Sleepless in the Big Apple

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Last Monday at 5:28am EST we arrived in the bustling Terminal 5 of Jet Blue’s terminal in JFK airport.  Since then we can probably count the hours we have slept on our fingers and toes.  Ok, so maybe a bit more than that… but the city that never sleeps has definitely lived up to it’s name for us over the last seven fun-filled days.  Maybe the loud music, masses of people behaving as if it was mid-day in a Vegas casino, and the bright neon lights that woke us up as we stumbled off the plane into the airport should have been the first clue.

After arriving and killing time for a couple hours in the airport (by productively working) we braved the Monday morning subway crowds with 30lb backpacks and very tired legs for a 90 minute commute from JFK to Grand Central Station.  From there we walked the few blocks in the rain and showed up like wet rats at the door of our first of three hosts for this destination.  After drying off, resting our feet, and catching up we decided to venture out.  We headed toward City Hall and decided to wander over to Battery Park and to the 9/11 Memorial.  Unfortunately with such poor weather conditions it was difficult to see anything from the park and the city wasn’t looking her hottest for our ‘adventure’ stroll.  We did however luck out and get into the 9/11 Memorial without having a pre-reserved spot (which is usually required).  While not completely finished, the memorial is very well done (especially for those who remember what it was like with the towers there) and was the ‘tourist’ highlight of our day.

9:11 Memorial

With the evening quickly approaching we ventured over to Long Island City (this time for the evening subway rush commute) for some grubbing Cuban food with Blake, Robin, and little miss Kinsley before heading over to Tribeca to catch up with another group of friends.  After finding out how much drinks cost at the Tribeca Grand Hotel Bar, Amanda was determined to find cheap beer for the last round of drinks.  She struck gold with her hole in the wall sniff-out, Patriot Bar.  Cheapest pitchers we have seen in the city yet and a fun staff and crowd.  If you want good beer and no-frill dive bar fun it’s worth checking out.

While Monday was a constant wet drizzle with low visability we lucked out with some stunningly sunny days to follow.  Tuesday we wandered over to Chelsea to check out the cute gentrified neighborhood and Chelsea Market.  Ben found himself an exotic cup of coffee before we headed to the Hi-Line Park where we took in the art and views for a couple hours before strolling up toward Time Square.

Hi Line Loving

We dropped by The Ginger Man off a random local’s recommendation to try out their own “Ginger Beer Brew’ (starting to see a theme yet?).  From there we found a happy hour with $1 empanadas at Havana Central (which makes a happy Amanda in case you already didn’t know) which we filled up on before exploring Time Square a bit more.  We were able to rendez-vous with a good friend from the Bay Area at Liberty Theater (a hidden venue spot behind a chain BBQ joint) where we mingled with folks from the Tools of Change conference before finding a great Balinese joint for a thai coffee pick me up and some more yum yums.  Ben and I played for a few more minutes in Time Square (which we have decided is cool… but the Vegas strip still has us won over with the ‘spicier’ advertising and cheap drinks you can carry around everywhere).  We were able to stay low key that night and convince Ray to stay in upon our return and watch Netflix with us (despite this peer pressure to go to a gay party).  It ended up being a great night and we all enjoyed the break and rest after a long day.

We continued our slowed down pace Wednesday during the day by venturing out to Staten Island.  The ferry is free (big plus in our cheap-o travel book) and is known for it’s great views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and the city skyline.  Since the weather was amazing we had stunning views of everything.  We were even lucky enough to get a front row view of the privately owned Eclipse yacht, owned by  Roman Abramovich, some bajillionaire who decided to park his yacht right in front of the Statue of Liberty.  Since that yacht is rarelly seen we considered this to be our lucky trip to see such an oddity!  Like spotting a wild endangered animal!

Check out this article here about the rare sighting.

After arriving and transferring to the local Staten Island Rail we ventured into the deep jungles of Staten Island.  Ben was able to locate a Paul Mitchel Institute on Staten Island where he got his hair styled (well, cut first, then styled) while Amanda chilled at the local library to get some work on with all the high-school and middle school kids (which was an afternoon of entertainment in itself).  Afterward we hit up John’s Famous Deli — known for their authentic Brooklyn style heros.  We were both confused by how/what you were supposed to order and couldn’t understand a word any of the guys working the place were saying.  But the food was amazing (you can get fried raviolis!) and it topped the ‘out of manhattan’ experience off for us.  That night we made last minute rendez-vous plans with our friend and local hasher Brett.  Continuing our round the world Hashing experience, Ray joined us as a virgin for our Wednesday night New York Hash.  We started at the bar under the Museum of Sex where we decked out out snazzy winter running outfits with beads and masks in honor of Mardi Gras.  From there we dashed through the streets of the lower west side making one drink stop by the Intrepid Aircraft Carrier before ending at a local ‘undie’ bar (where the bartenders wore their finest underwear and bras).  The rendez-vous continued with more friends at Calico Jack’s Cantina where they have $1  margaritas on Wednesday night.  Needless to say the night quickly turned into a much longer night than expected with lots of fun and laughter (the normal side-effect $1 Margaritas).

After our long night on Wednesday we decided to take Thursday to buckle down and get some work done.  Brett treated us to Shake Shack for burgers for brunch (not going to lie the food was bomb, and they even have ‘mushroom’ burgers for all you veggies out there that are pretty amazing).  We then took the rest of the day to catch up on work and make our transition to our next ‘host spot’ off Columbus Circle.  Then came the real Valentines Day treat… The Colbert Report!  Thanks to my uncle and aunt we were able to get tickets to the Colbert Show recording.

Thank You Curt and Jane!

Check out the video below of us doing the Harlem Shake with him before they started recording the show…

[xyz-ihs snippet=”Colbert-Harlem-Shake”]

The cherry on top of the sundae was Gavin Newsom was the guest.  Being SF natives this made our day, and it is probably the closest we will ever  be to him (he is one handsome dude that Gavin).  After the show we do what every other madly in love couple does on Valentines Day  — grabbed some Italian style pizza, headed home, and passed out.  We woke Friday bright and early to do another ‘coffee shop office’ morning.  Although this time we found a cool tea/coffee spot on Columbus Circle called Argo Tea.  We then walked down to Rockefeller Center and strolled up 5th Ave. into Central Park where we explored the park and Belvedere Castle.  The grumble in our tummies lead us from there directly to Zabar’s where we checked out all the mouth watering meats and cheeses and watched Jewish mothers stock up for the weekend.  We grabbed a couple snacks and chilled out for the afternoon/evening, resting and getting some hookah on with Ray at his place.  Even with the chill night planned we were lured to Crocodile Bar by our friend Evan where we discovered you get a free fresh cooked personal mini-cheese pizza for every drink you order (that IS correct my friends, one mini pizza for every drink).  So we stuffed our faces with pizza and beer and had a jolly ol’ time.

As a side note: chances are that the Sparkle On sticker will end up in this local.  Not 100% sure but soon to be revealed.

We started the weekend off by waking up Ray (at 10:30am) and dragging him out to Flushings in Queens for the Chinese New Year Festival.  We watched the festivities and found the cheapest steamed buns, dumplings, and egg rolls for our Chinese New Year lunch before getting some kid time on with Blake and his daughter.  After play time we headed to the Kimberley Hotel rooftop bar (great views but pricy drinks) followed by ending the night out a the Pig & Whistle (yes, we came all the way to NYC and we went to the Pig & Whistle, they happen to be all over NYC… but don’t worry… the one in SF is still more fun).  Sunday we managed to make it down to Hudson Terrace without freezing our faces off (seriously felt like frost-bite conditions, walking through pain-chilling winds) for a chocolate and wine tasting event.  It was a great way to chill out and wind down the weekend (even though the rest of the city was still amped at 110% since Monday was the President’s Day holiday).  From there we packed our bags and headed up to our third host, in Harlem (we’ll give more on this in our next post).

Check out our photos so far at this link:
NYC Photo Album!

All in all a very fun filled week but a much needed Sunday night in.  We’ll give a quick down and dirty summary of all our hot-spots for our NYC trip along with some other fun facts on Wednesday February 20th. For now check out some of the videos, photos and links we have provided for a more ‘intimate’ experience of our week.  We are starting to get used to this nomad thing… every two days throw your pack on your back and move along.  Hard to believe that in less than 72 hours we will be en route to Lisbon and Madrid!

Thank you Tony Coelho for your donation! I got a 7 day subway pass to explore NYC!
Thank you Tony Coelho for your donation! I got a 7 day subway pass to explore NYC!