May 15, 2008

New York State of Mind

We had a wonderful 4-day trip to New York City the first weekend of May. As most folks know, I proposed to Mark under a blossoming cherry tree in Central Park. It was a romantic and memorable day for both of us.

We rented an apartment in the Upper east Side with another couple, Ingrid and Edward. It was such a great decision as we basically lived like real New Yorkers, buying fresh baked goods every morning, and a good stock of groceries at Gristedes for breakfast and snacks. We also picked up bagels daily from Tal's, voted best bagel shop in the Upper East Side, and they were definitely worth it. They were less sweet than their Montreal counterparts but certainly just as good, especially when they were still warm.

Our friend Ingrid is a "Sex and the City" fan so we just had to try out the goodies at Tasty D Lites, featured in the show a few times. A massive Woody Allen fan, Ingrid was also so excited when we stumbled upon Elaine's, a restaurant that has been the setting for some of Allen's films.

We spent at least 8 hours a day walking around Manhattan, seeing the sights and taking it all in. Highlights included a few hours in the impressive Metropolitan Museum of Art,
the cherry trees blossoming in Central Park, and the ambience of Battery Park on the southern tip of the island. My favourite experience was meandering the narrow streets of Greenwich Village, where we visited the world's oldest GLBT bookstore, Oscar Wilde's and nearby StoneWall Inn, the site of the 1969 riots that sparked the gay rights movement. The Village is also a mecca for second-hand records/cds and I was so pleased to find a U2 collectable that I have been trying to find for nearly 20 years in this great little shop stuffed to the gills.

Our first night we picked up a "pie" from Fat Sal's Pizza. It was awesome. The large pie could have fed a small village and it was easily the best I have ever had (sorry Chicago). The second night we ate at one of the most celebrated Italian eateries in the Village called Bar Pitti, favourite to celebrities and locals alike. They feature a Tuscan menu and we had a fantastic authentic dinner for $90 a couple. Well worth the 20-minute wait for our table.

On our third day we explored the historic South Street Seaport. This was a great surprise, full of cobblestone streets and great boutiques. We split from our friends and went exploring, and eventually stumbled across New York's oldest bar Bridge Cafe, established in (get this) 1749!! We then took the subway north to 14th street so we could walk westward over to 8th Avenue, the prime gay district in Chelsea. This was a hoot and it was so fun to walk around the great stores and bars and see the throngs of "Chelsea Boys" and be able to walk hand-in-hand and steal some quick kisses. We ate dinner at Joy Grill, a Thai place that has great service and solid, well-priced food. Just before we left to go back to our apartment, Mark bought a really cool hat at this kick-ass hat shop on 8th Ave.

All in all, one of the best getaways I have ever had, made extra special by two wonderful friends and our right-from-a-movie engagement. New York has a special place in my heart and I look forward to returning to our favourite haunts to rekindle the memories.

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