Oh urban jungle, these we “smaller city mice” love/hate you. (Or is it hate/love?) The dirt and grind of the city, the noise and constant flow of people wandering aimlessly and yet with urgent purpose through the streets jostling each other as they make their way to their destination. We endure this jostling too, so that we may enjoy your bright lights, amazing shopping, eating and doing.
I don’t think that I could ever reside in a city like New York – I’m entirely too dependent on trees, and nature, and fresh air, and entirely too unimpressed with the rat race and all that it entails. But, I’ll take a quick trip of hopping about to see this and do that and allow that dose to be my fix for the year.
As a college student in Upstate, I had the opportunity to learn the history, dig into the culture, and see all the sights/enjoy the experiences requisite to start to “know” this place – standing on top of the Empire State Building, riding the Staten Island Ferry and circling the Statue of Liberty on the Circle Line. I even went so far as to eat in Chinatown, work in a homeless shelter in the Bronx for a class, and ate mafia-made pizza in Brooklyn. I have been back a handful of times since and always enjoy my stays – collecting a healthy list of outposts and eateries to whirlwind through. At last, we had a trip to compile them all and enjoy a true soaking up of all the Big Apple had to offer and, if we could go back and do it all again, we wouldn’t change a thing.
Here’s how we spent a fabulous 48-hours of fall in NYC: Sidling up to the communal dining table at Co. in Chelsea where bread is the centerpiece of the scene. The NY Times and other pizza-philes have acclaimed their slices, which is exactly what we ordered up before hopping a train home to rest up for tomorrow (and acclimate from the West Coast.)
On Saturday morning, clutching perfectly pulled cups from Culture Espresso Bar, we wandered the Meatpacking District, weaving and window shopping the likes of Alexander McQueen, and Helmut Lang before hopping in a taxi and heading south to take in the 9/11 Memorial – breathtaking and timely.
Off to the Flatiron District to digest the sights and scenes, we ducked into Eataly. This energetic Italian marketplace is more than just a giant grocery store and I was immediately drooling and jumping for joy over finding so many delicacies that I hadn’t seen since living in Torino. We immediately got in line for Illy espresso, and set out to find all the Perugia chocolates in Piedmont (as well as lunch and a place to rest our city legs.)
The restaurants were a bit hectic, so we opted to wait for a bar table which offered us ample space to lay out a plan for the afternoon and enjoy our plates and the lively atmosphere.
Checking off our foodie to-do list – we strayed from all navigational senses and headed towards Gramercy Park for a stop at Momofuku Milk Bar where cookies, cereal milk, and a new cookbook (details to be shared) were our souvenirs. (If we hadn’t been so full from lunch and cookies, we would have continued south to the Lower East Side for Derek’s first taste of Babycakes NYC’s vegan cinnamon buns.)A bit of shopping in Soho, and some people watching, and some taxi-riding/subway surfing. These latter are free shows that everyone in New York City should be talking about. We killed a bit of time before having dinner at wd-50 where we enjoyed the new fall musings of the decorated, innovative and down-right grounded Wylie Dufresne and company. For a post-dinner show, Grand Central Station on a Saturday night offers excellent entertainment – people dashing this way and that. With so many places to go and people to see, New Yorkers never run out of rushing to do.Much of Sunday was spent running the ING New York City Marathon – this was an even better way to see/feel the city than I could have imagined. And afterwards, we did some more exploring. Even though the price is high, hopping in a pedicab with a pretzel in one hand and a camera in the other and riding from Central Park to Times Square was a highlight.
Twenty-six-point-two-miles isn’t enough of a reason to stick yourself in your hotel for the night. After a quick shower, we indulged every earned craving and headed to 5 Napkin Burger in the Meatpacking District for a pre-theatre dinner of fries, beer, and atmosphere. You could indulge in pricey prix-fixe plates in the surrounding streets, but if you still have cash to spend on such an adventure, you probably aren’t seeing the right Broadway show because you’re tickets weren’t expensive enough. (See The Book of Mormon and don’t ask questions until you’ve laughed the night away.)
When the curtain closes, you’ll hungry again – or at least in the mood for a treat. Within a hop from most Broadway theatres is Shake Shack – a modern-day, “roadside” hamburger stand right off the heart of Times Square, upping the ante with locally sourced ingredients without compromising any nostalgia. Order up a concrete or sundae made with frozen custard and ponder your next late night move.There was one more thing on our list of to-do’s – an homage to the holidays in the City that we could savor before Rockefeller Center lit up for Christmas, and weeks before the balloons paraded past Macy’s. The lights were still on The Pond at Bryant Park (the newest, hottest ice skating rink in the Boroughs) and we hailed a cab to make the most of the last hours until we flew home – ending the weekend with good laughs as we slipped and slid beneath the skyline, with full bellies.
If you’re plotting your own escape to The Big Apple, here are a few resources to plan your trip:
- I used the NY Times “The Scoop” App for iPhone to plot the best coffee shops as we navigated the city. The app also features events, bars/nightlife, and restaurants.
- If you aren’t going to run the marathon, I highly recommend making a point to run in Central Park. The Central Park Running Map is worth picking up if you’re packing your running shoes.
- Lastly, here is a map that I put together of all the places we went to eat/see/go while in NYC. As we learned, this list, and this map, is ever-growing and so I look forward to updating it in our travels.