new york

New York was a real treat.

I’d had it planned as a romantic weekend getaway for Tessie’s birthday but after a disastrous “romantic bike-ride” on the actual day-of-her-birth (think twisted handlebars, blood stained shirts and salty, salty tears) I was scared to leave the apartment. Jumping at any noise or movement, sweating profusely, pooing irregularly, (all of these are very very true) I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea to go anywhere. But I couldn’t live in fear forever and I had to make it up to Tessie so off we trotted for a three day extravaganza!

The Colourful Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport

We booked into a hostel for the first two nights but left the third one open because I was considering booking something a little more fancy for the birthday girl, cos, you know, going to New York isn’t fancy-dancey enough. Tess picked out the Whitehouse Hostel at East 3rd and Bowery, right in the district of NoHo. It was a quirky little place in a really cool old building, with what looked like it’s original floors and window trimmings still in use, broken and worn, yes, but not replaced.

The rooms were all sectioned off from each other with thin wooden panels but were all open to a unified ceiling, as we were on the top floor, we had a skylight right above our bed, which gave the room a somewhat romantic atmosphere during the thunderstorm on the second night (if it hadn’t been so leaky).

Our Colourful Hostel

The first night was pretty good, considering. We didn’t have noisy neighbours and the bed wasn’t too uncomfortable, we bounded out of our room and wandered out into the big wide city. We had decided early on that our plan of attack was to have no plan. There was so much we wanted to see and we only had three days but we’re not exactly very good at sticking to plans so we thought “why bother” we’ll just wanderaboot and see where our fancies take us! So with that in mind our first stop, of course, was breakfast!

We stumble across a great little café just around the corner from our hostel, it was indoors but outdoors, walls but no roof, with all matter of flora wrapping itself around the place, it was perfect and the food hit the spot juuuuuuust riiiiiiight.

Bud’s ready to eat!

eyes of the truth (that she’s hungry)

With our bellies full of yum yums and our legs set to wanderaboot, there was no stopping us!

Flat Iron and fancy free

New scenes from the next Harry Potter movie…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Times Square Tessie

From Times Square we headed to Radio City where we found ourselves a bit peckish and decided to splash out on one of those giant pretzels. It was roughly the size of Ghana so we had to take a photo of it. Unfortunately Old Tessie butterfingers learned why we were always told not to play with our food. SPLAT. We’d barely even tasted the thing and she dropped it. Nice one Tessers. She scooped up the remnants and took it back to the vendor to explain the need for the purchase of a second giant pretzel but she must have turned the puppy dog eyes up to 11 because he gave her one free of charge! And they say New Yorkers are rude and unfriendly.

Hey Kid, this tastes good this!

Seconds before “The Big Drop”

After a quick blast around the Rockefeller Centre, with Tess humming the theme tune to 30 Rock, and a peep into the brilliant Lego store they have there we found our way to Grand Central Station and The Chrysler Building

The Rockefeller Centre

Sweet shot, Chief.

 

 

 

The ceiling of Grand Central is quite interesting;

In autumn 1998, a 12-year restoration of the station revealed the original luster of the Main Concourse’s elaborately decorated astronomical ceiling.

The original ceiling, conceived in 1912 by one of the architects, Warren, with his friend, French portrait artist Paul César Helleu, was eventually replaced in the late 1930s to correct falling plaster.

This new ceiling was obscured by decades of what was thought to be coal and diesel smoke. Spectroscopic examination revealed that it was mostly tar and nicotine from tobacco smoke. A single dark patch remains above the Michael Jordan Steakhouse, left untouched by renovators to remind visitors of the grime that once covered the ceiling.

Once revealed it was discovered that the constellations are depicted backwards, one explanation for this is that the ceiling is based on a medieval manuscript that visualized the sky as it would look to God from outside the celestial sphere! Crazy!

The Backward Sky

Get ready for the clock shots…

Tessie circa 1950

Toma circa 1948

I don’t know why she insists on reading maps like that, it’s really creepy

The place was impressive, we felt like we’d gone back in time and were reporters looking for our next big scoop! Apparently it’s the 6th most visited tourist attraction, I’m not sure if I believe that but what I did find myself thinking was that this beautiful building is just another train station to thousands of people who pass through it everyday. It has just become routine to them as they make their way to and from work, all of them looking for their next big scoop.
One of my favourite places in New York City is Pier 17. Whilst on a family holiday to the city a few years ago we happened across the vibrant little spot by accident and it became one of the stand out places of our trip. As we were getting peckish and Pier 17 was conveniently close to our hostel, we decided to head there. Along the way we found a massive rotating globe…

Globe and Male

Pier 17 was all dancing and romancing. It’s usually a pretty happening place but on this particular night there was sass in the air. As we walked along the boardwalk we could hear the red hot beat of a salsa dancing flashmob! Obviously we couldn’t ignore it so… cha cha cha, in we shimmied, the whitest kids on the pier, pretending we could dance! It was great and the best thing about it was the amazing view of Brooklyn Bridge. When our feet had no more dance left in them we sat down on a patio for some delicious Italian, all in all I’d say that’s a pretty romantic night and if that wasn’t enough; by the time we got back to the hostel a thunderstorm had rolled in and we got to watch it from our bed thanks to a well placed skylight, that’s the stuff of cheesy novels! Not bad for a skinny British kid!

This would definitely be the cover art…

The following morning was a soggy continuation of the previous night’s thunderstorm. The streets were slick with a refreshing sheen and we decided, maybe foolishly, that this would be a good day to explore Central Park. We found a perfect 50’s themed diner to have a mountainous breakfast in (golden pancakes and giant waffles!!! Mmmmm)  and then headed off into the drizzle.

The Home Alone Hotel!!

 

Central Park seems to be a park for all weathers; it’s beautiful in the summer with acres of open space to sunbathe and play frisbee, the winter opens up the magical ice rinks and festive themed vendors and even in the rain it was just as enchanting as we could have hoped for.
We had thought that maybe the rain would be enough to discourage crowds from swarming to the park but light enough that we wouldn’t actually get wet…
Well, we were correct about the former but unfortunately even with an umbrella, we couldn’t avoid the latter…

Tessie at the Bethesda Fountain

 

 

 

 

Luckily we found some respite in the form of the beautiful Lower Terrace at the Bethesda Fountain. It’s a pretty well hidden gem in the middle of the park.

Apparently the fountain sculpture was designed by Emma Stebbins in 1868, she was the first woman to receive a public commission for a major work of art in New York City, which is pretty cool and she did an amazing job so kudos to her.

We spent most of the day wandering around exploring the paths and bridges of the park, getting lost in The Ramble and spotting turtles in the lake.

 

Another bad reaction to a marriage proposal

After we’d soaked our bones through and through, we subway’d down to Battery Park to see if we could get a glimpse of old Libby. We couldn’t come all the way to New York and not see her and I thought I knew the perfect spot to do it from! We arrived at the Staten Island Ferry Terminal and went inside, my thinking was that we could stand in the dry and look out through the windows. We climbed the escalators and as we were rounded the snack shop the giant windows came into view, I made a “taa-daa” noise and heard Tessie gasp behind me. I was a fool to think she was gasping at the magical sight of Lady Libby reaching up into the storm clouds, oh no, not our Tessie. “CHIPPIES!!” she exclaimed rushing over to the snack shop. ARE YOU KIDDING ME!? TESS MARIE!

Unbelievable

She’s right, chips are more impressive

Her subtle hint that she was hungry got us thinking about where to eat. Despite having eaten Italian food the night before we’d heard such good things about the Little Italy district we just couldn’t pass up an opportunity to take in the tastes! We headed through Battery Park and found the Wall Street Bull, spent a while at Ground Zero and then cabbed over to Lil’ Italia town! As soon as we stepped out of the vehicle we knew we’d come to the right place. The neighbourhood opened its arms and welcomed our soggy beings with a big glowing hug, the tiny independent restaurants that line Mulberry St vibrated with soul, outside of each one stood a smiling host attempting to convince us that we’d find the best Italian food in NYC inside their particular eatery.

One place was different though, the girl outside wasn’t particularly Italian looking and when she spoke to us it wasn’t “You two beautiful people deserve the most beautiful table at the most beautiful restaurant in the whole of New York City, and I have it for you right here” but more like “Yo, this is where the party’s at, shit!” as she took drags on her cigarette and sipped a gin and tonic. Woah! Now that’s marketing.

“Are you allowed to be drinking on the job?” We asked her. “I don’t work here, shit! I’m having a birthday party. This is my favourite place in the whole city and my family have flown in from San Diego, you two should come party with us!” Well, we weren’t going to turn down an offer like that! We followed her in and the whole place (it was tiny but…) cheered as we came through the door! It was an wonderful night shared with wonderful people, including Breanne (the birthday girls sister) who had flown in from San Diego with her Dad and invited us to go visit sometime!

Tessie gets friendly with Pop

The Family!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We sang and drank and ate and chatted til the wee hours of the morning, it was exactly what we were looking for after a full day out in the rain. On the drunken walk home we started to play hide and seek. Tessie was “hiding” behind a lamp post when a homeless man approached me and asked if I had any change I could spare for some food. I wasn’t about to just give the guy cash but luckily I had the left overs from Tessie’s meal in a container. As I was passing it over to him there was a loud wailing from down the street and Old Marie whips in and snatches away the meal from the poor starving soul. “Sorry” she apologised “but that was really tasty and I want to keep it” she then rifled in her handbag and gives a handfull of dollars over to the homeless. I couldn’t believe she’d just taken food out of the palms of a hungry bum! This girl is out of control.

At the risk of repeating myself; Unbelievable!

We spent that night in a hotel that had been recommended to us by a fellow guest at the hostel as the hostel was fully booked, the hotel was twice the price of the hostel but no-where near as charming. And we still had to share a bathroom!

For our last day in NYC we decided to splash out and go to the American Museum of Natural History. The weather had not improved and we were running out of dry clothes so a day inside was a welcome change. It was a really cool place, we didn’t have time to see the planetarium but stuck to the taxidermy halls. The highlight was the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life where a giant 94ft model of a blue whale is suspended from the ceiling, it’s an impressive sight that’s for sure!

A whale of a time, eh?

Yuckers!

Of course we stayed too long and almost missed our shuttle bus to the airport, but it was all worth it!

When we got to the airport however, we found out that our flight to Detroit had been cancelled. Which could easily have been a disaster but instead was actually a stroke of luck because they put us on an earlier flight that was direct to Toronto, so no messing about with connections! We got back way easier and way earlier than expected! Woo!

All in all it had been a brilliant trip, even without a schedule and with terrible weather we’d seen so much, not bad for two and a half days! As soon as we were back in Toronto we were discussing when we could return to the Big Apple. Perhaps at Christmas, maybe next year, whenever it is it won’t be soon enough. Looks like I’d redeemed myself from the woes of the birthday bike ride a mere week earlier. Thank you New York, Thank you!

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