Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Journey North - Part 2

Part 2: We arrived in NYC by ferry on Tuesday afternoon. We didn't want to have our car in the city so we parked at the Imperial Ferry terminal in Weehawken, NJ. In addition to keeping our car safe and undamaged, it also gave us a great view of the island (minus the overcast drizzle) on our way to Manhattan. :)

During our stay we rented an apartment off Elizabeth St. in Nolita (north of Little Italy). I had no idea how much we would come to love this little nook of NY!
True NYC living - 700 sq ft. :)

On our first night we were craving burgers so we walked down to Houston and ate at Burger & Barrel. 
You know you won't be disappointed when onion rings are served on your burger. :)
I treated myself to a cane sugar root beer and it was delish!
Afterwards we hit the subway to go visit some of the more touristy highlights. 

Time Square.
Obligatory Time Square family pic. 
Grand Central.

Wednesday morning we headed up to Columbus Circle to rent bikes to ride in the park.
Before exploring the park we went one block over to see my sister's old apartment building.
I don't have many regrets in life, but one I do have is not visiting my sister when she lived in the city. She didn't live here long - less than a year, but I wish I had experienced this place with her and all her favorite spots!

Getting ready to bike Central Park!

Bethesda Terrace.

Love all the row boats on the pond.

The reservoir overlooking the Upper Westside.
The park is more beautiful than I imagined - combining a lush, expansive landscape with equally beautiful pockets of people from all walks of life.
Afterwards we headed back to our 'hood in Nolita and ate lunch at The Butcher's Daughter. This place was probably less than 50 ft from our building and it was one of our favorites! The menu is 100% vegetarian and non-dairy and... have I mentioned, AMAZING???!

I was obsessed with the ambiance and all the textural details...

This was probably the best sandwich I have ever had in my life. SO GOOD.  The Butcher's Grilled Cheese - vegan cheese (I know, SHOCKING that could be good), heirloom tomato, avocado, adzuki bacon, wilted basil on sourdough.
Afterwards we walked two blocks to grab gelato from AB Biagi.

We spent a few hours back in the apt watching a movie and resting up before our evening on the town.

Thanks to my friend Whit for the rec, we ate dinner at Palma- the loveliest, most romantic restaurant I think I have ever been to. It was like a dream!
The interior portion of the restaurant is very charming,

but the inner courtyard is pure magic.
I mean... who does not want to sit here and enjoy some amazing Italian?!!!

Even with a beard he sure is a handsome fella. :)
Splurging on real, gluten-full bread.
La Vie en Rose. I don't often post drinks, but this cocktail was unbelievable. So fresh and sweet. The taste of summer.
Palma serves up some incredible gluten-free pasta. I have always dreamed of enjoying gf ravioli and Palma made this dream a reality. It was perfect.
Al's fettuccine.
Having the BEST time in this marvelous place! I was truly in heaven on earth. I LOVE Palma.
After dinner we hopped over to Broadway to see An American in Paris at the Palace Theater. My sister's friend, Robbi Fairchild, was playing Jerry (the lead male role) and I was SO excited to see him perform.

Robbi is a principal dancer with the NYC ballet and my sister use to love to watch him dance. Apparently he (and the entire cast of American in Paris) are pretty amazing because they were nominated for 12 Tony Awards, including Robbi in the category of Best Leading Actor in a Musical. (I think they ended up winning 4.) Thanks to Robbi's generosity, I was able to purchase amazing (discounted) tickets weeks in advance. I was SO looking forward to the show, but as luck would have it, Robbi got sick earlier in the day and did NOT perform at the show we attended. (Insert sad, mopey disappointed face. Haha!) So this was the closest I got to seeing Robbi in action. LOL
 I am still determined to see him live, but I guess it will just have to happen on my next trip!

On Thursday we headed over to the Meatpacking District to take a stroll through Chelsea Market.

 In addition to a GIANT Anthropologie, there are so many wonderful vendors selling everything from flowers to lobster!

 Afterwards we took a stroll through Highline Park.
The Highline is an old, abandoned railway that has been transformed from this-
 into this beautiful urban green space.

 Various semi-manicured gardens are intentionally woven into the structure of the Highline, a sort of subtle reminder of the sprawling decay and overgrowth it was once before.

 Clever benches seem to spring up from the floor material.
 The surrounding building facades add dimension through murals and other architectural details.
 Walking through the Highline "outdoor" Shop.
We hopped over to Bleeker Street to grab a sweet treat from the famous Magnolia Bakery.

 I guess this blondie was pretty good. :)
Only the cool kids ride the subway :)
Before heading over to Brooklyn we hopped a train down to the Financial District to see the new World Trade Center buildings as well as the 9/11 Memorial.
 It was crazy to watch Allie run her hand along the side of one of the buildings and think back to where we all were when 9/11 happened. I was in my freshman year at FSU. Zach was working in pest control, and Allie was less than a year old.

9/11 Memorial (sans all the crowds).
For lunch we headed over to Brooklyn to get NY pizza at Julianna's. We learned that this was the original location of Grimaldi's famous pizza!
 The pizza is cooked in a coal-fired brick oven.
 And yes, Zach made us fold the delicious thin crust slices in half and eat it the "right" way. :)
Afterwards we headed over to meet our friends Whitney and Stephen for an afternoon adventure in their home sweet home of DUMBO. Whit and I have been kindred spirits since 2008 and I was thrilled to visit them in NY. Whitney is an incredible artist so first stop on our DUMBO tour was her beautiful studio!

 Ticking. I have no idea how she has the patience to make all these tiny, individual brush strokes.

 I have always found her drop cloths to be so beautiful, a sort of art archeology, revealing glimpses into what was created above the layers of drippings and puddles collected below.
We truly adore this couple!
 Fun fact: Whit and Stephen have custom longboards with portions of her artwork printed on the back.
 And she gave me the loveliest gift - this book and a bookmark cut from one of her art pieces. Thanks sweet friend!
After showing Allie and Zach around the studio, we headed out to tour their little village that runs along the shore of the East River.

Second stop: Gleasons! The famous Brooklyn gym where legends like Muhammad Ali have trained. This is where they work out - literally! Haha It was so fun to meet the people in their community that have become their NY family.
 Next stop: Their local coffee shop called One Girl Cookies.

 And then a visit to their apartment in the Watchtower Building. Allie was desperately trying to befriend their skeptical cat Jojo. Haha! If anyone can make a pet love them, it's Allie. :)
The DUMBO tour continued with a quick stop in Jacques Torres for this:
 Frozen hot chocolate. Rich, chocolatey, goodness. I didn't think there was a food/drink item on the planet I would find too rich, but this was close. I definitely could not finish even half of it!
Afterwards we took a stroll to see the absolutely goregous River Cafe that overlooks Manhattan.
 Is this not the cutest restaurant with the most magical landscape?!

The girls!
 The boys!
Walking along Brooklyn Bridge Park...
I was SO glad these two could spend some time together. So often Allie has reminded me of Whitney and I just... am so glad Allie gets to know incredibly special/unique people like the Baileys! We love you Whit and Stephen!
And a trip to DUMBO would not be complete without a ride on Jane's Carousel. (It has an amazing story that you can read about here.)

 What could be more magical than riding a fully restored 1922 carousel overlooking the East River and Manhattan?! So much fun!
After our fabulous afternoon in Brooklyn, and a short rest back at the apartment, we headed out again for our last night in the city! Don't these two look like they belong here? haha!
For dinner we went to Tacombi, the cutest Mexican restaurant I have EVER seen just a few blocks up our street.
Yes folks, they are making tacos in a VW van... parked right in front of our table! We absolutely adored this place!

 And the food did not disappoint.

 After dinner we headed up to Union Square to get dessert at one of my sister's favorite places - Max Brenner's Chocolate by the Bald Man.

 Nothing could please her more than a chocolate restaurant. Ha!
Before leaving NYC on Friday, we made a final stop at Black Seed, our local bagel shop. This place was immediately adjacent to our building and we ate fresh bagels from here every morning.
 The honey butter was ridiculous! I also loved the lox & cream cheese bagel that was served with sprouts and radishes. So good!
 People watching at the window.

 One final view of NYC as we rode the ferry back to Jersey. Until next time NYC!
After retrieving our car, we headed south and spent the last night of our vacay in Old Town Alexandria, eating tapas, and driving around all the illuminated monuments in D.C. Although it wasn't a relaxing, lay-around-and-do-nothing-but-veg type of week, it was amazing and such a fun time for our family. I can't wait to visit New York again and explore new parts of the city. There's an unlimited supply of NYC adventures just waiting to be found! :)

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