A couple days after all of the out of town family left, I hopped on a plane to New York to see one of my closest friends, Alex. It had been nearly two years since I saw her, and those two years have been quite an adventure for both of us. Needless to say, we had a lot of catching up to do.
One of the great things about visiting Alex is that when I am with her, I feel like I’m at home. She is the kind of friend that no matter when or where I see her, it feels like I’ve seen her every day.
When I arrived in the city, I dropped off my bags and set off to explore. I stopped to get coffee near Gramercy Park and then made my way down to Sullivan St. to drool over fabric and yarn at Purl Soho. When Alex finished work, we met up and did what girls do best….we shopped for jeans! I found a pair I liked, but she wouldn’t let me buy them because she receives Levi’s discounts almost daily through email. The mid-rise straight legs would have to wait.
Our next stop was this little sandwich shop on East Broadway & 20th, ‘wichcraft, that is now open for dinner and has a great upstairs dining area. Alex happens to have an new-found interest in this place, so the dinner was even sweeter than just two old friends grabbing a bite to eat.
On my second day, I woke up with a pretty bad head cold. After Alex made breakfast coffee and toast, she forced me to take cold medicine before she left for work. They worked like a charm and I was out and about wandering in no particular direction for a few hours. I stopped by the Union Square holiday market, happened upon Idle Wild Books, and even found the downtown location for the Brooklyn Flea Gifted market. Unfortunately, I walked by around 10:30am and they didn’t open until noon.
I made a large northwestern loop past the Fashion Institute and Madison Square Gardens before my legs turned to jelly and my cold took over my breathing. My exploring for the day was done, and I barely moved for the rest of the afternoon.
The next day, Saturday, was the day my mom and sister arrived for our “girls weekend”. For the three nights they would be in the city, we rented a studio apartment on 46th and 2nd from the vacation rental company, Urban Living. If you plan to take a personal vacation to New York City, and want to stay in an apartment, I TOTALLY recommend that you go through Urban Living. Not only is it owned by Alex’s mom, but our apartment was exactly what they said it would be, and was perfect for the three of us!
To prepare for Keisha and Mom’s arrival, Alex and I went to the one and only Trader Joe’s in Manhattan on 14th Street. I never knew I could be so excited about going to a grocery store, but shopping that morning was dreamy. I made sure to pick up 12-items-or-less (because the regular lines take about 1 1/2 hours, and the “express” lane only takes 45 minutes), but I easily could have filled four shopping carts. Trader Joe’s is one of the many reasons I loved Portland!
Mom and Keisha arrived, and we hit the ground running. Lunch at DeFonte’s sandwich shop, taxi to the rental apartment, comedy show at Broadway Comedy Club, Times Square at night, and a delicious chocolate cake for dessert. We were giddy to be in New York together, but exhausted by the colds that were swelling in our heads.
Sunday, December 6th was my mother’s birthday, and the real reason we were there. It was gorgeous outside with crystal clear skies, so our activity for the day was a no-brainer: The Empire State Building. Of course, we weren’t the only ones that wanted to take advantage of the weather. We stood in the well orchestrated and deceivingly short lines with hundreds of tourists for about an hour while talking about New York and trying to decide what languages everyone was speaking around us. The pay-off was worth it. We could see all of Manhattan and the surrounding Burroughs while the sunlight glistened off the rivers and rooftops.
Our next stop was Macy’s on 34th Street because a New York visit during the holiday season is not complete without seeing the department store windows. We peered into the fairytale land of letters to Santa and then braved the crowds inside to find three seats on the Mezzanine. We sipped hot chocolate while watching hordes of men and women shop for jewelry, accessories, shoes and fragrances. Once our legs were rested, we set out towards 5th Avenue to peer into the other shop windows and decided to head home once we had a glimpse of Rockefeller Center.
On Monday, our goal was to check off two more big-ticket New York items: Grand Central Station and The Statue of Liberty. We casually made our way down to Battery Park via Grand Central and purchased ferry tickets before sitting down for lunch in a local eatery. As we thought about riding the ferry and walking around the base of the statue, we realized that our heads were not equipped for the cold, sharp winds. Luckily, there were about 10 street vendors that had anticipated our needs, so we quickly purchased three similar-but-different fleece lined stocking caps for $5 each. Yes, we were the three ladies wandering around New York City in matching hats!!!! If Mom had done this to us when we were teenagers, Keisha and I would have screamed. But somehow, as adults, we loved it. Everyone looked at us kind-of oddly, and each time they did, we laughed.
We completed the audio tour just in time to catch the last ferry of the evening, and then took the subway to 10th Street to have dinner at Grafiti. The only problem with this is that Grafiti was closed. Mom seriously thought we were playing a joke on her, and was not very happy. Once we convinced her that that wasn’t the case, we found a quaint little Italian restaurant for our last supper in Manhattan, and had a wonderful meal. To prolong our evening, we went back to Rockefeller Center to have a better look at the tree and then caught a late movie.
We all packed up the next morning, and went on one final shopping excursion. Then I put Keisha and Mom in a cab to the airport and I caught one myself to go back to Alex’s. Our four days in the city were perfect even though none of us were in top form. These were days that we will always remember….and Happy Birthday Mom!