So Long New York City

Soho streetsWhat a magic last day.  Thank you New York for turning on blue skies and warm breezes, as we hoofed it around the streets for one last tour.  Over to Union Square, down to Soho, across to East Village and back (and that was just the morning).

I have never walked as much in my life as I have in the last two weeks.  And l think it befitting that I have never bought as many pairs of shoes in the space of two weeks.  We are now just hoping that the suspiciously cheap  extra suitcase we have acquired will survive the trip home with our precious cargo.

Something you should know about New York City, is that there is a serious shortage of public toilets.  In our situation, this results in a self-perpetuating problem: need toilet so head for nearest bar -> purchase beverage to allow use of toilet facilities -> need toilet again an hour later -> head to nearest bar -> purchase beverage…  You see the problem here?  This is Cam, ruminating over the issue at one of our many pitstops yesterday.pitstop

Los AmericanosWe took the opportunity to revisit one of our favourite establishments on our last day.  Los Americanos in Tribeca – seriously the most amazing vibe, incredible Mexican food, and as cheap as chips.  It inspired a conversation we had, about exploring great gluten friendly cuisines of the world.  The idea is that Cam cooks, and I blog about it – genius!

On the shopping front, I had to stop in at Sephora, on an important errand for a friend back home.  A world of cosmetics!  However, Cam was getting antsy, so it was probably for the best when I handed my list to the nearest salesperson.  She spirited me around the store popping things into my handbasket a mile a minute, and we were out of there in a jiffy.  Miss Marty – the jobs done.

High LineI also had to revisit Enz’s one last time.  I had an inkling there would be good-bye present waiting for me, and I was on the money.  Enter The Jeans.  Forties style, high waisted, rolled up blue denim loveliness.  I have been looking for a pair of these suckers forever.

And when I say high waisted, I mean it.  Cam initially balked at their, um, highness, but was won over by Mariann (owner and designer), who quickly set him straight.  You can see me here, posing on the High Line, after a quick stop home for a costume change.  Just go ahead and call me Harry High Pants – I know that’s what you’re thinking.

And now I find myself awake at 6am, eating a (seriously good) cookie and contemplating the epic task of packing.  We fly out tonight, homeward bound to see our two beautiful little mites.  Man, I’ve missed them.  They have apparently behaved like angels for their grandparents (although we have the feeling that they will instantly morph into Satan’s spawn the moment the grandies are out the door).  Oh well, it’s a fair cop I suppose, after our two weeks in this wonderland of eating, drinking, shopping and sleeping.

And for those of you who have already visited this amazing city, you can imagine how we feel about saying good-bye: a little bit heartbroken.

So long New York City.  You’re the shiznit.

They misspelt it!

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Bright Sunshiny Day

Icy cold 7th AveI have just peeked out of my window and caught a glimpse of blue skye – joy oh joy!  We really need some fair weather to tick off the last few things on our To Do list.  We’re yet to walk the High Line, or take a trip on the Staten Island ferry, and must visit the Brooklyn markets and waterfront.  Only two days left.  Tick tock, tick tock.

After a tropical spell last week, it suddenly turned icy, blustering and wet (being used to Melbourne weather, we’re feeling right at home).  For a few days the cold and rain was quaint – it gave us a little feel for what winter might be like here in New York.  It also gave me occasion to don my new winter jacket, and to shelter in the haven of warm bars and restaurants.  There’s nothing like a fortifying drink to lift your spirits and warm your belly, and to remind you that you’re on holiday.  So what was Cam’s response, when I suggested we duck into a bar for a pre-lunch ale at 11.45am? You had me at hello.

Giant Lego X-wing

We visited the enormous Lego X-Wing which has landed in Times Square, with a gazillion other tourists.  And we visited the BIGGEST TOY SHOP IN THE WORLD, where we acquired a remote control UFO.  I think it will go down a treat with the munchkins back home.

MOMAOur wet day time table activities have included visiting MOMA (as evidenced by this shot of me, where I actually seem to be staring into space, and not at the artwork).  I think I was scoping someone’s gallery outfit and making mental notes.  Do you like how I match the painting though?

Sally and I attended a Broadway show last night: It’s Nice Work If You Can Get It, starring none other than Matthew Broderick.  It was fantastic.  And instead of having to line up in the horrendous queues which snaked all the way through Times Square, we got lucky.  I somehow charmed the ticket booth man at the Imperial Theatre into giving us the last few great seats for a steal.  What a nice man!  I will always remember him fondly…

Vin Sur VingtThis is Sally and I at Vin Sur Vingt, a lovely French wine bar in the village, where we took in our pre-theatre wine and cheese.  Beautiful.

It was here that we continued our discussion of New Yorkers and their glamorous gumboots.  It appears they must be from Hunter, and cost approximately $130 at Bloomingdales.  Could we get away with them in Melbourne, or would we just look like wankers?  Neither of us have the suitcase space anyway, so it was all theoretical.

Sally and cosmopolitan

Sally and Jon are heading to Boston on the train today, bringing an end to our New York chapter together.

So we thought it necessary to finish last night with a cocktail.  You guessed it – it’s a cosmopolitan.

Farewell Sal.  Keep it real in Boston.

Harlem Nights

We had the most extraordinary experience last night. One to top all others this trip.

Our friends Sally and Jon had met a lady called Berta the previous evening, and she had extended the invitation to join her at the American Legion in Harlem, for their Thursday jam session. We were going to a jam session in Harlem – it felt cool just saying it! But it was important to sign the book. You gotta sign the book.

We took the subway, then found our way through the streets – rows and rows of familiar looking brownstones – to the one in particular we were looking for. The sign on the door said simply ‘PULL UP YOU PANTS or STAY OUT’. And after a collective hitch of our pants, we went in.

American LegionThe next couple of hours were just magic. We sat at one of seven or eight small tables, sipped on drinks which came in individual bottles tiny bottles, and took in the talents of the amazing locals who got up to do their thing. Pretty soon they motioned our way, and it was Jon’s turn play. ‘Hey DOWN UNDER!‘ boomed one of the locals, ‘Come on up here and show us how you play!’. Eeeeeek!

Jon at the American LegionAnd of course, Jon absolutely blitzed it. He did us proud. The three of us were wearing the hugest grins, and I know that at least I had goosebumps. The ringing endorsement was when one dapper gentleman turned to another and said casually ‘that white boy can play’. Yup, that’s my friend Jon up there.

We’re both just loving this city, and it’s various enclaves and people, with their disarmingly familiar accents. Every day feels like a constant stream of nostalgia. The subway announcements are reminiscent of Bladerunner, all cheerful and chipper: ‘Stand clear of the closing doors please!’. And there’s the flamboyant gay guy who entertained us as we ate at a restaurant in the Village; he was, like, sooo, like, FANTASTIC, like, oh my God, like, I can’t believe how loud and gay and American this guy was!! (I said all of that in my New York accent). Love it.Dude in purple

And walking around town and on the subway, I am struck by all of these stylish men and women going about their life. I want to take their picture and tell them how amazing they look! But of course then I’d feel like a total tourist noob. So instead, I took this guy’s picture when he wasn’t looking.

Can you see how he’s got his own style going on here? He owns it.

And I have to relate how chuffed I was when in the Macy’s shoe department, a gent remarked to me (insert deep New York accent) ‘I like your dress. You look good’. Well thank you Mr cool middle-aged black dude, sitting with his wife while she tries on shoes, and giving me props for my fashion sense. You made my morning.

And if you’d like to see my ‘New Yorker certified’ outfit, here I am earlier that day, grinning cheesily on the Brooklyn Bridge (with my jaunty hat, purchased for $5 from a street vendor). Brooklyn BridgeSome more NY moments: Here I am in Central Park, where we ate a little picnic on a park bench. Fromage D’Affinois, trout salad, busker playing the saxophone. Oh God. How am I supposed to adjust when I come home in four days’ time? Sigh..

Central parkBuddakan

Here is Cam, fumbling blindly for his meal, when we dined at Buddakan the other night (for any SATC fans reading, it’s where Carrie and Big’s pre-wedding dinner was filmed).

I wish I could say it was another amazing NY experience, but as we were ushered through the huge, cavernous space to our table, with the pulsating beat in our ears, I realised it was a mistake. I think we’re just too old and grumpy to want to eat in a nightclub. The food was great, but we couldn’t wait to get back out into the lovely night air. Phew.

And before I go, I did promise many shots of me with rosy cheeks and wine in hand. So here’s one of Sally and I, scoffing a quick wine before our trip to Harlem last night. Cheers!

Quick drink with Sal

No. 64 Perry St

Aside

Our apartmentOn to stage two of our New York experience, and our residence is in the West Village, downtown, where streets are leafy and hipsters plentiful.

Unfortunately, Cam is lacking a Ned Kelly style beard and black rimmed spectacles, so that kind of gives us away as tourists.  But the good thing about the hipsters, is that wherever they go, proper coffee can be found.

We’re staying in a lovely, serene little apartment that looks out over a church roof and a leafy courtyard.  I am so envious of the owner of this apartment.  Who are these people who live here and go about their lives in this amazing city?  Anyway, for the next seven days, it’s ours.

Now, on to some random New York moments:

He’s when I purchased a gigantic pretzel (it was taunting me – I had to).

Yes, it's a big pretzelHere’s Cam’s ‘amazing!?!’ face, after he found this rare vinyl at a record shop in the Village.  Incredulous CamAnd here we both are at Murray’s Cheese Bar, partaking in some pre-dinner cheese and wine wanking.  Actually it was cheese and beer wanking for me.

Murray's Cheese Bar

No. 64 Perry St

A shopping afternoon in East Village with my friend Sally was pretty fun.  We lunched and we shopped and we walked until my feet nearly gave up on me.  Today I had to seek out some ‘flip flops’ uptown, to give my blisters a break (can I tell you how hard it is to find Havaianas in this city??).

I also have to disclose, at this stage, that I have taken a certain pilgrimage, as have thousands before me.  I googled it.  I sought it out.  I made Sally take a picture of me on Carrie’s stoop.  I know it’s silly for a grown woman to do, but I did it, and here it is (don’t judge me, okay?).

Joan Holloway

Joan Holloway (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After our shopping expedition, where I acted as buyers’ advocate for Sally, assisting her in the purchase of a few new dresses and some awesome shoes, we happend upon Enz’s. This is where I found The Dress.  My New York Dress.  My favourite, special, I-can-be-Joan-Holloway-from-Madmen-if-I-close-my-eyes-and-wish dress.  When I have occasion to wear it, I will blog it, you can be certain.

For the time being, you can look at Joan here and imagine I am her.

More Tales from the City that Never Sleeps

Jetlag has does some really odd things to my circadian rythyms.  So I’m up at a ridiculous hour again, and reporting on days one and two in NYC.  Who needs more than two hours sleep in a row, I ask you?

Cam shops till he dropsOn the shopping front, Cam has utterly surprised me by throwing himself into it with gusto – It’s like an alternate universe.  Yesterday I found myself having to sit down by the changing room to wait and rest up, while he debated whether he should get the 34/32 or the 34/34 size pants.  I’ve had to put an embargo on any further jeans purchases, lest he take up all the suitcase space.

Due to the seemingly irreversible jet-lag, we are forced to siesta in the afternoon, and sometimes these siestas last a little longer than anticipated (ah – woops, where’s the daylight gone?).  So much to my bewilderment, we’re wide awake and out exploring until the early hours.

We spent Friday night in the East Village, with pre-dinner drinks at Jules Bistro – a Parisian style live jazz bar tucked down underneath the street.  Now if you know Cam, you can picture the expression of pure joy on his face, as we drank at the bar and listened to live music.  In Manhattan.  He went to a little happy place, bless him.

Since then, we’ve ticked off a few other things on our To Do list.

MayaheulWe’ve had two of the best Mexican meals of our lives, at Mayahuel in the East Village and Los Americanos in Tribeca. Thank the dear Lord for Mexican cuisine, in this wheaty city of bagels, pizza and giant pretzels.

Last night we followed a hot tip from a friend and ate fantastic, greasy burgers and fries at 5 Napkin Burger in Hells Kitchen. Unfortunately, a few hours later, I was still clutching my belly and wondering if my heart would thud to a stop from all that lard, as we stared out at Manhattan from the top of the Empire State Building.  Radio City

And I met a true (and utterly trollied) New Yorker at a bar.  She cry-laughed while showing me the text message conversation she was having with a friend.  It went something along the lines of: ‘I’m just going through a whore stage right now’, to which the response was ‘Aren’t we all?’

And on that rather profound note, I’ll finish up for now.

Hello New York City.

Hello New York City. I love you, and a small, embarrassing part of me wants to buy a t-shirt expressing this love.

Times SquareMost of the time, it feels totally surreal that we’re here – in a large part due to our sudden childlessness and fairly brutal jetlag. But here I am, looking out my window as night creeps on, and listening to the sirens and incessant honking of horns from the streets below.

Twenty four hours ago we arrived, and showered off the disgustingness of aeroplanes and aeroplane food. We headed straight out, and found a cute Italian bistro around the corner for dinner. Friendly waiters, a suitable non-glutenous option, and a nice bottle of wine – tick.

Cam in Times SquareI was all for slinking back to our room to sleep after that, but Cam was like a man possessed. He led me on a rambling tour of mid-town to introduce us to our temporary neighborhood and to reset his inner compass. I am utterley lacking in the inner compass department, so I gratefully stumbled around after him, through Grand Central Station and past the New York Public Library. There was a lot of gawping.  But where was this gritty, frenetic New York I was expecting?   Evidently it is not found in Mid-town on a Thursday night.

After waking up this morning at 4am, we we’re showered, dressed and starving by 7am. So, feeling like dorky, eager-beaver tourists, we threw ourselves into navigating the subway for the first time, and with the help of Cam’s inner compass, found our way downtown to the East Village.

Katz's Deli

Breakfast was at Katz’s: an old school Jewish deli which we discovered is where the infamous ‘I’ll have what she’s having’ scene, in When Harry Met Sally was filmed (the table just to the right of me, in fact).

After a bit of awkward to and fro about where to order the blintz, and where to pick up the fries, we were into the groove of it.  A Cheese blintz (oh dear Lord, they are GF!) and a pastrami omelette later, we were on Katz's exteriorour way.  Maybe we surreptitiously high-fived each other for our general excellentness, once safely outside the building.

Now, after a day of shopping and lots more gawping, I have a nasty blister, and my first New York pair of shoes (the blister preceded the new shoes, which are very comfortable).

Cam has lived up to his shopping pledges, and is the proud owner of two new bottoms and two tops. It really is amazing what you can achieve, with no children in tow, and no plans for the day – especially when you can revive yourself with an early afternoon glass of wine, and then a three hour siesta.

So far, New York, you are everything we expected and more.  And on that warm and floaty note, I am signing off to enjoy my Corona, and the view from our rooftop bar.

A Game of Packing

I have done myself proud, and been totally restrained with my packing.   The result is one large suitcase which is HALF EMPTY.  And as a glass half full kinda girl, I see that as half a large suitcase which must be filled with loot for the return journey!  Perhaps I can also knuckle in on Cam’s space (shh, don’t tell him, he’s fiercly protective of his own 3/4 empty suitcase).

Being male and straight, Cam has packed one pair each of jeans and shorts, six t-shirts, and is taking ONE (1) pair of shoes.  His theory is that he will be overtaken by a strange New York spirit force that will enter his body and send him on crazed shopping sprees where he will buy enough to last him for the next five years.  Somewhat strange, for a guy who would normally rather stick pins in his eyes than enter into a clothing shop (let alone be forced to interact with the sales assistants).

The kids have been farewelled in fine spirits, and without so much as a tear (it was me I was worried about there).  Excellent.

In order to quell my anxiety about leaving them, I must admit to going a little OCD with the lists and instructions.  Behold: The Instructions Wall!  Everywhere you look, there are calendars (one for parents, the other for children), itineraries, instructions, lunch box guides, house rules, morning checklists – you name it, I’ve made it, and had it laminated.

So If all goes to plan from here, the next update should be from our little apartment near the West Village.  Over and out.

The Wardrobe Chronicles

I have decided that I really dislike packing.  Pre-committing and restricting my clothing choices to one suitcase for two weeks is really tricky.  For example: what the feck does one wear to best blend in amongst the Brooklyn hipster crowd at an event such as the Great Googamooga?  Yes, it is a real event, and indeed, Cam informs me just now that he has purchased our tickets.  Rad.

The closest I have come to actually packing, is to stand in front of the wardrobe, staring.  How do I decide whether they make the first cut, without trying each piece on?  And when a combination has been assembled, do I photograph?  Or enter said item and corresponding accessories into a database?  Surely there must exist some kind of universal outfit algorithm I can use, which reduces it down to a simple yes or no.

So instead, I will procrastinate, by compiling my list of the top three things that will be in my suitcase:

1.  Control undergarments

How could I set sail without my vast collection of lycra beauties?  80% of my wardrobe hinges on their sturdy construction.  And I’m not under any illusion that they actually make me look slimmer.  They simply iron out some of the bumpy bits that I would really rather be without.

I know there are women out there who regain their former taut midriffs six weeks post-birth (including one of my best friends), but I really do believe they are genetic freaks.  I’ve long since resigned myself to the fact that

a) I didn’t have an especially taut midriff to start with, and

b) The wobbly, poochy bits are here to stay, unless I become one of those odd women who decides to take up body-building and painting themselves brown, eating only broccoli and boiled chicken breasts at each meal.

2.  Cowboy boots

Love them.  They go with lots of things to make me feel a bit cool.

3.  Straightening iron

No explanation necessary.  Mad hair has no place in these chronicles.

Escape To New York

So in just under a weeks’ time, my husband and I will be saying good-bye to our beautiful progeny, and our white station wagon, and embarking one of those enormous jets bound for New York City.  I can’t quite believe we’ve pulled it off, to be frank.  How did we manage to talk our parents into this? They live-in at our house in order to feed, bathe, ferry around and clean up after our monsters, while we skive off to distant lands, where we can entertain grand delusions that we’re young and unencumbered.  Sheer brilliance, is what it is!

It will be spring in New York City, and it will be the first time in ten years that I’ve left Australia.  It’s intoxicating (lordy – imagine the freedom), weird (and again – how on earth did we get away with this?), and somewhat stressful (sheesh – only fourteen days to catch up seven years of spontaneity, adventure and sleep-ins).

And my plan is even more fabulous than at first glance.  In a combination of happenstance (and, let’s be honest here, a little scheming), it happens we will be in Manhattan at the same time as a pair of our dearest friends.  That’s you Sally and Jon.  Imagine the opportunities that await us;  The shopping-running-into-long-luncheon type opportunities.  The stopping-for-a-wine-at-three-pm-just-because-we-can type opportunities.   The.. The.. Oh it’s all too much!

It seems it’s also all a little cliché, being a ‘significant’ birthday for me this year. I actually think I may have borrowed the idea of this trip from a school-mum friend, who is also staring down the barrel of the forty.  But once the seed was planted, it kind of took on a life of it’s own.

And yes – okay – it’s also possible that I’ve watched a little too much Sex And The City in my time.  I’ll own up to that.  So how best to document this trip, than to dive head-first (or more accurately – stumble blindfolded) into the blogosphere?

I’m hoping it will help alleviate my compulsion to bombard Facebook friends with CONSTANT updates about me being fabulous in New York.  Because we all know how irritating it is to be notified that ‘Marnie checked in at Magnolia Bakery’ again.  Just like she has EVERY OTHER DAY FOR THE PAST TWO WEEKS that COW!  (And in that photo, is it the lighting, or do you think she’s porked up a bit after all those lavender donuts?….)

Anyway.  If you’d like to stop by in the coming weeks, I imagine that this space will entertain:

  1. Gratuitous images of my fashion forward moments in NYC
  2. Much crapping on about food – gluten free and otherwise
  3. Rather too many shots of me with wine-in-hand and rosy cheeks
  4. More wine!
  5. And so as not to come across as shallow, I’d better add that we plan to fit in a bit of culture around the necessary shopping and face-stuffing.

Right then.  I best get packing…