These short trips to awesome cities seems to be our thing. Remember twenty-four hours in Havana? A couple of weeks ago we spent forty-eight hours in New York City. It’s funny because on our recent trip to California, I had said that I was really itching to go to NYC for our next getaway as I hadn’t been in nearly four years. Josh wanted to go to Chicago. Then we got an invite to a friend’s birthday party in NYC so that was settled. Big Apple here we come!
Living in downtown Toronto, the best way to get to NYC is by flying with Porter. You can get flights for $250 and the entire customer service experience is top notch. I filled my purse with those awesome shortbread cookies that they have at the lounge. I am not even joking. The only slight bummer about flying Porter is that you land at Newark airport in New Jersey. Some people think that it’s a pain to get to Mahattan from there but it is really easy. You take the AirTrain to the New Jersey train. From there you buy a New Jersey train ticket (one way is only $12.50) and twenty minutes later, you are at Penn Station, New York (not to be confused with Penn Station, Newark). If you are worried about taking the train, there are also tons of people there to help you with getting your ticket and pointing you in the right direction. It’s cheap, it’s easy and you’re not sitting in traffic anywhere. Trains rule.
Once we arrived, we walked to the subway to make our way to the hotel. There are about a million subway lines in NYC compared to our system in Toronto so it can be a bit confusing. I planned our route ahead of time through GoogleMaps and it told me exactly what line we had to get on and where. To ride the subway, you can purchase a MetroCard from one of machines. The card costs $1 and you can then put whatever money you want on it. It’s only $2.50 per subway ride and you can use one card for multiple people – just swipe the first person, walk through and then pass back the card for the other person. It’s easy, I promise. From the time that we landed at Newark to when we had our feet up in our hotel room was two hours. Pretty decent if you ask me.
One of the hardest things about New York City is finding a cheap hotel. Hotels are super pricey here and often the cheaper ones mean sharing a bathroom with other guests. Not for me. I put out a call on my Facebook asking for good recommendations. After researching the massive list of hotels, I had just settled on one which I was about to book when I got distracted by Instagram. An old friend was visiting NYC and had just posted a photo of the most beautiful bathroom I have ever seen. Five minutes later, I booked us a room at The Ludlow. From the second we walked into The Ludlow, I knew that we had made the right choice. At the time that we were they, they were still in what they considered their “soft opening”. The hotel was fully built and functioning but their restaurant was not up and running. Because of this, we got a great deal ($175/night). Everyone who worked here was so kind and lovely. Plus, they upgraded our room to a King-sized.
Our room was simply stunning. I loved everything about it. The attention to details was immaculate. The food and drink in the room’s snack bar was awesome and mostly local. The bed made it hard to get out of because it was so comfortable and cozy. The Red Flower products in the bathroom were heavenly. And that bathroom… seriously, it was swoon-worthy. Just look at it.
After getting settled in our room, we walked down the street to Spitzer’s, as recommended by the concierge at the Ludlow. We were starving. Spitzer’s is a cool beer bar type place with some pretty awesome beers on tap. I had the veggie burger and it was pretty good. Oh, and guess what was across the street from Spitzer’s? Paul’s Boutique. Who doesn’t love the Beastie Boys, seriously?!
We had two nights in NYC on this trip. Our first night would become the bar hop night and the second was for the birthday party. Josh had a big huge list of bars that he wanted us to hit. As well, everyone and their mother had recommended places to us. But we had a plan and for the most part, we stuck to it. Since we were staying in the Lower East Side/East Village, everything on our list was within walking distance of the Ludlow.
We began the night at Mayahuel where we would have dinner (we cannot forget how we made that mistake in Los Angeles in June! Dinner = important) and some drinks. Mayahuel is a Mexican restaurant that also has some killer mezcal cocktails. I had the Laclede Cocktail (mezcal, Antica vermouth, Benedictine, maple shrub, Angostura bitters & Xocolatl mole bitters). We sat upstairs in that moody room and I seriously could have sat there all night. But alas, we had a plan.
Our next stop was Death & Co. where we met friends who moved to NYC last fall and also, the birthday boy. Death & Co. is a proper cocktail bar with a doorman who walks you to your table. The room is dark. Too dark for photos. Their menu is organised by spirits which I really liked. That night I had a Heart Throb (Flor De Caña 4 Year Rum, Fresh Lime Juice, Combier Pamplemousse Rosé, Cinnamon Syrup) .
Our third stop for the night was Amor y Amargo which was probably our favourite cocktail bar on this trip. It is a small room and that night there was one female bartender doing her thing. She was super friendly and was in total control of the room. I ordered the Sharpie Mustache because I liked it’s promise of “notes of leather and island spice” (Meletti Amaro, Bonal, London dry gin, Overproof rye whiskey and Bittermens Tiki Bitters) and it came in this adorable bottle.
Stop number four was Pouring Ribbons. This bar was probably the brightest that we went to that night. The space was fine, nothing too exciting but there were proper bartenders behind the wood and they made us some great drinks. I was ready to tap out at this point plus our friends had to work but as we were walking home, we walked by Donostia which we heard had a good selection of sherry plus has vermouth on tap. We stopped in for a sherry. It was near the end of the night and the bartender was more interested in the pretty ladies sitting at the end of the bar than us but that was fine. From there we did walk home with a short detour to see if we could get into Please Don’t Tell but alas, their wait list was longer than they would be open for. I’m going to say that this was for the best. 🙂
The next day we were up early and ready to see some of the city. I had two things on my hit list: the Museum of Modern Art and the International Centre , errr, Center, of Photography. We took the subway up and decided that we had to walk through Time Square (46th & 7th) because we were in New York City after all. What a wild place those blocks are! Also, the M&M’s shop kills me – people really like M&M’s that much?!
Whenever I go to New York, I always have to make a stop at the MOMA. I just love seeing all of the painting and sculptures that I learned about in all of those art history classes. Seeing the art in real life takes my breath away, every time. This feeling will never get old. Of course, I love the Frida, the Diego and the Monet water lilies. One of my favourites is also Henri Rousseau’s The Dream.
One of the best things to do is to eat at galleries. The food is always so good and fresh at them. We have memberships to the Art Gallery of Ontario and often go there just for an excuse to have a glass of wine in the members’ only area. We had some dips and olives at Terrace 5 and it was delicious. I need to start making that whipped ricotta at home.
After a few hours at the MOMA, we headed up Ave of the Americas (6th) to 55th to get a classic Jess + Josh portrait in front of the famous LOVE sign.
We then headed to the International Center of Photography – ICP. Because of this place, I became a photographer so it holds a special place in my heart. When I was in high school, I did an art trip to NYC with a high school from our neighbouring town (don’t ask why!). On that trip, we hit all of the museums including the ICP. There I saw my first photography exhibition and it was images that Robert Capa had taken. They were mostly grainy black & white images of war but there were also some portraits of people such at Picasso. I was moved by what I saw. After that trip, I wrote an essay about the exhibition and that essay is what got me into the photography program at Ryerson University. When we visited ICP on this trip, there was an exhibit on Latin American photographers called Urbes Mutantes. The images span decades and each frame was pretty powerful.
For lunch, we headed to The
Drake Ace Hotel. It’s a classic haunt where all of the cool people seem to hang out with their MacBook Pros. We had lunch in their restaurant – the Breslin – and it was wonderful. I had their housemade ginger beer which was exactly what I needed at that time. I also could not pass up on their three cheese grilled sandwich which I am pretty positive I ate there four years ago.
Seeing the flatiron building will forever remind me of Alfred Stieglitz’s image of it.
That night we headed to Cata to celebrate Chris’ birthday. Chris loves gin and Cata has a ton of different Gin & Tonics on their menu. My favourite was the one with lavender which they served in a tea ball in the glass. The actual space at Cata is gorgeous. Just a note for my Canadian friends: a G&T in the USA has TWO ounces of gin, not our normal one ounce, so they can be dangerous.
The birthday party wrapped up at a reasonable time so we decided to hit up one last NYC bar before calling it a night. Our new friend Veronica joined us and we headed to Attaboy (134 Eldridge St). Attaboy is a bit of a speakeasy so it is not super easy to find. But on the door there is a note that says something like “knock gently”. There you can simply let the bartender know what you like and he will come up with something for you. I love a good surprise.
The next morning we rolled out of bed, took a taxi to Penn Station (why are taxis so cheap here compared to Toronto?!) and trained it back to Newark airport. We made it there within 1 1/2 hours so were super early for our flight. Because of this, Porter was able to bump us on an earlier flight and we were actually home in our apartment in Toronto by the time that our original flight was supposed to depart. Another reason to love Porter.
So there you have it, forty-eight hours in New York City done right.