Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Being a Tourist in New York and the Kindness of Strangers

I hate feeling like a tourist. I want to blend in, be incognito, see a city through the eyes of a local; shop where they shop; eat where they dine. I don't want to feel like a visitor. I really want to feel at home as quickly as possible. That's a pretty tall order for visiting most places, especially a city like New York. I wasn't expecting the Big Apple to feel cozy. With a reputation of being cold, crowded, and busy times 48 thousand hundred million, NY gives the vibe of busy, busy, busy, and dressed in black, always in black. So it was to our surprise that the impression that we left with was what we have fondly titled, "the kindness of strangers."

So many amazing people that we have never met were instrumental in making this trip successful and wonderful. My sister-in-law's friend, Ginny, opened her apartment to us and let us crash for several nights. We had only met her once in Spain, at a bull fight. A dear friend, Mallory, spent countless hours helping me plan this trip and helping me find contacts and helping me score a big meeting. Her friend Kathryn pulled together a lovely group of designers to come to the show and we had the best time chatting it up at the show. Keri, Jordan, Meg and countless others helped me with connections and helped get the word out about the show. Strangers on the street stopped and asked if we needed directions (apparently we were not blending in as well as I hoped). We watched countless people on the subway offer their seats to the elderly and small children- it was a reflex for them, a code of kindness that the city just knows to abide by.   

David had never been to NY and we were excited about experiencing it together, especially since the show fell during David's spring break, which also coincided with our anniversary. It was a beautiful trifecta of excuses to go. The last time I was there was 12 years ago on a high school trip and I was wearing matching tie died t-shirts with 300 other people and riding a coach bus, so I really don't count that as a "real" NY experience, the memories of which involve going to the Hard Rock Cafe, whizzing by important land marks, and watching fashionable women walk by on their way to fabulous jobs, or so I imagined. We've gotten to travel a lot, but for some reason NY seemed more alluring and exciting, perhaps because we were going for an art show! It's still so incredibly surreal thinking about it. It's hard to believe that a week ago we were leaving, and in the airport I was already planning another trip back.

We did not stop moving the whole time and I loved it!  Hanging out at Grand Central Station is a tourist attraction all in itself. It certainly lives up to it's title of "grand." It just felt opulent to be sitting there drinking coffee and people watching while waiting for David to arrive. I have to give a shout out to the Chelsea Arts district! Thursday nights is their "art crawl" where you can gallery hop and grab some wine and find new artists (ahem!) at opening nights. The MET has to be one of the best museums I've ever been to.  We spent six hours there and didn't even scratch the surface! We did take in a show, and were so glad we did!! A friend who works in theatre recommended "Matilda" and it was outstanding. Those kids can act, y'all! If you get the chance to see, it, it is a definite must see! You'll laugh! You'll cry! Women will swoon and men will be moved... but seriously, check it out! And now we need to talk about our fancy day. After delivering some art packages, David found a Vosges in the East side and we sipped gourmet hot cocoa and bought some truffles. That day we walked along Central Park while eating chocolates and pretending we lived in the East side. It may be a top trip memory. Bemelmans Bar at the Carlyle was on the top of my must do in NY list for the sole reason of the wallpaper. No lie. The wallpaper. Ludwig Bemelmans was the creator of the Madeline books and was commissioned to illustrate the walls. They are gorgeous!!  It's an unparalleled experience and definitely worth it checking out. Our final day we discovered Sullivan Street Bakery (it's on Sullivan Street, anyone singing Counting Crows with me??? ) where we had the best chocolate croissants we've ever had. Ever. Get yourself over there and eat one as soon as you can!!!! You will never be the same! I must give a shout out to SOHO. We really enjoyed being in a more chill part of town and it reminded me of San Francisco with the detailed architecture and calmer vibe. If I moved to NYC, I would want to live there for sure.

NYC, you were so good to us and we can't wait to go back! Thank you, friends and kind strangers for making this an unforgettable adventure! 

Other photo creds: Meatball Shop    Jacob's Pickle   Vosges photo cred    

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