0 A night on the town - New York style

Saturday night was our first real night out in our new city. We were heading to a 30th, had planned dinner before the party and were open to where the night might take us afterwards.

First dilemma – what to wear in the city of style? I knew I had a fabulous pair of boots which I had bought on our first shopping excursion, but what to pair them with? Luckily (and unbeknownst to lovely husband C.), I had a cunning plan. It involved spending money, which was cleverly concealed under the guise of showing our friend P. around the city. Cheeky? Maybe. Successful? Undeniably*.

Our night started with dinner at Gramercy Tavern, where we were introduced to the New York wait (and wait and wait and wait and wait) list. It was the world of the beautiful people. My favourite among them was a blonde woman in a hot pink cape, fringed with fur and feathers who swished straight past the waiting groups of people and was shown to her table. And so NY Lesson #1 – good looks will get you everywhere.

The lovely tavern dining room... Gramercy, New York
Photo thanks to P., at Poppy Gets a Life
After dinner, we went to the 30th and danced for a couple of hours prior to forming a breakaway group and heading to a lounge bar in Soho. Most tables were full and the remainder were reserved. We were seated within a couple of minutes though. How? P.'s New Yorker friend "spoke" to someone and by spoke I mean, shook hands with a crisp note. Which brings us to NY Lesson #2 – money talks.

Once we'd recovered from our dancing and indulged in (what we thought was) witty conversation we moved on again. To a place where you had to swipe a card to enter, the music was what you wanted it to be and the drinks were whatever you poured for yourself. Oh, and there were millions of dollars worth of vintage cars displayed and unlocked so you could play with them. A members only club for boys and their favourite toys. As you do. So NY Lesson #3 – it's good to know people who know people (Thanks P.). 

Private boys club... Tribeca, New York

C.'s dream car, a Ford Shelby Cobra, Tribeca, New York

We stumbled home bleary eyed and "cheerful", wondering why the fruit stall had been open all night. Until we heard the birds chirping and realized it had just opened for the day!

From New York, with love xox

* Although I suspect that after almost 8 years together, lovely husband C. is onto my clever ruses and chooses to indulge me rather than call me out.

0 New York... true or false?

My lovely husband C. was walking down Broadway a couple of days ago, right near Wall St. It was late afternoon, the streets were busy and there was a rotund man sitting on a bench listening to his i-pod. A taxi stuck in a traffic jam took his frustration out through his horn. And then… a bunch of expletives followed, angry words bounced back and forth and blood pressures rose.

This exchange took place at about 100 decibels (and according to C. in a slightly Italian, the godfather-like accent). After we stopped laughing ourselves silly at C.'s re-telling, it got us both thinking about the things you often hear about New York. Here's what we've found so far.

New Yorkers are all rude
False. You have lovely conversations with random people in unexpected places. Hilariously, those conversations invariably involve "so you're from England aren't you?" I wish… would love to sound like my friend L.

Everything is super-sized
True. I think we (Aussies) all know about the bladder buster drinks and buckets of coffee but what I was surprised by was the huge (read: not city practical) cars and massive engagement rings.
Humzila the Hummer... it's on the number plate!
Steam comes out of the drains in the street
True. I thought the movies did a good job with dry ice and special effects, but no, steam literally pours up out of the ground.

So New York... cab, diner and steam billowing
New Yorkers are always in a frantic rush
False. We walk faster and make multi-tasking look easier.

I'm off to share what we've learned about New York so far with my lovely friend from Melbourne, P. (follow her blog here), who's staying with us for the next few days. It will be nice to see the city anew through her eyes and to see new places in the city as we explore together!

From New York, with love xox

2 Getting my New York groove on

I'm (quickly) turning into a New York local. I'm standing on the road instead of the pavement when waiting to cross at streetlights, I have a haircut from a trendy salon, I'm wearing ballerina flats when it's 8 degrees Celsius and raining and I'm starting to get impatient when walking behind tourists*.

Naturally, part of this transformation to New Yorker has involved a new handbag. Any New Yorker worth her salt is wearing something from Tory Burch. Usually it's the ballet flats with their distinctive gold symbol, however I decided to start with this cute (and oh-so-versatile-which-is-how-I-justified-it) handbag...

Tory Burch Louiisa Messenger Bag... and me, New York 
… and we've also bought C. a (manly) man bag so that he can carry everything else I can no longer fit into my bag. A win-win for all concerned I think.

Unfortunately, the tourist in me came out the second we left the Tory Burch store. The street outside was a film set, with big cranes and lights shining onto the warehouse across the cobblestoned road. Naturally I picked up my camera and started snapping. I mean, how often do you get to see something like this? The action behind the scenes. Real, live, famous people, who I may get a glimpse of if I stand around long enough (I didn't). 

Behind the scenes... pigeon going for a lucky break, New York
Law and Order SVU, Meatpacking District, New York
Pretty often it turns out. We went around the next corner and ran smack bang into a group of people arranging hair, dusting bronzer and testing lights. All fussing around a model who was tottering on a pair of very high heels. This was also exciting. And so I took some more photos, thereby cementing my status as a tourist.

Models walk the streets of New York - Meatpacking District
Two weeks in, everything is still new, still an adventure. I guess I can call myself a New Yorker when I no longer want to take my camera out to capture everything I'm seeing… but what would be the fun in that for you?

From New York, with love xox  

* I have not reconciled myself to the coffee. Am still a Melburnian at heart.

2 Sex and the City'd

We've spent the last few days walking the streets of NYC to get a feel for the city. Unsurprisingly, we've fallen for the golden triangle – Soho, West Village, Tribeca. Areas that are most commonly associated with actors, models, celebrities, luxury stores, Michelin starred restaurants, gourmet supermarkets and sky-high rents. So we'd fit right in…

I've started having these day dreams of what my life will be like in the West Village. We'd live in a lovely brownstone with a glossy black door and window boxes full of flowers.

Dreamhouse in Perry St, West Village, New York
Could it get any prettier? West Village, New York
We'd wake up late (as all New Yorkers do) every Saturday morning and go over to Dean and Deluca's on Broadway for a (great!) coffee and pastry. We'd go shopping along the cobble stoned streets in Soho and venture into the fashion forward Meatpacking district when we needed something funky.

Chanel... home of the Dream bag, Soho, New York

Christian Louboutin... Dream shoes, Meatpacking District, New York
Exhausted by my spending, we'd stop at Magnolia Bakery for a pick-me-up cupcake and then I'd head to the day-spa for a massage and facial while C. worked out (or traded shares or started companies or watched TV or whatever it is that my lovely husband does while I do my thing).

Mmmm... cupcakes*, West Village, New York
Oh, wait a minute… that's Carrie's life, not mine. West Village is where Carrie Bradshaw lived. And the house we love on Perry St? Her house was only 3 doors down.

So the hunt is on. We're looking for our new apartment so that we can live our New York life. So where can we afford? I'll keep you posted.

From New York, with love xox 

* In frantic rush to eat gorgeous cupcakes, forgot to take a photo... now there's an excuse to go back!

2 A tale of two Brooklyns

After spending a week in temporary accommodation while we waited for 'the Board' to approve our rental application, we finally moved into our home for the next two months – a one bedroom apartment in Battery Park City. 

I wish I could say that we'd moved into a funky loft apartment. The reality was far different and the start was less than auspicious… we couldn't open the front door, the fire alarm was beeping loudly for new batteries, the door on the bathroom vanity fell off when I tried to open it and the d├ęcor? Well that was all brown, brown and more brown.

After having a minor tantrum (me), we headed off to Bed, Bath and Beyond for a few home essentials. Then, like any savvy home maker, we planned our trip to Ikea. Our mission – lamps. The outcome – successful. The journey – interesting.

Ikea is in Brooklyn, two subway stops (and a whole world) away from Battery Park City, the southern most tip of Manhattan. We decided to walk the three kilometers to the store from the subway stop and enjoyed the stroll through the leafy streets, sipping a (Starbucks) latte, smiling at the families and kids on their way to Saturday sports, munching on flaky croissants from a local bakery, admiring the brownstones and soaking up the sunshine.

Blissful morning on a Brooklyn St, New York
I'll have one of these please - Brooklyn, New York

And then we walked over the bridge… my, wasn't that a different world. Windy, deserted (with the exception of unsavoury characters on street corners), desolate and a little scary, even at 11am on a sunny Saturday morning. I especially enjoyed the big black van that drove past – it had a little skull and crossbones emblem on the grille and blacked out windows. Second best moment? The big Ford truck pumping out hip hop at full volume slowly cruising down the street.

The other side of the story... bridge - Brooklyn, New York
Art - Brooklyn style, New York
Needless to say, we caught the mini-bus back to the subway stop.

From New York, with love xox

0 New York to Madrid and back

New York, for all its life, buzz and vibrancy, isn't a pretty city at first glance. In the whole 72 hours I've spent there so far, I haven't seen the pleasing architectural aesthetics to which I've become so accustomed in Melbourne, or in travelling the grand old cities in Europe – Cracow, Vienna, Prague, Rome, London, Paris and now Madrid.

You may be wondering what has brought on this architectural reflection. Surely I haven't tired of the NY shopping so fast?

I've just had a whirlwind 36 hours in Madrid and the stately grandeur of Spain's capital has been like a soothing balm to my (already) aesthetically parched soul. There's something so timelessly beautiful about the narrow streets with their ornate buildings standing close to one another as if sharing a secret.

The chandelier and stained glass domed ceiling in this bar had me gasping when I happened to glance upwards, and then grasping for my camera in short order to see if I could capture the colours and the play of the light (which I couldn't!).

Or these windows inside the private club, Casino de Madrid, looked like something Gaudi dreamt up in one of his more sober moments.

Finally, the fresco on the ceiling of the dining room inside the club - a pure whimsy of gold, cherubs and beautiful goddesses guaranteed to tug a smile from even the most reticent art admirers.

Unlike Europe, I think New York is going to be more about the hidden surprises, the spaces behind the facades and the unexpected splashes of beauty you see as you round a corner and come across Central Park, the Plaza Hotel or the Empire State building… and for my old world architectural fixes? Well… Europe is now a mere 8 hours away!  

From Madrid, with love xox

0 First Impressions

Cold. Windy. Vibrant. Sirens blasting, horns tooting, high heels tapping, men shouting, women squealing, turnstiles beeping, sun shining, birds chirping (seriously), people laughing, city buzzing. It just feels alive here. Busy. Like everyone has somewhere to go, something to do or someone to be. The city literally has a pulse and true New Yorkers’ hearts beat in time with it.

When we flew in on Saturday night, we went for a long walk around Battery Park City – or Baddery Parrrrk Siddy in American. Heeding the concierge’s “I don’t want to scare you, but whatever you do, stay away from the parks” we headed out somewhat cautiously to an underground bar and restaurant. The steaks were up to our (high) Australian standards and California turns out a beautiful pinot so we felt right at home.  

Our first New York day started with breakfast at a local diner – Izzy and Nat’s - which had real lattes served in mugs with a spoon inside them... ahem, a little different from Melbourne. This diner was far cooler than I imagined diners to be – yes there were booths, but the walls were covered in a funky mural and the waitresses did not offer to fill up your cawfee in a southern drawl.

We spent the day (successfully) buying warmer clothes, wandered through the garment district, up Fifth Avenue, through Central Park and rode the subways. Contrary to my expectations, not every person looked like a movie star – just every third. Every fourth person had a small dog and every second had a designer handbag. 

Mental note to buy more designer items … must visit the ‘B’ trifecta sometime soon – Bergdorf’s, Bloomingdales and Barney’s!  

Fashion anyone? Fashion Ave, New York

Wollman Rink, Central Park, New York
From New York, with love xox