Charlotte's Web

Blogging my world since 2006

New York, New York


I thought I’d better write about New York before the last blister heals. It’s taken me a week to process the cacophony of images from my seven days in the city that never sleeps, but I am about ready to say something. I’m going to distill it under headings otherwise my post would read something like this: “Ooh, shops! BARGAINS. New shoes, see friends, meet bloggers. Shops! Drink red wine this instant. BIG buildings. Where’s the sky? Oh, the Park, lovely. Shops! Mani, pedi, wax and go. Shops! Flashing lights! Bring on the entertainments. I want the finest wines, $10 a GLASS?! …. no, sorry, just the cheapest will do. Shops!”

New York – The Literature

43% of poll respondents voted for One Fifth Avenue by Candace Bushnell as the book I should take to New York, and I was secretly hoping it would be so. Unfortunately, it contained on page 23 the line “That was the defining moment of great sex – when the penis met the vagina” which I found unbearably irritating. So I packed The Age of Innocence instead, a lovely book where there are no penises and no vaginas and very few defining moments. Afterwards I read Chasing Harry Winston by Lauren Weisberger, which was the mix of humour, chick-lit and Sex and The City wisecracking I had been expecting from the Bushnell book.

New York – The Bloggers

On Day Two I met Emily, the Hobgoblin, Dorothy, Cam, Becky and Zoesmom at the Hungarian Pastry Shop on Amsterdam. There was the usual five-minute dissonance between the person and the blog that I am learning happens when I meet people off the Internet (including remembering to call people by their real names), and then that faded and we got on with having a lovely day: eating pastries, book shopping at The Strand on Union Square followed by a late and boozy lunch at Chat ‘n Chew, which is much better than it sounds. I had a fabulous Caesar salad. Then I started swaying on my feet, so pleaded jet lag and headed home while the others proceeded to another bookshop. I was really thrilled to meet everyone, and touched by how far some had travelled to be there – Americans have no fear of distances. It’s that pioneer spirit.

New York – The Shopping

Oh my God, how I love Macy’s. I could move in there – make myself a little nest in the handbag department and fall asleep every night to the comforting smell of leather. I have brought home a Macy’s handbag just to remind me of my spiritual home. Apart from the shopping, I love their pick and mix salad bar in the basement, where the salad associate created a bacon, avo and feta salad on baby spinach leaves for me. I am also in love with Anthropologie, a shop where I could own everything, but from which I have one fabulous T-shirt. We had a morning in Century 21, a downtown discount store full of designer bargains. My best shopping blow-out happened at the Designer Shoe Warehouse on Union Square, where I bought three pairs of utterly fabulous shoes. On Fifth Avenue I entered many shops – Tiffany’s, Harry Winston’s, Bendells – and just looked, but at Bergdorf Goodman’s I had a make-up accident at the Bobbi Brown counter.

New York – The Tourism

Immediately after our Bobbi Brown makeovers, V and I got on the Sex and The City tour bus, which visits 40 locations from the show (thanks for the hot tip, Ms Make Tea!). Most of the locations you see from the bus, but we got off at the three places – the Pleasure Chest, where Charlotte buys her Rabbit; the Magnolia Bakery, where Carrie and Miranda eat a cupcake; and Steve’s bar Scout, where we finished off the tour with a Cosmopolitan. For mild to strong SATC fans, I can really recommend this tour – it gives you a great idea of the city and the neighbourhoods you might want to go back to, it’s a lot of fun (the atmosphere gets very giggly after the visit to the Pleasure Chest), and the tour guides are actresses with a good line in patter. The cupcakes and the Cosmopolitans are thrown in too.

Some out-of-town friends fed me wine on the Sunday and got me up to the top of the Rockefeller Centre (70-something storeys). I didn’t want to go, because I’m not one for heights, but I was glad I did as the view was wonderful and my internal Manhattan map clicked into place up there. Later, we visited Grand Central Station to admire the ceiling, had a brief altercation with the Angriest Cop in New York, got on the subway and headed for the Village where we spent the afternoon strolling the streets and looking at everything.

I went to MOMA. It was amazing, and very digestible, I found. I didn’t get overload, which often happens to me in museums. I particularly enjoyed the Van Gogh exhibition, which focuses on the artist’s depictions of the night.

New York – The Cakes

Low carb, what? I had cheesecake at the Hungarian Pastry Shop, pecan pie at downtown Cipriani’s, sachertorte at the Neue Galerie and a cupcake at the Magnolia. They were all good, but I think I have become German in my baked goods tastes because I found them all far too sweet. V and I decided that our own cupcakes are better than those of the Magnolia Bakery, which have just too much frosting. Sickly. On the way uptown in the bus, I won an extra cupcake in the SATC trivia competition and I Left It On The Bus. Perhaps I have finally grown up.

New York – The Three Top Meals

Vegetarians, avert your eyes – I had to have a steak at Morton’s. It was unbelievable. We put on our cocktail dresses and went to the China Grill for an Asian fusion feast. The only downer was an extremely disgusting apple martini, which we quickly exchanged for a Cosmopolitan, because we were being very, well, cosmopolitan. We also had a fabulous late and boozy lunch at downtown Cipriani’s, which was seasoned with some flirty French waiters.

New York – The Pampering

We had a mani-pedi on Fifth Avenue, late one afternoon after shopping, and it was a mistake! Far too ridiculously expensive! We got the giggles, because they offered us the champagne spa, not to drink, but for our feet. I did enjoy see all the New Yorkers getting their weekly polishings on Sunday evening in the Village before the working week – men and women alike. I met the wax for the first time, and let me just say I’d take childbirth any day. The pain! The agony!

New York – The Shows

We saw the Rockettes in the Radio City Music Hall’s Christmas Spectacular, which was just that, spectacular. We also saw Billy Elliot, which has just started on Broadway after a successful season in London. I cried, I laughed, I watched in awe.

New York – The Characters

We met the J Sisters – wicked wielders of the wax, the Angriest Cop in New York, Rickshaw Man, the Flirty French Waiter, the Undercover Cop to whom we tried to give our leftover Asian-Fusion and who told us that he didn’t “eat just anything”, sundry Grumpy Taxi-drivers, the Fifth Avenue Rip-Off Artists. Unfortunately, we didn’t see a single celebrity, though the Hobgoblin claimed to have seen Julia Stiles outside The Strand, and Denzel Washington had apparently eaten at downtown Cipriani’s two months before us. I loved the witty New York sense of humour, and the way everyone in America is an “associate” – the salad bar associate, the elevator associate, the till operating associate. I found almost everyone we met charming and helpful and though Germans love to claim that Americans are not sincere, I found the interchanges we had extremely pleasant compared to the Germans’ more businesslike style.

New York – New York

New York is exuberant, bold and flashing. I’d go back tomorrow. I never left Manhattan, but next time I will take to the river, cross the Brooklyn Bridge and try to see more shows. I also need to drink more Cosmopolitans. When you are forty, that is what you do.

Author: charlotteotter

Novelist, feminist, crime writer

19 thoughts on “New York, New York

  1. What a trip! I’m happy to hear you had a great time here! I have to agree with you about the cupcakes at Magnolia. I don’t understand why everyone likes them so much. The cake is hard and the icing is too sweet!

  2. mmm, chat n’ chew. i used to head there for lunches from work (i worked just on union square). was the Christmas craft fair up yet? prolly too early i guess, though the farmers market is also a fave. and The Strand is just like Mecca for booklovers.

    for cheesecake, you have to venture over the bridge because nothing beats Junior’s.

    but that just means you have to save it for next time 😉

  3. I’m so jealous! I go make my passport tomorrow (no, it’s Sunday… Monday then)

  4. Ahhh, the shoe store at Union Square! Love, love, love that place! So glad you made it. Sounds like a pretty perfect seven days in New York to me, and you’ve made me want to take the SATC tour. Please come back soon.

  5. How amazingly fabulous!!! I am absolutely green with envy!!!

  6. I’m so glad that I had a chance to meet you. I wouldn’t say that I am fearless about distance, but I love taking advantage of frequent-flyer miles. As long as the price is right (which it hasn’t been with the expense of fuel and the faltering airlines here), if I have to spend 3 hours in a car to get to the Loop in Chicago, or spend 4 hours getting to the airport, flying to NYC and taking a taxi into Manhattan, I’ll take NY anytime. As much as I love Chicago, nothing compares to the excitement — the heartbeat–of Manhattan. Forget about London, Munich, Rome, Paris, Sao Paolo, Amsterdam, LA, Miami: in my opinion there is simply no place on earth that is quite like New York. I’m so glad that you had such a great trip. You’ve captured it well here, but I do hope you write more. I want to know about that Angriest Cop. Sounds like there is certainly a story there!

    And I am SOOOO jealous that you were able to go to the Van Gogh exhibit. I wanted to go very much, but on Sunday my feet just couldn’t bear walking through a museum! And I wish I had enough time to have had a pastry & cup of Viennesse coffee at the Neue. Next time!

  7. How jealous am I?! I spent a year shuttling between NY and London and whilst I don’t miss the flights and hotel rooms, I so miss Manhattan…

  8. Oh, I am so pleased you had such a lovely visit. It sounds like the perfect vacation and well-deserved! Happy 40th birthday! And I rarely like store-purchased cakes from anywhere…my country has an unhealthy fascination with sugar and most of the baked goods are undigestable.
    Happy you are home safe and sound!

  9. Wah! I missed meeting you! But I am so, so glad you had such a great time.

    Isn’t the Strand fun? I spent a great day with hubby there and having dim sum in Chinatown. I had no idea Scout was a real place!

    I’m glad for the warning about the Bushnell book…that sentence is just horrible! I had a craving for some Edith Wharton the other day, so you may have just nudged me right along there.

    Now I’m regretting just how much we didn’t do during our three years in NY. Maybe someday….

  10. I would have loved to have seen the Van Gogh exhibit! Sounds like you had an incredible trip – jam packed!

  11. Glad to see you back and what a wonderful trip you had! New York is one of the very few chi-chi locations I have ever been to, and I must say I loved it. I particularly loved MOMA and thought it was the best museum I’d ever visited. And lucky, lucky you to have met our blogging friends – I’ve read several accounts of this encounter now and would be happy to read several more. I never tire of it!

  12. It was so very nice to see you Charlotte! I’m glad the rest of your trip was fun — really, it sounds like it was fabulous!

  13. I loved the image of you curled up in the handbag department of Macy’s! And this post brought back such lovely (but all-too-short-lived) memories of my visit to NY years ago. There’s just so much to love about the city. Would return in a heartbeat but nice to do a virtual visit with you.

  14. Oh sounds wonderful! In my other life…the one where I don’t have kids, am filthy rich and am forever 40…I live in New York City.

  15. Oh CHarlotte, how I laughed – when wer were recently in Macy’s in Chicago (which occupies a beautiful and historic building previously occupied by the Marshall Field department store) I said to NIck “I think I could move in here”. I loved everything abotu the place – you feel cosseted just walkign through the doors. But for bargains, I adore Century 21, or even better Filene’s Basement 🙂 I’m glad you abandoned SACT – that one line might make me do the same… I didn’t get to the top of the Rockefeller (aren’t the ice rink and that glided Art Deco statue at the base too gorgeous??) but I did get to the top of the Empire State and it does help you orientate yourself. And MOMA is one of my favourite museums in the world. So much more relaxed than European museums – I rememebr seeng a group of friends posing in front of Matisse’s Dance, in the same poses as the dancers in the picture, while somebody took a photo – that woudl SO not be allowed in most European museums! It’s a wonderful collection and a wonderful space.

    Thrilled that you had such a great trip and returned even mofe fabulously forty than before!!

  16. It was wonderful to meet you, Charlotte! I loved reading this great–dare I say giddy?–account of the trip. It reawakened me to how lucky I am to live a hour’s drive away from Manhattan.

  17. Fun, fun, fun, and now i know there’s a SatC tour to recommend to friends who are going next summer!!! I have never been to NY, but my good friend at work just went so she went to lots of the same places you did, and now i might possibly want to go….I love London and that’s where I’m heading to tomorrow!!! I like the idea of your post about NYC, I’m doing something about London, don’t quite know yet. ONe sleep to go!

  18. Pingback: When I Was 35 « Charlotte's Web

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