Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Big Apple

I am back from a whirlwind week in New York accompanying little sister on a business trip. I absolutely loved it. Heaps of sightseeing, shopping, eating and walking.

Transport consisted of walking, the subway (yes, I braved it), the odd crazy New York taxi (tooting is their first language) and a horse and carriage ride in Central Park.

One morning K and I found ourselves walking in the Garment District. Lots of 'wholesale only' stores selling copious amounts of clothes (I assume to retail stores) and some amazing huge retail/wholesale outlets selling nothing but trims or ribbons or buttons. It was jaw-dropping and made me wish I could sew!

On my first morning I went with my penfriend from Chicago (who is going to be Miss 16's host family when she moves there in January) to a traditional New York diner. We each ordered an omelette that I could swear would feed 4 people. It must have contained 6 eggs and was stuffed with mushrooms, cheese and spinach and would have been at least 6 inches high. It was accompanied with a mound of refried potatoes. I almost felt sick upon seeing the huge portion but it was delicious and after eating about 1/4 of it I admitted defeat. Including coffee or juice
it came to the princely sum of $5.95.

From that day on we ate breakfast on 7th Avenue (just by Madison Square Garden) at a very cool and busy New York bagel deli called "Bagel Maven Cafe". To die for bagels and a standard size!

I was really impressed with the food - did not have huge expectations before I left. We ate in either funky neon-lit cocktail bars/restaurants or small candle-lit family owned restaurants (no more than 30 seaters). Prices were fantastic - no more than $15-17 for a main course which might be a huge bowl of linguini with huge scallops, prawns and mussels and a fresh salad on
the side. The thin crusted New York pizza was lovely - very simple - often just prosciutto and basil and again, $15 for enough to feed 2. I was surprised to see a lot of seafood - grilled calamari featured everywhere. I gave in one night only and had New York cheesecake (had to really!)

Shopping was amazing - Saks 5th Avenue was lovely and Macy's was hit hard. Christmas decorations outside buildings were fantastic -especially on 5th Avenue. Took lots of photos. Credit card saw a bit of damage (I blame Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein for making clothes in my size!). Huge floors containing warm winter coats - everything from furs to fleece. Sales
everywhere - possible to get a full length down coat with fur trim on sale for $200. Not that I need one in Wellington. (And I wouldn't buy fur!) Makeup and cosmetics were ridiculously cheap - the Bobbi Brown foundation I splurge on at $90 a bottle at home was US$45 - even with the exchange rate it was cheap. Suffice it to say I had to buy an extra suitcase to lug home all my purchases.

I did lots of touristy things including going to the top of the Empire State Building for the amazing views; Times Square was buzzy and neon (even the police station had a neon sign); the Ground Zero memorial was worth queuing for - a very sad place - and very calm and quiet amidst the bustle of the city; the Rockefeller Centre with its famous Christmas tree and
avenue of angels and iceskating; St Patrick's Cathedral to light a candle for dad. I had a day and a
half by myself (my penfriend had left and K was working) so I walked to Greenwich
and Soho which was a great afternoon. We went to a Broadway show one night - The
Book of Mormon - which I confess I had never heard of but which had just won 9 Tony Awards and consequently was practically booked out until 2013. We had to pay $299 for tickets (oops that's over $400 once converted!) but worth every cent - the funniest thing I've ever
seen. It got a standing ovation. Next time I will go to way more shows - there
was so much on it was amazing.

We spent a morning at MOMA (the Museum of Modern Art) - a bit of a quick visit but enough to get a sense of the vast range of work they cover - the collection area (painting and sculpture) held lots of works by people like Picasso, Monet, Warhol (the Campbell soup cans!), Kahlo, Matisse,
Cezanne etc ; there was a great architecture section featuring an exhibition on the architects who were invited to design a replacement for the Twin Towers; the photography section had a new exhibition of 6 American photographers with works from the 50s to 70s. My favourite, interestingly, was a display on typography which I found fascinating. Felloow scrpapers would have apreciated it, I think. I felt like we really just ran around it all to get a quick glimpse of what was there. Could have spent a day or two there. And I didn't get to the Guggenheim or the Met but there's always next time.

I had expected the people to be hard and brash but found the opposite. Occasionally they were indifferent but never rude but mostly they were very friendly and chatty. The streets were packed and frequently you'd get bumped just crossing the street but without fail people took a second to say "Oh, I'm sorry. Excuse me, Pardon me" And "Ma'am" was heard hundreds of times a day. Most people knew where New Zealand was and I only had one person ask if it was "near New England?".

Anyway just a wee snip of my 6 days in NYC -hadn't expected to love it so much. Would I go back? In a heart beat.
(Blogger is doing silly things and I can't seem to load more photos)


Jenny said...

Sounds like an amazing trip and I'm glad that you had a great time with lots to see, do, eat and buy

Anonymous said...

Yup, that's my city! Though I live in the burbs, I do go in a few times a week. I would love to go to New Zealand; have seen travel shows and it is so beautiful there. Clothing is definitely cheaper here and tons of bargains if you know where to look for them.

Janine said...

wow Mel, what an awesome trip you had. Green with envy here in a good way. Loved that you got to cram so much in during your stay. NY is where I want to go.