Matt woke me up with a kiss on the cheek. Pulling back the curtain, he reveal a winter wonderland of white fluffy snowflakes amassing outside our bedroom window. Despite the balmy weather, at least six inches of snow had fallen overnight!
We had seen the forecast, but figured it had to be a typo at the Weather Channel. You can’t go from 15C to snow with a high of 8C – but apparently you can!
The streets were an obstacle course. Few sidewalks had been cleared and we slipped and skipped over the puddles and slush, packed down by many feet. Us two Canadians were unprepared for this!
We went to Bagel Blvd by Astoria Blvd Station for breakfast. The bagels were huge! I tried the rainbow bagel with lox flavoured cream cheese and Matt had an egg sandwich. It came to $9 – our most affordable meal yet! The server said each colour of my bagel was a different flavour, but I didn’t feel like tearing each section apart to test this. It definitely had a distinct lemon and blueberry flavour though.
The washroom at this place was very odd. Along the wall were six large cardboard boxes of potpourri and along the other were pots of dead hiancyths and daffodils, wilted and brown. The room did not smell pretty either, despite all their efforts to cover up whatever smell was there.
We took the subway downtown. The train jerked along so violently, a bolt popped out and fell right in front of us! “The train is falling apart!” Matt exclaimed.
Macy’s Flower Show
We took the subway to Macy’s Flower Show. It was on the ground level of Macy’s, the second largest department store in the USA. Nestled between designer handbags and cosmetics were fairytale themed flower displays, tourists snapping pictures, and the occasional guide giving a loud verbal tour. It was a visual merchandiser or set designers dream gig!
The store had what we presumed to be the originally escalators going up – wooden slats! We had never seen such a thing before. It was incredible to think they still remained in operation! A piece of history of daily life at our feet.
New York Public Library
We walked through Bryant Park to the library. It was in stark contrast to yesterday. No one was lounging in the lawn chairs. The carousel was still and covered up in plastic and the flowers were covered in snow!
The library was unlike anything I’d seen before. Floor to ceiling was carved was detailed wood carvings, ornate marble and ironwork! The heavy wood study desks were lit by brass lamps and all around were rows and rows of books. It was a researcher’s dream! Kinda wished I had an essay to write here… This was my kind of place!
High Line Park
We walked to High Line Park from the library. We stopped at the Loop along the way, an interactive art display of flip books you control with arm power, courtesy of the Province of Quebec and Ville de Montreal.
We were getting hungry, so stopped in a random pizza place along the way: Frankie Boys. I got a Cesar salad pizza slice, which was basically salad on top of bread. Matt had a slice with ricotta, basil, and olive oil. It was fresh, but nothing to write home about (but I guess that’s what I’m doing right now with this blog post – hi Mum!)
The High Line Park was built along above ground railway tracks. It was beautifully designed, with benches and simple gardens throughout. There were high end condos and high rises built right up against it to – we could see right into people’s windows!
At the end of the High Line, we descended the stairs to the Meat Packing district – a playground for the wealthy. We took a joined the jostling crowds to walk through Chelsea Market briefly, but all the high end boutiques and eatery’s were hard to admire through the throngs of people.
Stone Street Coffee & Speakeasy
We took refuge at a small cafe called Stone Street Coffee. As we sipped our coffee, people kept coming and going through a camouflaged door in the wall – paneling with a coffee poster on it. I just presumed it was the staff entrance for a neighbouring bar, but when we asked the barista for advice on how to kill three hours in NYC, he told us the speakeasy behind that door opened in two hours!
He opened the door for us to have a peek inside the Bathtub Gin speakeasy. It was a dark room modelled like an old fashioned bar. Staff were inside busily cleaning and polishing glasses. Apparently they do a burlesque brunch on Sundays – that would have been fun!
Roosevelt Island Tramway
We took the tram to Roosevelt Island. There was a visitor centre by the water. I asked the volunteer if there was somewhere I could read about the island. He was more than happy to tell me all about it.
Apparently the island had many different names. The indigenous people called it one thing, till the Dutch came, then the British came along, then two families named it, and then in the 1970’s the buildings were demolished and it was renamed Roosevelt Island.
Back in the day, there was an insane asylum, a smallpox hospital, a prison, an orphanage, and workhouses here. Basically, if you were unwanted by New York society, they sent you here where you were trapped on this island! Sounded awful!
We took the tram back over to the mainland and found a bar offering happy hours. We sat near the pizza oven were it was toasty and warm. I sipped a $5 beer while Matt answered work emails, enjoying the scent of oregano in the air.
Don’t Tell Mama
We took the subway towards Times Square for our 6:30 reservation at Don’t Tell Mama. The restaurant had been recommended to Matt multiple times. They had a $32 prix fixe menu and live music. The restaurant service was good, the food came quickly, but the food was quite bland.
After our meal, we shifted over to the piano bar. Matt enjoyed the Elton John inspired pianist, singing along with the vocalist. We were feeling the wallet pinch, so decided to forego our Cast Party reservations at Birdland at 9:30 ($30 pp cover + 2 drink minimum pp) and stay at the bar. However, the next performer was obnoxious and when paired with our inhospitable waitress, we decided to head home at 10pm.
We wandered through Times Square on the way to the subway. We lamented that our flight was so late the next day, how we just wanted to be home and be back at work tomorrow. Travelling really does make one appreciate how fortunate we are to live the life we do in Toronto…
We took the subway back to Astoria. Now I sit in the dark writing this post with the pop song New York stuck in my head. Off in the distance, if I listen really closely, I can hear traffic and a siren, but beyond that there is silence.