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New York State of Mind

August 14, 2009

Laura’s Blog Entry

Our trip to New York was a wonderful, crazy blur. We arrived on a Sunday afternoon and headed out to explore. It took a bit to adjust to the crowds, but soon we were in the flow of things. Of course Neil and Mari had to immediately snack on NY Pizza (stop #1). Since we weren’t too far from Times Square, we went up that way to check a few things off Mari’s list. First of all she wanted to ride the Ferris wheel in Toys ‘R Us. It is full size. Very weird to ride it indoors.

In Times Square, Mari was especially thrilled to see “big ball” that falls on New Year’s Eve. And I got to browse through the Hello Kitty store. Heaven! We stopped for a touristy dinner at the Hard Rock Café and were immediate reminded of the reason for the trip: Just as we were seated, Depeche Mode’s video for “Strangelove” came on the screen. I guess they knew I had arrived.

On Monday we started the day with a view of the city from Top of the Rock.

The contrast of the buildings to the huge expanse of Central Park from that height is stunning.

Then we headed over to the American Girl store and had a little spree.

Mari and I had a wonderful time choosing some outfits for her doll. I do enjoy a well-merchandised store. New York has a ton of them. As well as some that aren’t so well merchandised, but we’ll get to that later.

After that adventurous morning we had some lunch at a super cool place we happened upon – Pop Burger. So hip. So delicious. That is how we selected all our restaurants – looking at menus as we headed to our next destination. New York certainly didn’t ever disappoint. After the refreshing break we went back to the hotel to rest for a few hours. It was a good idea we did as it turned out to be a late night. Mari went out with her grandparents for an adventure in Central Park, while Neil and I spent an evening with the Mode.

We started with dinner at Niles with online friend Beth, and we met Cory and another Mode chick who was incredibly cool but her name escapes me because at that point I was so excited for the show I wasn’t retaining much new data. As the time neared, we headed across to Madison Square Garden. I was pleasantly surprised that the seats I got had quite a nice view. We were on Martin’s side (of course) up a few sections, but not very far back. I shot quite a bit of video – which is hard while you are dancing, I’ll have you know.

The show was spectacular. Their performances are so consistently good. It is always worth the cost of the ticket. There was a solid two hours of music. Martin’s set included “Little Soul” and “Home.” He was there in all his sparkling splendor – in the sequin suit, not the shimmering lame, for those keeping score at home.

Dave sounded and looked fantastic. And Fletch seemed to be having the time of his life. I really felt that drummer Christian Eigner and Dave had the most fun performing the songs they had written together. Peter Gordano rounded out the sound as an additional keyboard and backing vocals. My gothy boots proved to be Depeche worthy, and my feet didn’t hurt a bit. Then it was on to the after party.

We ventured over a few blocks to Rebel, and after a short wait in line we grabbed a drink and made for the dance floor. The mix of 80’s and Depeche Mode was a blast! DJ Shred and DJ Shunt kept everyone dancing for hours. We were lucky enough to snag a bench seat up near the DJ’s, although I rarely sat for even a second. I shot more video. I can’t express how happy I get when I am in a room of people dancing to Depeche Mode. Neil nearly had to drag me out of there sometime around 2:00 or 3:00 – I’m not really sure of the exact time. It was so nice that our hotel was mere blocks from all the evening’s activities. After a quick walk home we crashed hard. What an amazing night!

Tuesday had us out the door around 10:00 AM and back to being tourists. We investigated Little Italy and Chinatown.

Nothing like Italian ices in the morning!

We walked through Kam Man Food Products and Munchies Paradise to soak in all the beautiful Chinese delicacies. We also hit Pearl Paint, a huge art supply store where we finally found Mari some illustration boards for drawing her Manga.

We stopped in at Sambuca’s Cafe for more pizza (stop #2).

They claim to have the best Tiramisu in Little Italy, so I gave it a try. No arguments here. It was fantastic. They also had multiple choices for herbal iced tea, as did many restaurants, and even street vendors. I could get used to that.

We took our usual afternoon break and then went back out to hit Borders and a magic supply store. Then we zipped down on the subway to catch a ride on the Staten Island Ferry.

Who knew it was a free ride? Nice views of the city and the Statue of Liberty. Great way to finish off the day.

Wednesday was our last day, and we made the most of it. More shopping. I don’t shop that much – usually only when I am looking for something specific. This was a real treat just to browse all the wonderful shops. We headed down to take in Soho and Greenwich Village.

As we waited for the shops to open at noon – what’s with the late start, Soho? – we saw the craft services table for some kind of video shoot, but couldn’t determine what was being filmed. Oh, also we saw a sign that Mad Men is casting, in case you are interested. A highlight for Mari was that we communed with the squirrels and the nannies in Washington Square Park.

OK, she only cared about the squirrels, but there were lots of nannies. And care-givers wheeling around older ladies in wheelchairs.

One of our favorite stops was Dean and Deluca, a fabulous gourmet food shop where we picked up a little gifty for our housesitter at home. The store that inspired us most was Desigual, a Barcelona-based company with the most amazing, colorful clothing and accessories. Wish I could have come home with a few of their bright cotton knit skirts. Yes, you heard me right, BRIGHT. I know. Not black. They were stunning. Neil could have bought a whole wardrobe of cool T-shirts. The way the patterns were mixed was a fusion of African and Asian and a little bit of who-knows-what. Fabulous.

That’s also the day we hit the shop Purl for yarn. See my previous entry for the details of that. After all the shopping, we were pretty wiped. The temperature was up in the 90’s and sweltering. We found yet another spot for pizza. This time it was No. 28 Pizza from Napoli (stop #3).

We spied the wood-fired pizza oven from the street and decided that was the place. And boy was it. After we all drank about a gallon of sparkling San Pellegrino, our new favorite beverage, our server delivered the most beautiful of pizzas to our table:

This was the best we had. Although we didn’t have any bad pizza, come to think of it. This was simply crushed tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, some garlic and maybe some olive oil, topped with basil. Heavenly. It gave us the strength to hit Forbidden Planet for comics (which was a bit of a maze, super crowded and overwhelming to navigate) and then get on the train back to the hotel.

Once more we ventured back out that evening to shop at one more comic store: Midtown Comics. It was really impressive. So organized. I got a little giddy with all the nice labels on the shelves. It was also really busy. What is like Free Comic Book Day in Cincinnati is apparently the level of traffic for a typical day in NY. I picked up a gothy Manga called Bizenghast that Mari recommended. Now I am hooked and ordered the rest of the series from the library when we got home.

Before dinner we walked over to the Flat Iron District near Madison Square Park so Mari could visit Manhattan Saddlery. Yes, you can buy saddles, bridles and riding wear in Manhattan. Of course you can. She looked at everything admiringly until we had to practically tear her out of there.

Finally, we ended the trip with another random restaurant find, Jack’s Restaurant and Bar. Again, we just wandered up and down the side streets looking for a menu posted that seemed to fit the bill. The food was amazing and finishing off the meal with chocolate dipped strawberries was sublime. Couldn’t have asked for a better close to our visit.

I have to admit I had my fears about this trip. Some were the basic things – food would be ridiculously expensive, we’d get lost on the subway – but also that it would be too overwhelming. That I wouldn’t have the energy to do everything we wanted to do. I didn’t want to disappoint anyone else by not being able to keep up.

As it happens with most risks I take, I ended up being more energized than drained. Don’t get me wrong – we were completely exhausted when we left. But my mind was going 90 miles a minute. So much beautiful architecture and design. Such delicious food. Cool people. Stellar service. A performance by Depeche Mode that was worth the 8-year wait. Trips like these energize me to get home, cook, rearrange thing, write, garden, make stuff. It had been way too long.

Oops… thought I was finished. Neil reminded me that although he didn’t get to make his highly anticipated trip to Brooklyn to eat at The Chip Shop, he convinced his father to detour into New Jersey and stop at Rutt’s Hut for hotdogs. What would we do without Food Network to tell us where to eat?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. August 14, 2009 12:03 pm

    Seems everybody had a great time.


  2. August 20, 2009 12:20 am

    WOW! What a fabulous trip! And so beautifully documented by such lovely pics, too. Felt like I was there! That Napoli pizza looked amazing!

    Congrats on seeing DM live after your 8-year wait. I know it was well worth it for you. Sounds like you had a fabulous time! Awesome.

    Take care,


  3. August 20, 2009 7:56 am

    Thanks, Christa! You photos are so wonderful, I consider that quite a compliment! Now if I could only reproduce that pizza. Maybe without the wood fire, though…

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