Thursday, 2 December 2010

Woke up, it was a Chelsea morning - Day 4

While we were in New York, I wanted to spend Sunday morning the way I had always imagined that a real New Yorker would. However we don’t really read the Sunday papers and it seemed like a lot of hassle going out for a Starbucks, bagels and lox to bring back to our hotel room, so we went for another seemingly-native alternative.

We slept in a little and then headed off to Chelsea Market to start off our day. Everything looked and smelled absolutely delicious. There were cupcakes and cookies and bagels and flatbreads and all sorts of wonderful things. The Yorkshireman, although he thought it was very cool, decided to forego buying a cupcake where the top had been frosted to look like a Teenage Mutant Hero Turtle and just made do with snapping a photo of it through the window. I bought a Christmas tree decoration in the shape of black and red shoes, which I thought were the cutest out of a whole range of cute decorations a store had on display. Although we were tempted by all the yummy-looking baked goods, we decided not to indulge, as we were planning to do another typically New York Sunday morning thing next: brunch!

We ended up at a little place across the street from the Market called Zemi. We arrived a little too early for the chef (who hadn’t clocked in yet) but were happy enough to consider the menu and watch a Chelsea match on TV whilst making conversation with the Arsenal-supporting waiter.

Eventually, when the chef had arrived, we ordered lychee belinis and some truly scrumptious food. The Yorkshireman had a waffle with a side of toast and bacon, while I had the yummiest breakfast I think I’ve ever had, which took the form of a bagel with cream cheese and grape jelly to start with and then brioche French toast with stewed apple and caramel sauce. Between the champagne and the deliciously rich food, I left stuffed to the brim but in a state of floaty happiness.

With the weight of brunch on our stomachs we headed across to check out the High Line, which is a park they’ve built on an old, converted elevated railway line. To be honest I wasn’t greatly impressed. For one thing, only part of it is currently open to the public and what was there, whilst architecturally cool, was a bit barren-looking, as all the plants appeared to be dead due to winter.

A little underwhelmed, we then walked up the Hudson Greenway to check out the piers. It was another beautiful day but it was a longer walk than anticipated and we were glad when we finally reached the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum to look at the USS Intrepid and the Concorde they have on display. We didn’t pay in to the Museum, just gawked at it from outside. Then it was another walk towards Broadway to get the subway to the main activity of what had become known in its itinerary-planning stages as “Camp Day.”

The Plaza Hotel was the meeting point for the start of the Sex and the City Tour. If you’re not a fan of the show, you’re probably rolling your eyes and thinking “oh how sad”, but I don’t care what anyone else thinks. I had booked the SATC Tour months in advance because I absolutely loved the show and the first movie (the second one was so-so), so I really wanted to see the locations they filmed at.

They pointed out loads of locations from the show, from the Plaza Hotel (“your girl is lovely, Hubbell”), to the NY Public Library (where Big stood Carrie up at the altar), to the alleyway where Carrie was mugged (“somebody stole my strappy sandals!”). We also had a few stop-off points, including the Pleasure Chest (where the girls bought their Rabbits), Buddakan (venue of Carrie and Big’s rehearsal dinner), Bleecker Street for some shopping and a delicious cupcake in Bleecker Playground across from Magnolia Bakery (à la Carrie and Miranda during their “crush” talk) and Onieals Bar (which they used as Steve and Aiden’s bar, Scout, in the show). We may have also used the “shopping” time on Bleecker Street to quickly nip down Perry Street and take a few photos of the house they used as the front of Carrie’s house in the show (a bit naughty since it’s a private residence but I wasn’t breaking any laws, so tough!).

Another exciting thing that happened was that apparently while we were in the Pleasure Chest (or in the Yorkshireman’s and my case, in the market across the street buying snacks), Sarah Jessica Parker herself appeared at the corner of the street with hubby Matthew Broderick and their son and they all jumped into a cab. Very cool but apparently not entirely unexpected since they live on the next street. Still very fitting given the theme of our tour though!

I had a brilliant time. The Yorkshireman has had to suffer through the box sets of SATC several times and so has an unwilling but decent knowledge of the plots, people and places in the show. I’m not sure he got quite as much out of the tour as I did but even he conceded that bits of it were good (perhaps mainly the cupcake and seeing the city on a comfy coach instead of on our now-tired feet).

The tour finished at Bryant Park and we took the subway back to the hotel to figure out our plans for the evening. I had decreed that the perfect way to end “Camp Day” would be to go to a piano bar or cabaret show but we hadn’t yet figured out which one. After utilising a bit of Googlefu, we eventually decided to check out Duplex Piano Bar in Greenwich Village and to grab some Italian food on the way in a little pizza place near Duplex called Francesco Pizzeria.

It was a tiny little neighbourhood pizzeria and their only sit-in facilities were a few tables and chairs by the door, but having looked at their extensive menu online we figured we’d stick around. I ordered cheesy garlic bread and a Hawaiian pizza pie, while the Yorkshireman went for pasta primavera. The garlic bread was really yummy and the Yorkshireman thought his pasta was nice enough, but I found the pizza a little lacking in sauce and very heavy on the cheese, so I could only manage about half.

Oozing garlic and cheese from my pores, we walked over to Duplex where we settled ourselves in at the bar for a brilliant evening’s entertainment by John (on the piano), Shanna (singing and waitressing) and Poppi (behind the bar). I had some delicious Long Island Iced Teas, made just the way I like them (with Diet Coke rather than regular – I can’t stand “fat Coke”). I had an awesome time, singing along to the music, laughing at Shanna’s jokes and chatting to the Yorkshireman. I was sad to leave but inevitably, with our dwindling supply of spending money in mind, we had to.

We made our way to the subway but when we got there a train was in the station and apparently, due to “a delay” of some sort, it wasn’t going anywhere soon. A drunk guy seemed angry that I couldn’t answer his question of how long it would be and everyone else just looked fed up and resigned to a long wait, so we decided to go back above ground and (literally) try our hand at hailing a cab.

I had never hailed a cab before in my life but I’d read that confidence was the name of the game – hold your arm up, out and proud! So, standing on a corner and seeing a cab with a light on about to turn left (when we wanted to go right), I stuck out my hand, channelling SJP and trying to look like I did this all the time, and to my surprise, the driver did a big u-turn and came to pick us up! I was so pleased with myself, plus we were back at the hotel in about five minutes. A quick and brilliant ending to a long but wonderful day.

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