Another 5 am start, this time to stand in line for a chance to attend the TODAY Concert. The Tonight Show the night before and the TODAY concert now — it was a perfect way to round out our trip activities! A representative led to the back of the line and it was several blocks long at this early in the morning. I was not feeling good about our chances of making it into the concert, or, if we did, being able to actually see the performance from how far back in the audience we would be.
After about half an hour of waiting, fate intervened and we started chatting with the guy in line behind us, who, as luck would have it, had fan pass tickets. He happened to have two tickets and each ticket allowed one guest. My friend and I were nervous about getting away with being the “guest” since the guest portion of the ticket had clearly male names on them, but when the concert reps came by, they just took the pass and didn’t give it a second look. And then we were in!
The TODAY concert fan pass meant we got priority entrance and had a great view of the performance. Andy Grammer was the artist for that particular morning, and he put on a great show that we actually got to see twice — once for a practice run and another time for the live broadcast performance. The concert was a blast and it was worth a second early morning to get a chance to see it!
After the concert, our lack of having eaten yet and our fondness for brunch led us to the Rockefeller Cafe for our first meal of the day. The day was quickly getting hot and we opted to sit indoors beside a window, where we could enjoy the A/C, but still experience the view outside. I made a reservation about an hour beforehand, but it was completely unnecessary — the place was all but empty when we arrived around 10 am, which is probably typical for a Friday morning.
Our second New York City brunch was basic but delicious. My friend ordered a gigantic croissant and I ordered bacon, eggs, and potatoes.
In the afternoon, we headed back to Times Square one last time to visit Madame Tussauds. Our TODAY Concert friend had recommended it as a place that is great to check out once if you’ve never been. It was fun, and the wax replicas were eerily life like — I would have been freaked out to have gone in there alone at night!
After the wax museum, we made our way to the MoMA. I enjoy modern art and frequent the museums in my own city, but I was not prepared to have access to so many well-known artists’ work in one place! There were pieces there by Pollock, Monet, Magritte and Van Gogh — work that I had seen countless time in books were now right in front of me. I was hoping we would have time to see the MET and the Guggenheim, but that will have to wait for another trip. I was glad to at least have gone to the MoMA and would go back again in a heartbeat.
The MoMA was not far from our hotel, and we headed back there to grab our bags, regroup, and then head to New Jersey for dinner before catching our flight out.
We were sitting in the hotel lounge talking about whether or not we had time to do a couple more things while we were in NYC when I decided to log into my United flight app to check the departure time before making any additional activity decisions.
It was only once logging in that I saw an urgent notification that our flight that night was canceled — so much for signing up for text notifications. We were on the same flight back, so our initial plan to squeeze in some more New York fun turned into panicked calls to the airport to try to get a different flight out. We had no luck with getting a same-day flight, but United reps assured us that we could go to the United counter at Newark airport and they would give us a hotel voucher for the night.
With our fears assuaged, we headed to New Jersey for dinner with plans to head to the airport immediately afterward for a hotel voucher.
Dinner was at Chart House in New Jersey, and just like the New York restaurants, the food experience and service were both top-notch. The place was packed and we had to wait a bit at the bar for a table. The entire waterfront side of the restaurant is glass, and now from the Jersey side, we were able to witness the sunset over the Hudson River with the lights and skyline of New York City in the background. The place would have been worth a visit for the view alone.
Dinner was a delicious Chicken Romano, followed by a decadent Lava Cake. For a final restaurant meal before ending our trip, we couldn’t have picked a better place.
As planned, we headed straight to Newark airport after dinner to get our hotel vouchers… only to find there were no employees working the United desk. A maintenance worker just yelled at us that they were closed. We just stood there and looked at each other. How could they be closed?! It wasn’t that late and the rep on the phone said there would be someone there.
Finally, a rep came by who was supposed to be on her way out but stayed late to help us. She told us that all of the hotels were full and that even if they weren’t, we wouldn’t have been eligible for a voucher. This was the opposite of what we were told on the phone and we were enraged! Had the phone rep told us that earlier, we would have had time to make other accommodation plans, but now here we were stuck in Newark, with our only options to either shell out about $400 for an uber and a hotel in New York (where a few rooms, while ridiculously expensive, were still available), or stay the night in the airport.
After a lot of pleading on our end for the United desk rep to help us find some alternative, we left the desk with meal and flight vouchers, but no hotel room. I was not looking forward to spending the night in this place. The security line didn’t reopen until 3-am, so we would be stuck on the public side of the airport, in the worst airport I’ve ever seen. With no proper place to lounge in the airport, we found a space or free floor next to a couple of outlets to charge our phones and settled in for our overnight stay.