Travel: Weekend in New York

New York is one of my favorite places to visit to get out of the District. It’s so large, and immense, and one of my favorite things is getting lost in the mix of The City – and of course, falling in love with a new stumbled-upon boutique.

What I had imagined to be a light, and leisurely long weekend in NYC for my friend’s Birthday turned out to start out as the trip from Hell, but eventually evened out to an enjoyable time.

Trip from Hell, you say? Oh yes. Oh.Yes.

I actually was able to get my shit together early enough to snag a great deal on the Amtrak. It’s $49 one-way to NYC if you book at least a month in advance. I’m obsessed with the train, but I also grew up reading the Polar Express every Christmas, so that might have something to do with it. The only thing bad about taking the train in the morning from Union Station? The fact  that I still haven’t figured out How can can I  board an above platform train when you’ve got a Grande coffee in one hand, and the handle of your roller, and your ticket clutched in the other, without face planting? I usually end up walking up the steps, gazing up at the climb like it’s Mt. Everest, until the conductor, or someone else volunteers to help launch my bag up and into the train. For a second, I feel embarrassed to be that girl.  But then I realize, that I’m the District Princess and get over it.

But I’m rambling – for this trip, I had organized everything for a perfect day in The City solo before I planned to meet up with friends for dinner, and then the subsequent Birthday crowd the next day. The agenda included getting in early, checking into the hotel, grabbing a bite and a cappuccino at Eataly, window shopping, and if time permitted, a late afternoon Hot Yoga class at Yoga to the People.

When I got to Union Station that morning, around 7am to catch my 8am train, the waiting area was crowded with annoyed passengers and the situation got worse as the arms on the clock crept to 8:30am. At this time, an Amtrak conductor relayed to everyone that the electrical lines were down at BWI and all trains going North weren’t moving until the situation was resolved.

This is when I thanked God for technology – or more so, my iPhone. After getting a refund from Amtrak, I quickly bought a ticket for the Bolt Bus leaving at 9am. The bus left on time, but as it rumbled outside of Baltimore, it momentarily broke down due to engine trouble. At this point, I wanted to bang my head on side of the bus and give up. Thankfully, the replacement bus came 20 minutes later, and we were back on the road.

I arrived in NYC around 2pm, which was a lot better than the 4pm train arrival if I had stuck with Amtrak (FYI, the train was scheduled to arrive at 11:30am). The first night I stayed at the Marriott Ren 57 Hotel – one of my favorites:

Source: Marriott.com

Taking off my shoes after checking into my hotel was euphoric. I also got an upgrade to an adorable Junior Suite, check out the cute sitting area:

photo (3)I ordered some wine, Brie and crackers to start the evening off before we headed to dinner.

However, before my crew even assembled at my hotel, I did a glorious job of locking myself in the bathroom. The pocket door to the bathroom fell off its track as I closed it.  I was completely stuck inside and began to freak out – I realized quickly this is why there are phones in the bathrooms of older hotels. To bust out, I literally had to smash the door open at it’s weakest point near the door joins. I had never felt so free afterward, but I noticed that I had definitely broken the door, leaving splintered wood everywhere.

At this point my friends showed up, and I called maintenance about the door. Lucky for me, they saw that the door had been completely stuck, and my crew and I hurried off to dinner at Abe & Arthur’s in Meatpacking for Restaurant Week while the door was being fixed.

Dinner was uneventful, and on the pretentious side. The food was good, no doubt, but not inventive or spectacular. Also, they had a strict ‘No Photography’ policy, which is why there are no photos to share with you. Although rude, I kind of wished I could have snapped a photo of the midriff barring hostess (it was snowing outside).

The night was capped off with red wine by the amazing fireplace back in the lounge at my hotel. No judging, we had to conserve our energy for the next day’s festivities.

Source: Marriott.com

The next day, I met my friends at Grand Central Station who were coming off one of the local trains. Grand Central is such a great building, I did the tourist thing and snapped some pics while I waited:

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Since Eataly was out yesterday, we decided to lunch there. Having studied abroad in Rome during college, I was super excited to stock up on all of my favorite Italian groceries. We started off in the Piazza, sharing a meat and cheeseboard and some wine. I was starving by the time we got there, so I didn’t remember to take a pic of the food, or the stand-up marble tables. But here’s what they look like:

Source: NY Times

The groceries weren’t what I was imagining. They were, of course, the best of the best from Italy, while I just wanted to snag my fave Passata con Basilico for .99 euro cents. My advice for future Eataly visits? Go early (gets crazy crowded), and not on a day when the high is 20 degrees F. Since so many people are constantly coming and going, the place gets drafty. We also snagged some drinks from the espresso bar which is near one of the main entrances, making the entire area around the bar freezing.

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The rest of the day and night went on without a hitch. We had dinner at Joe’s Shanghai (tradition), followed by drinks/getting ready, and then going out to Penny Farthing. The next morning we went to Peels in Soho for Brunch:

Source: Panoramio

The feel? Cozy, chic and sweet. The menu? To-Go Bakery, Bar, and Brunch entrees. What you order? The biscuits.

Unfortunately, there was a logistics situation that caused me and my crew to wait 2 hours for our table. At which point, this Princess almost needed her fainting couch for well…fainting from lack of brunch foods. Luckily, the Manager was awesome; apologizing for the whole ordeal, and keeping us company with free “champs” (love this slang for champagne). No pic of my own to share, but there was a lot of this action going on:

Source: Corbis

After (finally) eating, and ironically, never wanting to eat again afterward, those of us heading back to The District rented a car, and drove back home. It was a whirlwind of a weekend, but it was so much fun.

Next on my NYC agenda for my next trip:

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