5 Days in New York: The Rest of It!

Sculpture court at Seagram's Building

Sculpture court at Seagram’s Building (Calders)

Continues from here

Day 3 (Monday)

After so much sight-seeing the day before, we decided a full day of shopping and eating was in order. Who am I kidding, I should say I decided 😉 We went back to Broadway in Soho for a proper shopping expedition. I have to say, if you are “normal” sized, do not try to buy jeans in New York City. It was an exercise in frustration. All the stores I visited sold only sizes 24-29 (at most) and all skinnies. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as size 24 in adult jeans. It must be equivalent to a size 0. I could reassure myself that sizes 30+ were the most popular and therefore sold out, but I was convinced they were never stocked. Where are Reitman’s and Mark’s when you need them? (joke for Canadian readers) I also gorged my eyes on boots, boots, boots. I love them!

The real shopping began when we crossed over into the East Village and zigzagged up and down all the avenues for vintage stores. They carry fine merchandise, especially 1940s stuff. In other places I’ve visited, “vintage” is more like retro (70s and 80s). However, my one purchase was another 1970s shirt with pearl snaps – I am developing a weird weakness for them! We visited two punk rock shops, Trash and Vaudeville and Search and Destroy, the latter of which was intended to shock with a window full of creepy baby dolls, and a lot of cheesy porn and horror images inside. I was surprised that there is also a huge Goth shop on 4th Avenue.

We took a break and had NYC’s highest-rated egg creams at Gem Spa, a little convenience store. However, our first ones at Lexington Candy Store had won us over. While we couldn’t agree with the top ranking, we were still happy to drink more of them!

We visited two collectibles/toy stores, Toy Tokyo (also recommended by Leslie Beslie) and Forbidden Planet. Then spent considerable time at the enormous book store, The Strand. I didn’t realize it sold both new and used books. The selection is vast. It seems especially good on the classics: fiction, poetry, philosophy and history. I liked browsing there because the selection was so different from chain bookstores.

Pizza at Lombardi's (first pizzeria in the USA)

Pizza at Lombardi’s (first pizzeria in the USA)

Lunch was had at the New York institution, Lombardi’s. I wanted to eat there because it was the first pizzeria in the United States. They had that Italian-American diner feel with the red-and-white checked table cloths and Sinatra music. I will gently suggest you go there for the experience rather than for the pizza. Enjoyed it!

John Varvatos at CBGBs

John Varvatos at CBGBs

My highlight of the day was seeing the former site of CBGB’s rock club. It is now a high-end men’s fashion and audio retailer, John Varvatos. I know everyone mourns the loss of the club as it was in its heyday. But it is one cool concept store. The fashion line is excellent and quite rock-inspired. I could see the band The National wearing it! Of course we mere mortals could not afford it. It’s funny that the old CBGBs was known for its filthy washroom and now it is super-deluxe and on display! However, bits of posters and stickers from the walls of the old club were placed under glass for posterity.

We ended the day with reservations at another fine vegan restaurant, Blossom in Chelsea. We didn’t get the full experience since we’d been eating well all day and only had room for one course! But I would go back. Returning to our hotel, we walked by the Hotel Chelsea, former home of many artists and musicians. I expected it to be the size of a narrow brownstone, and was taken aback by how massive it is! I had my only NYC celebrity sighting, Sara from Tegan and Sara, walking down the street. Now I adore Tegan and Sara and have seen them live several times. Sara saw that she’d been recognized but I kept going. I would not embarrass myself by grovelling over her work or asking for a photo! In my fantasy world, I would like to sit in a coffee shop with Sara and talk books. She is known to be very well-read.

Day 4 (Tuesday)

One: Number 31, 1950 (Jackson Pollock)

One: Number 31, 1950 (Jackson Pollock)

Jackson Pollock detail

Close-up of same

Rom and I spent the whole day at the Museum of Modern Art and it wasn’t enough. We got in at 11 and stayed until 5. We started with the outdoor sculpture court, then saw the Toulouse-Lautrec posters and prints, then the Matisse show. After that we went through the permanent exhibits which included many famous works by Picasso, Pollock, Miro, Mondrian, Kahlo, Rothko and Calder. Two of the best-known paintings on site are Van Gogh’s The Starry Night and Dali’s The Persistence of Memory (aka the melting clock). Our lunch in the medium-priced cafe was lovely but the service was unacceptably slow and aloof, and it ate into our museum time. Next time I’ll listen to Laura and bring my own snacks! MOMA is a treasure and I wish I’d had two days there.

"Put down the knitting, the book and the broom...come to the cabaret!"

“Put down the knitting, the book and the broom…come to the cabaret!”

That evening we had a great meal at the Indian restaurant Mint (near MOMA) and we made it to see the musical Cabaret just in the nick of time. I was excited to see the show at the former Studio 54, which is now operated by the Roundhouse Theatre. I had not seen the movie of Cabaret and only had a general idea of the plot. The first half had a burlesque feel and reminded me a bit of Rocky Horror! So the second half hit me hard. I won’t give spoilers to others who haven’t seen it, but it is a high-impact show. The production we saw was top-notch and I definitely recommend it.

Bombay Bicycle Club at Terminal 5

Bombay Bicycle Club at Terminal 5

Day 5 (Wednesday)

It was our last day and we had tickets to an evening show, so we planned an easier day. We had wanted to go to the Top of the Rock for the view, but it was raining so we decided against it. It was also too wet for skating down below at the Rockefeller Centre ice rink. So more shopping was required, at Nintendo World (where they had an exhibit on the history of the Game Boy) and at the LEGO store. I found my new favourite store, Uniqlo. They had a whole floor of $10 Tshirts with prints of pop art by my favourite people like Warhol, Haring and Basquiat. I bought several! As you might guess, we have a soft spot for the Hard Rock Cafe, so we returned to Times Square and had a meal there. Each one has different rock memorabilia in showcases. The NYC Hard Rock had a lot of framed printed material such as signed lyrics, books, contracts and photos, as well as the expected guitars and costumes. Back in our hotel neighbourhood, I finally found a Ramones T-shirt, which was surprisingly hard to come by! That evening, we went out to see Bombay Bicycle Club. They are a very twee indie pop band (think: Grizzly Bear or Belle and Sebastian) and we enjoyed the show very much. The audience were experts on their work and the opening act’s, and knew all the songs – something not always true back home, where we only recently got Spotify! The only negative was that it was bucketing down rain and we spent the whole show drying out, but they had yummy pretzels at the bar and it was a good night!

iPad lounge at LaGuardia (and my breakfast!)

iPad lounge at LaGuardia (and my breakfast!)

Thursday morning we flew home and shortly thereafter, went out to another gig for which we’d bought tickets months ago.

So, we went to New York and didn’t see the Statue of Liberty, the World Trade Center, the Empire State Building, the Brooklyn Bridge, Wall Street or Chinatown or Harlem or The Met or the Rockettes or Macy’s. Obviously, another visit is in order!

30 comments

  1. You did a hip trip! Too cool! More like a second trip?

    You’ve made me want to go! Disappointed about the jeans though. I thought Americans were meant to be fat? How am I going to look slim? Let alone get into a pair of jeans in NY!

    • I have never seen as many severely thin people as I did in New York. Maybe regular folks have to shop in the suburbs?

      • It makes sense though. You walked 6 miles without even realizing it! There are loads of stairs to get in & out of the subway. And it usually takes less time to walk a mile than trying to take public transportation such a short distance.

      • Very true. I also remember what you said about the grocery stores. Hard to find and hard to get your groceries home. Only saw one (a Trader Joe’s) the entire time I was there! Another thing, see what you think. There are multiple restaurants on every block. When I was surrounded by food like that, instead of wanting everything now, I had the feeling, “There’s so much choice; there’s always another day.” I had nice meals every day, but almost no snacks. With all the abundance everywhere, there was no sense of urgency.

  2. Thanks for the guide for my next trip up.

  3. What a great detailed round-up of your trip…you did so much! Of course with so much still to see you have to go back.

  4. Fiona

    You packed so much in! Agree with Lucinda though, it sounds like you did your ‘second’ trip first! I can see how people want to go back to NYC again (and again and again.) It all sounds quite addictive, from the art to the restaurants to the shopping and shows and the city itself. It’s made me want to go, too.

  5. Your comment about thin people is interesting. A doctor I use to work with who designed wellness programs for corporations used to say one reason the French have fewer heart attacks is it is a walking culture. New York City is a walking city, so it makes total sense people are thinner there. When I visited Toronto, I found the same thing at least downtown. It also may be the younger, less heavy folks flock to bigger cities. Take care, BTG

  6. Finished reading your whole recap – it really sounds like you had the best time! I’d say it’s a shame you missed the bridges, but you packed so much other stuff in your trip, I totally understand! What a good mix of touristy & non-touristy things to do. What did you think of Terminal 5? (It’s one of the bigger venues in the city, along with Madison Square Garden). I hope you’re home now and relaxing! I know visiting here can be outright exhausting.

    • I actually really liked Terminal 5. It wasn’t hard to get to, it was spacious, and the sound quality was not the worst! I would go again any time.

      I was especially exhausted because we went to another show the night we got home (Against Me was playing and could not miss them!)

  7. What a great trip. Artsy and not too touristy. One of my bigger regrets was not having pizza in NYC, I am jealous you got to go to Lombardi’s. 😀

  8. Gam Kau

    I spent a good amount of time in that Nintendo store when my kids were little. Canada does not have Uniqlo? It’s practically my favourite shop!

  9. Ginger R

    Okay. Now I truly want to go experience New York. I “passed” through briefly years ago on my way to Atlantic City. I have a niece living in Brooklyn now. I should plan a trip.

  10. Lots of interesting experiences here! I’ve found that skinny jeans of any brand fit tighter in general – I had to go up two sizes for a pair that fit nicely. We also loved the Nintendo store (bought some cool shirts) and the Hard Rock Cafe. I had a shot at 11 in the morning there (we’d been up since 3 am to catch the early bus so it seemed late enough to me, haha). NYC is one of those places I think I could visit every year and not get sick of. There’s just so much to do!

    • I look forward to your next post, then! Would love to know what shirts you chose at the Nintendo store. I loved the history of the Game Boy display. I am a fan of Hard Rock cafes. Will gladly eat there to be able to view their memorabilia! (Their Veggie Leggie burgers are really good.)

      • Oh, that was confusing, sorry – our trip for NYC is scheduled for Nov. 29th. We visited the Nintendo store and Hard Rock in 2009. I bought a Pikachu shirt (with a tail printed on the back!) and a Gamer for Life shirt that had the old style controller on the front. 🙂

      • Are you much of a gamer, Amanda? I am hopeless; my gaming skills are stuck in the 80s!

      • I wouldn’t say I excel at video games but I do enjoy them. Non-violent strategy games are my favorite (like Tetris or Roller Coaster Tycoon). 🙂 I should write a post about it!

  11. I love UniQlo but not for the t shirts. Mid way through high school I more or less swore off t shirts, and haven’t gone back. Anyhow, I love (now) uniqlo for their knickers. I was tempted to buy lots of the stuff they have in Japan by Jonathan Alder. Sadly I went past our city UniQlo recently and it was being refurbished, but I saw at least two shopping bags from there today, so I wonder if it might have reopened?!

    You certainly pack in so much to your trips! Like you, I will be back, though my US trip in Jan won’t touch to NYC which is sad. I think it’s great you went to shows and concerts, I think that’ll make it really memorable, and an advantage of (perhaps) the shorter booking windows and lead times, meaning you can plan for the events. In Australia, I feel like we plan these long haul holidays before knowing tour dates etc, but perhaps that’s just me?

    • What would be your usual lead time for an international trip, Sarah? Right now I am getting emails from NYC concert venues advertising shows in the January to April time frame. And as you know I am not above buying “after market” tickets to a really special show!

      • It depends, I’ll be in the US in Jan, and booked it in October. When I was younger and had less liquid cash (but the price also decided) I booked July for May the next year. I suppose my current lead time is ‘doesn’t matter’ :p I feel with kids soon in my future, this flexibility won’t always be possible 😀

      • I am in the “doesn’t matter” camp too, as long as I book 3+ weeks ahead so the flights aren’t outrageous!

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