Thursday, September 11, 2014

Memories Made Flying Solo in NYC-Part 2

I awoke Saturday morning in a state of hunger--no dinner last night, did I really forget to eat? The only remedy in NYC on an early Saturday morning for a case of hunger: THE Cronut. It has taken the world by storm, quickly becoming the most virally talked about dessert in history! All thanks for the master creator himself, Dominque Ansel.
Taking a cab from the hotel to Spring Street, the driver had trouble with the address, baffled at me trying to describe what this bakery was known for. As we got closer, I quickly spotted not the bakery itself, which is tiny, but rather the line of people looped around the block, some camped out since 5 am. The cab driver remarked that I was not from around here. I told him that no, I was from the south, and he nodded in agreement and wished me luck! I stepped at the end of the line of other hungry locals and visitors alike. I glanced at my watch--the bakery opened at 8 am. I had a good twenty minutes before they would even let people in!
However, something strange and unexpected happened: a guy in a chef's hat and uniform emerged from the corner, carrying a tray of stacked goodies. I figured he was out on a delivery, but no, he came all the way to me (since I was at the end of the line) and offered me a "fresh, hot from the oven madeline cookie." "Why yes, darling waiter, carrying quite possibly the best surprise in all of Manhattan at 7:45 am, yes, I will have one. Thank you!" Sorry--no picture, as it was devoured in seconds. But wow--talk about being at the right place at the right time. Great customer service, too! They know their fans would wait regardless, but what a nice touch! At 8 am, a man came out, not Dominque himself, but he instructed us on how the line would work. Basically, those highly dedicated and brave souls who had camped out at 5 am would be the first group to be let in. It would take 30 minutes for about 25 people to be inside, order and pay before the next group would be allowed in and so forth. So yeah, with 85 or so people ahead of me in line, I knew it would be anything but fast food. I people watched, listened to the sounds of the city on this early Saturday morning, snapped some photos of pretty buildings in front of me, and got my day planned out in my head.
About 45 minutes later, however, my turn had came.

  These heavenly things tempt you as you wait in line to order...
 Yes folks, the early bird catches the cronut! About 30 people behind me in line where not so lucky, as they run out quickly. Apparently there is only one flavor each month of this cream filled doughnut croissant hybrid! August was ending out with the Black Tea Peach Cronut! It was delightful! You are only allowed two per customer, so I got my two. Heck no did I stand in line for one measly cronut!

They come packaged in this bright yellow cronut box.

 I was in the bakery for only 10 minutes being waited on and served and most of that was waiting on my iced coffee that I told myself I had earned...and would only enhance the taste of the cronut. I walked a few blocks away and found a city square. I plopped down on a bench and greedily opened the box. It's cliche...but it was love at first bite. I'm a skeptic about anything with this much hype, but honestly, it was so perfect.
Crusty on the outside but layers of soft dough and peach filling on the inside. I had to save the other and I carefully wrapped it up and put it in my backpack and I was on my way...or so I thought.
Ladies and gentlemen, up until this point, I have navigated the NYC metro/subway system with somewhat ease, being careful to know exactly if I was uptown or downtown and being careful of the entrances for each so I wouldn't get turned around. Maybe it was a sugar crash from the cronut or a caffeine frenzy from the coffee or the early morning, but somehow I managed to make not one, not two, but three metro system errors.
 I backtracked twice to the station at Houston Street (pronounced How-ston not Hew-ston for all you NYC lovers).
Not a total loss, as I actually looked up and saw I was right at home...sort of.. KING STREET! HA! That would have to be where I'd live in NYC.
And I found Molly's Cupcakes, yet another bakery on my list. Far from hungry, but knowing I'd probably not be in the area again on the trip, I walked into the empty bakery--I guess 9:30 am is early even for New Yorker's for cupcakes. These are not just any cupcakes. I read reviews about these award winning creations--they are glorious on the outside, but inside is the real magic.

They are filled on the inside with different flavors. It being my birthday, I got the birthday cake cupcake, filled with, you guessed it, cake batter on the inside!

 I waited until late Saturday night to try it and it was so worth it!
Look at the adorable sign on the outside of the bakery:
And the jar at the counter: Bbbbuuuut Ryan said I should get another cupcake...
 I will have to go back here sometime--such a cute atmosphere inside--retro board games to play and so many other great looking treats!

Feeling rather flustered at the time I was wasting in how I would now have to nix my trip to Chelsea to walk the Highline
I found the busiest street I could and got as close to the corner as I could and raised my right hand. I saw a cab with its light on, and it quickly sped up, almost hitting the car next to it, which the driver of the van sped up to the taxi driver and made some choice words in a language I didn't understand to let him know he thought he was the worst driver ever. I wondered if I would've been better off on the metro, but said a quick prayer and got in. I gave him my hotel address and on the way there I decided that since cabs were so hard to come by on a Saturday, I should probably ask him to wait for me while I checked out of the hotel, collected my luggage and made my way to the apartment. Of course the meter was running the whole time, so he was more than happy to! Luckily I was already packed up and ready, so I was back down in five minutes and we were on our way to stop #2.
When I booked this trip, thanks to my sweet friend Ashley, I knew I had to check first for the ultimate New Yorker's experience. Keep this site in mind for any trip you are planning and want to live like the locals. On the site, you can browse thousands of homes and apartments all over the world, read reviews, ratings, and all the details of each listing. Great site!
I found an apartment I instantly fell in love with on the Upper West Side. I contacted the owner and asked if it would be ok if I rented it for just one night, as most have a 3-4 night minimum. She was so friendly and said she'd be most happy to accommodate my early check in and late check out.

While the owner was going out of town for the holiday anyway, I met her sweet mom outside the apartment around 11:00 Saturday morning. She went over the basics of the apartment and the building, as far as locking up, air conditioner, tv, wifi, kitchen, etc. There was even water, juice, cokes, and milk in the fridge, all for me! So thoughtful!

 I liked this because:
A) It was more space and less money than another night in my small hotel room
B) It was a chance to live the locals
C) A safe neighborhood, steps from Riverside Park and the subway
D) Much more personal to deal with the individual owner
and E) it had such a homey feel to it. So cozy and such a cool experience! I would easily stay here again!

So after acquainting myself with the apartment, I rented a bike in Central Park--it was a perfect day for exploring the 843 acre sanctuary right in the middle of Manhattan on wheels. I've been so many times but never feel like I saw it all the way through. I rode for two hours, stopping when the mood hit me and my bum got tired, ha! It had been years since I'd been on bike...I was so afraid I would crash in a ditch!

I set out on foot exploring the city some more..and it hit 4:00 that I hadn't had anything to eat since my cronut breakfast from early morning.

So to satisfy both my growling stomach and fashion fix, I made the trek over to Lexington:

 Bloomingdales--ahh--I began subscribing to their catalogs when I was in junior high...ordering just  the minimal amount to still be able to receive the coveted holiday editions! I always think of the movie "Splash" with Tom Hanks when Daryl Hannah ("Madison") has watched television for only a few minutes and the only English she knows to tell the bellman is "Bloomingdales."

It's absolutely overwhelming in this massive department store. My mission was to buy something for myself for my birthday and find something for a late lunch/early dinner. I worked my way up to the 7th floor--Home Decor and "Forty Carrots," a neat little deli and froyo place my sister told me to try.

Glad it worked out-
I got a pear tea and the signature salad trio--egg, tuna, and chicken (how so very southern), complete with a mound of carrots and a pretzel twist. It even came with their famous frozen yogurt--peanut butter! So good!

I carried a change of clothes in my small backpack and after riding and walking for hours, I felt I needed a change. It being an Alabama Saturday, I had to represent. I brought my sequined Bama t-shirt and black capris. I found some delicate Michael Kors earrings and I was a happy girl!

I had an hour to kill before my evening plans so I came back to one of my favorite spots in midtown-Bryant Park! On the overcast evening, it was crowded but quiet. I knew I wasn't even hungry, but I was so close to the Lady M Cake Boutique that I had to cross it off my list! Meet the Green Tea Mille Crepe cake. I love green tea and kept reading how interesting this $8 a slice cake was. I was intrigued. I got mine to go from the small boutique, got something fruity to sip on, to which the bartender, noticing my shirt, ask me if I was keeping up with the Bama game. I had been getting updates on my phone and from my mom so I knew it wasn't the easiest win. Roll Tide anyway!
Back to the cake: the crepe layers had a soft delicate texture and the green tea flavor was strong. I can appreciate it for it's uniqueness, but probably wouldn't have to make a special trip for it again.

  Crossing into the busy Times Square area, my evening plans were to watch "Ghostbusters" in theaters for the 30th anniversary. Only in select theaters, the largest AMC theater in Times Square provided something unique to do and not near as costly as a Broadway play. To get to the theaters, you ride an escalator 4 floors up, with a grand view of the outside crowd.
 I adore this movie--always have! To watch it in NYC and celebrate the anniversary in the theater with other New Yorkers and tourists, laughing and cheering at all the right parts, it was a great memory! "I LOVE THIS TOWN!"
After the movie let out, I took the subway back to the Upper West Side. I got off one stop early and walked to a spot made famous by "You've Got Mail": Cafe Lalo.  This is where Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan were supposed to meet for the first time.
 It was so crowded on a Saturday--they actually stay open until 4 am! I looked around took a few awkward photos and drooled over the desserts and left! Yep...I regret that..but knew I didn't need anymore sweets!
It was almost 10:00 and I was craving something hot--and spotting a pizza place on the corner, I decided that I couldn't possibly go to NYC without getting a slice of authentic pizza! I ordered the margherita pizza and at the little "Mama's Pizza" restaurant they warmed it in the oven and I quickly walked back to the apartment, but not before getting a few random ROLL TIDE'S from people in passing!

 She looked hungry.

 I camped out on the couch with the yummy pizza and found one of my favorite NYC movies: "The Devil Wears Prada" on TV. Perfect ending to a perfect day...
The last day of the trip would be bittersweet (and a lot of sweeeeet)!
To be continued...

"If you're greedy for life, that's what New York is all about. If you're trying to get as much as you can every day, this city is the place to be."--Pam Nelson





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