The Lovely Husband, in addition to being lovely, is a stellar travel genius. Since childhood he has absorbed maps and travel paraphanalia in a way that just leaves me dizzy. This is a good thing as while I am the planner of the two of us, for some reason I just can't get my head around travel planning. Too much choice, too many places, too many options, too much to squeeze into a weekend, a week, two weeks. Maybe this is why I prefer to live in places I travel to rather than just pass through.
Anyway, it appears I lucked out with the Lovely Husband as nothing gives him more pleasure than to plan and execute our travel. My honeymoon was a complete surprise right up until we got to departures at Schiphol the day after our wedding - and he did a gooooood job. Spa hotels - tick, sunset sails around islands - tick, speedboat rides to remote island restaurants - tick. This one's a keeper.
So I had no fears, no fears at all when he took full charge of our America trip. Even once we got on the plane I had only the vaguest idea of our itinerary. Over the next few days the plans got much clearer but he kept the New York section, the final four days of our trip completely to himself.
With very good reason, he had planned the most excellent surprises for me.
Surprise One - Staying in a very nice hotel on Times Square.
Surprise Two - An offer of tickets to any Broadway show I wanted to see (in the end we got very lucky at the TKTS booth and got a pair of tickets for the show we wanted at a 50% discount - score).
Surprise Three - Dinner and Jazz. Yes, I know, it's not for everyone and I must admit that even I was slightly hesitant. I only like certain types of Jazz and I couldn't tell you what those types are - if my toe taps, I like it. So this could have gone horribly wrong. But this was no ordinary Jazz. Oh no. This was Jazz at the ultra swank Carlyle Hotel. So Jazz and a really good dinner. I was thrilled.
We hopped in a yellow cab and slid through the dusk of Manhattan towards the black and gold art deco entrance of the Carlyle.
Outside I spotted posters for two female singers. "Hmm" I said "Debbie Reynolds... isn't she famous". Really, I have no clue.
Inside there was another poster board resting on a gold easel. "Oh my goodness darling, look, Woody Allen plays here" I walk a little closer "He's playing here tonight!" long pause, realisation dawns "You.Did.Not".
But of course he did, because he knows that I have a fondness for Mr Allen (not in that way, eugh, he's old enough to be my.... yeah, he really did himself no favours with that one.), because he knows that Woody Allen in Manhattan would make my eyes larger than saucers and because he know music genres better than I do and so knew that I really really enjoy New Orleans Jazz.
We started with dinner which was excellent. I can only ever remember what I ate at restaurants (when I can remember at all), I appear to have a very single minded focus on my food to the exclusion of everyone elses.
Starter: Prawn Cocktail (Lovely, loads of fresh prawns and just the right amount of horseradish in the cocktail sauce).
Main: Roasted Halibut with a bourgogne jus and baby golden beets on a bed of spinach. Gratin potatoes as a side dish.
Dessert: Nada. We had over indulged earlier in the day.
About half way through the main course the band finished setting up and took their places. Into the last remaining seat on the corner of the stage crept Woody Allen with his clarinet. And then they began. And it was wonderful. Superb music and a real proper musicians. I don't know what others in the very small but very packed dining room were expecting but for me it was everything you expect dinner and Jazz to be. Small tables, crisp linen, little table lights and music washing over you.
Other, more prepared attendees, had brought cameras. Alas, this was the one detail the Lovely Husband overlooked so I have no photos to share but for me it wasn't really about the photos and once Woody Allen got on stage it wasn't even really about him. The band were just too good as an ensemble for anyone person to stand out amongst them. I really enjoyed it, the perfect surprise.
2 months ago