The Adventure Continues

TT in the Blue Mountains and Sheldy in New York.

Culture Shock.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Day 4 J-Ville

For some strange reason, part of the public transport system ceases to operate on weekends. The Skyway does not cross the river, forcing one to walk across the bridge to get downtown, and I never even found the much touted Riverside trolley which I spent an hour looking for on Friday. Not to, too, disappears on Saturday and Sunday. So across the bridge I tromped, once again without having eaten breakfast but a little more confident that a smart café with a water view was within easy reach and eager to sample the weekend hustle and bustle of downtown Jacksonville.

I was bound and determined to find the Riverside shopping area and "historic Five Points" even if the trolley WAS in hibernation so I headed in the direction of the Jacksonville Terminal which would no doubt be a whirlwind of activity.
I was obviously getting lost so, after careful reading of several timetables at various deserted bus stops I ascertained that at least two bus routes would most likely take me to my destination which was probably no more than two stops away. After about ten minutes a bus actually arrived! Vastly relieved, I hopped on like a bunny and kept my eyes peeled for the smart shopping precinct I had read about in the brochures at my hotel. Imagine my dismay when the bus immediately lurched off the main road onto a freeway at breakneck speed and within minutes took me miles away through a series of unappetizing districts, each more drab than the last. Oh well. I had no pressing appointments until 8pm that night so if I ended up halfway across the country I had plenty of time to find my way back. After twenty minutes we turned into the grounds of a college campus. I perked up, figuring at least I could have breakfast in a student cafeteria. But no, dear reader. "CLOSED FOR SPRING BREAK". Of course. I stayed on the bus for another twenty minutes but the vista was unchanging and I figured getting off here was as good as anywhere.
I looked around for a diversion.

I was poised to visit Aurora's creations for a bag or a baptism when I saw a magical vision!!!
Hurrah! Coffee! Toast! Omelette! Then it was just a matter of waiting for a return bus (another 25 minutes standing on the roadside) to take me back to my starting point. Take 2. I retraced my steps, this time hewing a little closer to the river and was confronted with a rather daunting staircase.
leading to a bridge which led God knows where. Was this yet another dead end?
I took the punt and yeee haw!! THIS is more like it!
But what's that I hear? Music? What's that on the road? A head...?
It's the famous Riverside Arts Market!!!

I bought some apples (for some reason I haven't been able to find fruit since I got here) and happily continued along the yellow brick road until I found this gorgeous park.
A right turn took me to Historic Five Points which turned out to be a handful of nice restaurants and a few antique shops but compared to desolate Downtown it was a pleasant way to while away a few minutes.
Then another trek back into town and across the bridge to the hotel to tend to my poor blistered feet and freshen up for the purpose of this entire visit. Yes, folks, it's showtime!
Broadway legends Pamela Myers and Harvey Evans are headlining a special presentation of SIDE BY SIDE BY SONDHEIM at Florida's oldest community theatre. So where else would one be on Sondheim's 84th birthday?
I had planned for this trip to be a surprise and just turn up backstage after the show, but to my disappointment one of the theatre staff recognized my name when I picked up my ticket and told Harvey I was out front which threw him into a nervous tizz. Bugger.

But considering the magnitude of the project and the short rehearsal period the entire cast triumphed, especially Harvey recreating moments from his Broadway shows ANYONE CAN WHISTLE and FOLLIES and Pamela's show-stopping "Another Hundred People" from her debut in COMPANY. She also delivered definitive readings of "Send in the Clowns" and a roof raising "I'm Still Here."

The entire gang were due to fly out of Jacksonville at 9 a.m. the next morning (my flight was a civilized midday) but nonetheless we all partied at the bar of their hotel until we were thrown out around 2.15 in the morning. Despite all the twists and turns of the past four days, the whole trip was worth it just to see Harvey's overwhelmed reaction and to spend some quality time with the delicious Ms. Myers.

 I made it safely to the airport the next morning in plenty of time and when our plane was delayed on the tarmac I closed my eyes for a moment and waited for takeoff. When I opened them again it was two and a half hours later and we were landing in New York.

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