Christmas in NYC

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Many of my favourite holiday movies have taken place in NYC (Home Alone 2, Elf, Scrooged) so a late-December trip to the Big Apple was high on my list. Snowy walks through Central Park! Warming up with apple cider! Admiring the lights of the Rockefeller Center tree on a cold winter’s night! Steve and I decided on a quick trip just prior to Christmas to soak up some festive spirit; we arrived to above-freezing temperatures, faint drizzle and lots of green foliage. Hat tip to global warming for deciding that no one needed a white Christmas this year, apparently.

Lack of snow aside, we had a marvelous blow-through-the-city. New York City is a magical place, a feeling only enhanced at this time of year. And despite tensions that have been prevalent on the news, we found the atmosphere of New Yorkers to be the same as always – resilient, positive and welcoming.

We had an action-packed itinerary (because one of us is a bit of a planner, *coughs*), with lots of favourites:

  • Chelsea Market. Part flea market, part food market, part artisan crafty goodness. How have I never been to this market?! We stumbled across it quite by accident after wandering the High Line and popped in to warm up for a few moments. Definitely worth a stop.
  • Union Square Christmas Market. Sensing a theme? I love markets! This one was bonkers, packed with artisan vendors, delicious food and the cutest little farmers’ market. I stopped to gaze at some beautiful bouquets of flowers and picked up the best apples I’ve ever eaten.
  • Eataly. We couldn’t figure out how one would ever get a table, so opted for sandwiches to go which was probably one of the better decisions I made this year. Heirloom tomatoes, basil-infused olive oil, freshly made mozzarella and arugula on a fresh-baked baguette. See you in my dreams, sandwich. XO.
  •  Fishs Eddy. Do you like quirky things? Is your home missing a serving tray featuring Barack Obama’s long-form birth certificate? If you answered yes to either of these questions (and I hope you did), check out this fun little spot for all the serving items you didn’t know you needed.
  • Cabaret. It’s a testament to how stellar this musical is that I would see it twice in the span of two months, and fork over the amount we did for tickets (twice). I was a much, much bigger fan of Emma Stone in the iconic role of Sally Bowles; Michelle Williams played it a tad…manic for my taste, and her singing and dancing was a titch awkward. Stone was much more comfortable and entertaining to watch. Both times I scored seats in the balcony (aka the “hi poor people” section) which still offered great sight lines. Slightly cramped in terms of leg room – if  you’re taller than 6 ft, you may find it uncomfortable. Otherwise, great value.
  • Bushwick Collective. Wander several streets around Troutman Street and St. Nicholas Avenue in Brooklyn and you’ll spot colourful street art murals and drawings helping to transform a neighbourhood. Curated by Joe Ficalora and featuring artists from around the world, it’s a beautiful opportunity to see the power of art. Take the L to Jefferson Street and wander.
  • “Somebody Come and Play”. If you watched Sesame Street as a kid, or have small people now, this free exhibit at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts is a must-visit. Did you know they did a Black Swan spoof?? Because when I think of child-appropriate movies, that’s the first title that comes to mind. At any rate, seeing Snuffy in a tutu and learning about the logistics of hoisting him into the air to twirl was pretty cool. On until January 31st.
  • Breakfast at Deletica. I have to give a shout-out to this lovely spot which was just around the corner from our hotel. Fresh ingredients, delicious coffee and a cozy vibe.

If I had told myself last December 31st that I’d visit this city three times this year, I would have laughed. But 2014 has been full of changes and opportunities I would never have envisioned 365 days ago. I look forward to the adventures in store for all of us in 2015. Best wishes to you.


Eight Hours in NYC

Last weekend, fresh off the plane from Portland, I unpacked my large suitcase and shoved stuff in my carry-on for a quick 72 hour stint in NYC for work. Following my first set of appointments I managed to squeeze in my first Broadway show – Cabaret! I couldn’t have had a better time – Alan Cumming and the supporting cast were phenomenal, and my balcony seats ended up having a decent view. Plus it was at Studio 54! Michelle Williams was meh. Jen Lindley can’t really do a British accent, nor sing…or dance. Basically, she was a bit of a hot mess.

At any rate, the next day I happened to have a glorious day off, and I took advantage of the warm fall weather and went for a long wander without particular destinations in mind (which for me is a mind-boggling move). Here’s how I spent the day, with photos at the bottom.

8:30 a.m. Line up at  Amy’s Bread in Hell’s Kitchen. To be fair, I don’t mind waiting if there are warm treats at the end. Plus they make hella-good croissants. I’ll save this for later when I’m hungry.

9 – 10:30 a.m. Polish off croissant, and opt to log some time in a coffee shop to dig myself out of my inbox a bit (much needed).

11 a.m. – 12 p.m. Wander the Strand. Have to say, if the inevitable happened and I got locked in a bookstore overnight, I would not flip out if I had to sleep here. Exercise restraint and only buy one book, a biography of Mick Jagger which I look forward to reading on a sunny bench this afternoon.

12:15 p.m. Grab a coffee to take across to Brooklyn. Should be a nice day to walk the Brooklyn Bridge!

12:30 p.m. Man alive. EVERY TOURIST in NYC has the same idea as me today and wants to walk across. At least it’s a nice day.

12:55 p.m. Still on the damn bridge.

1:10 p.m. Welp, hope you like my coffee, Brooklyn. It’s now all over a bench in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

1:30 p.m. Abandon efforts to find the Brooklyn Flea although I’m sure it’s probably two steps in the opposite direction from where I’m standing. Feeling hungry, should probably get a salad or some fruit.

2 p.m. Stop at Shake Shack instead. Potatoes are a vegetable, and I think there’s a mushroom in here under all the cheese.

2:30 p.m. Still hoovering fries into my face.

2:35 p.m. Ooo, another bookstore! I should probably check out powerHouse Books for a comparison.

2:56 p.m. Sam, you can’t possibly be hungry.

2:57 p.m. Okay, that passed. Not hungry. Maybe just thirsty.

3 p.m. (spots One Girl Cookies) Oooo cookies!

3:14 p.m. I got a mini whoopie pie so this is half the snack, right? Right??

3:30 – 4 p.m. Need a break from all the eating I’ve been doing, so sit on another bench (coffee-free, thankfully) and start reading book.

4 – 5 p.m. Wander Brooklyn aimlessly picking up a few gifts for Christmas. Notice sunny day has turned to clouds. Feel the need to eat some fruit.

5:15 p.m. Trader Joe’s, yes!

5:17 p.m. Realize line in Trader Joe’s actually snakes around the entire store. Will never complain about lines again. Leave store without fruit.

6 p.m. Toy with the idea of seeing another show while eating a healthy, balanced dinner of veggie tacos and a beer.

6:45 p.m. Head back to hotel room to change for big evening out! Flip on TV and notice The Campaign is on. A few minutes of this won’t hurt, let me just get comfortable to watch.

11:34 p.m. Wake up on bed covered in clothes. How is The Campaign still on?

11:36 p.m. Fall asleep again.

The end.

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Not sure if in future I’d wander without any sort of plan in place, but it was liberating to not travel with a set schedule or itinerary for once. Have you ever done this?

NYC in Photos

I went to NYC recently for a long weekend. Here’s a sample of the adventures I had.

Met Matt Lauer. I hear there’s a potential opening at the Today Show. Put in a good word for myself.

After much wandering and finally consulting a hot dog vendor, found the MoMA. Free Fridays are awesome!

Blinded by the lights.

@ Top of the Rock. Well-worth combining it with an NBC tour. NYC’s hydro bills must be astronomical.

Strawberry fields forever. Also forever – the crowds of people trying to snap photos. Brace yourselves.

The High Line. Highlight of NYC, and a must-visit.

I loved this. Not sure whether it was art or an ad for something?

Designated bike lanes and pedestrian spaces. Heavenly!

Making the pilgrimage to Brooklyn with millions of others (perhaps a slight exaggeration). Thank you Brooklyn for your awesome pizza, bourbon and sweet views.

Other things that were fabulous:

  • Dinner at Josie’s. Fresh, simple food, excellent wine list, casual atmosphere, fun times with friends. I’m still dreaming about the sweet potato/squash dip we had as a starter. Mmmmm.
  • Staten Island Ferry. It’s free, it’s fast, and it offers magnificent views of the city skyline and a close-up of lady Liberty. And it’s free!
  • 9/11 Memorial. Reserving in advance will help shorten the wait time, although it did move fairly quickly. The memorial is really well-done and quite moving. Check it out.
NYC. I ❤ you.

She’s Back!

New York City was aaaaamazing. As I sit waiting for the last of my laundry to spin itself dry, I’m going through my photos (taken with a recently purchased camera). While I’m pleased with some of them, I have a lot to learn still about the quirks of DSLR. One day, I hope that I can capture photos like these.

I love the idea of telling stories through images and capturing the essence of an environment through the people that live there. Plus some of the captions are hilarious, while others are quite touching.