It felt like years since I’d stepped foot on that island they call Manhattan. Probably because it had been. Four to be exact. When I knew I’d be visiting family and friends in New York State, there was absolutely no question that a visit to the city would be in order. My super fun & super cool friend Angela agreed to host us for four nights in her adorable pad on the Upper East Side ((or UES for short)). I have so much love for New York City. It is always bustling, and there’s always someplace new to discover. New York makes you feel so alive and so brave, like you can truly do anything. Walt Whitman said of New York City ‘There is no place like it, no place with an atom of its glory, pride and exultancy.’ Couldn’t agree more. What was on the NYC must-do list? Well depends on who you ask. Eating & drinking & wanderlust were on my list; nothing too specific. Shopping was the only thing on Andrew’s list.
We arrived at Angela’s on a Friday evening via Metro North Railway and the subway. How I love good public transportation. After living in Seattle for seven years, and rural upstate NY before that, I still find the subway and trains so new and enjoyable. I love to people watch, and often wonder where each person is coming from and going to. Along with Google Maps on my cell phone, the subway system in NYC makes getting around so easily manageable.
Our first meal with Angela would be at Jack Russell Pub in the UES for some pub food and ciders. I am on such a cider kick lately! We then ventured over to the liquor store to choose our poison for the evening. I decided I had to get a bottle of Three Olives Cherry Vodka ((I have categoric obsessions; this one is my vodka obsession, introduced to me by Angela herself on a friendcation to Arizona last year)). The cashier decided I needed an even larger bottle and offered me the handle sized one for only $2 more than the smaller bottle. Who could say no to that? I can’t pass up a good bargain, even if I would end up only drinking 1/50th of the bottle while in NYC. After a few drinks at home with Angela, we ventured out to the Whiskey Tavern where I would taste my first Pickleback shots ((whiskey chased by pickle juice)) mentioned in my Top Ten of NY State list. We drank, listened to the music played by a DJ in the bar, danced and sang along to some of the songs. Such a great atmosphere, that Whiskey Tavern! Most times lately I cannot hold much alcohol, so I was pretty certain I would wake up sick or with a massive hangover the next morning, in the very least. Not so! After an egg & cheese bagel from nearby Tal Bagels, I felt like a champ, ready to embark on a day of shopping.
My husband is a shopaholic, so an eight/nine hour shopping day in NYC is nothing to blink an eye at for him. We did most of our browsing and shopping in Soho that day, and some other days as well. One NYC shopping day is never enough for my guy. Bless his big heart and little wallet. He would be perfectly happy cutting this trip short and going back to work so he can buy things rather than be a little restricted due to no current income. But he loves me and knows I want to carry on with this adventure of ours! I let him have a shopping day here and there, and he plans trips to places like Berlin and Paris for us. I think it’s a fair trade!
Sunday we would walk through Central Park before meeting up with a group of Angela’s friends at Legends Bar to bus it over to New Jersey for a Red Bulls game. Winning that game versus Chicago Fire meant the Red Bulls would clinch the Supporters Shield for the best record in all of MLS. Andrew and I must have been good luck, because they did it! Red Bull Arena is a great little venue apart from the isolated location, and even though we are Sounders fans, we had a great time at the game. Angela is one of those lifetime friends who is so go-with-the-flow but also amazing at planning trips and knows all the best spots to eat at and check out. She is so fun to be around, and a fiercely loyal friend. She was such a generous host to us, letting us have her bedroom while she slept on the couch, even when she had to go to work some of the mornings!
One of the most surprising happenings in NYC was actually rather spontaneous. Funny how that happens, isn’t it? The Seahawks were playing a Monday night game, so I thought just maybe there would be a bar playing the game. When I searched the interwebs for the best place to watch American Football and the Seahawks, I came across this site mentioning we could view the game at Carlow East which was just up Lexington by Angela’s apartment. Angela had warned us that Carlow East doesn’t serve food so we devoured a delicious dinner at Burger Fi and shared a froyo dessert at 16 Handles. We arrived at the bar a half hour before kickoff and the place was already quite crowded, with no seats left. After a while, we managed to find one seat at the bar between the two of us and would remain there until the final whistle. I sipped on my cider drink, while fans clad in their Seahawks gear filed in through the doors. I couldn’t believe how many Seahawks fans there were, and lucky for us it was a mere three blocks from where we were staying. What are the chances? It was a fantastic game against the Rams – a nail biter until the very end – and the bar went wild as the Seahawks held on for a 14-9 win. I don’t mind watching the occasional American football game, but I have never been so into a game as that one. Such a great atmosphere at Carlow East, and I know if I ever find myself in NYC again and need a Seattle sports fix, I will definitely head there for a Seahawks or Sounders game.
On the last day in NYC, while Andrew did his last burst of shopping, I took the subway to Grand Central to meet up with Dana and Megan who were visiting from Seattle. Dana has been my hairdresser for the past three years in Seattle ((after trial and error at so many other hair salons, I was so thrilled when Dana told me she does hair while giving me a manicure. I booked my first hair appointment with her that very day and since then she hasn’t been able to shake me!)). Megan is her best friend and co-worker at Derby in Seattle. Before meeting up with Dana, Megan and Andrew at Bryant Park, I had to venture down to the Dining Concourse in Grand Central Terminal to see what I could find to nibble on. I spotted a Magnolia Bakery stand and browsed the cases to see what my options were. Angela advised me if I went to Magnolia, I was to skip the cupcakes and head straight for the banana pudding. I take her food advisement very seriously, and ordered a pint of the banana pudding which is layers of soft banana wafers, fresh bananas and creamy vanilla pudding. It was easily the best thing I ate while in NYC, and I ate loads of delicious food while there. After devouring the banana pudding, and I did share some with Dana, Megan and Andrew when I met up with them, I had to go inside the New York Public Library building ((where Carrie and Big from Sex and the City were supposed to get married in the first film)) to have a look and take some photos. Massive old libraries are so enchanting. So many rooms filled with books about anything and everything imaginable. I had a quick look around the front area of the building, and the group of four of us ventured on foot to have a heavenly late lunch at Kesté Pizzeria on Bleecker Street near the West Village. The wine & Prosecco were flowing, the pizzas were mouthwateringly good ((I chose the prosciutto and arugula)), and the company was first-rate. Wood fired pizza done right is one of the best meals money can buy, and Kesté does it incredibly well.
After bidding farewell to Dana and Megan, and Angela earlier that morning, Andrew and I packed up our bags and off we went to catch the subway and train back up to Carmel for some more time with my aunt, uncle and cousins before returning to my hometown for the rest of the New York State visit. As a girl who has always loved the buzz of a proper metropolitan city, I wondered if I would/could ever live in NYC. As much as I adore that big city, I don’t think I am up to the pace of living there. Living on the West Coast and currently retired, I think we are a bit too old and slow and past our NYC prime. Plus Andrew and I would both need to earn millions to afford living there and support his shopping habit. For now, I think I will keep it as a fabulous place to visit when I need to be amazed and when I need to obtain a jolt of that NYC vitality.
Thanks to our most amazing NYC host, Angela. Hope to meet up with you in Europe soon!
Move over Richmond, there’s a new favorite place I want to inhabit. Read about it in the next blog post!