Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Mario Lopez and the Rockefeller Center

New York is to me what Paris or Rome is to others - a perfect travel destination.  I always enjoy my vacay in New York and I look forward to it.  And as with any other city that I frequent, I'd have a "travel base" in the city.  In Manhattan, I am most attached to the Rockefeller Center or The Rock.  It is where I usually stop upon arriving in the City from my cousin's place.  It's equipped with all sorts of things that one would basically need - I think.

For starters, it has a store of my favorite coffee, Starbucks.  It's a no-brainer to even think of which drink to order or worse, whether to order at all.  I love the fact that it has its own Subway station that links it to the rest of New York.  It also has a Dunkin' Donut store, where I buy my bagel in the morning; a Swarovski store that I just simply love; and the Banana Republic Flagship store that could be very amazing especially with great finds on sale!  And we have even just been talking about the Concourse level.

You'll be amazed by the great sights at the Top of the Rock where you'll be given a 360-degree view of the entire New York City.  I suggest that you go there at sunset, and wait for the City to transform to dusk when, instead of the sky being dimly lit by the orangy sunset and the buildings standing like a concrete jungle, the sky transforms into purplish midnight blue and the buildings sparkle with light of various hues.
View of Empire State from Top of the Rock
View of Central Park from Top of the Rock - day
View of Central Park from Top of the Rock - dusk

The Skating Rink at The Rock
The Rock is also famous for its year-long ice skating rink.  There are benches for people-watching.  And while I prefer the original store in Greenwich Village, I am delighted to tell you that The Rock has a branch of the most coveted red velvet cupcakes and banana pudding from Magnolia Bakery!  I also love their keylime cheesecake!

It is also in close proximity with Saks Fifth Avenue - and the entire 5th Avenue at that - and the St. Patrick's Cathedral, where I usually to go mass at lunchtime.  Oh did I say 5th Avenue?  Okay, let's not get started on that one!

The Rock also houses the NBC Studios.  And of course, they have that famous Today show studio whose sides are made of glass panels so the bypassers can actually become spectators.  Most of the time if not everyday, the hosts would shoot a segment on the streets within The Rock premises to have more audience participation.  While I've seen this being done a couple of times, something different was meant to come about on a day I happened to be there.

Mario Lopez

On one fine day - when spring clashes with winter to create a fusion of the warm sun with the cool breeze - my trip to St. Patrick's from The Rock was somehow altered by a crowd gathered outside of J. Crew.  Light and camera stands were all set up and a small part was cordoned off for some important event.  And there he was, spotted in the middle of the crowd.  It was no other than Mario Lopez himself!  It turns out, he was co-hosting the fourth hour of NBC's Today show.  And he was being prepped outside of The Rock!

He may be known for his dazzling dimples that remind me of Barbie's Ken.  But his credentials speak of more than that.  He's been hosting shows and events here and there, including the Miss Universe Pageant in 2007, MTV's America's Best Dance Crew, Extra, ESPN Hollywood and Animal Planet's Pet Star.  And who could forget Mario Lopez's great dancing skills?  He was one of the celebrity contestants in the third season of Dancing with the Stars.  While he has a number of acting stints, he's best known for his character in Saved by the Bell.  In 2008, he debuted on Broadway as Zach in A Chorus Line.  And of course, his bit as a boxing analyst that includes covering Manny Pacquiao just makes him a darling to us Filipinos.

I was simply amused to run into this versatile celeb in New York.  I left the scene with nothing but a smile.  Off to St. Patrick's.

Mario talking to the staff and crew

Makeup retouching for the next shoot

Signing autographs

Having a chat with spectators behind him

Posing for fans

The real view where I was standing

Mario featured the firefighters on NBC's Today Show

Mario Lopez behind me
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