^^ Well friends, it’s been an insane week. Chris and I packed up the past six years of our lives in apartment 4W in NYC, and we left yesterday for the first leg of our four-week South American tour, landing in Cusco, Peru, early this morning (hence this photo). I’ll do my best to keep you guys updated as the trip progresses, but I may not always have the Internet. Stay tuned!
Earlier this year when Chris and I were coming home from STOMP, I randomly stopped to snap a shot of the Astor Place subway sign.
When I downloaded the photo onto my computer back in January, it got me thinking about how my current work stop was Bleecker. And how I used to get off at Grand Central. And how you can transfer at Grand Central to the Shuttle or the 7 to Times Square …. all of which led me to concoct this post — The A’s, B’s, C’s and So On of New York City Transportation.
I sat at my desk, and it only took me about 20 minutes to come up with a subway stop, train line or mode of NYC transportation representing every letter of the alphabet.
Of course it took me months to actually find the time to make it to each of these stops to photograph them, and unfortunately I ran out of time in this, the last full week of us actually living in Manhattan, so I have to admit that some of these are a bit of a cheat. Most of them, however, are not, so without further adieu, here, my friends, is the outcome of my brilliant plan … an alphabetic representation of Manhattan transportation [for what it's worth ;)]
^^Hunter College (68th St.): Shot on 10/23/14
Connected to the 6
^^ Port Authority (on 8th and 42nd): Shot on 9/27/14
Connect to buses in New York and New Jersey
Well here we are friends — at my final entry in this ‘In NYC’ series. Chris and I officially leave the apartment on Saturday, and we fly out to South America on Sunday to start our new journey.
But we won’t go into that just now. For now, let’s talk about something fun … like shopping in New York! There’s no better place to do it, friends. Here are a few of my favorite haunts.
Where to Go Shopping In NYC
1. Chelsea Market [for any and everything]: Especially around the holidays, Chelsea Market is one of my all-time favorite places to shop (and even just hang out) in NYC. They have some seriously delicious eats, dozens of retail stores and, as an added bonus, it’s close enough to the High Line to hit up both in the same day. That would be one of my ideal ways to spend a shopping day in Manhattan.
2. Union Square Farmer’s Market [for produce]: Check out amazing produce from local farmers every Monday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. in Union Square at the Greenmarket. In peak season there are around 140 regional farmers, fishermen and bakers, selling their goods smack dab in the middle of the city. It’s a pretty fun experience.
3. The West Village [for a picturesque stroll]: With its cobblestone streets and nooks and crannies, nothing says old-timey New York quite like the West Village. Go for a stroll here and you’ll happen upon tons of boutiques, cafes and other gems. (Or get a feel for the lay of the land ahead of time with this guide on the best places to shop in the West Village.)
4. Century 21 [for discount clothing]: For great clothes at knock-out prices, my husband swears by Century 21. You’ll have to do a little digging here (and have a lot of patience), but if you can handle the crowds, you’re bound to score some pretty awesome finds.
5. The Strand [for books]: If you’re a book lover, plan to spend hours in this literary Mecca. Chris and I just hit up The Strand a few days ago to sell back some of my old books that we won’t be taking to Denver (hello $30!), and I was reminded of how awesome this place is. Their tagline is ’18 miles of new, used and rare books’ … don’t you want to see that?
6. Grand Central Market [for treats]: I’ve mentioned the Grand Central Market before on this blog (most recently regarding the awesome cheese options they have there), but it’s worth mentioning in the shopping section, too, because it’s just that awesome. With about a dozen individual sellers, anything your little heart desires, you can find it here. Candy. Breads. Cheese. Fruit. Coffee. Tea. Chocolate. While it’s relatively small in size, the Grand Central Market is a treat-lovers haven.
7. Gotham West Market [for a smorgasbord]: If you’re with a group of people who just can’t agree on what to eat, Gotham West Market is the place to go. I’ve talked about this place before here, but with their eight artisanal food options, there’s something for everyone. It’s also close walk to the Hudson River Park, so you can eat a little, take a little walk, then eat a little more. My favorite things in life.
And that concludes my ‘In NYC’ series, friends. I hope you found something that piques your interest, or that inspires you to add to your ‘must see’ list the next time you’re in town. I know these places will always be on my list when Chris and I make our way back to the city to visit (which we plan to do a lot).
Bis bald, friends. I hope everyone’s having a great week.
^^ My melancholy (and that’s putting it very lightly) string of farewells continued this past weekend with drinks and dinner at some friends’ new apartment in the Bronx (served with an appetizer of sobbing, done by me) and a Sunday afternoon meet-up at Dominique Ansel Bakery in Soho for some cookie shots with amaretto milk (above) and flaming smores. The tastiness of these treats did not, however, quench my sadness :/
Welcome, friends, to the 8th installment of my In NYC series, wherein I discuss the most amazing places in the city to eat cheese. I know that sounds odd (it felt odd just typing it), but cheese is something of a thing here in Manhattan. People have their own favorite places, we’re all about the artisanal cheeses, and you absolutely do not show up at someone’s place without bringing a block of your stinkiest findings along.
So, friends, here are some of my favorite places to load up on this tasty treat.
Where to Get Cheese In NYC
1. Murray’s Cheese: With monthly clubs to join, classes to take and an entire section on their website dedicated to simply teaching about cheese, Murray’s is about more than just tasting cheese — it’s about learning everything is there to know about this delicacy.
2. Beecher’s Handmade Cheese: I’ve mentioned Beecher’s before on this blog, so I won’t go into too much detail here again, but I’ll just say that I love the fact that you can actually watch them making the cheese at Beecher’s. [And their downstairs cafe and wine area helps bring this place to the top of my cheese list, as well.]
3. Lucy’s Whey: Granted this is a neighborhood fave and maybe a bit out of the way for your average tourist, Lucy’s Whey (located at Lexington and 93rd in our hood, or 425 W. 15th St.), has a lot going for it. The staff is always super friendly at the store in our neighborhood, and have been very helpful when I’ve stopped in. Plus their little cafe is a great place to grab some lunch.
4. DTLA Cheese [Grand Central Market]: Mostly because of its fun and fabulous location in the Grand Central Market, DTLA Cheese makes a great pit stop when you’re heading in or out on Metro North.
5. The Cheese Counter at Fairway Market: If you don’t have the time to seek out a dedicated cheese store, hop on into a Fairway Market and hit up the Artisanal & Gourmet Cheese Counter. With over 600 types of cheeses available and classes to boot, the Fairway Cheese Counter can certainly hold its own against an actual cheese store.
6. Vitner Wine Market [dying to try]: Along with everything else on the menu here, the cheese plates sound out of this world. [Hey Cow Plate with Brie, Teleggio, Raclette and Aged Gouda ... I'm coming for you.]
And that’s it for the cheeses, my friends. My last ‘In NYC’ category [which I will justbarely squeak out while we're still actually living in NYC] will be Shop In NYC.
Bis bald, friends!
Last night I ticked another rooftop bar off my NYC bucket list with two friends who I needed to say goodbye to before we leave. The place was The Kimberly, and the rooftop of the hotel is an enclosed bar (although I think during nice weather it’s actually open) with a fantastic (on a normal day without fog) view of the Chrysler building and midtown Manhattan. It’s expensive for the cocktails ($18), but the beers are $8 (which is par for the course in midtown, pretty much), and the guacamole and fries were pretty tasty, too.
^^ These ladies are pretty much the best. See that glow-ey building in the back? That’s the Chrysler, in all her foggy glory.
I’d recommend checking out The Kimberly Hotel rooftop if you’re in the midtown area — it’s definitely worth at least a pit stop.
^^ Well friends, it begins. Our rounds of saying good-bye to friends as (possibly) the last time as Manhattan dwellers has commenced. Last week I saw an old boss and a former co-worker, and tonight and tomorrow I have drinks with old friends, as well. Over the weekend I headed to my parents’ house over in Jersey to spend some quality time with my sisters (at a winery, naturally), and help my parents babysit our nephew while my sister and her husband went to a concert.
Were you guys fans of the show “The Office”? Well in the series finale, there’s a scene where Andrew Bernard says, “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good ole’ days before you’ve actually left them.” Well that’s exactly what this feels like to me, friends, the good ole’ days. And I’m feeling very sad to leave them …
So I haven’t updated this series in a while, have I? With our days in this amazing city numbered, I wanted to make sure that I got through the last three categories I had mapped out, so welcome to today’s tour — the best places (in my humble opinion) to take photographs in NYC.
So without further ado …
Where to Take Great Photos in NYC
1. Top of the Rock: It’s touristy for a reason, my friends. While the Empire State Building is a nostalgic must for many visitors, if you hit up the Top of the Rock you’ll be able to actually take photos of the Empire State Building — along with the rest of the city.
2. The Boat Basin/Hudson River Promenade: If the river’s more your thing, walk yourself on over to The Boat Basin for some beers, and while you’re over there take a stroll down the Hudson River Promenade (which is especially gorgeous in the spring when the trees are blooming).
3. The Staten Island Ferry: A quick ride on the Staten Island Ferry is an easy way to get a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty … without all the horrible lines.
4. Madison Square Park [for Flatiron and Empire State Views]: The park in and of itself is quite lovely (and often full of art and sculptures from local artists), but it’s also the perfect spot to take stunning photos with either the Flatiron or Empire State Building in the background.
5. Pier 25: Two summers ago now, a friend of mine rented a sail boat for her now-husband’s 30th birthday, and Chris and I were just lucky participants on that trip around the NYC harbor. We set sail from Pier 25, though, and let me tell you — the view was some kind of special.
6. Dying to try: Manhattanhenge: Friends, I’ve had the best of intentions for many years now to catch this yearly Manhattan phenomenon. Alas — it was never meant to be. Manhattanhenge — so coined by Neil deGrasse Tyson, “occurs when the setting sun aligns precisely with the Manhattan street grid, creating a radiant glow of light across Manhattan’s brick and steel canyons, simultaneously illuminating both the north and south sides of every cross street of the borough’s grid.” If you’re lucky enough to be here during one of the two times a year that this happens, get thyself to a good vantage point (clear cross streets include 14th, 23rd, 34th. 42nd, 57th, and several streets adjacent to them), and bring your camera!
And those are them, my friends — six great places to take photos in Manhattan.
See ya next time for … drum roll, please … the best places to score cheese in NYC. (We take our cheese very seriously here, friends.)
^^ This past weekend we celebrated our fifth (and final that we can actually attend) wedding celebration. This one was for my freshman college roommate, and it was held at Sleepy Hollow Country Club in Tarrytown, NY. Although the day started out gloomy and rainy, by the time we all made it back to the Country Club for the outdoor cocktail hour and photos, the skies had cleared and the sun was glorious. It turned out to be a beautiful day! Congrats to Carla & Ryan — we love you guys!
So yesterday was my last day in Albuquerque.
It really was an amazing, educational and exciting trip. Between the gorgeous scenery, delicious food, tasty drinks and fun activities, I’m not sure if I could say exactly what my favorite part of the trip was — I just know that it was all pretty spectacular.
For my last morning in New Mexico, the Albuquerque Convention & Visitor’s Bureau had set me up with an appointment at Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm. I would be having breakfast with Nancy, their director of hospitality and sustainability, but my itinerary mentioned that I might want to show up a bit early so I could take in the “beautiful grounds”.
Ummm — they weren’t kidding when they said beautiful. Before getting to the photos, let me share a little bit about the Inn and farm, in general. The land where the Inn & farm are currently located was originally inhabited by the Anasazi (ancient pueblo Indians) in the 14th century, and in 1716 it was made part of the Elena Gallegos land grant. The original rach was owned by Ambrosio and Juan Cristobal Armijo, but it was reassembled by Albert and Ruth Simms in the 1930s. Today the Ranch encompasses 25 acres, which includes both the Inn and a working farm. The area still features many important works of art and craftsmanship from back in the day, including John Gaw Meem (who was widely considered New Mexico’s greatest 20th century architect), Walter Gilbert (one of the only Albuquerque artists to have worked at Los Poblanos) and Laura Gilpin (one of the most important photographers of the Southwest). The Greely Garden was created by Rose Greely, a pioneer female landscape architect and designer of the 1932 formal Spanish-style gardens at Los Poblanos.
In addition to the beautiful land and artwork, the restaurant menu changes daily, and always features fresh ingredients right off the farm including eggs, honey, fruits and vegetables from the fields.
^^ The lavender fields weren’t in bloom right now, but how amazing are they?
^^ We had these fresh figs with our breakfast. And while of course the figs I ate in Calabria that were grown on my family farm will always be No. 1 … I must say these were a seriously close second.
^^ Although it was cold the morning I ate breakfast here, in warmer-weather months this portico is open to the Inn guests for them to eat their meals outside.
^^ Organic is the name of the game here, and Nancy, who I ate breakfast with, does a great job at making sure they Inn stays as up-to-date as possible with the newest and best sustainable, organic practices.
^^ This library. To. Die. For.
^^ The kitchen is a masterpiece, as well.
^^ The Farm Shop is a must-visit if you’re in the area. I learned about the different types of lavender (and got to smell them both) and tasted real balsamic vinegar — not that crap you buy in the store. Holy crap, friends — I don’t think I’ll ever feel the same way about the fake, store-bought kind again!
^^ Gorgeous lavender bundles! If only I weren’t flying home!
And that, my friends, was it. Spending my last morning on the farm was a fantastic way to end the trip with a bang. And while I would highly recommend doing any one (or all!) of the things that were on my itinerary, if you do decide to visit Albuquerque (and you should!), there is so much else to explore … the possibilities are endless.
Thanks again so much to the Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau — you sure weren’t kidding when you said Albuquerque has a lot to offer!
Bis bald, friends — I’ll see you soon!
Welcome to my second day in Albuquerque, my friends, wherein I woke up supremely early to do something that I was in my heart of hearts really hoping I would get to do while I was here — a hot air balloon ride!
I rode with the Rainbow Ryders, and it was everything I had hoped it would be and (so much) more. Despite the fact that I was woefully unprepared for the frigid morning air (wear sweaters and coats and closed-toe shoes and scarves if you’re lucky enough to go on a ride!), the weather warmed up pretty quickly, especially since we were standing right under blasting fire for an hour once we started on our way …
^^ Have I mentioned yet that it’s almost Balloon Fiesta here in Albuquerque, wherein hundreds of thousands of people flock to the city to watch the world’s largest (I can’t back that up, but seems like it should be!) hot air balloon show? Anyway, the field where all of this will take place is where we all go to set up the balloons.
After the ride, we toasted with mimosas and muffins back in the Balloon Fiesta field, and they even gave us these cute certificates to take home. It was a truly Albuquerque-ian thing to do, and I’m so glad I got the chance.
After the ride (which starts at 6:15, but the way), I had a little time before my lunch meeting, so I took up one of the suggestions from the Albuquerque Convention & Visitor’s Bureau (who invited me out here, if you’ll remember) and visited Wagner’s Farmland Experience. Even the road out to the farm is picturesque, with little fruit stops and restaurants on the way, and the farm itself had some pretty spectacular views.
^^ Who doesn’t love a good petting zoo?
^^ The 2014 corn maze is up at Wagner’s right now and I thought … “What the heck? It can’t be that hard, right?” WRONG. I am seriously directionally challenged, my friends. Lucky for me a group of elementary school kids were tackling the maze and I followed them out of the thing. (Not without lots of confused looks and questions, though.) And a big shout out to my husband for trying to help me find the way out of the maze, from all the way back in Manhattan, using Google maps :) I’m not sure if that’s cool or creepy …
^^ The end of the maze led you out to a cute little pumpkin patch.
So, once that adventure was over, it was back into the car to head to lunch at El Pinto, a spectacular New Mexican restaurant with an amazing outdoor garden and eating area (and even more amazing tequila, as I would come to find out).
^^ The house Margherita is anything but ordinary.
^^ They even bottle personal tequila for patrons who can purchase it at the restaurant and keep it there for any time they come in.
^^ Oh, and by the way, a warehouse in the back makes 25,000 cans of salsa each day to distribute. This is their special version specifically for Balloon Fiesta weekend.
^^ And here was my tequila tasting. All in a day’s work, friends, all in a day’s work.
^^ After lunch I was taken to the back to see the warehouse and the garden, where the restaurant is starting to try to grown some of the foods that they’ll later prepare.
^^ Dessert was the restaurant’s version of a tiramisu, called Levante. It’s made with biscochitos, the traditional New Mexican cookie (they were declared so by the New Mexico Legislature in 1989, and were first introduced to Mexico by Spanish settlers who brought the recipe from Spain). This dessert was every bit as decadent as it looks, my friends.
After lunch I had stops at two breweries. The first was the Red Door Brewing Company, which actually just opened its doors about three weeks ago. Their cider was actually my favorite drink (that and the milk stout), and it actually has the highest alcohol content, as well. (Boy do I know how to pick ‘em.) Since it was early when I got there (around 1:30), there weren’t too many other people around yet, but three cyclists came in about 15 minutes before I had to leave, and it was really great talking to them. One of the two men in the group was with the traveling tour of Wicked, which is in town now, and the two others were taking him around on their own, self-made Breaking Bad bike tour. (Ummm, here’s where I admit that I’ve never watched the show. Sorry Albuquerque! Before I come back I promise to give it a go!)
After Red Door I moved on to a brewery staple here in Albuquerque — Marble Brewery. This place had a nice patio outside where they bring live performers, too.
While I’d love to say that I kept going strong after Marble Brewery, the truth is, friends, that this gal needed a little nap. Unfortunately that means that I’ll probably not get to make it out to the Nob Hill area of the city, which is disappointing. But I still have one more fun activity planned for tomorrow, so that leaves me with a bit of something to look forward to after what can only be described as an amazing, entertaining trip.
Dinner Wednesday night, by the way, was at Mas, the tapas restaurant right inside my hotel, and I was given a tour of the hotel as well, which turned out to be especially important since apparently I was seriously missing out on so many amazing facts about this place.
But let’s start with dinner. Hot gouda apple bake w/ crostini, patatas bravas (crispy fried potatoes w/spicy mayo), bruschetta de la boca (toasted bread w/ mushroom-manchego cream, fried egg & truffle oil) and grilled artichokes w/spanish goat cheese, orange zest and mint.
And those were our appetizers.
Dinner for me was the classic veggie paella – and absolutely everything was to. die. for.
And now a bit more about this amazing hotel. The hotel has been around since 1939, when Conrad Hilton completed it as his first New Mexican hotel for $700,000. At the time, it was the tallest building in New Mexico, and the first in all of New Mexico to have air conditioning.
In 1984 the building was placed on the National register of Historic Places, and after being purchased a few additional times, it was finally sold to Gary Goodman in 2005 and promptly shut down for four years for $30 million-worth of renovations. Despite the renovations, though, a lot of the original existing structure runs throughout the hotel, still.
^^ While Goodman originally envisioned this room directly across from the restaurant to be open as a sort of nightclub to the general public, he quickly realized that the general public didn’t necessarily mesh well with the upscale clientele staying at the hotel, and so now only private, ticketed events happen here.
^^ I know this isn’t the greatest photo, but please stick with me here. So one of the hotel staff currently working at Andaluz actually has worked at this hotel ever since it first opened its doors. When Goodman purchased the hotel in ’05, he turned to this staffer to learn more about what the place was like back in its heyday. During one of these conversations, he learned about a mural — this mural– that had been painted on one of the main walls as you enter the hotel and that had since been painted over. So he commissioned an artist to recreate the original painting from old photos. This is exactly as the photo was back when the hotel first opened, with the one small exception of the third figure’s ankle, which is slightly off the ground. The artist did this to leave his mark on his work, but otherwise the painting is an exact replica.
^^ These casbahs can be rented out and hotel guests can have dinner and drinks in them privately.
^^ So this wooden structure — which is actually much larger than this photo lets on — was originally commissioned to hang in the elevators, but didn’t pass fire code. So the panels were quickly removed and sent to the basement, where they spent many years until they were moved up to the main lobby for all to enjoy.
^^ So I know this might seem like a mistaken photo of the floor, but it’s actually seriously cool! So back in the days when the hotel first opened, the reception area used to be where the casbahs are now situated. The bellman would stand in this one spot, because he had the perfect vantage point to see guests coming in from both entrances. And for this reason alone, that very spot is actually worn out in certain spots, and when you stand on it, you can feel the dipping where the bellman’s standing has worn out the tile. That’s pretty incredible, is it not?
^^ The library is definitely one of my favorite rooms.
^^ And this is Ibiza, the 2nd floor, outdoor rooftop bar for the hotel.
Which brings me to one final note about this awesome hotel – it’s sustainability. From their solar heated water systems and compost system to the building’s seriously advanced energy management system (the rooms literally use sensors to detect when a person is in the room or not and uses that to determine when lights/heat/air should be on and off), Andaluz is one of the greenest spots in Albuquerque hands down.
Alright friends — well that’s been the bulk of my trip, for sure. I head back to good ole’ NYC tomorrow after a quick pit stop at one more place. It’s been a whirlwind, but it’s been so much fun. It’s been real, Albuquerque … and I have a definite feeling you’ll be seeing me again some day!
Bis bald, friends!
So these past few days have been a whirlwind, but I wanted to try to get stuff down as it’s happening, so I’ll do my best to get through this post (even though my eyes are drooping as I type — so please forgive any typos!). The good people at the Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau so kindly invited me out to New Mexico for a press trip, which of course I happily accepted. I flew out early Monday morning and arrived around 5 p.m. Monday evening.
And I’ve been on the go ever since.
So of course I have about 1,000 photos to share, and I figured the best way to go about this (at least the first two-days’ worth) is to explain via photo what I’ve done so far on my trip. For starters, I’m staying at Hotel Andaluz, which is located conveniently in downtown Albuquerque and is so stunningly modern and wonderful I can’t stand it. I’ll be having dinner at the restaurant here tomorrow night, too, so I’ll be sure to share how that goes.
Anyway, on to a bit of what I’ve seen so far. Hold on to your hats kids — it’s been a wild two days!
I’m not gonna lie friends — as our weekends slowly whittle down during our last full month living here in the city, it seems like every single thing we decide to do is important. That’s why I’m pretty happy with our weekend choices from last weekend, if I do say so myself.
To start off Saturday, we had to break in some new hiking boots we bought for our trek up Machu Picchu, so we decided to do that with a heart-pounding, rock-climbing hike up Breakneck Ridge, which is where we went for my 30th birthday, ummmm, a few years ago :/
Anyway, Saturday was a glorious day for a hike, and here’s a bit of what we saw:
Needless to say, our shoes are more than broken in after that hike. You can take a bunch of different trails on Breakneck, but we chose the same one we did for my birthday, which is about 3 miles and includes a whole lot of rocks to climb, and a whole lot of spectacular views.
After working up a sweat that morning (way more exercise than I’m used to, friends), I was beyond excited for our dinner plans at The Monkey Bar with some of Chris’s family friends who are in town visiting from Australia. It had been my suggestion (of course), and I couldn’t wait to go there again. We had made the reservations online, and when we arrived were a bit sad to realize that the main dining room was closed, and we were seated in the bar area. It turned out okay, though, because the piano player started about halfway through our dinner (and was fantastic), and afterwards we asked the manager if we could take a stroll through the main dining room to check out the painting that lines the back wall. Not only did he oblige, but he handed over a smaller depiction of the painting that contained a key for who everyone in the painting is.
So we spent a couple minutes walking around the entire length of the room, checking out the painting. This was much closer than I got to it last time we were here!
After dinner we decided to stop off somewhere for a nightcap, and here, my friends, is where living in Manhattan really comes in handy. Because every now and then you might say, “Hey, how about a nightcap at that cute place we passed on the way to dinner with the jockeys outside,” and stumble into some place with so much history, just accidentally.
So the place we ended up, the pace with the jockeys outside, was actually the 21 Club. It was only fitting that we ended up here after dinner at The Monkey Bar (what with its own prohibition era history and folklore), because the 21 Club has plenty of its own amazing facts to tout. According to their website, ” ’21’ has never been a private members club. Even in the dangerous days of American Prohibition, the front door was always open to the public, although it’s fair to say that certain ‘guests’ wouldn’t be welcome.
A receptionist or ‘screener’ would be employed to keep certain characters out, including gangsters (most notably John Thomas ‘Legs’ Diamond, who wanted a cut of the business) and federal agents (at least until prohibition was repealed in December 1933).”
Apparently the place has a disappearing bar from when they used to need to hide the booze at a moment’s notice, and it’s also been featured in more NYC movies than any other restaurant, including All About Eve, Sweet Smell of Success, Written on the Wind, Wall Street, One Fine Day, The Associate, Sex and the City, The Apprentice and Rear Window.
There are some pretty amazing facts about the place here, as well, my favorite being about the eclectic collection of toys that hang from the ceiling in the dining area. Apparently they started out as an ego contest. The first was a model plane from British Airways, which they hung over the table to impress investors. When Howard Hughes was dining there it caught his eye, and he insisted the place hang one of his planes as well. And so began the bragging-via-toys contest. These days the collection includes a model PT-109 boat from President Kennedy, a baseball bat from Willie Mays, a pool cue from the set of The Hustler, an Air Force One flyer from President Clinton, ice skates from Dorothy Hamill and a tennis racquet from Chris Evert.
According to the site, the staff dusts each of the 1,000 pieces on a regular basis, treating them as priceless antiques which, I guess you could say they are.
So Saturday was, for all intents and purposes, the perfect, old-school New York night. Exactly the kind of night I would like to have as we begin to wind down our time here. (And I begin to start crying every single day. Seriously. Don’t even get me started.)
Sunday we started what I’m sure will be a heart-tugging, emotional round of farewells to friends throughout the next couple of weeks. We met up with one of my best friends from high school and her (brand new!) husband for brunch at The Smith in the East Village.
And that’s all I have to say about that.
Anyway, this week I’m doing some traveling in New Mexico, and I’m really excited to share all that information here soon, as well. But for now, bis bald, my friends! I’ll be back soon …
^^ I’m not gonna lie my friends — it was hard to pick just one picture from this past week to share. (More on that to come later.) But here she be, the one photo I decided to pick– my husband, manning the camera on our glorious Breakneck Ridge hike on Saturday. Gotta love a man who can wield a camera — am I right?
Well, Chris gave his notice last week, and I’ve told all my freelance clients as well — we’ll be taking the months of November and December to travel, then we’re moving to Denver at the beginning of January.
I haven’t thought this much about Manhattan since I was a naïve college freshman, majoring in journalism and dreaming of the day I would move into my own tiny little apartment anywhere I could afford in this amazing city, working my way up through the ranks at the magazine of my dreams.
Of course now that we’re moving away, all that I can think about is how I got here, and what a wild ride it’s been since.
My Manhattan chapter never involved most of the things I originally thought it would. The dingy, shoebox sized basement apartment. Unemployment. The vast debt and, in some cases, even vaster loneliness. My Manhattan story started out as a light at the end of the tunnel. After a particularly difficult breakup – which culminated with my moving back in with my parents in New Jersey for a period of eight months at the ripe old age of 23 — I was eager to take the first thing that came along if it would start me on the life I knew I was meant to live – the one that was waiting for me in Manhattan.
Instead of a dingy basement apartment, though, the first offer that came along was a humongous (by New York standards) bedroom in a converted 3-bedroom apartment in an elevator, doorman building in the Upper East Side — with laundry in the basement, to boot.
I remember the day I met Alexis – the girl who would become one of my first Manhattan roommates – in Bryant Park. I had just come from my internship at Jane, which I loved, and the stop to meet her was right along my route back to the Port Authority along 42nd Street to catch the bus back to my parents’ house. Alexis wore soccer shorts, sneakers and a t-shirt, and I was immediately at ease. “I can do this,” I remember thinking. “I can move back in with roommates after having lived with only my parents and my ex-boyfriend for the past two years.
And I can do it in Manhattan, too.”
Maura and Alexis were great roommates. We got along, were friendly enough and were always cognoscente of each other’s personal time and space. We were never rude or disrespectful … everything was just fine. My room in Normandy Court was so large that it basically fit most of the worldly possessions I had up to that point, and what I was missing, Maura and Alexis had provided for the apartment, having already lived there for two years before I arrived.
From the September I moved into Normandy in 2007 until the April I moved out in 2008, my Manhattan life was moving along exactly as I would have expected it to. My two best friends from college also lived in Manhattan, and having Alexis and Maura as roommates – girls who I genuinely liked – curbed any of that loneliness I had heard about and prepared for. I had moved on from being a not-at-all-paid intern at Jane to a not-so-well-paid freelance editorial assistant at another magazine, and then on again to an ever-so-slightly-better-paid on-staff EA at another magazine, and that was just as it should be. Because I’m a bit of a freak and there’s nothing I love more than budgeting, I made it work (with the help of a little bit of credit card debt in the process, of course).
Then, when I was least expecting it (and to be honest, not really exactly wanting it), I met Chris. In the most spectacular of New York fashions, I met an adorable Australian on New Years Eve at a gypsy punk band concert who was leaving to live in Canada in two weeks.
After we remained together the entire time Chris was gone (naturally), and he moved back to the states to accept the full-time job his internship had offered him and to continue our relationship (obviously), it was time to leave Normandy Court – the place that was my first official home in Manhattan – and find a place to live together.
I searched all over this island – midtown, the West Village, Chelsea, etc. — and settled on the second-to-last apartment I saw, one that happened to be only one block from my former residence at Normandy. That one-bedroom, fourth-floor walk-up between 2nd and 3rd Avenue would become our home for the next six years. It’s where we adopted our first pet together – a rabbit named Nugget – and then our second, a cat named Penny.
It’s where we lived when we got engaged five years later, and then married. It’s the apartment where we took wedding photos, had our first arguments, discussed our future and talked about having babies. It’s the apartment where I went through another magazine job, then an online editor job, until finally settling on fulltime freelance writing, and where Chris moved up the ranks at three different advertising companies.
We turned 30 living in the apartment, bought our first Christmas trees together in this apartment and celebrated our one-year anniversary here.
This apartment. This one-bedroom, fourth-floor walk-up apartment.
And this Manhattan. My Manhattan. I became an adult here. I founded my career here. Met the love of my life here. Got married here. I’ve cried here. Gone into debt here. Become financially savvy here. I’ve made oh so many amazing, wonderful friends – friends that I more than a little bit worry that I’ll lose when we move.
But this place, for all its laundry list of amazingness, has taken a lot out of me, as well. It’s exhausting living here. And I’m tired of schlepping heavy bags with me every single time we’re traveling (which is a lot). And I’m tired of overpaying for our (albeit well-loved) one-bedroom apartment. I’m tired of subway rides and crowded everywhere. I’m tired of the humanity, the concrete, the sweltering, airless summers.
Slowly, one by one, those amazing, wonderful friends who I met here are all starting to move away, as well. Of course many still remain, but for some, growing up and becoming a real adult means leaving behind those not-yet-fully-formed dreams we all had of living in Manhattan. I’m not sure if I ever thought that I’d live here forever – but I sure as hell always knew that my life would have a Manhattan chapter. Coming up on 32, though, as friends all start to marry off and buy houses and have babies, I have to wonder: “Can I accomplish everything I want to in life here in Manhattan?”
Saving money for future goals (house, kids, travel) has slowly become a game of randomly picking and choosing when we can actually enjoy this city and go out and spend time in it. Sure, there’s a lot to do that’s free, but there’s also a heck of a lot more to do that’s not.
I’ve loved my time here even more than I think my naïve college freshman self could have imagined. Living in New York means so many things – and you do become a bit hardened after being here for seven years. To me, it all boils down to one thing: Do I want to wait until my Manhattan memories become something I resent? Isn’t it better to go out on a high note, feeling like you took absolutely everything you could from this place that you love – and that you gave back just as good as you got?
Writing this essay right now, staring out at my fire escape watching the goings-on on the street below, I’m not so sure anymore.
What I know I’m happy about is the fact that our new apartment – wherever that may end up being – will contain so many artifacts from our life here in New York City, both outright and subtle.
- The kitchen gear that I picked up when I worked as an assistant to the food editor at a magazine.
- The huge pop art, close-up photo of myself and Chris that was brought to me by a company during a deskside meeting at one of the magazines where I worked.
- The old-timey map of the five boroughs that Chris and I found at a vintage store in Saratoga Springs.
- The ‘New York City Walking Tours’ tourist cards that were left here by Chris’s parents after one particular visit – along with all their other ‘Must Do in New York’ memorabilia.
- The Christmas tree ornaments purchased at the Bryant Park holiday booths.
- The plants we picked up at the Home Depot on 58th St. and somehow managed to keep alive.
- The New York Post I kept from the first time Obama was elected as President.
- The gorgeous chair I bought from the Pier 1 that used to exist on 3rd and 87th, that I carried all the way home by myself.
I’ll take less tangible things with me, as well, the memories that, as long as I write them down, will hopefully never fade. Things like …
- The first time I saw a movie in Manhattan. I don’t remember which movie it was, but I remember the theater – a huge one in midtown, and I went with my college roommate, who also lives here. I remember feeling so grown-up, and so exhilarated, from that most mundane of activities.
- Walking to my subway station for the first time after moving here, dressed in a skimpy dress and little black heels for a night out on the town, and the homeless man cat-calling to me from a nearby bench.
- Going to the expensive, all-natural grocery store near Normandy Court the first time I needed groceries after I moved in because it was the first one I saw, when all along there was a Gristedes literally in the basement of our building.
- Getting yelled at by a fellow resident of Normandy Court the day I moved in, all because I went back to check on my boxes when I realized I was leaving them in an unguarded area. He followed me down the hall like a deranged person, yelling, “What do you think, I’m going to steal them!? Maybe you don’t belong here in New York City!” I laughed at him and kept on walking, until the doorman told him to leave.
- Spending every day possible in the city with a high school friend the summer before I moved here, traipsing from bar to bar in SOHO, making friends with bar tenders and flirting with boys.
- Standing in the longest line I had ever seen in Central Park for a chance to see a free Vampire Weekend concert with Chris, and getting caught in torrential rain while doing so, the concert blaring in the background. We never made it in.
- Running my first half marathon in Central Park – two hill-filled laps around it – and all of the hours of training I put in with friends in the months before.
- Performing an entire month of jury duty here — enough said.
- Volunteering in Harlem for a months-long afterschool literacy program, and becoming seriously attached to my “little”.
- Coming back from an office outing in the Hamptons and watching from the bus as cops pulled a cyclist out from under a car that had hit him. He may or may not have died in that accident, and I’ll never forget being stuck in that traffic, watching the tragedy play out.
- Attending a black tie charity fundraiser event at the Marriott Marque in Times Square and being so embarrassed that I couldn’t afford to donate more than $20 to the cause at the time … but feeling fabulous in my little black dress at the same time.
- Celebrating a friend’s birthday with a trip to the Museum of Natural History for their once a month Friday night dance party – an event for which we paid $25 of our meager EA salaries – and then getting so drunk at her apartment before we even left that we stayed for five minutes, caught a taxi back to her place and spent the rest of the night taking turns throwing up our vodka Sprites and $25 sushi dinners.
- Zesty’s, oh Zesty’s. The most amazing little pizza place that used to live on the corner of 95th and 3rd. Many a drunken night my friends and I would stumble in there, ordering the pasta pizza (you can do that when you’re 24) to soak up whatever the drink of choice had been for that night. Then later, watching as Zesty’s was the first of every single business on 3rd Ave between 95th and 94th St. to be put out of business by the building owner so he could build (yet another) high-rise apartment complex there.
- The Indian food restaurant that used to live on the corner of our street, which was ranked a D for cleanliness and that I’m pretty sure gave me food poisoning.
- The insanely adorable little bridal boutique in the West Village, recommended to me by my editor at the time, where I bought my wedding dress (a short little Sarah Seven number, purchased right off the rack).
- The day Chris and I got married at City Hall, taking our wedding photos in the City Hall building, and on the steps of the building across the street that everyone thinks is City Hall but isn’t. Taking pictures in front of the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building and in Madison Square Park. In Grand Central and the Highline and Central Park. Our cranky driver, who had no idea he was meant to drive us around all day on New Year’s Eve while we took photos. Eating our first dinner as a married couple at the restaurant at The Standard, and staying in one of their corner rooms that first night, surrounded by windows and the fading city lights, watching the Empire State Building put on quite the little light show at midnight.
- My first real date with Chris, wherein I was so nervous before he showed up to my apartment, not quite remembering anything in particular about him from the drunken, hazy night before, when we had met. Him showing up, adorable, handing me a six-pack of Corona he had bought at Zesty’s because you don’t show up empty handed. Deciding to go for a walk to find some place to eat – then walking down 3rd Ave. all the way into the 50s from the 90s, not finding anywhere – or not wanting to stop talking to bother looking – and turning back up on Lexington and ending back at my place, where we ordered Chinese food and chatted with my roommate Alexis about her experience abroad in Australia.
- The man who threw up in front of me on the train, and the man who peed in front of me at the subway entrance the very next day. The young girl having a seizure on the train, the man in a business suit who fainted, the homeless man with no legs who roams up and down on the floor of the subway cars, miraculously, begging for money.
- The way our subway stop is lined with Christmas trees to purchase every December, all December long, and picking one out each year for our place, the size of the tree growing in proportion to our salaries.
- Taking the subway into Grand Central when I worked in midtown, and entering my building which was directly across the street from the Chrysler building. Then later, taking subways to Astor Place, Union Square and finally, Bleecker Street, as my jobs all brought me farther and farther downtown, but never away from my beloved – if overcrowded and perpetually stalled – 6 train.
- Walking to and from my apartment at Normandy to my job on 42nd and Lexington as many days as I could – a straight 2.8-mile walk there and 2.8 miles back.
What it all boils down to is if moving does turn out to all be a big mistake, I think I have enough memories to last me for a lifetime.
Because Manhattan – you will always have just a little piece of my heart.
As I mentioned yesterday, my sister (who went to Penn State and met her now-husband there), picks one football game every year for our whole family to go and tailgate at, and this year’s game happened this past weekend, and just happened to be against UMass, which is the college my younger sister went to.
Sibling football rivalry — gotta love it.
Except that UMass didn’t play very well at all. But oh well, tailgating and going to the game was still fun! It was, however, much different to do tailgating with a toddler ;)
^^ My family takes tailgating very seriously. This was just breakfast — bagels with poached eggs and three different kinds of cheeses and ham and bacon. We had all kinds of salads, chili, sausages, guacamole and hoagies throughout the day, too. Not to mention the drinks ;)
And that was this year in a nutshell, my friends. I hope everyone else had a fabulous weekend and is looking forward to welcoming the official start of fall with open arms. (I know I am.)
Bis bald, friends!
^^ We spent this past weekend in Penn State (where my older sister went to college and met her now-husband) with some of my family (including this adorable little guy above). Every year my family picks one Penn State game to attend and tailgate beforehand. It’s always a pretty amazing time. More photos to come tomorrow.
^^ We had so much fun at my former roommate Alexis’s Long Island wedding this past weekend! Being a bridesmaid has come to mean so much to me this past summer — it’s been a great way to stay in touch with friends and see them at different things like showers and bachelorettes. Everyone is so busy these days — having an excuse to hang out is always a plus in my book ;)
Summer certainly came and went in an instant, am I right? Mine was … ummm … interesting. There were a lot of things that happened with my family this summer that kept me busy, but along the way we still managed to have lots of NYC fun and, thanks to our plethora of weddings this fall, I was able to spend a lot of time with friends at multiple bachelorette parties and other fun events.
Here’s a bit of what’s been going on, according to my iPhone:
^^^ The gorgeous gardens at The Cloisters.
^^^ Drinks on The Refinery Hotel‘s rooftop.
^^^ Soaring high above New York City on our helicopter tour with HeliNY Tours.
^^^ Witnessing a stand-off between Penny and my friend’s cat Libbie, who Penny will be spending a lot of time with when Chris and I travel later this Fall. Hopefully they’ll eventually get on better than this photo suggests!
^^^ A little silly fun at a friend’s beautiful Red Maple Vineyard wedding over Labor Day weekend.
^^^ The amazing pink sky and white moon, as seen from my parents’ front yard. No filter needed, my friends. Amazing.
^^^ Taking a little stroll along the Hudson to The Boat Basin Cafe when a friend came for a visit.
^^^ We never got to walk the Brooklyn Bridge like we wanted to, but we did get to drive over it in a taxi ;)
^^^ Being a Broadway Baby with Lisa on our way to see This Is Our Youth.
^^^ For one of the bachelorette parties I attended this summer, we decorated our hotel room with Hawaiian-themed decor and wore tacky Hawaiian shirts, because this particular friend spent three years living there. We did a pretty dang good job, if I do say so myself!
^^^ While nightclubs certainly aren’t my thing on a regular basis, chillin’ with some old friends from high school for a couple nights at some were a lot of fun.
^^^ Atlantic City turned it on for us during one friend’s bachelorette. The weather was amazing, and we had a ton of fun.
And with that, I release you, summer 2014, into perpetuity. Here’s to fall. And amazing travel plans. And cooler weather. And tights and boots and sweaters and scarves. Here’s to new beginnings and saying goodbye (for now!) to friends and beloved places.
So besides the helicopter tour Chris and I took on Friday (which I talked about yesterday), we also purchased Metropolitan Museum of Art tickets to check out the amazing Garry Winogrand exhibit (if you’re in town before Sept. 21, you should seriously check it out!) on Saturday, as well as The Cloisters on Sunday. (Tickets to the Met also get you free admission to The Cloisters in the same week.)
I’ve been jonesing to see the Winogrand exhibit since I read about it in New York Magazine about a month ago, and checking out The Cloisters (which is located in Fort Tryon Park in northern Manhattan — kind of a pain to get to) has been on Chris’s Manhattan bucket list for a while so, you know … two birds with one stone ;)
The Met is one of my all-time favorite places (it’s a very close second to The Museum of Natural History), and The Cloisters turned out to be totally interesting and beautiful. So it was a good NYC weekend, my friends. A very good one, indeed.
^^ Saturday after The Met we stopped off at the Third Avenue Ale House and then Kaia Wine Bar, both in our neighborhood. At the Ale House we asked to sample some of the beers, and they came in these adorable teeny, tiny little beer mugs. How could we not take a photo?!
And a few from The Met:
Bis bald, my friends! I hope everyone had a swell weekend, as well!
So Chris and I finally cashed in on an amazing wedding present from one of Chris’s friends in Australia — a helicopter ride high above this beautiful city. We booked with HeliNY Tours (which is pretty pricey at more than $300 for two people, but totally worth it, in my opinion).
Here’s a bit of what we saw …
It was, without a doubt, one of the most fun experiences I’ve had since living in good ole’s NYC.
Bis bald, friends!
^^ This weekend was jam packed and amazing — just the kind of NYC weekend I needed to get back into the swing of things after a crazy, hectic, mixed-up kind of summer. I’ll talk about all the different things we did in a couple of posts throughout the week, but for now this photo is one of the many spectacular views from The Cloisters, the branch of The Metropolitan Museum of Art devoted to the art and architecture of medieval Europe.
^^ Welcome to September (and Fall!) my friends. Oy this year. I sound like a broken record, I know, but this year has been — and continues to be — quite the year. This past weekend, Labor Day weekend, Chris and I attended a wedding of one of my besties from high school. She was married to an amazing man at Red Maple Vineyard in West Park, NY, and while it was unfortunately not the best of weather for when they had their own ceremony, my mom and I visited the venue again on Labor Day (for our own personal reasons … ahem little sister who just got engaged!), and took a trek up the hill to see what the view would have been for Faye, had the weather been nice. Simply. Stunning. Hope you guys all had a fabulous Labor Day weekend, and are as happy to welcome in a new season as I am!
So I just had one of my dearest friends come to visit me in NYC, and oh the fun we had. She was here from Friday through Tuesday, and because she used to live here, there was none of that usual pressure of checking out all the touristy spots or rushing around to do as much as possible. Instead, we could pick and chose which activities meant the most to us, and isn’t that just always the best way to do things?
Anyway, I miss her a ton, and I was going through some of the photos I took while she was here and thought I’d post them to share a bit of what we did since, you know, I thought it was so much fun ;)
Just some food for thought!
^^ I met Lisa at Penn Station on Friday (I was coming back to the city from my parents’ in Jersey, she was coming from Virginia), and before we even dropped our bags off at home we stopped at Blockheads, an amazing Mexican restaurant with even more amazing drinks called Bulldogs. (Tiny Coronas mixed in with Margaritas — yum.) Anyway the combination of Bulldogs and the beer we drank when we did finally make it back to my apartment may or may not have contributed to the silliness of this photo.
^^ Granted this isn’t the best photo, but the next night we met some friends for drinks at the Refinery Rooftop, which is a pretty lovely little spot in midtown to grab a quick drink.
^^ Which was This is Our Youth, with Michael Cera, Kieran Culkin and Tavi Gevinson, now in previews at the Cort Theater.
^^ While we had every intention of walking the Brooklyn Bridge on Sunday to meet up with friends at their apartment on the other side, we were lazy for the first half of the morning, and instead ended up grabbing a cab …
^^ Which is where the Boat Basin is, a cute little outdoor cafe that sits right overlooking the water.
And that, as they say, was that, my friends. You know — in case you’re looking for ideas for when your own bestie comes to visit you in NYC ;)
Bis bald, friends!