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!
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!
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…
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.
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!
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.
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!)