City Stories

On The Town

Back in June – JUNE! – I got the best email in recent memory. My dearest friend since forever wrote to say she’d booked a ticket to visit over a three-day weekend in November. At the time, it seemed like an eternity away, but as the weeks and months passed, soon I was beaming at the very thought of the upcoming visit. By the week before she was set to arrive, strangers on the subway probably thought I was as looney as the guy talking to himself at the other end of the car.

Days before she arrived, we talked to discuss plans for the weekend; I’d been here long enough to know we’d never get to everything, but that if we were smart about it, we’d be able to do a lot. With her Must List in hand (Broadway show, Bethesda Fountain and The Met) and my own growing list of To Dos in the city, we had enough penciled in to fill five days rather than the 2.5 we had. Thank goodness for flexible schedules, up-for-anything attitudes and on-the-go apps to keep things interesting.

She arrived Saturday afternoon and as there was no way I could let her be in the city but not be with her, I took the subway then the bus out to LaGuardia to meet her, then started off her NYC weekend by glamorously taking the same public transportation back to my place. Settled and refreshed, there was no time to waste in getting over to the Winter Village in Bryant Park where we sipped hot cider and giggled that the sheer possibility in how to spend the next two days in front of us. We wandered the Village for a bit, then made our way to a pub nearby for dinner and a couple pints. It was at this first stop – a great hole-in-the-wall with friendly service and rugby on the TVs – that we determined our motto for the weekend: wherever we were, that was the best place we could be.

But knowing all too well how easy it would be to pick a spot, open a tab and spend an afternoon or entire evening drinking and talking, we made ourselves move on to a dive in Soho, The Spring Lounge. While the single hipsters of the city paired off around us, we continued the catching up that’d started the minute I found her at the arrivals door at the airport.

Sunday, we got ourselves moving at a reasonable hour and, with the whole day ahead of us, started knocking sights off our list. After a cheap (but delish!) breakfast at the famed Gray’s Papaya, we wandered over to Central Park near Strawberry Fields and walked in towards Bethesda Fountain (item #1: check!). We took our time and headed south from there, taking in the vibrant colors falling from the trees before jumping on a train south into Chelsea, where we came above ground again at the stop I use every day to get to my office. We poked our heads in quickly (I even had to send a press release while we were out and about on Sunday!), but I refused to stay in work mode long. Instead, we walked down to Madison Square Park and over to Eataly, the massive Italian store/restaurant that honestly defies definition. We found two seats at La Birreria, where we shared a flight of cask beers, a cheese plate and prosciutto, alongside some snarky-fun conversation with the young bartenders.

Easy as it would’ve been to stay at that bar all afternoon, we moved on to The Highline, where we took in the views followed by another few pints and a fresh pretzel at the Biergarten at the Standard (are you seeing a theme here). At this point, with an evening ahead of us and no end-of-day plans, Urbanspoon came to the rescue with the recommendation of Mole, a Mexican restaurant nearby where I was introduced to the wonders of carnitas. And after it all on Saturday – the walking, the eating, the drinking, the shopping – we still had a late movie in us. And not just any movie, but About Time, the latest from the gentle genius behind heartwarmers like Love, Actually and Notting Hill. More on that ugly-cry-in-a-good-way experience in a subsequent post, I’m sure.

By Monday, after a full day of going going going, we gave ourselves a reprieve from alarms and slept until we woke up, a vacation indulgence in itself. We were at brunch down the street (one of my musts!) by noon, and enjoyed mimosas and eggs and some serious BFF conversation at our own leisurely pace. The afternoon was set aside for The Met (item #2: check!), where we didn’t have much time for the vast galleries but managed to see Van Goghs and Degas and Egyptian temples and Renaissance sculptures.  We cut our time at the renowned museum short because we’d decided to forego an expensive dinner before that night’s Broadway show in favor of a home cooked meal: I wanted to prepare it, she wanted to eat it. Perfect!

Though a bit rushed, we finished dinner (my new specialty, Chicken Piccata) in time to get dolled up and head off to the Great White Way for a special Monday show of Newsies (item #3: check!), which was so good I’ve been listening to the soundtrack on repeat ever since. High production value and incredible choreography made up for a predictable storyline and a lack of Christian Bale.

As we walked home after the show (because that’s how close I live from Broadway – walking distance), we marveled at all we’d managed to make happen in just over two days. Staying motivated wasn’t hard with such great company, and with each of us willing to go both go with the flow and be honest about our opinions on the itinerary, we logged one of the best weekends I may ever have in the city. And before officially calling it a night, we fit in one more city experience, grabbing a late-night, post-show slice of pizza from the spot around the corner from my apartment.

I don’t think we could’ve done the weekend better if we’d tried.

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