Thursday, October 17, 2013

Autumn in New York.

Autumn in New York, why does it seem so inviting?
Autumn in New York, it spells the thrill of first night-ing
Glittering crowds and shimmering clouds in canyons of steel
They're making me feel - I'm home

I've always loved this song (especially as sung by Billie Holiday), and I've dreamed of visiting New York City in the fall since forever. So I was delighted when Tyler's friend, Adam (they've been friends since middle school!), invited us to his wedding on Staten Island in October, with Tyler as a groomsman.

I barely took any proper pictures during our visit, so I've made some color-coded Instagram collages to accentuate this post instead.

We went last weekend, and we stayed on Staten Island in an AirBnB apartment in New Brighton described as a "peaceful sanctuary." Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. Several times, we were warned by locals to be "very careful" in our neighborhood. No one wanted us to go anywhere on foot, not even to an arancini place fifteen minutes away (we did anyway). The first night we stayed there, people argued and played loud music until two in the morning; at one point, we heard gunfire three blocks from us. We learned later that we were in a neighborhood with high rates of crime - so do your research before you make reservations! (Also, don't let yourself get herded into mystery cabs. We did this twice during our trip, because we are dumb, and although we are still alive we did pay a lot more than we should have.)

Still, despite the underwhelming accommodations, we managed to have a pretty wonderful weekend. On Saturday, we took the (free!? free!!) ferry from Staten Island to Manhattan. Tyler had forgotten his only white dress shirt at home, so we had to make an emergency trip to Robert James. Their tagline is "Simple. Honest. Handsome.," and I was really impressed with their customer service (and also with their shirts, which fit Tyler's slim torso and long arms beautifully, right off the hanger). Shirt procured, Tyler hopped back in a cab and headed back to Staten Island for the wedding rehearsal, leaving me to spend my day as I pleased.

I love exploring new cities by myself, so I was in heaven, wandering through the East Village - snagging an apricot croissant and slipping into a few small boutiques - and figuring out how to navigate the subway to the Upper East Side (fancy buildings and consignment shops galore). New York City is huge - I spent at least five or six hours in just a couple of neighborhoods, and I only scratched the surface of those few.

I also realized that everything I thought I knew about Manhattan I had idealized from the gilded images of shows like "Mad Men" and "Gossip Girl." I knew I hadn't managed my expectations well enough when I was crushed to discover that I couldn't eat in a cafe in the Metropolitan Museum of Art without paying admission first - I wanted my Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler moment! (Also, it's the middle of October. Why was it 70 degrees and where were the scarlet leaves?)

Eventually it got dark and Tyler returned, whisking me romantically into the Met for a candlelit dinner in the Petrie Court Cafe. He even acquiesced to a very touristy tour of Central Park by horse-drawn carriage.

We stopped at Rockefeller Center and walked through Times Square (which is how I learned that I hate Times Square). Even though both our phones died, we managed to find our way to Dudley's for a midnight snack (if you're ever there, try the Banoffee Sundae), and then back to the ferry.

The next day was the wedding. Tyler had to leave early for pictures with the bridal party, so I had to tromp a mile in my dress and high heels to Snug Harbor. It was a beautiful day and no one accosted me, so that turned out all right. And the wedding itself was lovely, with heartfelt vows and toasts, a very fun photo booth, and a fancy pasta bar. Tyler made an adorable groomsman.

There he is, on the left. He kept hiding in that bush so I couldn't get a better picture than this.

On our last day, we visited Manhattan again, this time to explore Greenwich Village, Nolita, and SoHo. (I also insisted that we go to the Chrysler Building, just so I could be inside it. I love Art Deco.)

Tyler shopped for clothes (in Uniqlo) of his own free will, which just about shocked me to death. We also went to a neat little store called Kiosk, and browsed the MoMA Design Store. And we found the perfect New York pizza, at Rubirosa. It was so good that we had to eat three slices apiece and forego the dessert crepes we had seen down the street. And then it was time to leave.

This was 101 in 1001 #25!

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