had in New York – Burger Joint, Spotted Pig and Shake Shack.

Jules rated them Spotted Pig, Burger Joint then Shake Shack; I rated them Spotted Pig, with Burger Joint and Shake Shack equal second, and James went Burger Joint, Shake Shack, then Spotted Pig (I suspect he didn’t like the blue cheese). Afterwards Jules ordered a creme caramel by mistake (he thought it would be a creme brulee) and I ordered a banoffee (banana toffee) pie.

So no photos, but it was once again a great meal and the service was excellent. Also one of the waiters saw our Sleep No More masks and said that he was auditioning for a part in the play the next day.

After dinner we headed off to a couple of bars. It was around midnight on a weekday but still busy everywhere. We went to Death & Co where we waited maybe 10 minutes to get in – there were maybe 7 people waiting outside. The funny thing was that the door guy was making a big deal about how busy the club was, but when we got inside there were lots of booths free! I guess it was to make the club seem more exclusive? We each ordered a drink and then got a call from Please Don’t Tell to let us know that there was a table free for us.

The drinks at PDT weren’t as nice as the drinks at Death & Co or Pegu but they had a cool secret entrance tucked away in the phone booth of a cafe. Here is Jules going in:

Inside the phone booth there was a false wall that opened into the bar. We each ordered a drink but the bar closed at 2am, so we drank, chatted awhile and then headed back to our apartments, ready for our next day of New York adventures.