Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Melebration NYC: Finale

The next day was bittersweet - I was pretty exhausted and happy to do nothing for a while, but I was sad for everyone to leave and have the weekend be over. I had planned to stay another night in the city alone so we could have a proper goodbye.

For me & NY, this goodbye involved:

- Just one more Au Bon Pain apple streudel. Okay, two.

- cabbing and walking all over midtown trying to find sushi that was either open or not displaying a "B" grade of Health & Sanitation reviews in the window.

- Sitting in a diner watching the world go by - straw in mouth, smile on face.

- Seeing this deli and eating a couple namesake sandwiches

- Visiting an acquaintance/friend in his amazing and cheap apartment on 42nd Street. Hearing how he came to live/thrive here from Israel was inspiring.

- Seeing this sweater in Bloomingdale's and thinking how far ahead New York is from the rest of the world. In Canada, we still have normal sized forearms. Pffft.

Eventually I had to leave and it was sad. After travelling and staying in Buffalo where I was awoken at 2am by someone entering my room (in BUFFALO!!) I was happy to arrive home. I was even happier to arrive home to this:

My dear friend Tracy somehow convinced my mother to give her my spare key and she went to town. It all made me smile and then I opened the fridge:

Yay!! Who doesn't love to come home to cake?

30 minutes later:

All in all, it was a perfect weekend and I wouldn't have changed a thing - well, maybe I would have avoided being bitten by that weird bug at the St. Regis. My leg was swollen, white and red for 4 days - not sure what that was about. And at the St. Regis of all places?

That's it for Melebration - the 30th edition. I'm thinking the moon for my 40th?

Melebration NYC: Day 4

The last full day with everyone - by this point we were pretty exhausted from all the long days of walking and touring and the late nights of drinking and dancing. Hmmm, can you tell how zonked I am in this picture?

We went to this great brunch place in the Village with amazing eggs Benedict. Afterwards, we split up and all did our own thing and met back for dinner. For Paul, this meant more knock-offs and getting lost on the subway. This time we went back to the Village to Beauty & Essex. By this point the Manhattan was MY drink - I loved trying it all over the city. It's a delicious sipper. In this picture, I'm at the bar. Natch.

In this one, I have a deformed hand.

We didn't go dancing this night, but instead Ryan, Paul and I spent the night walking about 70 blocks. Walking that long and far is really fun because you pass through several neighbourhoods and you barely realize how far you've walked.

I *heart* NY.

Melebration NYC: Day 3

My actual birthday! One of the best presents was the arrival of Susan and Elo - however, they arrived bright and early (actual time: 11:30am) while the four of us were still sleeping off White Castle and Manhattans.

We eventually got going and went downtown on the subway. Paul was on a Canal Street mission - fake bags, watches, a misspelled belt buckle and a back alley experience. Mission Accomplished!

We did some shopping, had pizza in Little Italy despite this disconcerting sign:

(how is this possible?!) and meandered through the tiny, winding streets.

We wandered into a gelato photo shoot:

Then it was time to chill for a bit before heading out for dinner and Melebrating. All I really wanted to do for my actual birthday night was have a great dinner and go dancing. Crazy, happy, jumping around dancing. I didn't want to go to some hip club you need a key for or a lounge where everyone sits around sulking about how cool they are. I just wanted to have fun.

We had a dinner reservation at Social in the Village at 11:30. At first, the proffered reservation times were shocking, but really they worked out perfectly. Dining out is THE main event here - it's not like you just go for dinner to eat; you go for your night. Susan was hilarious when we told her how late we were eating. With a toddler at home, she's used to typical dinner times.

We had cocktails at a nearby bar while waiting for our table...

...then sat down to one of the best dining experiences of my life. The food was amazing - small, sharing style - the cocktails were unique (Black Magic - Guinness & Champagne), the service was surprisingly warm and friendly, great background music and phenomenal company.

It was such a beautiful night for me. I'd been lucky enough to receive many texts, emails, Facebook birthday messages and calls from friends and loved ones all day and then to be at this amazing dinner feeling the warmth and love of my friends - all in the greatest city I've been visited....it was epic. Thank goodness they didn't give me my birthday card at the restaurant, I would have lost it.

After dinner, around 1:30am, I was starting to mildly worry that I wouldn't be able to find that *perfect* club for dancing. However, around the corner, we ended up checking out Libation. Here is us, faux impatient, waiting in the quickest club line ever - Elo is pretending she doesn't know us.

We danced the night away at this club and it was absolute perfection. Here's why:

- cheaper cover than in Toronto
- line wait was less than 5 minutes
- bouncer named "Meatball" let me in for free
- the first song I heard was one of my favourite all-time happy songs (Yes, the one by Nelly)
- the next song was the theme to Fresh Prince of BelAir...with EVERYONE singing along
- the rest of the music was awesome - from Motown to current hip-hop to Mariah Carey...I'm pretty sure the song list was custom made for me

The entire day and night were exactly how I wanted to ring in my 30th birthday. With people I love, on a grand scale, something memorable and amazing free-wheelin' dancing. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Melebration NYC: Day 2

After waking up in a city than never sleeps, Ryan and I went for a morning walk while the "serious vacationers" worked out and made protein shakes. We went to my old 'apartment', which is actually a college dorm-type place.

I spent a couple minutes looking for the $200 I lost right outside these doors when I was moving out years ago. No luck.

We walked around and remarked that sometimes you walk through the worst smells in this city, but occasionally you're hit with the perfect blend of roasted beer nuts from street vendors, flowers from corner shops, and some other indescribable scent - it's very New York. Walking the fine line between putrid and perfection.

We collected the others and made our way uptown. We hit Bryant Park, Times Square, Rockefeller Center and Radio City Music Hall, stopping for almost identical photo ops. (Can you spot the 5 differences between the first two pictures? It's like a Highlights magazine game!)

We talked Ryan and Paul into joining Julie and I for cheap mani/pedis.

This was clearly Paul's first time and the Korean girls very much enjoyed tittering about him being very uncomfortable. I enjoyed it too.

Nails done....

...we dressed up and headed uptown. It was my idea to go to a few swanky hotels that we couldn't afford to stay and have cocktails in the lobby.

Plus, I'd been dying to find "my" drink as I entered my 30s and had a feeling that the Manhattan might be it. Yes, I know that it's cheesy to have a Manhattan IN Manhattan, but I call my birthday Melebration, so I have no problem being cheesy.

We had planned to go to the St. Regis, the Plaza, the Ritz, and the Pierre. We started at the St. Regis and swanked it up. Julie found the Manhattan a bit strong, so I helped her out with it.

The other hotels were a bust (i.e. closed or boring) so we grabbed a cab to the village and the Spotted Pig. Somehow the camera just seems to know when the subjects of the pictures have had 3 Manhattans - it's like it puts on a different focus setting.

Ryan and Paul were amused at a Gary Busey look-alike hitting on Julie. He gave us his card - he's a "filmmaker".

We eventually made our way home and stopped at what seems like the most appropriate 3am snack for four 30-somethings. I realized it was well past midnight and I was therefore 30. We went to White Castle. Yep. It was pretty awesome/depressing. They take your name and yell out your order - hearing "Malisha!! 6 bacon cheeseburgers. Malisha!" as the first meal of my 30s was pretty sad. Not surprising, just sad.

We looked around and there were the four of us, dressed up, eating steamed burgers with 3 homeless guys. I thought, "Yep, this is the best way to ring in the new decade."

However, the 2nd meal of my 30s wasn't much better. Why on earth were we so hungry at 3am?! Between White Castle and the hotel lobby, we were accosted by a food truck and ended up falling victim to sausages and random meat on skewers.

If I ever attempt online dating again, I think I just found my profile picture.

It was a pretty great day - in fact it felt like three days jammed into one.