Magnolia Bakery, Broadway musicals, squirrels in Central Park + burgers at Shake Shack.

Today was my first full day in Manhattan, to spend as I pleased. I had no plans, no-one to meet up with, no one to see. I could just do and go wherever I wanted.

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So I did. I set out, rugged up against the New York snow and cold air, with my pack and my camera, and walked.

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I found myself in Times Square, just a few blocks from where I’m staying opposite Madison Square Garden. I saw the big half price broadway tickets booth, which I had completely forgotten about. Last time I was here, Eric and I got half price tickets to see Mary Poppins – this time I had seen that they had turned one of my favourite films into a broadway play. So I lined up and bought myself a single ticket, close to the stage in the orchestra, for that night. Why not!

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I hadn’t eaten yet, and my Aunt Christie had recommended Italian family style restaurant Carmine’s. I found the Times Square one and asked for a table for one. They immediately told me they’d be happy to seat me but it was family style dining – everything was served on platters. I thought I could do it. I ordered a meatball sandwich, as that was one of the smaller items. It is hard to tell scale from this but suffice to say it wouldn’t all fit in my mouth – it was too tall. I was also provided enough different types of delicious housemade bread to feed a small army.

Carmine's on Urbanspoon

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I wandered up towards Central Park, stopping in at the made famous by Sex and the City Magnolia Bakery for some of their super soft and light red velvet cupcakes.

Magnolia Bakery on Urbanspoon

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I couldn’t possibly eat anything else, so I head to the park to wander around in the snow.

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I met a lovely elderly Chinese lady who was feeding almonds to the squirrels, and we got to talking. We walked for a bit, finding more squirrels to feed. But she decided that ‘these ones were too fat’ because everyone fed them, as they weren’t terribly keen on coming to take the nuts out of my hand. We finally found one that would, and he used his little paws to grab as many as he could before perching on top of a post to eat them.

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Then I slowly made my way to Broadway. The musical I was seeing was Once, based on the film made by The Frames lead singer and Marketa Irglova, who made a film about meeting and making an album. The album from their fictional movie ended up being so popular that the two formed a band and toured. It was a strange evolution into a music group. The Frames were intending on selling the film out the back of their van when they toured – until it got picked up by dozens of independent film festivals and started winning awards.

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Afterwards I head across the road to the Theatre District Shake Shack, named by The New York Magazine as best burger in 2005. Lines can stretch to an hour plus, but I was lucky as I went at 10PM in the dead of winter so only had to wait half an hour. I got a cheeseburger with their special sauce and a caramel shake. While they are conventional diner items, everything is made with quality ingredients which makes for a tasty, cheap meal.

Shake Shack on Urbanspoon

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Afterwards I head up to a Starbucks and tucked myself in a corner with a Mint Tea – I had a skype date with my friend Mike back in Phoenix, and I stayed there until almost midnight in the city that never sleeps.

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