Not that every weekend trip to New York City isn’t the bestest, but my last trip was extra Gossip Girly and therefore extra awesome. Erino was going to see A Little Night Music on Broadway, and I was going to be a “special guest” on the On Location Gossip Girl tour. We stayed at the Empire Hotel — which is of course the hotel Chuck Bass bought this season to build his very own Bass Empire.
Chatting with the concierge on check-in, I learned that his favorite character is Chuck Bass; that it’s very cool to watch Ed Westwick switch in and out of his American accent while filming; and that while it’s great for the hordes of Gossip Girl fans who hang out outside the hotel while GG films inside, it’s kind of a drag for the regular guests who can’t use the front door, yada yada. Not that the hotel is small by any stretch of the imagination, but it definitely looks larger on TV. All about the angles, I suppose.
The Lobby Bar at the Empire is everything you want in a hotel bar (I really like hotel bars): dimly lit, cushy seats, amazing cocktails. Amazing Gossip Girl–themed cocktails. Twas difficult to choose, let me tell you. I opted for the “Jenny’s Tartlet”: Montecristo White Rum, Mint, Ruby Red Grapefruit, and a Lollipop. The lollipop happened to be my #1 favorite lollipop — a ChupaChup Strawberry & Cream. I cannot overstate how delicious this concoction was. Erin went for the “S” & loved it. It is a travesty that we didn’t try them all. Next time.
The other genius thing about the Empire Hotel is that it is literally a stone’s throw from the Lincoln Center. (I did not TRY to throw a stone at the Lincoln Center from the hotel but I am sure I could have. Moving on.) We popped
over on the Friday afternoon to see what was on that night and picked up $20 tickets for the New York City Ballet‘s performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It was the most wondrous thing I have seen in a really really long long long time. (I want to say EVER but it’s possible I’m forgetting some genius experience I had when I was a wee child. A Chinese circus I saw was pretty effing cool. Moving on.) The costuming, the set design and lighting, the music (Mendelssohn), the choreography (by Balanchine), the execution of the choreography, and the little children dancing as fairies — we are convinced that we will never in life see a more realistic representation of fairies than those little sparklers.
I went back the next night to see a modern ballet (not as genius). It was “Naive and Sentimental Music” followed by “Who Cares?” which was set to Gershwin; the big finale was to “I Got Rhythm.” Despite one dancer having a bit of a tumble, it was my favorite part as I fondly think of Gene Kelly in American in Paris when I hear that song. I have now resolved to see the NYC Ballet for $20 — you cannot beat that — every time I visit the city. It kind of breaks my heart that I will miss the rest of their Classics Revisited program this winter.
Sunday was the Gossip Girl tour! We met at the Palace Hotel and I could tell which of the lurking-about people were waiting for the tour. Surprise, surprise, we were mostly female! Some from Europe, some fellow Canadians, some native New Yorkers. While I was waiting I spied on the menu at Gilt (the hotel bar where Serena and Blair had a drink in the pilot episode, where Chuck then picked up a drunk S, and where Dan picked up S’s phone after Chuck tried to attack S). Next NYC trip: have the Gossip Grill at the Palace.
Our tour guide was Lindsey and she was awesome — super friendly, hilarious, and a total GG expert. Once we were all aboard, she gave us a rundown of what to expect — they have a DVD with clips of the episodes so you can remember which scenes took place at the locations you’ve visiting. And that way the driving-to-places part won’t be boring! On this particular tour, we didn’t have to worry about boring. Maybe 10 minutes into the tour, when the bus driver was making a totally normal, legal right-hand turn, a cabbie decided to pass us on our right side and drove right into the bus. For real. No one was hurt, the vehicles just got a little crunched. But seriously. Only in New York. While Lindsey figured out how to get a new bus over to our location, I hit the mike to talk about Spotted, and my fellow tour-takers were super friendly and curious about how one gets to write a book on Gossip Girl. (Have an awesome job already seems to be the way!) We had a few copies of the book to give away to some lucky winners, and I had made up some jazzy GG-themed postcards for the gang. (So everyone was a winner.)
Since we were close to the first stop on the tour, we walked over to one of the filming locations for Constance–St. Jude’s: Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church, at 75 East 93rd Street. Photo op! We kept moving cuz, you know, January in NYC is not the friendliest time for outdoor walkabouts, and headed to the Waldorf Penthouse at 1136 Fifth Avenue. Then we loitered in the lobby of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum (2 E 91st St) where Lily and Bart got married at the end of season 1.
The new bus arrived but sadly for me, I needed to get to the airport to fly home hella early so I hopped on the bus to take a pic of my new GG pals and then I was off! Luckily I did see a bunch of the locations last June when I did my own walking tour to take photos for Spotted but next time I’m in NYC, I hope I can take the tour again and actually stay for the whole thing!
More info on On Location Tours here; you can get 10% off the ticket price with the promo code CCALHOUN. Big thanks to Meagan and Lindsey for being so welcoming to me!
Erin took some more photos of our trip (she is infinitely better at photography than yours truly) and her photos are here. (more of mine on my flickr.) Also, if you’re wondering where some scene or another was filmed, check my Gossip Girl Locations google map. It’s color coded!
Epically long post for an epically fun trip! And, my friends, only five more weeks til Gossip Girl returns with new episodes! Holla!