So waking up in the Waldorf Astoria on your birthday feels a little decadent. I lay there on my perfect mattress, on my amazing sheets, staring at the perfect window treatment on the window, (people staying at the Waldorf never refer to them as curtains :) listening to the horns honking on Park Avenue ten floors down, thinking about turning 42. For the record, Aunt Sarah was out of bed before me. I do find it hard to lay around. I love to get up and get going. Time is always ticking in my head :) But we took the morning slow. I purposely did not take anything with me that would tell me the time and make me feel anxious.
The Waldorf does not offer you a breakfast for free but they do offer you a coupon for a pastry and a drink at the Starbucks in their hotel. It was fascinating to me to realize that rich people do not need a continental breakfast where they could elbow other travelers for their bagel and yogurt. It would possibly be offensive to them that someone would suggest that free would appeal to them :) But none of us were rich so we willingly used our coupons for our free loot at the Starbucks. We carried our food into the Waldorf's amazing lobby and sat on a couch next to the grand piano that Cole Porter composed many of his songs on and ate, feeling a tad famous :)
Finally we headed out into the city. We were on a quest to find a part of Manhattan that had antiques. But we soon discovered that if you ask the concierge at the Waldorf where to find antiques he will send you to a place where they have huge carvings out of jade and enormous eccentric chandeliers. So we abandoned that plan and headed to Canal Street instead. On the subway ride to Canal Street I met a nice man who answered every question I asked about where to find good food and possibly "normal" antiques. And he even threw in where Sarah Jessica Parker lived without me even having to ask :) I have an addiction to asking questions that sometimes serves me well.
On Canal Street I did not purchase anything. I continue to not be able to spend money very easily but I had a great time watching everyone else spend their money. And Aunt Sarah took mercy on me and bought me an amazing scarf. We decided to just wander from Canal Street. So we headed uptown, walking. Which I have decided is the best thing to do in New York City once you have been several times and have seen all the touristy places. So we wandered through Soho and just stopped wherever we felt like it. We admired amazing buildings, spent way too much time browsing in Anthropologie, and asked lots of questions. We decided that for lunch we would eat somewhere unusual and different so we stopped at a teeny tiny Cuban place that seated 40...yes, I counted :) The food was fabulous. Have you ever had a Cuban sandwich? It sounds innocent but I think this sandwich changed my life :)
After lunch we kept walking and headed for 26th Street where we heard there possibly would be our ever elusive antique shops. We passed New York University. We went in a exclusive shoe store. We happened upon a street full of booths of things for sale. We watched a hawk eat a squirrel up in a tree in a park. We admired the Flatiron building, which is an amazing triangle shaped skyscraper that has a very rich history. Finally we found some antique shops. But we concluded that antiques in New York City are different from the antiques we know, and love, in Massachusetts at Brimfield.
Finally we hopped on the Subway and headed for Rockefeller Center. I had spied a Lego store there the day before and I could not rest until I had checked it out. Of course I did not purchase anything(do you see a trend here?) but admiring all the Lego sets and marveling at the Lego re-creation of Rockefeller Center made me supremely happy. After visiting a few other shops there in the center we headed for our last stop which was Magnolia Bakery.....round two.
Sometimes on the weekend in New York city the subway trains change from their normal routes and schedules due to construction and such and it can be a tad confusing to 4 women lugging suitcases, baked goods, and heading for their car. We spent quite a bit of quality time under the ground riding the subway that evening. We had enormous fits of laughter at our situation, we offered our cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery to anyone who would help us figure out which train was express and which train was local. Finally we made it to our stop and climbed up out of the subway with our suitcases in tow....having again exercised with our luggage....I think we are on to something here :)
We left the city at 9:30 at night and arrived home to Massachusetts at one in the morning.
My only regret on my annual New York City trip is that I can not invite all my friends to come on this amazing weekend with me. It kills me to leave anyone out. But reality is always lurking reminding me that it is not possible.
I have already started my list of things to do next time I am in the city and I have a new list of things to show my kids now that I have explored more. I have a deep love for the energy and amazing-ness of New York City. The amount of history in the city is staggering.
Next time you feel the urge to walk until you might drop, feel the need to be around lots of people, want to discover landmarks you have only seen in movies, eat fabulous food, and really just be with me I would drop everything in a heartbeat and take you to the city. As long as you are okay with my need to ask questions and keep things moving :)