Monday, April 05, 2010

Springtime in New York!...Delayed for Rain, Possible Snow

After limited lackluster debate about where to go for vacation, we decided on New York City. (Marfa, Palm Springs and Washington D.C. were also vacation destination contenders.) Despite Chad's way-too-frequent trips to Manhattan for his old job, he didn't really get to explore the city much or do many tourist activities. Despite my few previous trips to Manhattan, I knew there was more to see and experience in the vibrant city.

I thought I picked a good week to go weather-wise. I thought we'd revel in the lush, lovely blooms of Central Park. I thought we'd take the ferry to Staten Island and enjoy the amazing views of the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge. Yeah... not so much. The weather was alternately cold and rainy or colder with stinging wind and a chance of snow. Best laid plans and all that clap-trap...

I scored an amazing hotel deal on Travelzoo at a tragically hip new hotel, The Ace Hotel NYC. Chad overheard one patron accurately describe it as, "upscale dorm living, but the scene in the lobby can be a bit much on the weekends." When we arrived at the hotel to check-in, we were greeted by a velvet rope and two handsome bouncers who directed us to the hotel's desk. A booming bass stereo was thumping so loudly, I could barely hear the desk clerk. She informed us that there was a fashion show going on in the lobby (Ann Taylor Spring and Summer Preview) and a DJ spinning later. You can read Glamour magazine's bit about Rachel Bilson at the fashion show and Lucky magazine's blog about the hotel's hipster ambiance. Once we got up to our interior courtyard room on the seventh floor the noise dissipated and the small room was perfectly appointed with the essentials, including a large bathroom.

We were too late to get dinner at the Shake Shack nearby, but found our way over to Toon Thai at 435 Park Avenue South for the most delicious Thai food I've ever had. With full tummies, we returned to the hotel just as the rain started. Trying to sleep that night was a bit rough. Our interior courtyard room was pretty quiet, but we struggled to find the right balance between opening the window and running the overzealous heater.

The air coming in from the window reeked of cooking pork fat thanks to the not-so-yummy meatcentric restaurant, The Breslin. I'll skip ahead and tell you that we ate room service from The Breslin one night, and did not like it. Chad quipped that the "salad" which was nothing more than bitter lettuce swimming in oil was proof of the restaurant's "contempt for vegetable-eaters". I'll sum it up with: greasy, gross, skip it. Bear in mind that I'm a vegetarian who values her health, and doesn't think of butter as a food group unto itself, but if you like fatty meat and butter, you might like The Breslin.

Anyway, our first full day in Manhattan was bracingly cold and windy. We decided to take a cab up to The Museum of Natural History. The giant museum packs really interesting exhibits into an overwhelmingly large space. We cruised through charming, almost cozy-looking, life-size dioramas of Asian culture, Native Americas Culture, birds of many climates and then up to the dinosaur bones and fossils. The museum had so much more to see, but after nearly four hours, we were tired. We cabbed it back to Madison Square Park to eat at Shake Shack. I had the sinfully-fatty and delicious vegetarian shroom burger with fries and stole a few bites of Chad's Concrete frozen custard yummy thing. The meal was dangerously good and totally worth huddling under an outdoor heater to dine in the cold but pretty park.

We walked a few blocks back to the Ace Hotel to get ready for our show, The 39 Steps. We had front row center seats, which I didn't realize when I bought the tickets, but I'm so glad. The 39 Steps cast delivered the most hilarious, best performed show I've ever seen! Four actors play multiple parts and simulate many different scenes with deceptive ease. If you are in Manhattan, this is THE show to see, friends. My face was sore from smiling and laughing so much!

After the motion-sick-inducing cab rides thus far on our trip, Chad and I opted to walk the twenty-one blocks back up Broadway in the cold to our hotel.

Tune in tomorrow for more, including how I learned to love New York subways.