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SPRING IN NEW YORK CITY


A long weekend in New York in Spring. Pure bliss.

New York will always have a special place in my heart. In college, we would take the train from Rutgers into the city and go dancing at the Limelight, see concerts, and drink Long Island Iced Teas in the Village. In 2003 for a couple of years, Ross and I were living the DINK (double income, no kids) life, and I was working in global communications for New York Life International. We rented a renovated one bedroom apartment in the East Village on 2nd Avenue, that also had one single drawer in the kitchen and bathroom so tight that you couldn't turn around easily. However, living and working in Manhattan was nothing short of incredible, and now more than ten years later, we continue to go back to New York as visitors.

This past month, our visit to New York came through an opportune scheduling where our daughter had a long weekend off from school and Ross had a training scheduled. A few thousand Visa Infinite points later, we were on a direct flight from Calgary to Newark.

Newark airport sits in New Jersey and was only 20 minutes from our first stop for two nights, the home of a colleague of Ross and our dear British friends who we knew from Melbourne, but now live in Chatham, New Jersey with their teenage son and pre-teen daughter. Their home is magnficient, a four story suburban masterperpiece that is straight out of Vogue Living.

Friday night

We arrived after nine in the evening, and Pam had cheeses, antipasti, and chilled champagne waiting for us. We hadn't caught up in about a year, since we saw eachother last in Cape Town. Pam's husband, Jonathan, arrived a few hours later from his work trip to Prague. More champagne and snacks, including the most delectable little Spanish pastry cakes, Ines Rosales Tortas de Aceite. Crispy layers of sugary pastry, individually wrapped...I must find them here in Calgary.

We retired and slept soundly in the guest wing of the house.

Saturday

In the morning, we enjoyed a breakfast of warmed croissants and fresh cold-pressed vegetable juice. These friends of ours are professional hosts, so incredibly generous. After a leisurely morning, we headed over to The Mall at Short Hills for lunch and shopping. Craziness at the restaurant, Joe's American Bar & Grill, but we managed to satiate ourselves with chopped salads, burgers, fajitas, and crabcakes. Our shopping time was limited to only an hour, and we managed to aquire some new bag beauties from Saint Laurent and Gucci. (Shopping tip: 7% sales tax in New Jersey versus 8.85% in New York City.)

A quick Uber ride home and we were rushing to get ready to head into Manhattan for drinks and dinner. Traffic was slow all the way, but once we arrived at our drop-off in the city, I forgot about it all. The positive energy was almost instantaneous when we stepped out of the car. It was 7pm, the sun was still shining, and beautiful people were everywhere.

The theme of beautiful people carried on as we stepped into the Top of the Standard, a rooftop bar situated high above Manhattan on the High Line. The hostesses were probably models/students/actressses and their gold dress uniforms barely covered their slim torsos. The male bartenders were dressed in white jackets with gold buttons; they had groomed mustaches and looked like they stepped straight out of Harry's Bar in Venice. Only the very chic and sophisticated were here, we were definately not at TGIF's. The place sparkled with sunlight pouring in and the city skyline in front of us. Two rounds of cocktails later and we headed off to dinner.

Perry Street Restaurant sits at the very end of Perry Street in the West Village, at the edge of Manhattan on the corner of West Street. Owned by haute cuisine culinary great, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, the Chef de Cuisine is none other than his talented son, Cedric Vongerichten. In its glory days, Perry Street earned a Michelin star, but in my eyes, it remains an excquisite experience and well worth the calories.

We selected the five-course tasting menu (US$88 per person), a gourmand's delight including tuna tartare, lobster thermidor, roast duck, and chocolate pudding. Service was impeccable and timed well. Each course had a hint of chili and heat, perhaps not for everyone, but worked well for us. More cocktails, wine, food, and more drinks.

After dinner, we stepped out and as per New York, it was still bustling with activity, so of course we couldn't go back to New Jersey quite yet. More drinks, this time in a small bar in the Village where we were probably the oldest patrons. Fresh from Wall Street and a workout at SoulCycle, the young professionals smiled as they drank their beers and cocktails. Everyone seemed so happy, there's no evidence of an oil crisis in New York. Back in New Jersey, we had a nightcap of Nikka Whiskey, a Japanese treat that is light and so very smooth.

Sunday

Sunday morning we started with a classic breakfast at the Summit Diner. Pancakes, corned beef hash, fried eggs, it was all good. Then goodbyes to our British friends and into the city for Team Middleton.

After checking in to our hotel, Langham Place, we walked uptown on Fifth Avenue to Central Park where Clara and I met up with three of my very best girlfriends from high school, along with their daughters who made a special trip to New York for a visit. Unfortunately, I was overscheduled and I wasn't able to get into the city earlier and spend more time with them. The day was idyllic Central Park, the lawns covered with sun worshipers on blankets and activity everywhere. I saw that disco rollerskating is still a thing in Central Park and anyone is welcome. Up at the lake, canoes floated by with couples and our girls enjoyed their snow cones.

After a brief, but sweet visit with my girlfriends, Clara and I reunited with Ross who spent the afternoon at the Met. Walking back to our hotel took us through Times Square and Bryant Park. Despite global security concerns, New York's busiest tourist spots felt safe, and busier than ever.