Memorial Day weekend...you know what I'm going to say next...let's go to NYC! And that is exactly what mom and I did!
Shortly after I returned from Asia (like 2 days later!) in March Mom high-tailed-it to the Delta website to check airfare to NYC for Memorial Day weekend. Yes, we are travel junkies!
I must have still been in a jet-lagged induced haze when I said, sure, let's do it. OK, I know I had all my wits about me, how could I say no to a "quickie" trip to NYC?
I was able to take advantage of a one day sale, on Kimpton Hotels NYC properties listed on Facebook, and was able to book a double room for $219 a night at the Eventi Hotel on 6th Avenue and 30th Street. For NYC I thought that was a pretty good rate. In the past I've paid more and less, so it was pretty much a middle of the road room rate.
The Delta flight we booked was scheduled to depart at 7:10am on Saturday and would arrive in NYC at around 9:30am. That all changed when at 5am on that Saturday morning I turned on my cell phone to find a voicemail and email from Delta. Our 7:10am departure time was rescheduled to 10:57am...Ugh! This meant we would most likely not make it to the matinee of The People in the Picture which we had tickets to.
After debating if we really wanted to go on the later flight or just "scrap" the weekend since we would be there barely 2 days we decided to go for it and went to the airport for the 10:57am flight. It turns out our flight crew came in the night before, but instead of arriving at 10pm they were delayed and didn't arrive until after 2am and they would not be "legal" to fly a 7am flight so the departure time was pushed back.
Once airborne the flight was uneventful and we landed at LaGuardia just after 1pm. I had called Carmel Cars from home to let them know our arrival time had changed and once we were at baggage claim I called the car service and within 10 minutes our ride into the city arrived to pick us up.
We got to the hotel minutes before 2pm, which was also the time the matinee show started. Not really wanting to race for the theater we made a change in plans. The hotel room wasn't yet ready, so we stowed our bags with the bellman and walked a few blocks to Eataly to peruse the store. We had been to Eataly last year only days after they opened and it was packed to the gills with shoppers. This time it was crowded, but we could move about and breath much easier, no squeezing between the prosciutto and mozzarella for us this time! After browsing and making a couple purchases we walked back to the hotel and checked into our room.
The double room at the Eventi was terrific. We were on the 19th floor and although the view was not a breathtaking sweeping view of the city, it was nice, especially since it wasn't of a building millimeters away from us or an air shaft. The room was compact but enough space for 2 of us. It had 2 queen size beds, a closet with a safe, a desk/computer area and the bathroom was a very good size with a great shower. The shower was a walk-in type with a rainfall shower head and a second more traditional wall mounted shower head, and the toiletries were not those little tiny bottles, but decent 3 ounce sized versions. Oh yes, and a huge, by my standards, flat screen LG HD-TV (if that interests anyone)
We had an 8pm dinner reservation so we had plenty of time to kill and we decided to start with a visit to Macy's in Herald Square, which was just a few blocks away. Both mom and I love handbags and shoes, so our first stop was to check out the handbags, nothing really caught our attention. We did saunter by the watch department since mom had been on a quest for a new watch. Nothing was jumping out at her until one particular watch caught her attention, however after noticing the $2000 price tag we moved on to the shoe department. Now, yes, the store was crowded, there were sales going on in every department, but the shoe department looked like a hurricane had just swept through it. This however did not deter me and I did manage to find a pair of comfy sandals on sale for $25!
Once the retail therapy session was over we decided it was time for a cocktail break. Over to the Marriott Marquis in Times Square we went. Yes the cocktails there are expensive, but it's a bit of a ritual for us to have a drink there because "back in the day" my parents used to stop there frequently on their jaunts into the city for shows, so in homage to my dad, we usually try to always stop and have a cool refreshing glass of wine. And this time was were able to catapult ourselves over the masses and get a pretty decent table at the window overlooking Times Square.
Just around 7:30pm we left the Marriott and started walking to Basso 56 located on West 56th street, however I was not up for crawling through the throngs of people on Broadway so we scooted up 8th Avenue. This worked out perfectly because when we got to 54th Street the theater where the show The People in the Picture was playing (it was at Studio 54, which is now a theater) was just a few doors down the street.
Mom said lets see if we can trade-in the tickets from today's matinee for tomorrow's matinee. I was doubtful because printed on the tickets was..."non-refundable/no exchanges". So I did what any good daughter would do, I had mom go to the theater box office to beg and plead.! This worked to our advantage and my shock when mom reappeared with a piece of paper containing a telephone number and directions for how to call the day of the performance and request general sitting tickets. Now there was a glimmer of hope we would actually see this show. We'd have to wait until 10am tomorrow to call, but we were feeling optimistic and off we went to Basso 56 for our 8pm dinner reservation.
I have to give a shout-out here to Fodorite BobTheNavigator. I read his NYC trip report and saw he and some of the Fodors editors had dinner here when he was in town for the Fodors 75th anniversary party. After reading his comments I googled the place and liked what I saw on their website and decided to book a reservation. I am so glad I did...and Thanks Bob!
Even though we had a glass of wine at the Marriott, the aperol spritz on the drink menu looked good and our server (an adorable girl from Belarus) gave us the thumbs up saying it was lovely...boy was she right. It was delicious and it went down a little too easily! It's very refreshing with aperol, white wine, club soda, and ice and in this case a mint garnish...perfect way to start our Italian meal!
For a starter mom and I choose the scamorza cheese and it did not disappoint, we love the smokey flavor. For our main dishes I had the potato encrusted bacala, it was delicious, but what I had envisioned was not what had come out of the kitchen. The "potato encrusted" were homemade potato chips as the bottom layer the fish rested on and a chip on top of the fish. Mom had the pasta with shrimp and asparagus and it was great. We shared a bottle of Orvieto Classico wine and to finish the meal we each had an espresso and limoncello...our perfect Italian meal. The price before tip and including the spritzes was about $120, pretty reasonable I think since we also had a bottle of wine.
We decided to walk back down to the hotel at a leisurely pace which took about 40 minutes. We had been awake since 4am, so I think even before my head hit the pillow I was asleep!
On Sunday at the appointed 10am time we called the box office number we were given the day before at the theater to call about getting general admission tickets to the show. We were told that we needed to show up at the box office at 12noon and would turn in our "old" tickets and get a number for the general admission line.
We decided to go for a quick brunch at Bar Breton which is at 254 Fifth Avenue, just a few long (east/west) blocks from the hotel. We were there by 10:30ama and had a really nice meal. I liked the interior of this place, long and narrow, with a bit of a funky vibe. The food was good too I had the croquet madam and mom had a buckwheat gallette, how very French of us...we briefly stepped outside our Italian food bubble! I have to say though, the cappuccino I had here was terrific too! We didn't waste any time at the restaurant because we wanted to make sure we'd get to the theater by 12noon so we were finished our meal in about 45 minutes and off to the subway to head uptown.
We arrived at the Studio 54 box office at 11:45 and we were handed the first two numbers for the general admission line. Our directions were to come back to the theater after 1:30pm and we would be allowed to enter, but we would have to stand at the back of the theater until 1:50pm when the ushers would begin seating the general admission tickets in the best available seats. When this is done, you also have to be aware that if the ticket holders to the seats you've been given show up at some point during the performance the ushers will have to re-seat you.
With our numbers 1 & 2 in our hands, we head out and walk over to Columbus Circle to wander through the Whole Foods store there. Mom is in search of pomegranate molasses, we couldn't find it there, so if anyone reading this knows where we can find some, let me know! We also poked around some of the other shops in this shopping center and then realized we were getting thirsty, the temperatures were pretty warm in NYC that weekend! So we made our way to one of the zillion Starbucks and had an iced tea.
At 1:30 we slurped our last bit of tea and walked back over to Studio 54 and went in to wait on the general admission line. True to their word they began seating us at 1:50pm and to my absolutely amazement we were seated in 3rd row orchestra, center. In all my life going to Broadway shows I have never sat in the orchestra and center stage too boot!
I know this show, The People in the Picture, hasn't received stellar reviews, but both mom and I liked it. Donna Murphy was fantastic the way she cold morph between young Raisel and Bubbie, now that takes some skill.
The show ran about 2.5 hours and by 4:30pm we were filing out of the theater. We had a 7:30pm reservation at Otto down in Greenwich Village at 1 Fifth Avenue, so we hopped on the subway and went down to the 4th Street stop. We checked out a Barnes & Noble and they had the 2 books I was looking for that my home store didnt' have, so picked them up. Then I was on a mission to check out the 8th Street Wine Cellar, a wine bar I had read about. Well, just my luck, on the Sunday before Memorial they were closed for the holiday. This didn't deter me and I looked across the street and saw a place called Alma.
We walked across the street and took a peek in, there were only a few people inside but it looked inviting so we went in. We liked the by the glass wine prices...$7 for a glass of sauvignon blanc. The bartender was a young Japanese man in the USA to learn English. Who would have thought I would be having a glass of wine in NYC chatting about sushi with the Japanese bartender in a Spanish restaurant before going down the street to have dinner at an Italian place? No, wait, that is what NYC is all about, isn't it?
At 7pm we said goodbye to our Japanese bartender friend and walked the one block to Otto. This is a Mario Battali/Joe Bastianich restaurant. It's billed as an enoteca/pizzeria and I loved the place as soon as I walked in. Maybe it was the European train station arrival/departure board behind the host stand that notified you when your table was ready or the openness of the bar area with the slab tables where you could stand and have a drink and some cheese and meat plates, or maybe it was the buzz that was emanating from the dinning room, it just seemed to be a happy place.
Since our reservation was for 7:30pm we were a little early so that lent itself to us checking out the bar area and lucky for us there were 2 empty seats. I ordered a blood orange bellini that I would order again in a heartbeat! Mom had a glass of wine and as we sipped and settled the bill our "city" appeared on the arrivals board which meant our table was ready. It was time to eat!
Mom and I started with a meat and cheese plate. We had 3 cheeses, a triple cream goat, a pecorino, and a fontina...otherwise known as a goat, a sheep and a cow! We included a plate of fennel salumi with that to create a delicious way to start our meal. All this was great but the crowning touch were the 3 "accompaniments" to the cheese, a plate of a few brandied cherries, a plate of apricots and the stunner and complete winner a plate of honey with shaved black truffles...Oh My God...I wanted to lift that plate and scoop the honey directly into my mouth, BUT I have to admit it was much better bathed over the cheeses.
Mom and I both had pasta dishes here. I had the pasta alla norma with ricotta salata, it was a heaping plate of rich, deliciousness. Mom had the "winner" plate, the house-made fresh pasta stuffed with goat cheese, it was so creamy...another plate licking dish. We had a bottle of sauvignon blanc with the meal and to end things we each had an espresso and a limoncello. I've got to say the limoncello here was excellent, it had almost a creamy quality to it. And on another note, although we did not try any of the pizzas on the menu here, the tables around us that were served the pizzas, they looked great.
After dinner we hopped back on the subway and arrived near our hotel within a few minutes. It was another blissful night of sleep in the terrific beds at the Eventi, Kimpton Hotel!
Monday morning rolled around all too soon. Our flight was scheduled to depart just after 2:30pm, so I had arranged a car pick up for about 12noon. We decided to head over to the East side for breakfast at Les Halles, yes the Les Halles of Tony Bourdain fame. At 10am on Memorial Day Monday the place had very few customers.
Mom and I decided to both have the gruyere omelet which is served with home fries. Now, to know my mom you need to know that she is not a fan of home fries in any way, shape, form. So, when they placed the plate in front of us, I thought, there is no way she will eat all those home fries....well, one taste and we were both digging in voraciously! These home fries were sauteed in...guess...guess...guess...DUCK FAT! Oh Wow! I can only cringe at the thought of the number of calories ingested with that serving of home fries!
By 11am we had our fill of the outrageously delicious home fries and were walking (Thank God!) back to the hotel, with just enough time to toss our stuff in our bags, check out and get the car to the airport.
As usual, the trip to LaGuardia is always shorter than I think it will be and we arrived about 2 hours before our flight departed. The Delta gate agents boarded our flight in plenty of time for the scheduled departure time and then we sat on the plane for an hour. There was some mechanical problem that caused the delay, better safe than sorry I always say...I'll sit there if I know the problem is being fixed and it was and we arrived back home only about 45 minutes after the scheduled arrival time.
Another great weekend adventure for me and mom!
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A Long Weekend is Never Long Enough For a Trip to NYC
Memorial Day weekend...you know what I'm going to say next...let's go to NYC! And that is exactly what mom and I did!