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.
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!
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)
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.
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.
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!
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!