Vacation Files: New York City

We learned three not to dos on our trip to New York City:

Don’t schedule a 6:30 flight on an airline that sounds like it was made up on a TV show
Don’t forget to bring lots of cash
Don’t be sick

The third one is going to be a doozy. We started the day tired and after missing our first flight, a dark cloud threatened to engulf our long-awaited vacation. We hadn’t taken a vacation like this in years, what with Alison starting her own business and therefore having no vacation time, then my five-month ordeal of unemployment last year. We saw a deal, we took it, and after one horrifically not-fun last-minute booking exercise, we were on a flight to The Big Apple.

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When you think food court, you imagine the worst pizza of your life and some limp, lifeless fried chicken. Everything is different in NYC. We started our culinary adventure in the hotel’s food court and it was amazing. We had some Japanese noodles in the best chicken broth either of us had tasted. We followed it up with a doughnut covered in dark chocolate and sea salt.

In that first afternoon we discovered the subway and went over to Chelsea Market, as it was pouring. We saw stall after stall of interesting food, yet we were stuffed. We finally stopped at a gelato stand and I had a sour cherry concoction that would make most men weep. I later tried some fresh-squeezed tangerine juice and it was just what my sick self needed.

Yes, we napped almost every day. The relatively small room we had was just big enough for a bed, our bags, and a bathroom and it was perfect. The location was what mattered. We kind of struck out on our dinner choice on night one (Food Network guy owns the place, not Guy Fieri), but the show, Bright Star, was a lot of fun. I mean it was as fun as a musical can be that for half its running time makes you think that someone drowned a baby. It’s a Steve Martin/Edie Brickell production (words and music at least). If you want a real New York theatre experience, I imagine the person in the front row who had the lead actress’s toes dangling in front of their face as she pretended to put them in a North Carolina lake.

There are traditions, and there’s taking dessert back to your room. We did this three out of five nights. We had cookies, New York cheesecake (mine was half chocolate cake, half cheesecake) and giant cupcakes.

On Day 2 we visited the 9/11 Museum. You should go. You should not expect it to be a joyous occasion. The place is a tribute to the dead and the potential of the living. Honestly, when tragedy strikes, most people don’t think about finding a way to make something good out of it. This museum is a great example. You can recall the details of the day in painstaking detail, learn about the victims, hear stories directly from those who experienced it, and get a history of the towers, old and new. A good museum should be hard to completely visit in one day. The Met, which we visited in Day 3, is such a place because it has endless exhibits. The 9/11 museum has a ton, but after three hours of recalling trauma, it’s time to get lunch.

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Lunch was brisket and a Founders Dirty Bastard at another sprawling food court. Almost everyone we saw was young and pretty. People have to be in shape in New York due to the extensive walking, I assume.

After another nap break, it was time for a tweetup.

One of my favorite Going for 2 show guests is from Jersey. Jen Ryan met us at a Greek restaurant and we did our best to drink up their wine supply in a two-hour timeframe. We had to leave for our second Broadway experience. As fun as Jen is on a show, she’s even better in person. I may need to make a second road trip for a Sunday NFL experience at the Jen family compound.

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Sugar, butter, flour. That’s the refrain of the Sarah Bareilles musical Waitress. We loved the original indy flick with Keri Russel and Nathan Fillion. The musical might have been better. We had second-level seats, perfect location but less leg room than a packed flight. The show was fun and we bounced our way to nightly dessert and back to the room.

Day 3 we scoped out bagels and ate them on a bench next to Central Park. It would have been more romantic if it weren’t 40 and raining, the weather for most of the weekend. We visited the Met, listening to borrowed iPods taking us through as many of the exhibits as we could. Who doesn’t want to know more about medieval armor?

On Saturday night we met an author friend of Alison’s and we went to a burlesque show. It was packed, we had to hit the ATM to pay the cover, and I drank multiple Anchor Steams (best option of the bunch) as we watched a pretty good show, although the host who did an extended lounge singer imitation could have spent more time on the sidelines. Due to a mass-transit mishap we had to Uber and were late. We ate dinner at a Mexican/Chinese joint (General Tsao burrito) at 11:30 and for once skipped dessert.

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On the final day we walked the Brooklyn Bridge over to our second borough of the trip on our final full day of the journey. I wasn’t surprised when I saw a line heading into Grimaldis. I wasn’t surprised, but disappointed, when I saw the cash-only sign. Whoever put that ATM inside the restaurant (giant sign saying this is not run by the restaurant, for whatever that’s worth) is a millionaire. This is an ancient coal-oven fired pizza joint. The coal-oven places need a special waiver to stay in business. We got the pizza quick and the key to the thin crust is you have to eat it quickly. The crust stayed crispy, I burned the roof of my mouth only once and the cheese was really good. All in all the pizza was kind of bland, could have used some herbs in the sauce or something else to give a little more impact. I still ate my half a pizza in about ten minutes.

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Alison planned on meeting a high-school friend later so maybe she felt bad about imposing on me or she is just awesome. After going into a subway station that was clearly closed, we caught an Uber to the Brooklyn Brewery.

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I felt a little self-consicous about being with a (mostly) non-drinker so I didn’t soak in the place as well as I could. Being in podunk Georgia I’m not used to a brewery that’s actually allowed to sell beer to go. You went up front and bought tokens for beers, and the tour, which is usually part of the “free beer” package in Georgia was on the house. I had a couple of two-token tastes of Neziah Bliss, a barrel-aged strong ale, maybe sweeter than expected with the boozy start. Oddly enough, Alison had a sip and liked it. I got their sour, sadly not available in stores, and it had a lemony taste that the wife enjoyed as well. We did the tour with the slightly tipsy brew guy who admitted that part of his job was taste-testing beer at 7 a.m. every day and talked about how the brewery got started in what was a run-down part of Brooklyn and now is one of the biggest breweries in America.

After a pit stop at a sweets shop, we met up with Alison’s friend from high school. The couple played excellent hosts, and I was getting a little too into the viewing of Running Man (oh, the hair) before we went out to a Thai place. We all wish we had a Thai place this good within walking distance. That’s the thing about New York, it’s all walking distance.

On Monday we got to the airport super early on purpose and said goodbye during our final New York experience: the cab in traffic.

It’s a great place to visit. You need at least a week, and if it’s less, you will not run out of things to do in a ten-block radius of one borough.

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