Monday, February 25, 2008

I'm Back Baby!

And what an adventure it was.

5 airports, 3 hotels, 1 pair of shoes, and too-many-coffees-to-count later, I'm back in Saskatoon.

Ah New York. How I love you. You and I, we have a shy romance, don't we. I know, it's tough when we only see each other every few years. Maybe one day our romance will blossom into something more. In the meantime, I'll recount the fun that we had as best as I can remember (I know I'll leave some of the details out ... but what can you do?).

(Word of warning, though, some of the links on this site link to pages with some crazy sound ... if no sound is desired ... HIT MUTE NOW ... or don't follow any links.)

February 15th (a week ago Friday) I flew from the Saskatoon Airport (airport 1) to the Edmonton International Airport (airport 2 - realizing that I had NEVER flown INTO or OUT OF the Edmonton International Airport ... 1st time for me). I was greeted by a surprise visit from my Father-in-Law (FIL, who I thought was still working). My Mother-in-Law (MIL), FIL, my Sister-in-Law (SIL) and I hit up Moxies for dinner, and then collapsed into beds at hotel 1 (can't remember the name).

February 16th my FIL dropped my MIL, SIL and I off (bright and early) at the Edmonton International Airport to catch our flight to the Ottawa International Airport (airport 3). Last time I'd been there was 12 years ago. Wow. After a short 1 hour layover and a crazy last minute lunch purchase, we hopped onto a plane to hit airport 4 - LaGuardia Airport (airport 4).

We arrived, seamlessly found our car, and were whisked away to hotel 2 - the Mariott's Residence Inn - Times Square. We were perfectly situated on the Avenue of the Americas and 39th Street. That night we cruised around Times Square, and ate at Chevy's. I think this was the night that we later discovered what would be deemed the best carrot cake in the world at a small patisserie on 8th Ave.

February 17th, Sunday morning, we hopped onto the subway and rumbled our way down to Chelsea. First things first, we hit up B&H, the biggest, craziest photography/video store I've ever seen. SIL is a professional photographer, and was like a kid in a candy store (although, anybody would be ... I must admit that I had to staunch the salivation just a little). We were all amazed at the sheer volume of activity that went on, the level of service (sales staff were always readily available and so knowledgeable), and the crazy organization that lived there. Among our purchases (and by our, I mean one of us that wasn't me, but by being an in-law, I live through the purchase ... therefore ... "our" purchase) was the iPod touch - like the iPhone, but without the phone. So gorgeous, so jealous.

There was a wickedly chilly wind blowing, so we hopped into the Chelsea Market to find some grub, and came upon 202. This is where we discovered, at the suggestion of our fabulous waiter, the amazing french toast that is too good to describe, so here's a picture:

Our Favourite Breakfast - French Toast at 202 in Chelsea

Yum. We browsed our way through the market, and ended up walking down into the Greenwich Village area where we browsed our way back to Chelsea, and hit up some shops including MXYPLYZYK, and Shoegasm where I purchased the gorgeous shoes below:

Lisa Bought Shoes

After all that crazy walking (with SIL being pregnant too - what a super-trooper), we wandered over to Carmine's for dinner. We sat at the bar to spend the 1 1/2 hour wait for a table over wine and a to-die-for appetizer called Spiedini, and watched the theatre crowd come and go. When our table was ready, we went for a 4-pasta special which was enough to feed a small army, but was yummy nonetheless.

After all that food and wine, it was lights out for these chicas.

February 18th, Monday, was President's day down in the States. We hopped on the subway and crossed over to Brooklyn, where we got to see our Cousins-in-Law; MIL's nephew, his wife, and their new baby girl - SOOOOOO cute (we also got to visit with new baby's G-parents who were visiting at the time). They were the ultimate hosts, and even treated us to an amazing brunch. We were so spoiled, and it was so great to see their wonderful home, and all of the loving care and hard work that went into the new nursery.

After our visit, we hopped back onto the subway and jumped off at SoHo where we shopped our way through to a french bistro late lunch on a patio to people watch. We hit up shops like Giggle, Barney's Co-Op, Bloomingdale's, and more (I think we even wandered into a Burberry store, just because we could). When we were in the Lucky Kid shop, we saw what appeared to be an Adidas commercial being filmed just around the corner, which was kinda neat.

After we finished up SoHo, we were DONE LIKE DINNER, and basically flopped ourselves into a fast slumber once we got back to the hotel.

February 19th we made our way downtown to the Financial District. We stopped by the World Trade Center site. It was neat to compare the construction progress that has been made as compared with my trip about 3 years ago. We then hopped across the street and spent a crazy amount of time in Century 21 department store. This store resembled chaos, but it was chaos filled with desirable products for super cheap. It was a mecca of fashion steals, and we went to town. I even tried on a pair of Victoria Beckham jeans, but they didn't fit JUST RIGHT. It would have (in the illustrious words of Lainey) "made my life" to own a pair of VBs.

After a marathon shopping stint in C21, we walked towards Fulton Street, and ducked into a great diner for lunch, I THINK it was the Pearl Street Diner. It was greasy, had super service, and had the busy atmosphere that makes you giggle just a little. We explored the Fulton area, and we checked out the South Street Seaport area, browsed some shops, and then made our way back to the subway.

For dinner we dined at Shun Lee's Palace, which was good, but we wouldn't say GREAT in terms of the food. The atmosphere, service, etc. were all stellar though.

February 20th was MoMA in the morning. I got to see Andy Warhol's soup cans. It was awesome:

Andy Warhol's Soup Cans at MoMA

Makes me realize that I'd love to learn a little more about art. Ahhh ... so much to learn when life is so short ... how to decide!??!?! The ongoing Lisa debate.

Wednesday lunch was at the Red Lobster, grabbed a quick lobster bisque (which gave my tongue the tinglies in a scary allergic-y kind of way - weird, hunh?), and then hit the LION KING on Broadway. Wow. That's all I have to say about that. Wow. The music, of course, was fantastic, but the costumes. THE COSTUMES. The costumes were incredible. Unlike anything I've ever seen. Spectacular. The sets were kept relatively simple, and the music and the costuming took center stage. Sigh.

After the Lion King, we wandered our way over to the Empire State Building, and dined at the Heartland Brewery at the base. We made our way up the ESB for a nighttime view of the city. What was CRAZY was that there was NO LINE-UP. When Jason and I hit the ESB in 2005, there was a crazy line-up that spanned about 3 floors of the building, in and out, winding all around. This time ... nada. It felt like we were VIPs. I didn't have my camera on hand, but here's a shot from the top that I took in January in 2005.


We got to listen to the audio tour this time, which was pretty neat, and something I'd definitely recommend.

February 21st was a spa day at Bliss. We got ourselves to the Bliss SoHo location right on time for our pedicure (MIL), maternity massage (SIL), and deluxe scrub (yours truly). I had first heard about Bliss by reading a Calgary Herald article about founder Marcia Kilgore's Albertan roots. After reading THIS Maclean's article, I see that she even has Outlook SK roots (as does my Dad's side of the family). So ... of course, I must support, I have no choice, you see.

The scrub was heavenly. HEAVENLY. Sigh. Just thinking about it makes me happy. I, of course, stocked up on my favourite Bliss products (which I only buy when I'm at a Bliss Spa - you can buy at Sephora, but I find it to be more expensive in-store): bliss hot salt scrub, bliss lemon+sage soapy sap, bliss lemon+sage body butter, and I bought the on-sale limited edition snow wonder body butter to try out. (I was introduced to the lemon+sage awesomeness of bliss during my 2005 trip - but more about that later).

After the luxurious spa treatments, we dazedly wandered down to Balthazar for lunch. We had been having uncanny good luck at picking spots to eat so far, and this random pick didn't disappoint. The food was incroyable ... and after our waiter presented us with dessert menus, as though it was a foregone conclusion that we must try one of their little slices of heaven, we decided to try two desserts to share; the Crème Brûlée and the Lemon Mille-Feuille. While we had already sampled the best carrot-cake in the world ... I think it is safe to say that these desserts were the real dessert highlight of our trip. Ah ... just imagining the melting on the tongue ... heavenly.

After more shop browsing, we found ourselves busting up to the upper west side to spy on Tom's Restaurant ... the REAL Monk's Cafe from Seinfeld.

Does it Look Familiar?

Tom's Restaurant

Here we ordered coffee and rice pudding (to meet the minimum purchase requirement - just to say we did, we were all still stuffed from Balthazar), and had the craziest service experience. An older lady with an accent (I'm not sure which language the accent was from) grumbled and mumbled her way through serving us ... it was comical how bad she was - but after reading THIS review - seems that that's part of the whole "experience" ... I love it!

Lastly, we checked out St. Patrick's cathedral at night, and then zipped down to Grimaldi's in Brooklyn for a unique and must-have pizza experience. Again, didn't have my camera, but here's a 2005 pic:


The pizza was awesome, the staff were so engaging, and Grimaldi's didn't disappoint (I wonder if it ever does).

February 22nd we decided to hit up our food favourites on the last day we'd be in town. We went back to 202 in Chelsea for the french toast experience. Then we motored on up to 5th Ave to do that strip, including St. Patrick's Cathedral in the daytime. We saw Tiffany's, F.A.O. Schwarz, Bergdorf Goodman, Central Park ... all those goodies. We grabbed a brief lunch at the Europa Cafe, and then went to check out the Waldorf=Astoria ... and ... the W Hotel where Jason and I got engaged (awwww .... insert sighs of reminiscing right here). It was here that I was first introduced to the lemon+sage awesomeness of bliss ... the mini-bottles of shampoo etc. that are provided as room amenities are bliss products! How could I not LOVE this hotel!

After this trip down memory lane, we wrapped up our day with another amazing meal at Carmine's. This time we had cesar salad and the chicken parmesan ... and we only had about a half hour wait ... much shorter this time. We also tipped off our stay with a wonderful cheescake there.

February 23rd
we hopped back into a car and were driven back to LaGuardia airport, where we flew to Toronto's Pearson International Airport (airport 5), where we had to clear customs. With a perfect 2 hour layover (any shorter and it would have been a dicey connection, any longer and we'd have gone a little crazy), we all decided that Ottawa's airport is WAAAAAY better than Pearson (less confusing, a little friendlier ... etc). With that, we jumped back onto a plane and flew back to Edmonton. SIL's Hubby and her kidlings were there to greet her at the airport (cute), and FIL was there too. It was a happy reunion. MIL, FIL, and I checked into hotel 3 and hit the sac pretty quick (SOOOO TIRED).

February 24th
I had a great breakkie with FIL and MIL, and then they dropped me off at the airport for my short flight back to Saskatoon where Jason was waiting for me in the airport (sigh).

And so ... my brief 2008 fling with NYC was over. BUT ... I know I'll be back. The question is only ... when.


Benjamin Quinn said...

I've subscribed to this blog for a little while along with a few other blogs (hope you don't mind! I've applied to Dal, Sask, Windsor, UNB, Mani and I'm trying to get a sense of what law school is really like.) I thought I'd comment since I found it interesting that you took a vacation in NYC at the same time as my girlfriend and I. We stayed at the Marriott Marquis for a few nights and looks like we did some similar things that you (didn't have a chance to read all of this entry since I'm studying for a midterm but we went to MoMA, SoHo, Greenwich.) It was my first time in the city - Toronto seems very small now in comparison!

Lisa Hutch said...

How fun! I ♥ NY ... each time you go, you'll have endless things to do, but I always have favourites that I want to return to. Imagine how small Saskatoon feels now! Good luck with your applications. If you come to Saskie, let me know ... I'll be kickin' around next year.