Springbreak for Adults, or A & M Visit

7 Apr

I’ve been dying for visitors, pretty much since Day 1 of moving here, so I was delighted to play ambassador to the Misses A & M during their recent stay.  Much research and looking about online preceded their arrival, mostly by CityBoy, who would have excelled as a travel planner in another life.

I know he was distressed by the lack of “historical substance”to our plans, which, if left to us, mainly involved eating, shopping, eating some more, and lots of gabbing all the while.  What about the famous landmarks, the honored museums, the ages-old transformation of old neighborhoods into the new, CityBoy asked.

their room with a view

I admit I have absorbed very little of CityBoy’s vast knowledge of the underpinnings of New York culture and history.  My version goes something like this:  “Oh, that (pointing left) is a famous building.  Something to do with insurance or banks, I think.  That (pointing right) is the restaurant Charlotte was in when she yelled at Big in the Sex and the City movie.”  My knowledge of SATC is pretty bang-on.  The rise of the mercantile class and the founding of New Amsterdam?  Not so much.

Wisely, CityBoy left us mostly to our own devices, free to wander lost in the city (I still have a terrible sense of direction and the girls gamely followed me down one street, only to be told to double back several blocks later) and eat and drink as much as our little tummies could handle.  I did make a tentative itinerary a la CityBoy (who truthfully does most of our travel planning – it’s so nice not to have to be in charge all the time), which the girls gleefully consulted throughout their stay, whipping out Blackberries and iPhones in the midst of Chinatown or the Upper East Side to see what’s next.

We got one sunny (though cold and windy) day while the Misses were here, part of which we spent on the Upper East Side.  It amazes me how much there is still to discover in our neighborhood.  I’d never seen this before – I assume the building is a podiatrist’s office.

the uber foot

Later we headed to Bryant Park, so A. could see where the tents go up for Fashion Week.  They were resodding the grass, so the park was all dug up, but we saw these tantalizing Target billboard ads:

holy bullseye

They were just a tease, though, announcing Target’s new Liberty of London line.  The girls couldn’t believe there wasn’t a Target in Manhattan.  We all paused for a moment in sad reflection.  I think I rubbed a little of the luster from the city’s shiny, shiny apple.

We wandered under 30 Rock, M. on a mission for postcards, and caught the zamboni guy redoing the ice.

that's a lot of flags

That night, we partied like it was 1999, or 2009, taking in a great blues show at Terra Blues (perhaps the darkest music venue I’ve ever been in), before enjoying panini and more bottles of wine at some great little Italian place CityBoy found after endless Yelping during the blues show.  One of our group was was a little worse for wear by the end of the night (tee many martoonis) and we all hustled home.  Later, Miss A. summed it up best, “It’s not Springbreak ’til someone throws up!”  Boo-yar, indeed.

Saturday brought loads of walking, to Chinatown, then Union Square, then the never-ending search for THE French Connection for the always fashionable Miss A. Here’s proof that walking through SoHo is never dull.

uh...happy easter?

The flower sellers at the Union Square Greenmarket were in full force, clearly ready for it to be spring. I managed not to buy a loaf of jalapeno-cheddar bread, though I was much tempted.


That night, after a button-popping Korean BBQ meal at Woo Chon, we headed up to the apoplectic majesty that  is Times Square.  I was distracted by yet another Target billboard.  They really have to stop.  It’s totally unfair.

you again?!?

I tried to let the moon rising above the Empire State Building console me.

da moon, da moon

Fat chance, though.  Damn you, Target marketing people.  Damn you.  I would boycott Targets from now on, if it wasn’t like punishing the already punished.

Sunday, Miss A. and I visited the Frick Collection solo.  It’s unreal to think that this place was once a single person’s (or a single family’s) residence.  Facing Central Park, it is crammed, head to toe, with priceless art, and features manicured lawns and an inner courtyard garden, complete with plashing fountain.  I marveled at the craftsmanship of the building itself, its carved ceilings and gilt walls, the intricate chandeliers and stairway posts, the glorious grand staircase.  I snapped an illegal pic.

the stairs of the rich and powerful

The most fantastic thing about the Frick is that it’s practically free on Sunday mornings, or pay-as-you-wish, which in our case was $5 a piece (normally I think it’s $18).  Almost every free thing in the city is mobbed, especially MoMA, the Whitney, and the Guggenheim on their discount nights, but the Frick blissfully operates under the radar of most tourists.  It was definitely busy, but nowhere near the claustrophobic chaos of the other museums.  Another bonus is that they don’t allow children under the age of 8, due to the open floor plan and delicacy of the house.  Can you say, Weeeeeee!

Miss A. and I also meandered through the Plaza Hotel at some point, trying to avoid the rain.  I don’t remember actually being in the building before.  It’s so daunting and proud at the bottom of the Park, with all its flags ablaze in the wind.

But inside, it’s almost cozy in its crystals and velveteen.

oooh, shiny

Before long, the girls were heading home, probably a good five pounds heavier and their livers much abused.  But it was lovely to see them, to spend a late afternoon, surrounded by good red wine, assorted cheeses, and a nice hunk of bread, making each other laugh.

‘Cuz that’s what friends are for…

– Jho


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