Tuesday, June 24, 2008

new york in a nutshell

So we're back in the real world now after a whirlwind trip to the big bad city for our first anniversary. We had a tremendous time and only managed to get lost on the subway twice! What a great city! My feet however, well that's another story. I don't swear much on this blog but here it's called for. My feet are F-ed up. They have never been in worse shape. I don't think we even walked this much in Italy. For a full photo rundown, check my Facebook photo albums. Click here for one and here for another. Here's the trip in a nutshell:

We start the trip on a sour note thanks to a royal screw up by Harry Rosen. Marc ends up without his 2 brand new Hugo Boss fancy New York shirts and as a result we have to do some quick last minute shopping at Mexx. Dear Harry Rosen: You suck this time around folks. Big time. Quick jump over the border and we spend the night at a hotel nearby the Buffalo airport so we can get an early start on Thursday. Buffalo is no fun but we manage to have fun in this no fun suburb.


Land in NYC in the afternoon and settle in to our great, great brownstone apartment. We rented in the Chelsea/ West Village and wow! Talk about the neighbourhood to be in! Walking distance to just about everything fun you'd want to do.

We decide to take a quick walk around our 'hood and that turns into an accidental sightseeing trip as we just keep stumbling across all these amazing things. A few blocks from our pad is the stellar Chelsea Market. Gourmet food stalls like I've never seen that make the St. Lawrence Market in Toronto look like a 7/11. I could probably live in that Market for the rest of my life. Strange no photo policy though so I have no evidence of the most adorable cupcake store I've ever seen.

From there, a walk through Tribeca, drinks in the West Village (where I've never seen my husband get more blatantly checked out more in my life - and by some of the finest looking gay men I've ever seen), and Chinatown and we jump onto the Staten Island Ferry - the best tour in NYC and it's free! Knock off the Manhattan skyline, Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Governor's Island and the Brooklyn Bridge all in under an hour!

Move to Little Italy and I felt like I was in the Godfather. What a fun place! We grabbed a quick bite at this place called Lumella that wasn't bad but had better atmosphere than food. I'm 100% okay with that though cuz it was such a great time and had a vibe unlike the rest of the city.


Our Friday morning started with the walk to end all walks and the beginning of my feet shredding. To help numb the pain, we hit an amazing sale at Kenneth Cole and made out like bandits. Quick walk around Grand Central Station, Chrysler Building lobby, some shhh-ing at the New York Public Library and Bryant Park and we hit up Kate Spade in SoHo -- the prettiest store ever. From there, off for some face time with the lovely Abbey at the cutest place, Once Upon A Tart. We've been bloggy friends but it was so nice to meet her in person - my first blog encounter!

We chat over scones and coffee and then we all head off to Jonathan Adler -- yet another breathtakingly cute store. I loved absolutely everything there and picked myself up a long coveted bulb vase that I can't stop looking at. More SoHo shopping and somehow I managed to keep my wallet more or less in check.

We also hit up Times Square only because we happened to be right there. It was touristy and awful -- just what you'd expect. So we stayed for five minutes -- just long enough to get more pics of us kissing fun places and see the Naked Cowboy (who I'm told rakes in about $250,000 a year from that gig).

Friday night we venture down to Broadway to see The Country Girl starring Frances McDormand, Morgan Freeman and Peter Gallagher. It was truly excellent to see. Frances McDormand is easily in my top 3 favourite actresses and Morgan Freeman, well the man is just a presence all round. And to see Peter Gallagher's eyebrows in person, well that's something too.

After the theatre we head to Otto, one of Mario Batali's restaurants where I had the best pizza I've had since visiting Rome. Outstanding. Add a bunch of wine and homemade gelato and you've got a 2 thumbs up night on your hands.


Anniversary day! Kick off the day with a delicious breakfast at the City Bakery (caramelized french toast every day please)and a cup of some of the best gourmet hot chocolate I've ever had.

Fueled up, we head to Central Park and the continued butchering of my feet. Thankfully, it was well worth it. CP is just the prettiest place ever and made me want to rent every movie ever filmed there. Drinks at the Central Park Boathouse and then into a boat! I laid around and Marc rowed me around the lake like one of those old movies -- so lovely. We also got to witness one of the most perfect CP moments -- a couple who had just wed in the park with a very small wedding party was walking past one of the buskers. He offers to play them a song as their first dance since a big wedding celebration is clearly not in their plans. He plays "I Can't Help Falling in Love With You" as they slowdance and all the people watching start singing along. When he was done everyone clapped and cheered as they hugged and kissed and were all smoochy. They got to be serenaded by Central Park on their wedding day -- so romantic it's crazy. Getting to watch it from a rowboat on our anniversary was pretty sweet too.

From there we moved on to the Empire State Building -- an expensive but necessary stop on the NYC route. While the view is indeed awesome, everything else about that visit was a total nightmare. The whole place is under renovation so nothing looked the same except the view. No art deco observation deck or any of that. Backbreaking wait in line to get up there and quite possibly the worst organized and longest wait of my life to get back down. Awful. Awful. Awful. If someone had offered me the stairs as an option I completely would have taken them. For the next few months, I'll hate the ESB just for that reason.

Thankfully we had an anniversary dinner at the Four Seasons Restaurant to help numb the pain. Not to be confused with the Four Seasons Hotel, this restaurant is New York landmark dining for sure and we were not disappointed. We got all gussied up and enjoyed our poolside table in what's considered to be one of the most beautiful dining rooms in the world (in the photo, right where those 2 waiters are was our table). I had the filet mignon of bison which was not only the best bison I've ever had, but the best piece of meat I've ever had period. Sorry Brazilian BBQ in Austin, the Seasons outdid you on this one. We ate for hours surrounded by Picassos and Pollocks and old New York money (I knew I should have packed my Chanel suit) and couldn't have asked for a better experience.

After dinner, we ended up at Jean- Georges Vongerichtan's Spice Market in the Meatpacking District where we enjoyed more than one of their murder-worthy kumquat mohitos and just got up to all kinds of trouble. Stumbling home past the Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen boutiques, we fought the urge to make a late night smash and grab.

Sunday we got a bit of late start due to the previous night's debauchery. Eventually we got ourselves together and headed out to Brooklyn (this would be lost #2). More walking and window shopping in this trendy area, lunch at a great cafe and then we dove into the vintage heaven that is Beacon's Closet.

Back into Manhattan for some fancy book learnin' at the Museum of Natural History. Due to the morning's late start and getting ourselves lost, we didn't have as much time here as we would have liked. But there's something to be said for the MNH in a little over an hour. Steer clear of the riff raff and all.

After yet another day of walking we finally made it to Anthony Bourdain's place Les Halles for an early French dinner. Delicious with a capital Delish. To walk off our dinner we decided that it was the night to hunt down the Dessert Truck for his famous chocolate bread pudding. Mobile dessert = best idea ever.

After dessert, you guessed it, more walking. This time back to SoHo for drinks at Fanelli's, the second oldest continuous tavern in NYC. It was a speakeasy during prohibition and has a real historic local hangout kind of vibe to it. Thanks to Dan, we were also partial to the Brooklyn Lager.

We arrive home that night only to run smack into Ethan Hawke walking his dog past our brownstone. Like right into him as I'm stepping up onto the sidewalk. Then he was all "Hey Marc and Tara, awesome to see you! You should come back to my awesome loft and hang out with me and my cute dog!" and we were all "Aw thanks Ethan but we're pretty wiped. We've had a long day and think we might just go to bed." Then he said "Come on guys, I so want to hang with you 2! Please reconsider!" but in the end we had to say "Thanks so much Ethan Hawke but we really are just too tired to hang with you. We'll hang next time, we promise" and then we went our separate ways.

Our last few precious moments in the city were spent bargain hunting at Century 21, the happiest place on earth. An entire department store full of discount designer duds. And the good stuff. I'm talking $100 Manolo's ladies. We only had about an hour there cuz we had to catch our stupid plane but I still managed to nab a cornflower blue Via Spiga raincoat, Marc snapped up a Kenneth Cole jacket and I scored a $175 Mantero silk scarf for my mother for $30!! You do have to take your life into your own hands to brave this store but if it means snatching up a $60 Cole Haan bag or a $150 Marc by Marc Jacobs jacket, you do what you got to do. Next time, an entire Century 21 day is a must.

Sadly, hometime crept up and we almost missed our flight but made it home safe and sound. NYC wasn't nearly as intimidating and scary as I thought it would be. I also never really felt unsafe which I found surprising. Getting lost in Harlem and Brooklyn was a teeny bit offsetting but overall it felt really safe. But considering what the body count was when we were there, perhaps we shouldn't have felt so secure. Don't tell my father.

And that's about it really. It was a great mini-vacation that will surely tide us over till the next one which is likely far, far away in the distant future. Truthfully, my feet need the time to recover anyway. As does our wallet.


kelly said...

Your trip looks exquisite - fantastic pics! NYC is one of those places that we still haven't been, and after reading all this I can't figure out why (and I want to go to the Museum of Natural History so badly it makes my heart hurt.) Not surprisingly, Steve just wants to know where all the record stores are.

tara said...

It was pretty outstanding. It would be great to go back now that all the touristy "must-see's" are out of the way and we don't have to spend hours seeing them. Focus on another neighbourhood or just one neighbourhood altogether. Yay! Let's go!

Jane Flanagan said...

Sounds perfect. I love your Jonathan Adler pick. And you're looking mighty fine too! All that hard work has paid off!

shira said...

What a lovely account! How did you find that brownstone? It looks amazing.

tara said...

we were looking at B&B's and one of them happened to own that building as well so they had 3 apartments to rent out -- $250 a night! way cheaper and bigger than a stupid NYC hotel room...

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