I took a vacation last week. There were no gigs and no obligations. You see, despite my proclivity for travel, I can count on one hand the number of times I've had an actual vacation in my adult life. David conspired with my parents to fly me up to New York City for a kid-free weekend, which was completely spectacular.
I went to undergrad (saying "undergrad" makes it seem as if I have a Masters, doesn't it?) at NYU, which seems to own most of Manhattan, at least according to the density of purple flags on the lower third of the island. In many ways, it was an absurdly fun place to go to college, but I also rarely ever got to enjoy any of the excitement of the city.
I'm 36 now, and I am, well, employed AND have a partner who is also employed. Even though we are hardly rich, I felt like we were last week -- at least in comparison to my years spent living in the City.
So what did we do?
We did the things I love doing the most while traveling: EAT and WALK.
Cities are magical. I don't understand a beach vacation, when there are so many different and wonderful cities to explore in this world.
Here are some highlights of our first day in the city:
My flight arrived at 8:45am into LaGuardia. I bought a 7-day unlimited MetroCard from a machine and was on the Q70 bus within 10 minutes of the plane arriving at the gate. (Never check a bag, people.) David kept insisting I take a taxi, but he is ridiculous. It would have cost $50, taken longer, and I would have puked in the back from the stop-start-stop-start-awfulness that is an NYC taxi. A quick bus to the train, meant I was knocking on David's Soho hotel room before 10am. Ergo, we were out exploring the City right away.
We mostly wandered around the Lower East Side and the Village, while I pointed out my old haunts and things like "the former Tower Records" to David. Then my mind was blown to see that Other Music still exists (is there cock-fighting in the back? Do they own the building? did they get a Genius Grant?). We bought the new My Morning Jacket CD there, which is purely out of support for brick-and-mortar and our friends in MMJ because we don't actually own a CD player anymore. We'll probably also buy it on iTunes, to be honest. MMJ happened to be playing in NYC that night at the Governor's Ball, but the day-tickets were sold out and I didn't feel like pestering anyone for a ticket. Anyway, we were pleased with ourselves in a yuppie/yuccie kind of way and went about our wanderings.
After an attempt to go to the Tenement Museum -- which has gotten a completely makeover/upgrade since I lived there -- we ended up at Doughnut Plant. The Tenement Museum's tours were sold out for the next three hours, and it was $25 a person anyway. Doughnuts are cheaper, plus it was National Doughnut day, which meant a cute tiny free doughnut with every purchase. I like that Doughnut plant bothers to spell out the entire word. Support! The doughnuts we wanted (creme brulee and tres leches) were all sold out, so we got these instead. I don't remember what they were, but they were good.
Here's where I 'fess up to being not-my-former-self: I needed a nap. I would normally NEVER take a nap with only a few days vacation, but we were planning a late night. I hadn't slept the night before because of a 6am flight and a two-year-old who was crying out for me to "don't go, mommy. please don't go to New York."
We had reservations at Cafe Boulud, however, and I did not want to be nodding off during that. It's a swanky French restaurant on the Upper East Side that requires super-in-advance reservations, which David thought ahead enough to obtain. I'm pretty sure we were the only people in the place who arrived by subway, but that just mean that we had more money to spend on pre-dinner cocktails (also fairly sure that we were the only people in the place who were on a budget, but whatever.) We both did the vegetarian tasting menus -- six or seven courses, maybe? I can't remember.
David asked the server if the sommelier had any advice on wine, which apparently translated into "we would like wine pairings." When the sommelier arrived with two glasses and a "lovely white I've chosen to go with your amuse bouche," it was too late to ask how much this was going to cost. We had to just pretend we knew what we were doing and went with it. It was an expensive choice, but completely wonderful and the most vacation-like thing I've ever done (I am normally SUPER BUDGET CONSCIOUS on vacation). I got chummy with the sommelier during the sauvignon blanc course by asking him if anyone ever referred to it as "savvy B," at which point David, mortified, kicked me under the table. The 24-year-old sommelier sort of choked a little, but then grinned and said, "No, but I like that, and I might start using it." You're welcome, wine world. Oxford English Dictionary, TAKE NOTE.
I did not take photos of most of our food, but I didn't care by the time the dessert came out. LOOK AT THIS MAGIC.
After consuming all the food and all the wine, we took a taxi (we were LATE!) down to the West Village to meet up with some friends at The Duplex, a cabaret club where I played piano on occasion during my NYU days. Check out the insanely-talented Christina rocking out to some Carole King while the piano player works the keys AND the lights. Also, enjoy a photo of Adam, our singing server, entertaining the crowd from atop the piano.
I ended up singing "Crazy," because that was the only country-esque tune that the pianist knew. I forget how karaoke is totally different up north.
Anyway, that was just Day One, so you can see what kind of weekend we had.