I’m falling off my chair in fatigue (I was up at 6:30 AM this morning for an 8:30 class, I’m evidently a sadomasochist) but I’ve committed myself to completing this post before I let all the details of my New York trip escape me and sink into an irretrievable abyss.
Taking off from where I last left off – Sunday was our “social” day, as it entailed meeting up with the various friends/family members we knew in the city. In the morning, we met up with Jocelyn’s friend Alex and his girlfriend Eden for a lovely brunch/lunch at a little cafe in Soho, Once Upon a Tart. It was a tiny place and quite dark, but the food was tasty, and their tarts (as expected) were delicious. I bought a pear and almond tart to take away as a snack later. We split up after, as it was Alex and Eden’s last day in New York and they were hoping to fit in some more shopping before their flight left, so Jocelyn and I walked around in Soho a little bit, exploring the shops and jewelry stands, before taking the subway to the Meatpacking District. We stumbled upon an artists’ fair in the basement of a local church which turned out to be a treasure trove of amazing jewelry – I bought a lovely little bow ring (similar to the Kiel Mead designed one that I had been lusting after), and Jocelyn bought a ring with a pretty turquoisey-teal stone.
Afterwards we tromped around the Meatpacking District a little more in our attempts to find the entrance to the High Line, an old abandoned railway track reincarnated into an urban park suspended above the bustle of the roads of New York, which fortunately was found with the assistance of some other tourists. It was a beautiful day, so the park was quite busy with people walking along. High Line was definitely one of my favourite parts of New York – it’s quite small (as it exists now, though I believe they are planning on expanding it), but even the fact that it exists above the road imbues it with a certain sense of calm – of course, the gardens and greenery, benches and seating help too – the organization that is responsible for its operations also holds various public and community events, such as workshops, book loaning services, and public art installations. It’s such an interesting and well executed example of how to successfully merge the functions of a public green space that simultaneously operates as a place for public gathering, presentation of art and installations while effectively utilizing the space that is available – as you probably imagine, space is kind of at a premium in New York, and there isn’t any significant green space in the middle of such a metropolis.
We lounged around High Line for quite some time, reading books and resting our tired feet. In the late-ish afternoon we decided to trek to Greenwich Village, where we were to meet my cousin Kelly for dinner – originally we were going to try to locate a subway station and subway there, but through our random wandering we found that we actually just stumbled into the neighbourhood, which was nice. In the process we also found the famous Magnolia Bakery – since we had a sweets craving to satiate, we thought we might as well try some of their “famous” cupcakes. As it so happens, Magnolia’s cupcakes aren’t nearly as tasty as advertised and I came away quite disappointed – homemade is definitely better. After our brief snack break, we explored Greenwich Village a bit – got to jump into Marc Jacobs’ stores – before deciding to lounge, again, in the Hudson River Park. Dinner was at Hakata Ton Ton, where we had delicious Japanese tapas. Afterwards we headed for gelato in Little Italy, then called it an early night, since we wanted to get up bright and early for the following morning.
Monday was MoMA day, which actually ended up being my favourite museum of all the ones we visited. In the morning we decided to tackle the Empire State Building (at 9 AM!) because we heard that crowds could get really horrible. Fortunately, we had barely no line – we only really waited to buy tickets – but I was a little disappointed in the general experience, as there wasn’t that much to see. We spent maybe twenty minutes at the 86th floor observatory before deciding to explore some more of Midtown before heading further uptown to MoMA – which was amazing! So much wonderful art; I’ve always been preferential towards modern art over classical art, so MoMA was a bit of a heaven for me. Jocelyn and I ended up spending up the better part of Monday in MoMA, and we also grabbed lunch there – at Cafe 2, which was way over-priced given the lack of quality! Our pastas were over-priced, small-portioned, and tasted like plain boiled pasta with a few veggies and cheese sprinkled on top. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind paying more if the quality is there – but the quality definitely was not there with this meal. Needless to say, we were very disappointed (enough for me to semi-rant about it here, at least). To make up for Cafe 2′s sub-par cuisine, though, was the MoMA gift shop, which I could definitely spend hours and hours in – so many amazingly designed gadgets, I wanted them all irregardless of my need!
After our day at MoMA we were, naturally, starving, so we made a stop to Tiffin Wallah, a raved-about Vegetarian Indian restaurant. It was DELICIOUS. Especially after the big let-down the MoMA’s dining was. I had the Tiffin Wallah platter and Jocelyn had a potato and veggie curry, both which were delicious. I ended up eating a pepper and spoiling my dinner, which was unfortunate.
Tuesday was our breather day, which we spent in Brooklyn. In the morning we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, which was lovely, and made our way to the TKTS booth in downtown Brooklyn in our attempts to snag discounted Broadway tickets. We were very fortunate and were able to get evening tickets to Chicago in a prime location in the theatre for half off! Score. If you’re ever in New York and looking to get discounted tickets from TKTS, try to go to their booth in Brooklyn, because it’s significantly less crowded and you won’t waste nearly as much time waiting in line as you would at the booth in Times Square. With our moods considerably lightened, we took the subway to Williamsburg, grabbing lunch at a wonderful cafe (I think this may have been our best meal – so yummy) at DuMont. Afterwards, we headed to the “central” shopping area in Williamsburg, Bedford Avenue, where we got a chance to stop in some of the little shops. I got a cool magnifying glass necklace from Catbird, a wonderful jewelry shop on Bedford – I wanted to buy everything in there, but had to resist.
After checking out the vintage mecca Beacon’s Closet (it’s a behemoth – we were overwhelmed to say the least), we took the subway downtown and decided to check out the Financial District before our play – we were able to see the World Trade Center site (after Osama Bin Laden had been killed, no less), which was both a surreal and profoundly sad experience; I was a lot more affected than I thought I would be. After spending some time exploring the site and memorial museum, we headed to Century 21, a giant discount department store. It was ginormous and many deals were to be had – they had Marc by Marc Jacobs wallets for just $79.99! – but we were both exhausted and didn’t have nearly as much patience or energy as we would’ve liked to scope out some deals. If I returned, I would try to visit in the morning when I was a little more energetic.
A little exhausted, we continued sightseeing, checking out Trinity Church, the Federal Reserve, etc. until it was time for dinner, where we stopped by a little burger diner in the Financial District called Zaitzeff – really yummy, and cool space! We then took the subway back to Times Square just in time to watch Chicago, which was fabulous. It starred Christie Brinkley, who, in my opinion, wasn’t AMAZING (but did relatively well given her lack of Broadway experience), but the rest of the cast was fabulous! When the play was over, we decided to shop for souvenirs for friends and family back home – and so began my quest for the 7 3/8 sized NY Mets hat for my little brother, which, after a long period of searching, was finally located!
The main plan for Wednesday was the Guggenheim – Jocelyn and I are museum lovers, so predictably we tried to hit all the big ones. It was unbelievably rainy on Wednesday, so off we tromped covered head to toe, toting our bright coloured umbrellas to the ivory coloured art mecca nested comfortably in Manhattan’s Upper East Side. It was very busy and crowded, exacerbated no doubt by the relative smallness of the museum. That said, I did enjoy the Guggenheim, both for its art, and the seamlessness that the architecture afforded to the viewing experience. Wright truly did magnificently with this building, and the exhibitions are so carefully curated that everything flows together perfectly.
Given the smallness of the Guggenheim, we were out of the museum by 2 PM, and we spent the rest of the day shopping in my quest to find a pair of Sperry’s that a) fit, and b) were in a colour and design I liked. Unfortunately, my quest was not completed by the end of the trip, but I did manage to snag a cute pair of Keds that I’m looking forward to stomping around in this summer! For dinner, we decided on pizza from Lombardi’s in Soho. A simple margherita pizza sated our craving for a perfect thin-crust pizza, and afterwards we stopped by Rice to Riches for some rice pudding for dessert (delicious and incredibly indulgent).
Our last day was completely and utterly devoted to the Queen (or King) of all New York museums, the Met. We got there relatively early, around 10:30 AM, and were there the entire day prior to leaving for our evening flight, until about 5 PM. The first thing I learned, right away, is that you are not going to be able to see and absorb the entirety of the museum in a day if you want to retain any sort of recollection of what you saw that day – if I did it again, I would try to see it over the course of two days. We didn’t get a chance to see all the exhibits that they had to offer, instead deciding on which ones we wanted to see the most and prioritizing those.
Predictably, the highlight of the Met for me was the Alexander McQueen exhibit, Savage Beauty. I must have spent at least an hour in there, not least because it was so crowded, making the viewing slow going. But it was amazing and impeccably curated – everything from the lighting, to the design of the exhibits themselves and the music that played in the background served to complement and embody McQueen’s work.
After the Met, we began our journey home, spending at least 2 hours in JFK airport waiting for our flight (the time which, surprisingly passed very quickly as we got absorbed in our readings). After spending five hours in the air, in which I got almost no sleep, I was home. And missing New York terribly. It’s a very schizophrenic city, but I’ve never experienced anything like it. And though I don’t think I would wish to settle there permanently, it’s a city with so much to offer – and I already intend to visit again in the near future.