This time, we took Friday off to extend the weekend a little, but, despite my best efforts, someone couldn’t get out of bed, so we didn’t make it down until 6pm. Although the last half hour was mostly made up of circling the downtown/financial district trying to follow directions for the hotel that I think were slightly out of date, what with all the construction still going on down there. Eventually, we zeroed in on the street for the nearby parking garage (another small adventure in trying to figure out where to put the car while some people left, not helped by the somewhat surly attendants), parked, and proceeded around the corner to the hotel.
The hotel was my first experience with Priceline bidding, and it was a good first start. I got the Club Quarters Downtown for a pretty decent rate, I think it was about half off other rates I could find for the hotel. It’s apparently some kind of members-only place, mostly for business travelers, but they seem to offer rooms through hotel resellers like Expedia. It was a pretty nice room. It looked like it had been refurbished fairly recently. The furnishings were nice, the sheets were comfortable, the bed was covered with a duvet (no scratchy blankets, woo!), and the bathroom was tiny, but had a shiny stainless/marble sink and counter.
The room itself was a pretty decent size for NYC, I think. It was rather tight between the foot of the bed and the bathroom of the wall, but the rest of the room felt spacious enough. There was a flatscreen TV and free wireless internet access, but that was proxied annoyingly. There was also this really cool machine in the hall that dispensed drinking water into plastic bottles that you could then close with a self-locking cap. Presto, instant bottle of spring water!
… Okay, so I’m easily amused.
After we settled in, and o.girl got off work, they met us at the hotel, and we had coffee at the Financier Patisserie, a place we heard often spoken when jamah worked in the area. Sadly, I was trying to make room for dinner, so I didn’t partake of the scrumptious-looking pastries. Next time!
After coffee, we headed over to ISE, the fabled Japanese restaurant that jamah has raved about for so long. Only open Monday to Friday, so this was our big chance! It was indeed very good Japanese food. I had a combo with chicken teriyaki, some tempura, and sushi. We also had one of the yummiest sake’s I can remember. It tasted almost like white wine, but more delicate.
Saturday we were on our own, as jamah and o.girl had an unexpected family commitment. There was one spot I was determined to hit, and that was the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. I’ve been wanting to go for a long time, because one of my favorite author’s, Madeleine L’Engle), set some of her books there, since she was a librarian for the Cathedral. It was absolutely worth it. The cathedral is enormous and, although unfinished, it has some interesting features. We didn’t get to see the nave, because it was walled off while they’re performing restoration work after a fire in 2001. The altar and chapels had already been worked on, though, and they were gorgeous. There are huge, huge, huge granite columns from Maine, I think, around the altar. The scale of the whole building is really just staggering. You can’t see the top of the dome from inside, because it’s lost in darkness. Each chapel around the altar was dedicated to a saint from a different country, and the chapel was done in a style of that country, so there was a wide variety. We toured the grounds a little, though not much was growing. There were some interesting sculptures. There were also several peacocks, including a white one. There was a lot to see, and I definitely plan on going back when the rest of the cathedral is open.
By then, we were ravenous, so we stopped for brunch at a little bar near Columbia, called Radio Perfecto, then headed back toward the subway and stopped at Times Square. It was mobbed, as always, but I wanted to find a bookstore to buy a map of Manhattan, since I couldn’t find the one I used on my last trip. As we walked past the theaters, an elderly woman was trying to give away matinee tickets to Prelude to a Kiss starting shortly. I stopped for a second, but kept thinking it was too good to be true, and someone else started talking to her first, so I wandered away. I would have felt kind of weird about taking the tickets, also, but boy, I would have loved to see Alan Tudyk. After that, we walked to Grand Central, because Ed had never seen it, and I think it’s a really cool building. There was also a display about one of the architects of the subway stations at the Transit Museum annex. There were all sorts of drawings and a lot of samples of tiles that were used. The stations used to be quite pretty. That was definitely a different age.
After that, I had to sit down for a while. Too much walking. Finally, we proceeded to the nearest subway to hit the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle. We wandered around the mall; mostly it was just the same fancy-pants stores that are in the mall my office is over, but I thought the Samsung Experience was nifty. It was a giant store space filled with Samsung goodies, cell phones, TVs, music systems, even a TV with a computer in it or something. Lots of stuff to play with, though I’m not sure you could actually buy anything.
I wanted to check out Central Park a little, so we left the mall before it got dark. We ended up just wandering across the bottom end of the park. Yet another area of NYC I need to explore more. When we got to the other side, we proceeded down 5th Avenue past the fancy hotels and such, then stumbled upon the Apple cube store. It looked really neat lit up at night. Mostly I just wanted to see the store itself, since I didn’t need to shop there, and I’m glad I did. After that, jamah and o.girl came to meet us at the store and we went to dinner at Joe’s Shanghai. It was pretty good, more authentic stuff, not American Chinese. Then a long subway ride back to the hotel.
Sunday, we met jamah and o.girl for brunch in Brooklyn Heights. They took us to Bubby’s Pie Co.. Best. breakfast. food. ever. I had a smoked salmon omelette and a sour cream pancake. All very yummy. Then we wandered over to a chocolate place called Jacques Torres for hot chocolate. They had all sorts of treats there that I couldn’t resist. We proceeded down to the park along the river and over to the water taxi stop that looks out on Manhattan, which was a very pretty view. It was nice to see more of jamah’s neighborhood. We ended up back at their apartment, which has a cute garden area in the back and, as a one bedroom, is a big difference from the studio he had before he got married. We had tea (and chocolate!) and chatted for a while, but finally my exhaustion caught up with me, and it was time to go home.
It seems like every time I go to NYC, I end up with more things to do next time. But that just gives me a reason to go back! Hopefully we’ll pick a better season next time. Last time was sweltering hot. This time the weather wasn’t bad, but it was still chilly and overcast. I want to go when things are growing. Maybe next year.