New York City, 2016

My friend Janette had posted about her plans to hit up a specific club night in NYC for her birthday and was open to the idea of my coming to join in the festivities. Coincidentally, another friend was going to be back in town that same weekend and was up for brunching together. One bus ticket + cheap hotel reservation later, and I was on my way to NYC for the weekend.

July 9, 2016

I'd stayed up a bit too late the night before, taking advantage of the fact that my bus didn't leave until 10am to start packing after my friend K. went home after dinner and drinks and venting. I also made an executive decision to not aim to get to South Station a full hour before my bus left, taking a later local bus and arriving around 40 minutes early gave me enough time to buy water (no water fountains???) and line up in my waiting area (had boarding number 15) as the first person. Bonus with the later start: I avoided the shuttle buses on the Red line, even with having to wait at the Orange and Red line transfer points it went smoothly. It was a bit grey and chilly out, I ended up wearing my fall weight jacket (with big pockets for wandering later). I got a close to the front window seat on the bus, put my tote bag up above and settled in to nap for most of the trip. The 10am Greyhound departure was fairly low key, I don't think the bus was full though I did have a lady sit next to me. A few coughers and one snorer, but otherwise quiet. My sinuses had become unhappy, mostly pressure and low frequency hearing loss, no sniffles yet. I used the bus's wifi to browse and bookmark movies for my trip to Montreal later in the month. The driver took the express part fairly seriously, we had no stops other than what traffic forced (I took advantage of a slow down to hit the head with minimal swaying), and we arrived as scheduled just past 2:30pm. I had a moment of "oh, right, NYC is huge" as we came around a bend and I saw the urban landscape spread out to the horizon.

I was able to get onto the subway fairly easily at Port Authority and bought a metro card to get on the E line to my hotel. It was a bit of a walk on the other end, but I was just out of it enough not to want to deal with line transfers. On a Facebook suggestion, I booked a room at Pod 51, but it turned out that I'd clicked through at a different site and the hotel had my reservation set for the 19th and I had to call to get things sorted out. Luckily after a short wait on hold things got sorted (the hotel had rooms available that night so I wasn't too messed up if the booking went haywire), turns out that the booking site faxed the reservation to the hotel and someone entered it manually and incorrectly (my reservation confirmation was correct). Generally glad that I didn't over schedule this weekend, there was no stress about waiting a bit longer to get up to my room as I didn't have to be anywhere until 10:30 that evening. My room was European single room sized, with a single bed and a metal sink insert, and a sign on the back of the door showing how to set up the room to have sex. O.o It wasn't skeezy, just tiny and affordable and the shared bathrooms were super clean. I ended up forgetting my soap and razor in the bathroom when I went to get cleaned up and they were still there when I went back after dinner. There was a light up board above my door that showed which shared bathrooms were occupied, there were four for the floor and only once did I see any lights lit (I think a group came back together). I was starving due to missing lunch on the bus ride and it was almost 4pm, so after a quick search around my location online I decided to go with my first choice of Vietnamese food and forgo the overheard recommendation for a Mexican place that was also nearby. Two blocks over was well rated Obao and I was able to get a table right away due to the early dinner time. I had the pad kee mao chicken and it was delicious, as well as a Thai iced tea to try and get my caffeine levels up. My table was against a wall covered with astroturf, the texture was a bit distracting, but the food hit the spot.

Heading back to the hotel to shower and change, I decided to pack my club clothes in a shoulder bag in case I didn't come back to midtown to change for clubbing and headed out to see about getting into some craft cocktail bars. The two places I was aiming for were a block from each other and close to the club for that night. I took the subway down to Astor Place and enjoyed a walk along St. Mark's Place to see the changes (okay, well, not really enjoyed, too much was missing). I walked down into Crif Dogs behind a bit of a group and waited as people cycled through the phone booth, calling the code and putting in their names. I'd arrived at 6:15, fifteen minutes after opening, and I was told that the wait for me would be about half an hour, for a couple it would be over an hour. You can apparently call PDT starting at 3pm to make a reservation but I was playing thing by ear. I also had been labouring under the mistaken impression that PDT was in Portland so I was excited to find that it was so conveniently located for a visit. After putting in my name and phone number I took a walk over to find Death and Company, which also opened at 6. No sign of a line up, just a lady tapping on her phone and waiting for people to request entry. In sad news though the gin based cocktail bar was no more, turned into a restaurant serving tiki drinks. I walked back up St. Marks and checked out the one alternative store I'd spotted, but loud music and loud people and loud trucks and a blocked ear kept me checking my phone for missed calls, so I headed back toward PDT and the park nearby where I could hear more easily. It was almost half an hour by this point, so I stopped in at Crif to check in and the door keeper at PDT said they were almost ready for me, so I hung out on a stool in the hot dog place for a couple minutes until being ushered in through the back of the phone booth. I was seated at the bar and the bartender was given my name and gave me some time to browse the cocktail menu. The lady next to me recommended the Cardinal, and the guy on my other side chatted with me a bit about cocktails over the time I was there (he was in visiting from DC to see a Garth Brooks concert and to do a cocktail crawl apparently). The room was small, mostly bar with a couple of group tables, and oddly enough lots of taxidermied animals mounted on the walls. I thought that my bartender was a little bit sloppy, she was spilling stuff a bit, and very casually dressed (I always expect at least business casual in my speakeasy bartenders) but the drinks were great. I had a Red Herring first, made with barrel aged Bols Genever and it was a perfect summer sipping drink, nice and tart. I hadn't quite planned to have a second drink there, but the Cardinal looked too good to pass up and it was delicious. I chatted a bit with the bartender, she was quite engaged with her patrons and mentioned meeting her BF while he was doing an AT through hike. I'd been a little bit on edge with navigating the trip on my own, but relaxed and was chatting to my neighbours a bit by the end of my first drink. :-) So glad that I gave in to an impulse to try and get in there, I'd just planned on hitting up Death and Company after getting their cocktail book for xmas. Since I'd somehow missed buying the PDT cocktail book (despite having had cocktails made from it before actually visiting the bar), I had the bartender add the book to my tab and took a copy with me. :-)

There was a Jamaican restaurant between PDT and D&C and I planned to put my name in at D&C then come back to eat if there was a wait. Turns out nope, they could seat me immediately. I ordered a cheese plate to soak up some alcohol and without thinking chowed down on a green apple slice, despite my newfound suspicion that I'm allergic to raw apples. That's all I can think that caused the skin around my mouth to burn for a day. :-/ I was seated at the end of the bar, tucked in the corner, with a gap between me and the next couple. Most of the bar was made up of couples, and my bartender was very no chit chat with me, so it didn't feel like as nice an experience. I ordered the High Street first (I think, notes get a bit sloppy at this point :-) ), it had punt e mes and I recalled it being a recipe I'd noted to make at home. It was good, but then when I decided to try a second drink, the Ravenmaster was just off. I think he might have put too much club soda in it, the carbonation added an unpleasant tang. I really didn't like it and admitted as much when the bartender checked in. He offered to make me something else and I asked for an Aviation, going the safe route. That was good, but boring and I didn't feel happy enough there (despite the lovely warm dim lighting, racks of custom concoctions, and seeing glimpses of angles I'd only seen in pictures) to stay longer. Plus if I left then I could get back up to my hotel and change so I wouldn't have to wrangle changing in a bar bathroom.

Back up the 6 line to my hotel, a quick change later and I was looking much more punk/deathrock. I'd worn fishnets and my tall boots underneath my nice skirt for the cocktail adventure, but felt better with more buckles and laces on top. :-) I got halfway back to the subway stop when the rain started and I made a strategic mistake not to go back for my umbrella. Once I came out again at Bleeker St it was bucketing down. On the upside, my toe was healed enough that I could run from shelter to shelter as I made my way across Houston to the Mercury Lounge for the Red Party. Janette was standing by the bar as I walked in and she steered me to the rest room so that I could blot myself dry. I was very glad that I brought ear plugs, the volume was high, but we were able to catch up in the main dance area while watching the DJ enjoy spinning. I got us drinks and we were standing by the bar when Sola found us, luckily willing to wander to spot us as we weren't hearing our phones. A tipsy woman asked if I drank, alcohol, and if I liked Long Island Iced Teas before giving me her drink since she wanted an excuse to talk to me, right before she disappeared back into the crowd. Okay. :-) I'd arrived just before 10, and was still a bit tipsy from the cocktails earlier, so I only had a sip (not even thinking until the next day that I should have been careful about being given a drink by a stranger) before pushing it across the bar (it was pretty bad: pro tip, if trying to bond with someone, try a good drink). We also chatted with some of Janette's other friends who wished her a happy birthday, but soon we stepped outside to get some air (the rain had stopped). I hit a wall at around 2am and needed either food or sleep, so we headed over to Remedy Diner to see how food would work out. This was basically my dinner, my meals got shifted very late. I had an omlette with sun dried tomatoes and spinach, it hit the spot and I could continue hanging out for another hour or so. But then tired + having to take the subway back uptown led to a quick exit after contributing money to the pot. I haven't been on foot in clubbing clothes for a while, I got a kissy noise from a passing truck and had to walk through a gaggle of dudes making gross sexist comments. *sigh* Then there was the guy peeing on the subway platform, and another guy puking in my subway car - luckily I'd just moved away from him since he and his friends were being annoyingly loud. My ear was still off and without the earplugs in loud noises were super painful. But other than that, I got back to my hotel safe and clean and dry at around 4am. I took a super quick shower and passed out after drinking some more water, and then found out the annoyance of the shared bathroom situation: having to put on public clothes to go to the toilet for middle of the night peeing. :-/ Guess the budget part of the hotel didn't extend to providing robes. Anyway, one bonus of this hotel was the noon check out time, so I was able to sleep in until 11:30.

July 10, 2016

Jen was up from Mississippi for a family function and had a friend brunch scheduled for later that afternoon, but since it conflicted with my us trip home, she agreed to meet me at noon for more food. I'd picked The Smith due to proximity to my hotel (I expected the late night before, plus it was well rated). Luckily she'd grabbed a reservation for the two of us, it was hopping when we met up. They had opened up the front to let air in, and we were led back through the cool industrial design interior to a sky lit courtyard. Unfortunately all the tile wasn't mitigated by the wood, the loud conversations echoed a lot in there and we had to talk loudly as well to be heard. The brunch entrees came with a free cocktail, no noes, so I had a bourbon and grapefruit concoction to sip with my deconstructed huevos rancheros. Everything was very very good, though on the pricy side (except for the tea, which granted only came in a small cup). We were done within an hour and decided to wander toward 42nd street together to kill some time and do some shopping. I picked up my tote bag from the hotel and carried it with me so that I wouldn't have to double back to get it. Jen was looking for sandals and I was just browsing, but she encouraged me to try on some striped dresses at one place and I hit a jackpot - lots of black, white and grey stuff in there, and I came out with a dress, a short sleeved top and 2x a long sleeve top that I loved. Jen had to leave to head toward second brunch, so I settled in a coffee shop to relax for a bit with some tea and a snack, and to figure out if it was worth finding a subway to get to the bus station. It seemed close enough so I decided to just walk, not realising that my route led me through Times Square. Yikes, so many slow moving tourists. Luckily I'd left lots of time and even had leeway to follow signs all over Port Authority to find an open bathroom, and then to get on an earlier departure as they were shovelling people on the buses to fill them up.

The bus driver was really cranky about the noise from personal electronic devices (they came through as static in the driver's seat), he made a few announcements and threatened twice to stop the bus and do a volume check. Turns out that the problem person was the same one he'd had to tell to take her bag off the seat during boarding, but none of us around her were willing to say, hey, turn it down. It was only noticeable when we were going slowly due to traffic, her headphones bled just a bit of sound. Oddly enough the woman across the aisle and one up from me kept chastising the couple in front of me for doing something to distract the driver; she kept saying "cut it out" and "do you see the camera up there?", but the driver didn't say a word. Ah well, it didn't rise to the level of so annoying to me that I bothered to dig out my noise cancelling headphones. My seat mate was a silent guy, the worst he did was leaving a receipt on my seat after running across the street during our driver break stop to grab food. Not sure what was up with this, the outbound express route didn't stop at all. Plus we just stopped at a gas station, and there was a huge line as half the bus tried to get into the bathroom before the 20 minute break was up. I grabbed an iced tea and a granola bar to get me through the last half of the drive and walked around a bit to stretch out my legs. My tote bag just fit in the overhead rack so I had just enough room for my legs to stretch a bit, but by the last hour I was shifting uncomfortably and really ready to be done. We had rain off and on and the driver would hit the brakes way too hard someetimes to slow down so the ride wasn't all that smooth.

But the rain had cleared up by the time we hit Boston so I stayed dry as I made my way home. I had a bit of a wait at the Red line and Orange line stops, and as I was checking the bus departures pulling into Sullivan I saw that a good one was leaving in 1 minute, next to depart in 70mins (the other option wasn't leaving for 40 mins). Luckily the driver waited for the passengers from our train and we all got on and I had just a short two blocks to walk home after that. I had a decorating order waiting for me when I got back and just enough leftovers in the fridge to make a late supper as I tried to finish up my book. Reading on the moving bus would only work for 15 minutes at a time and then I'd have to take a break to let the motion sickness go down. Taking the earlier departure didn't really help me at all with the mid point break, but I was home by 10pm at least.


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