Tag Archives: New York City

Hello New York; Thanks for the Wonderful Time!

27 Apr

Madison Square Park with some famous building in the background

I was just in New York City recently, and as it is with all good intentions, I was going to write a little a something here every day about my first return to “The City” (really, no other American city quite holds that distinction) in nearly 20 years. Obviously that didn’t happen.

I had such a great time and saw some interesting and cool things (they were to me, anyway), I wanted to share them, since it was only a few days ago I returned to Portlandia.

First, I loved the hotel I stayed at with my friend Greg. The Jane, built in 1908 as a sort of sailors hotel, was also were the 1912 survivors of the Titanic stayed during the inquiry as to the cause of the sinking.  It was very reasonably priced at $99 a night (plus taxes, fees, taxes and fees), but for that price, you better not be claustrophobic as the room was a bunk bed room at only 50 square feet.  Suffice it to say, when it came time to packing up, the most efficient way was to have only one person in the room at a time.  And yes, you get the community bathroom.  Again, for $99, you can’t beat it.

What was also cool is that the hotel has a restaurant (Cafe Gitane) and a bar, which, in the late nineties, was where Hedwig and the Angry Inch premiered and performed before getting hugely popular.

Me and some big spheres (Hayden Planetarium)

One of our first forays was over to Brooklyn, in the Red Hook area, to a little shop called the Everbrite Mercantile Company, for an art show.  The proprietors, Mollie and Brian,  have collected some amazing items for sale; some things you may have NEVER seen before, some truly new and inspired items and just some lovely kitsch.  All reasonably priced.  Check it out your next trip there.

Most of the trip was basically to get reacquainted with New York and to check out some of the newer architecture as well as check out the classics.  Despite seeing these buildings in countless movies, photos and TV programs, until you actually see them in person, you don’t really get a sense of their size and grandeur.  The Chrysler Building, The Empire State Building, Grand Central Station and the New York Public Library were much more than I ever expected and absolute marvels, each in their own way.

While there, we were treated to some freaky weather one evening that impressed even this weather-jaded Portlander; thunder and lightning and sideways-pelting rain.  All this had me amused the following morning when walking about, we encountered aptly-named “umbrella carcasses” strewn all over the place.  The winds were strong enough to literally rip them from your hands.

Pee Wee's friend Terry at the Natural History Museum

One of the things we had planned on doing while there was to take in a Broadway show.  We were smart enough in this instance to purchase our tickets about the same time we purchased our plane tickets to ensure we got to see something.  And something we saw; The Book of Mormon.  It’s a full-blown musical from the creators of Southpark, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, and Bobby Lopez of Avenue Q fame.  All I’m going to say is I was expecting something very unpredictable and possibly offensive, but was very pleasantly surprised that it was neither.  Which isn’t to say it’s perfect family entertainment, but it’s not what you might expect from these guys.  In all honesty, it was fantastic, and I’m glad I got over my reservations and saw it.  And while I’m being honest; I’d see it again.

Some of the other things we did was take a nice leisurely walk through Central Park the day after the freaky weather, checked out the Time Warner building, spent some tine at the Museum of Natural History (I’m a dork), the Hayden Planetarium (I’m an even bigger geek) and midtown Manhattan (you know, Rockefeller Center and Times Square).

High Line Park and the Standard Hotel

Another highlight was High Line Park.  In a nutshell, it’s a former raised freight train line that fell into disuse and with community effort and city backing, was turned into a raised, urban park.  If you have any interest in urban design, it is most definitely worth the time to check it out.  If not, it’s still worth seeing.

Lastly, probably the best meal I had was at a little French bistro in Chelsea that we happened upon accidentally in an attempt to escape the freaky weather, called simply, La Lunchonette.  I believe the link says it all.

We of course tripped all over the neighborhood we were staying in, but I won’t bore you with the details; it was great.  The city has changed since last I was there, and for all intended purposes, for the better.  I never once felt unsafe.  New York City is quite simply an amazing city and I can’t wait to go again.

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