New York City, center of the universe. Well I wouldn’t go that far but Angel made a convincing argument in the 90’s during Rent, which was in fact my HS anthem. Rent made NYC look more like a STD thrilled party while Sex and the City made it look impossible to have a bad time because of course everything were affordable if you were pretty! Despite the mildly false advertisement, they did help fuel my curiosity for those filthy streets and rooftop bar skylines. Pop culture fuels a lot of my curiosity if you haven’t already noticed. Now before, when I visited New York, just a few months ago, I only saw Time Square, the Met (museum) and Long Island. So when my close friend, Paula, and I were planning our half birthday trip it was no question that NYC was on the list.
Everyone always says they see me more in NYC than LA but when it boils down to it I’ve never truly had an interest in living in New York. Paula on the other hand has always mentioned just up and moving to the city. To be fair she has family in and out of Manhattan and has always been in love with the place. So it was a comfort to know (while singing the hit the road blues) that I’d have not only a personal tour guide but someone who was interested in the same things as myself to enjoy the city with.
We were fortunate enough to find a place to stay with a friend of hers and his roommate. Sometimes being a woman truly does help. A roof over our heads and a bed to sleep in all for the price of a bottle of Jack and good company couldn’t have been any more perfect. Once we landed we took a town car, and miraculously made it alive I should add, to our weekend apt in Gramercy Park. Our host David greeted us in the way most men would at 8am (shirtless and half awake) and as we passed out in his room, he went to work. After we woke up we decided the first day would be to primarily roam around and enjoy the city. We went to the Highline, which is an old railroad track elevated above Chelsea with vendors and cafes, while we walked a few blocks and enjoyed the bird’s eye view. I bought a few pictures from more than interesting vendors that took photographs of the hidden areas of the city I otherwise would not have seen.
In the afternoon instead of finding somewhere to go eat David was nice enough to take us to lunch in the Google building where he worked and I’m not sure if I was surprised or just impressed to see that it was set up nearly like the movie Internship. (Woops another pop culture reference, don’t act surprised). They had an arcade room, game room, rock climbing wall, several themed floors/cafeterias, and we ended the tour on an upper level patio overlooking Manhattan. It couldn’t have been a better introduction to the city.
Once we left, we window shopped realizing we were not as wealthy as the Kardashian’s, and collectively decided to save our money for the next day in SoHo. All this meant was that we were getting midday drinks instead. That evening when David and his roommate Greg were off work, Paula and I met up with them and a couple others to have drinks at Brass Monkey before going back to the apt. There, we got ready to meet her cousin Gau out for even more drinks (say drinks again) and a very eventful night.
We caught a subway and then got off and caught the right subway to meet Gau her friend Eddie at the Monarch Rooftop Lounge overlooking the Empire State Building and the rest of the city. I suppose you can feel like Carrie Bradshaw while on a budget in NYC. Gau was extremely welcoming and every bit as excited as we were since she hadn’t seen Paula in over a year. Eddie was nice enough to buy the first round and after one drink, 27 failed (but entertaining) pick-up lines, he took us to a true karaoke bar before hot tailing on the subway to the main event. The main event just so happened to be all you can drink vodka shots for two minutes in an Ice cage at Mehanata Bulgarian Bar. Thank you Gau!
We arrived at Mehanata, which had we not had the address would have never of found. It was down a narrow street through a small door sandwiched between two seemingly abandoned buildings. Upstairs was dead and downstairs was even deader. There were swings at the bar instead of chairs and after about 15 minutes we decided to get the night officially started. We went downstairs to the cage where we were given fur coats, thick hats and shot glasses made of ice. The entire cage was decked out in every kind of vodka you could imagine, including Absolut 100. “Yum”. We pounded through the two minutes only to realize our referee was nice enough to give us four because the bar was [walking] dead. Where was Norman Reedus when you wanted him? Eight shots later we seldom cared that the bar was empty and began a dance party between the four of us. After the bartender learned it was me and Paula’s birthday vacation she let the two of us back in (fo’ free) where 8 quickly turned to 12. Woops.
After what seemed like 45 minutes passed, we stepped outside with Gau so she could have a smoke only to learn the bar was now completely packed and once were back inside, four guests quickly turned into well over 200. Word got out quickly. We danced, we laughed, and tested 9 and a half more pick-up lines before walking 82 blocks to Coyote Ugly to drop Gau off with her other friends and then called it a night. A phenomenal first night I may add.
The next day was a little rough to start but after coffee, a bagel, and a few hours of retail therapy, all was well. We got conveyor belt sushi and on the way to the apt I let Paula go ahead as I ran solo to the Union Square Starbucks to chat with my cousin Anthony who also lives in the city. After a speed conversation and being overly excited that I got to see him twice in just a few months, I unfortunately had to let him do his job and head back to the apt.
We relaxed for a little bit and decided another night out in our new clothes was the way to go. Greg said he would meet us out after dinner while David left the night prior for a weekend event he’d pre planned. Paula and I ran around the corner to buy ourselves and the boys a bottle before we began getting ready. After finishing our Absolut, and being mostly ready, to our surprise David came home early and we managed to drag him out with us as well.
We got a shot, a beer and NYC style pizza across the street before catching a cab to the Chelsea area to meet up Greg. After a few bars we convinced the guys to go back to the Mehanata ice cage where we spent the entirety of our night before going to bed even later than the night before. An entire city full of bars and we close the same one twice. Must be the Midwest in us.
The next day Paula and I subwayed (not a word, I know) to Central Park area and got brunch at a cute café right down the street. We walked through Central Park and more than a few blocks before agreeing that we were perfectly okay relaxing for a few hours before having dinner.
We booked reservations for the four of us to Buddahkan because you can’t leave New York City without having at least one really nice birthday dinner. It turned out to be the place they had their rehearsal dinner in the Sex in the City movie and the restaurant was absolutely gorgeous. Despite the fact you could piss on the floor and no one would notice because it was so damn dark, the family style plates was some of the best food I’d ever had. After a nice dinner and a glass of wine we were all okay with calling it a night to retire on the couch and relax in front of the TV.
The weekend felt more like a week and I left with four more friends, a suitcase full of clothes, a headache, and a much larger appreciation of the city. Though friends could see me more in NYC rather than the west coast I don’t think I could ever live there for longer than a summer. NYC is like your Tinder date: quick, fun, entertaining on occasion in moderation but in the end nothing lasting will come of it. However it’ll always seem like a good idea when you need something new. It will definitely be my weekend getaway when I’d like to escape reality even if only for a few days but for now I’m okay sticking with my original love.