02 May 2016

Back to New York, Part 1

When I mentioned going to New York a couple of weekends ago, I may have indicated that I would be writing something about it. So let's not let it get any further into the past before that happens...

It had been four years since I'd visited, and almost that long since the Mrs. and I had been there together, but that one was only an overnighter. After a visit in July of 2011, we'd concluded that we did not really need or want to spend time there again in the depths of summer. The Mrs. gets a day off for the Massachusetts holiday Patriots Day (commemorating the start of the Revolutionary War), so we decided to plan around that.

We drove down on Friday, making it out of the house around 8:30 am and getting onto the highway not long after, following a coffee stop. The ability to monitor traffic conditions and construction activity via smartphone app makes a big difference in car travel; we were able to avoid the seemingly perpetual construction on 95 southbound in Connecticut by switching over to the Merritt Parkway, which roughly parallels 95 a bit further inland.

Normally we go to whichever hotel we're staying at and check in so we can unload and leave our luggage, then we go and find a spot to leave the car. This can depend on where we are staying, but generally the Village and the East Village have worked out pretty well for us; we've also parked in Brooklyn. Street cleaning takes place either on Mondays and Thursdays or Tuesdays and Fridays, and often varies from one side of a street to the other, so signs must be checked carefully.

This time we had plans to meet up with a friend who was already on her way into the city from New Jersey, so the Mrs. wanted to find parking first. We wasted some time because I had her get off FDR Drive too soon, but after we got ourselves into the back and forth of the one-way streets in the East Village, we found an open space on Avenue C a few blocks from Houston St. We took our bags and walked down to Houston, where we got a cab to our hotel.

We've been to the original Bubby's in Tribeca a number of times, but they have opened a new location adjacent to the High Line elevated park and the new Whitney Museum, which was our Friday evening destination, so that's where we ate dinner Friday. Bubby's serves up comfort food and many varieties of pie. The Whitney is a multistory white box facing the Hudson River, with some of the upper floors turned at an angle. It has less character than the previous building on Madison Avenue, but I think it's trying to take a back seat to the artwork on display.

On Saturday we ventured to Staten Island via the ferry to see a former coworker of the Mrs. I'd thought she was going to meet up with us in Manhattan, but the Mrs. wanted the experience of riding the ferry and seeing what the island was like. (The answer to that is: New Jersey, because geographically it ought to be part of that state.) It also looks like a lot of the Boston area, which isn't that surprising. So, been there done that, probably don't need to go back.

We returned to Manhattan and headed for Midtown to do some shopping. Going to Uniqlo isn't as much of a big deal as it was back in 2007 when we first visited the Soho store (they've been offering online shopping in the US for several years and now have stores in Boston and the surrounding suburbs), but the gigantic 5th Avenue store is still something to behold and experience. Muji, another Japanese store, has several stores in Manhattan now, and the one across from the public library is also much larger than the original Soho store. It's deceptive from the street, because most of the space is on the lower level.

After satisfying our shopping urges, we hopped a bus and rode down to the East Village for dinner at Veselka, which has become one of our favorite spots. Open since the mid-1950s, Veselka is like a really good diner/neighborhood place that also happens to serve Eastern European favorites like pierogi and potato pancakes, because it was started by Ukranian immigrants. It's open all night and is lively and fun. Despite its proximity to NYU and Cooper Union, it doesn't seem to draw a large student crowd, but perhaps they don't show up until the wee hours.

After that we retreated to our hotel, and I'll resume with my Sunday morning activities...

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