5 Days in New York: The Weekend

Alice in bronze at Central Park

Alice in bronze at Central Park

Here’s the full travelogue version! (Part 1 of 2)

Day 1 (Saturday)

We arrived in NYC extremely early, 08:15. We had confirmed that our hotel would store our luggage until check-in time mid-afternoon. In the cab, I wondered what would be the first iconic New York thing I’d see from the car window. First: brownstones and fire escapes. Second: the Museum of Sex!

Stonewall Inn, Christopher Street

Stonewall Inn, Christopher Street

We had all day to kick around, so we explored the neighbourhood: Washington State Park, Minetta Street and Minetta Lane (NYC’s earliest Black settlement), and Christopher Street. Sadly (but also amusingly), the significance of the Stonewall Inn was completely overlooked by almost all passers-by because two doors down, there was a pet store with puppies in the window! On Gam Kau‘s recommendation, we couldn’t resist looking through The Leather Man store, even the basement with the pleasure/torture implements. The store is devoted to leather fetish and bondage wear. I could not help admiring the quality of the workmanship. There was an especially impressive utility kilt that must have weighed ten pounds! Not quite sure how we left without a purchase, LOL! We meandered down Broadway in Soho as far as Bloomingdale’s and I got sucked into a streetwear store called Yellow Rat Bastard where I bought a Converse hoodie and we admired their wall of All Stars.

As soon as it opened, we had lunch at Peanut Butter and Co. on Sullivan Street. They sell their own peanut butter (in several flavours) and they have a full menu of peanut butter based sandwiches, drinks, and desserts. I ordered a cinnamon-raisin flavoured peanut butter, cream cheese and sliced apple sandwich! The restaurant (actually a small diner) played very loud family-style show tunes like “Be Our Guest,” “Hakuna Matata” and Sesame Street’s “Mahna Mahna.” A little slice of joy…I was ridiculously happy!

The High Line

The High Line

High Line, summery October day

High Line, summery October day

Feeling restored, we made our way over to The High Line, New York’s famous urban park created atop an unused elevated rail line. We followed it from 12th to 30th Streets in Chelsea, overlooking the Hudson River. I’d heard it was created from “native plants” and had to laugh because they were the same weeds we have at home on the roadside! But it gave me a new appreciation for goldenrod, milkweed, asters, thistles and sumac! It was a glorious 20 degree sunshiny day and we came close to getting sunburned. We took a good look around Chelsea Market, a gourmet food market in an old brick factory. It had an artisans marketplace and an Anthropologie store which were fun to browse. And, like a lot of stores that week, it was all kitted out in Halloween decor.

Upon finally checking into the hotel at 4 pm, we reviewed our route on Google Maps and found we’d walked over 10 k! We reviewed our local veggie options and headed over to the nearby Red Bamboo, which was very popular. All of the menu items were imitations of meat dishes, which is not a style of vegetarian cooking that I’m used to. I had a “chicken” and veg dish served in a mango shell – quite good!

That was it for Day 1: we’d been up since 04:15!

Day 2 (Sunday)

In which I make Rom go to church during vacation, heh heh! With a few enticements…

First course at Candle79

First course at Candle79

And on to desserts!

And on to desserts!

We ventured all the way up to East 83rd Street to the Lexington Candy Shop, which isn’t a candy shop – it’s an old fashioned soda fountain and diner. In honour of Harriet the Spy, we had our very first egg creams. Until recently, I thought an egg cream would be like eggnog, but it’s actually like chocolate milk topped off with seltzer. Don’t knock it until you try it – I was impressed! We attended All Souls Unitarian @ 80th Street, which is like a cathedral. That’s an oddity for our denomination which is known for being liberal and casual. The minister spoke about the evils of patriarchy (specifically, the obligation of men to stop violence perpetrated by men). Plus he tied it in with T.S. Eliot. Always good for a Sunday morning discussion! Then it was onwards to our Prix Fixe brunch at Candle79, a notable vegan place.  I used to subscribe to E/The Environmental Magazine and Candle79 advertised in every issue. I decided I had to go there someday! It was a real treat.

Central Park

Central Park

Next we roamed through Central Park for a while, near The Met. Every time you go round a bend in a path, there is another scuIpture or pond or vista.  I want to go back already!

New York Public Library

New York Public Library

Christopher Robin's Pooh toys

Christopher Robin’s Pooh toys

After that it was architecture time. We marvelled at Grand Central Station and the New York Public Library, both of which are in the Beaux-Arts style. Yes, I had to look that up. We made a point of visiting the original stuffed animals on which the Winnie-the-Pooh stories were based. Although I always feel pangs because I read Christopher Milne’s autobiography and he was such an unhappy little boy. I felt a little creepy wandering around the children’s department of the library without any kids! I walked up and down Library Way reading every bronze plaque in the sidewalk. On the recommendation of Leslie Beslie, we toured the Kinokuniya Japanese bookstore nearby. We spent ages there – it was a paradise of art and culture books, with a whole floor of manga and DVDs. I would rate that a must-see! We popped into the lobby of the Chrysler building which was lined in breathtaking imported marble. I think the “crown” on top makes it the most beautiful building in the world.

Rom at Times Square

Rom at Times Square

We ended at Times Square at 6 pm so we could see it in light and dark. That was the one place where “we tourists” got overwhelming, especially since movement was restricted by a lot of construction. Silly me, I had thought Times Square was literally a square – a defined area like Piccadilly Circus. I was surprised that it went on and on for blocks! We bought last-minute cheap tickets to see This Is Our Youth at the Cort Theatre, a comedy-drama with Michael Cera and Kieran Culkin. It was funny and enjoyable but had an edge because of anger, control and abuse issues that kept coming out. If you have seen Michael Cera movies, he has a fairly consistent “lovable goofy” character in all of them. He continued that and expanded his range some.

We had our only fast food meal at Chipotle, and that was the end of Day 2.

To be continued (just one more post!)

18 comments

  1. Fiona

    I had no idea about the history of the Stonewall Inn. It must have been fantastic to visit there. All of this looks amazing…it really makes me want to find a way to visit one day! I love the photo of Central Park. We also ended up doing about 10km a day walking when we were in London. The Pooh toys prompted me to look up Milne’s childhood – very sad. It all looks absolutely amazing. You packed so much into the first day – can’t wait to hear the rest!

    • I read a good history of Greenwich Village before we travelled! There are some good documentaries: Before / After Stonewall, and Stonewall Uprising. After the weekend we slowed down the pace a bit!

  2. Sounds amazing. You’ve given me a lot to google and read about.

    I took my son to see Cera in This is our Youth when it can to the Sydney Opera House (which also has theatres). Impressive acting. With quite a touch of sadness. my son wanted to see it as he likes Cera. A great choice as a first adult play. My son really connected and found live acting so engaging.

  3. Gam Kau

    Lol, that’s my contribution when anyone asks me what to do in NYC.
    Last time I was there I was rather alarmed by the oversized fist/dildo and mentioned to my friend they can’t possibly sell many of them and a store employee immediately piped up and said they sell one at least once a day. Interesting what people get up to behind closed doors. 🙂

  4. looks fab, thanks for taking me to NYC

  5. Wow Im going to save this for the next time we go to New York since you visited so many cool places Ive never even heard of! The peanut butter restaurant and the Unitarian Church are right up my alley!

  6. Pingback: 5 Days in New York: The Rest of It! | An Exacting Life

  7. I love the sound of the peanut butter place! And I read about the High Line in National Geographic a while back, plus heard so many good things about it, so we’re going to try to walk it during our next visit.

    I was also surprised by Times Square during my initial visit to NYC – I had imagined it as a more contained space too.

    • The High Line was a highlight of my trip – because it is a great achievement for the city, and because there’s such good energy there (crowded but everyone was in a good mood!)

  8. Was the Pooh toys at the NY Public Library? I must have missed it! D’OH! 😦

  9. I feel proud of my relative youth but knowledge of Stonewall! yay! I do live in one of the gay capitals of the world though :p

    I loved the sound of the peanut butter place. I really want to make memorable eating places more of a part of my holidays like you do. I do really get a lot of pleasure out of good meals, or even anticipated meals.

    I’m in bed commenting on posts, so 10kms walking sounded horrid to me! But it happens when you travel!

    I love Times Square, and more recently I’ve arrived in NYC in the afternoon (after flying from LAX usually), and therefore head there first knowing things will be opening and happening, and it doesn’t take time and planning to find somewhere else that will be. And I’ve got to the stage I know which big chain stores are there, and I like Aerie (American Eagle) brand tank/singlet tops. 😉

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