Glams, I’m on my LAST DAY of the much anticipated, much talked about one-month vacance to the States. My grandiose plan of blogging every adventure, very much like the plan of exercising every morning, was loose at best. Yet, why must all good things come to such a rapid end? Even so, it feels like a mini lifetime ago, the night in November that we stepped of the plane to a chilly New York…
Arriving in Time Square to Sub Arctic Temps
Now, everyone in the know told me NOT to stay in mid-town or Time Square. But the method in my madness was to stay close to places like MOMA, Rockefeller Centre, Broadway, etc. at the beginning of the journey (knock those attractions on the head) and then move to a cooler/hipper area to finish our New York experience. Did we see any of those sights? No. Badly jet lagged for the first three days (hub was in no mood to tick things off the to-do list), we didn’t do anything except shop for massive coats suitable for the zero temps that we will never wear again in Sydney (Century 21 – the only place to buy said jackets without haemorrhaging cash). Then the other issue: After the first 20 minutes into Time Square – it became old. Tiresome. Full of hustlers, tourists and artificial lighting. And be warned: DO NOT accept “free” CDs from young black guys in the street, trying to “break into the music biz.” That $15 for 3 CDs which are probably blank – bad investment.
The Sanctuary Hotel
We stayed at The Sanctuary Hotel for the first 4 nights – a block away from the horror that is Time Square. I would have thought it was really cool in my 20s but in my 40s? Not so much. There was nightclub lighting in the reception, rooms that you couldn’t swing a cat in, a shower at the end of the bed separated by a curtain…Yet, I still salivate when I think of their burgers with truffle fries.
This stringent American tipping culture, that I found especially apparent in New York, had me spiralling into tip-induced paranoia. Especially the whole dealio of tipping within the hotel. So I paid X amount to stay in this overpriced shoe-box, but now have to also dish out cash to the doorman, the bellman, the concierge, and the housemaid – hello! And when do you tip? How much? Is $2 too littIe? THEN of course there is restaurants & bars – how do I know what 18% of the bill is? What am I Rainman? Tip (pardon the pun): Have heaps of $1 notes on you and simply double the TAX at the end of a restaurant bill, IF the service was good. A little less if it’s not. Refusing to tip? I think the earth could swallow you up and you may never be seen again.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
So I arrived to the Big Apple with a list as long as my arm of things we had to do, places where we had to eat and bars where we had to drink. New York is a favorite city of so many peeps, so I had a plethorsa of greet tips. But the thing is, you’re not going to see everything in New York in 11 days or even 11 months. And slogging it out with tourists at the attractions is at times just not fun. Sauntering through different neighborhoods, soaking in the atmos, grabbing a Marguerita in the middle of the day and people watching – that’s fun.
Getting Off the Beaten Track
One of the best days we had in NYC was a day of exploring Brooklyn with our Brooklyn native friend (also a massive bonus if you can hang out with a local). We did a walking tour through some cool areas, drank at divey yet friendly bars, travelled through Williamsburg to an area which was largely inhabited by Hasidic Jews – it was the real deal. And we had one of the best meals at Prime Meats Brooklyn – the best pork schnitzel ever. (Thanks Jase!)
Another tip that won’t cost you a dime: While the travelling culture now is to cross check every possible option via Trip Adviser or Yelp in case, God forbid, you choose the WRONG PLACE – we had our best meals at restaurants that were random finds or places where our friends took us. For example: The Jekyll & Hyde bar in Greenwich Village. So daggy yet so cool with a super friendly barman who made better cocktails than those at The Standard Hotel’s acclaimed bar.
The Standard Highline Hotel
We stayed at The Standard Hotel for the last week of our NYC stay. It’s a really cool hotel in every way. And it was a massive relief not to trek through the likes of hawkers dressed up as giant babies to get $ for photos. The Meatpacking district just felt…right. Speckled with lovely designer shops where we couldn’t afford to shop, great places to eat and not far from Soho and Greenwich Village. Yet it was the floor to ceiling windows of the rooms of The Standard that got me. It was because of this I turned a blind eye (deaf ear) to the thumping doof-doof of the nightclub 4 floors above us.
The Boom Boom Room – the bar on top of The Standard is uber glam! Do book ahead for a booth. It’s absolutely stunning. BUT funny enough, they don’t know how to make a decent cocktail. Luckily she looks good.
Tip: Our favorite café close to The Standard was Bubby’s Café. Really good, fresh American food and cool friendly staff. That’s where I had pumpkin pie – so good.
The Holiday season is HUGE in the states. You better like Christmas carols if you travel from November onwards. They saturate the air waves and can induce Christmas Carol Rage. Thanksgiving was also an eye- opener. It’s a huge deal here. We were fortunate enough to catch the Macys Thanks Giving Day Parade. It was waaay cooler than I expected. Something about seeing these mammoth cartoon characters loom in between buildings – awesome. Plus, it was snowing – so total bonus.
Ice Skating in Central Park
I ice skated often as a child, and bragged about this to the hub whom had never ice-skated. But when I got on that ice, I was terrified of falling over and breaking my ankle thus ruining The Holiday. Safe to say, I was not as nimble as I was. Still, it is so beautiful in Central Park at that time of year. I loved it. Even though I was super ceded on the ice by 5 year olds.
Being Snubbed by Bradley Cooper
Thanks Bradley. I only flew across the world, paid quite the hefty figure for tix to see your performance in The Elephant Man (amazing), THEN waited with expectation in my heart along with the other hopefuls in sub zero temps after the show to get my photo with you. Guess I wasn’t aggresive enough to ward off the sycophant who pushed in front of me & had his photo taken with you. Next time I won’t be so nice.
Travelling with the Hub
Hub is hilarious to travel with. Firstly, Mark is a mumbler. I can barely hear him even though I’ve lived with him for 12 years. So, as you can imagine, New Yorkers who speak in outside voices ALL THE TIME couldn’t decipher a word he said. What I did find especially amusing was his references to Sex and the City – a show he “hated” and “never watched”. Once he piped up and said: “This street looks just like the one where Carrie’s boyfriend, who was the alcoholic, was screaming outside her window and took off his clothes.” Hmm. Interesting.
Well, it was ALL over in a New York minute, and even though “I hardly bought anything” we purchased one extra suitcase and made our way back to JFK for our next stop: Los Angeles.