Date: 17 April 2017.
Location: American Airlines (grateful it ain't United) flight from JFK to Miami International Airport.
I'm one for passionate emotions. With the notable exception of in respect of people (I feel lukewarm apathy to 95% of people), I'm rarely indifferent. I love sushi. I hate grapefruit. I'm obsessed with Deathcab for Cutie and think techno is the epitome of human stupidity. I think knowledge is a gift and ignorance to be despised.
So, by the time I boarded this flight I expected to feel one of two things: either smugly but sadly justified in my hatred of NYC as grimy, overpopulated, overpriced and overrated; or blushing with newfound love for the city that never sleeps. Instead I feel, what? Certain admiration. Sheer exhaustion. Like I need to go on a diet. Like my introverted psyche is screaming for space. Impressed. Intrigued. Like I want to go back sometime, but not too soon.
I think, perhaps, the best way to convey my frenzied Round III NYC experience is to whiz you through it. So I'll do that.
Friday. Land 11am, buzzing with the excitement of being in New York City. I'm in no way cool enough to take this for granted. Cab to hotel, ogling the view of the skyline. Arrive at The Roger on Madison Avenue. Almost throw up on the steps because of the stop-start motion of the cab and the heat. Unpack and throw self on giant bed to revel in moment. Wander 5th avenue and shop at Kate Spade (screw you UK mark-ups!). Hit up Sephora on Madison Avenue. Receive text from work colleague also in NYC this weekend — “I mean, I'm technically on my honeymoon but we should hang out. I totally won't be weird!” — suggesting we all meet at Grand Banks. I agree and walk through Nolita and Greenwich Village to get there. Grand Banks turns out to be phenomenal yacht bar on the Hudson, looking out at her grace, the Statue of Liberty. Drink gin with colleague and her new husband and his mate from Chicago. Leave when boys get seasick (lol). All walk back to Midtown around 8pm. Recognise how tired body is. Order extortionately priced room service (a burger and mac n cheese, because USA!) and watch one episode of Criminal Minds and then pass out.
Saturday. Up at 8am because my body thinks it's still in the UK. (That's kind of hilarious, because 8am EST is 1pm GMT and apparently that's my natural wake up time? This does not surprise me.) Breakfast at Bubby's in the Meatpacking District (my PA's suggestion), do the Whitney and dry retch at Real Violence but am generally impressed by the Biennial (if outraged by having to pay to visit a museum, London has taught me to expect better), stroll the famous Highline. Meet my fabulous NYC-based pal (ex-lawyer now Corporate Affairs manager for Carnegie Hall) at Aussie cafe Bluestone Lane for coffee, we wander through 'The Village', stopping at points of note ('That looks familiar!' With eye-roll, 'That's the Friends building.') and then for mimosas. Back to hotel, shower and then meet colleague at The New York Edition for a drink ($54 for 3 drinks, I go white), get collected by her husband's Chicago mate in a yellow cab, do Chinatown for dinner ($60 for dinner for 4 people, eye roll), then cab to The McKittrick Hotel for Sleep No More. Have apoplexy of excitement as have wanted to go to this interactive, filme noir, 5-storey high interpretation of Macbeth for years. Enter, have absinthe in the speakeasy, promptly die with excitement and happiness. Don the mandatory mask. Remove mask and leave around midnight. Chicago mate, the only one of us without a tertiary education action, has to explain to us what happened in there (“So, when Duncan was in the detective agency scene…”) as none of us really followed it. Oops. Have one drink at The Heath. Return home. Pass out around 2am.
Sunday. Up at 8am, but not without a struggle. Walk, through the hordes of churchgoers and Easter-bonneted weirdos, down 5th to the Rockafeller Centre to buy ticket up to viewing platform. Brunch on fried chicken, waffles and maple syrup at Momafoku's Ma Peche, leave uncomfortably full and go up to the Top Of The Rock. Freak out at the beauty. Upon descending consider merit of trying the subway and going to Brooklyn. Abandon that in favour of seeing cherry blossoms in Central Park. Do so, then shop way back down 5th. Attempt to glam up before meeting ex head of Corporate Finance colleague (separate one) at the posh Penninsula Hotel rooftop bar for bellinis and martinis. At 50 years old she gets carded and I recall that the USA is stupid in many ways. We have dinner at Saxon & Parole on Bowery and talk life goals and men and shopping. Bed by 1am.
Monday. Up at 8am. Airport.
PS Some NYC recommendations from a skeptic: Midtown isn't a bad place to stay and try The Roger (but the ACE is cool too), walk down to Union Square forbambling and shopping, definitely get drinks at Grand Banks, definitely see Sleep No More, definitely breakfast at Bubby's and/or Brunch at Ma Peche (with a cereal milk ice cream to take over to Top Of The Rock for an epic view), try Y7 hip hop yoga too.