Saturday 27 December 2014

Goodbye New York

I arose at 8, and left soon after, leaving Jo to sleep as requested. I had thought I might get a subway somewhere, as I still had funds on my metro pass,, but then remembered that I wanted to walk down Broadway, Sixth Avenue, The Avenue of the Americas. Cafe Martinique was open for breakfast, but their menu did not appeal, so I kept going, and crossed Greeley Square to find the Harold. Perfect. I was seated at a high table and had a view across to the park and the subway entrance. It was here, on my last morning, that I found a real coffee - a giant cup of it!  The lovely waitstaff kept trying to take my order for breakfast, but I was in no hurry, and seriously needed to digest this fine coffee.

Eventually I ordered the Eggs Benedict with Lobster - sublime!! I then continued down Broadway, stopping in at a few dress shops, and then finding myself at M&J Trimming - one that was on my list. Wow. What I would do to have this kind of resource at my doorstep. Phenomenal. The area was full of bead and jewellery shops but again, like the handbag shops, were wholesale only.??!! I ended back up at Bryant Park Markets, saw people ice-skating, and found the lovely leaf jewellery store again, but decided I had already  bought all I needed from them, and, it now nearing midday, headed towards home for the last time. I visited Victoria's Secret on the way home, largely attracted by the beautiful wings, but absolutely loved their wares.  So then it was shower time, the final pack, and some time hanging out in the lobby.

Dear Chen picked us up again, and delivered us to the airport. We checked in straight away, and went through Customs. Well, some of us did. I failed to clear the scan again (what is in me?!) and then the chick swabbed my cast - fail. So it was standing to the side again, watching my luggage bank up on the conveyor, not knowing what was going on. I was happier once they gathered that up, then took me to  bench where they examined my belongings, with me watching over a screen, being told not to touch anything. Awesome. Then came the search. Having been through this before, I knew what I was in for, and just wanted it over - no need for a private room, just do it.  Done.  We had a little time to kill, so I went and had a sandwich and some beer. Turned out to be an hour longer than I thought. Back for another drink. Having been so well behaved on the way there, I was no longer playing nice, and decided to drink my way home.  I watched My Week with Marilyn, Black Swan (disturbing) The Iron Lady, Skyfall and ohh, I don't know what else. Who cares, it got me home!! And here I am, back to real life in the Studio, with many, many projects looming.
I'll leave you with a bonus shoe shot, of one of the pairs I bought on my first day in New York, already so long ago now!

New York Part 10

Sunday. Our last full day, which was free to do as we wished.  Jo and I caught the subway (couldn't have done it without her!) to Union Square, where there were to be markets. They didn't open until 11, so we went in search of breakfast first. There was a lovely looking diner on the corner, and the day was so nice we were happy to sit outside, but they were not at all organised, so we gave them a miss. There wasn't much else around, so Jo stopped to get a smoothie, which took so long to get made that it was then time to go to the markets! They were great, and probably three times larger than the Bryant Park ones, and Jo and I both found joy at a jewellery stall run by an Argentinian man and his Finnish wife. They are known as Kapa Designs and create truly special work, and I was very pleased to purchase this special timepiece for Matt. There were many beautiful jewellery stalls, and there was a fabulous textile jewellery stall, with some beautiful metallic crochet pieces. We also saw some lovely headpieces by avigailadam. Very beautiful pieces, but by now I was feeling pretty conscious of all the lovely purchases I had made - you simply can't have everything!

We walked through Soho and Noho, and a bit past Bleeker Street,  Jo made me go into a Steve Madden shop which was advertising a sale. As soon as I was in the door I headed straight for this one pair. I was speechless with lust, leaving it to Jo ( who by now knew my shoe size) to ask for a pair to try on. It turned out that was the last pair, in my size, 30% off - of course they would
The dodgy Canal Street

be mine!! Then it was Jo's turn - we were off to Canal Street for the faux label handbag purchasing experience. Wow. Amazing. As we crossed the road to go to a likely looking shop, we were spoken to by an Asian woman, saying what they all did  - a list of designer labels. Jo was in the market for an Hermes knock off, so we agreed to follow the woman across the street. We then ended up following her nearly three blocks, and were starting to get alarmed! We then met the 'gang', and after naming brand and colour, were told to wait 5 minutes. Well, nearly ten minutes later we were starting to get impatient, then it finally turned up in a black plastic bag. Unfortunately Jo did not have the cash on her, so we had to find an ATM, and then go through the whole process again, as they were not willing to hold on to the bag in the street.

We were due to meet the group at the hotel at three, and were running out of time, so made our way back home, where I headed off to the disposal store to get my duffle bag, and grab a slice of pizza before rugging up for the evening.

We had a long, fast walk to Pier 81 to finally catch the Circle Cruise, and once there headed up to the top level outside for the best view, where it quite quickly became cold - but I hung in there for the whole time!! The tour started at 4pm, and it wasn't long before sunset, so we got to enjoy the city views in both the daylight and then the twinkly stage. I never expected to be impressed by the Statue of Liberty, but she was very lovely, and I was glad to have the opportunity to see her like that. Sitting there on my own, I got a little emotional, wishing Matt was there to share it with, and feeling exciting about seeing him within 48 hours. Or thereabouts.  

 We headed towards Times Square to end our evening with a trashy American dinner, and it certainly was that! At Applebees, we had a strawberry/lime margarita, which seemed to be pure sugar syrup, and boneless wings with blue cheese sauce. Blergh. Not a patch on Ronnie's blue cheese dip! Once home I packed my bags, and looked forward to the fact that after one more sleep, I would be on my way home!

New York Part 9

Lady Liberty in the distance on this beautiful day
With a late start scheduled for the day, Jo and I went in search of the Army Disposals store to get a duffel bag for me to carry my goodies home in, but it was shut on Saturdays. We walked a few blocks just having a look around, and seemed to find 'handbag alley' - all these handbag shops that were wholesale only, which begs the question - why pay for retail frontage?! I no understand. We found breakfast at a bakery we had walked past all week on our way to FIT, then met up with group and caught the subway down to Battery Park, where we thought we needed to be to catch the Circle Cruise. The park was lovely, and we could see the Statue of Liberty from there, but the cruise did not leave from there - it left from somewhere very close to where we had started out! No matter. We walked
Battery Park
up to the 9/11 memorial site, and saw the new OneWorld Tower. It is a beautiful building, and the memorials, two large water features on the footprints of the two towers, were quite macabre, with water flowing into a black hole in the centre of each. They very much suit the purpose.

World Trade Centre Memorial
We caught the subway back to town and some of us went to the Bryant Park markets. I hadn't eaten since breakfast, it was now nearly 2pm. so when we came across a heated outside bar, I was very interested! I lined up to get a drink whilst Jo found us an awesome position on two lounge chairs next to a heater - bliss! It was wonderful to sit down, it was wonderful to enjoy a beer, it was wonderful to be warm. I really enjoyed just sitting there, in no rush, drinking in the festive atmosphere.
Looking up from my seat
 On the way out we came across the stall I had been waiting to find -one with something beautiful that was essentially New York. Friction Jewellery had electroplated leaves from the parks of New York - maple, oak, elm, birch, ginko. So beautiful and special! I was immediately drawn to the enormous oak leaf - then the maple leaf, then the gingko, then the .....

We skipped gleefully back to the hotel, picking up some flowers on the way home to take to dinner that night. SantaCon, basically a Christmas costume pub crawl, was on that day, and we saw many Santas, elves, and even a Bunny!!
We were to catch the train out to Tarrytown for a full Christmas dinner hosted by Sandy and Ronnie, friends of Suze. We caught the subway to Grand Central where we bought train tickets to Tarrytown, and got to experience a fully cranky European New Yorker, who thought we were pushing into the line sideways, when really those of us who had already bought tickets were just hanging out beside the line. Loved the ticket seller, who got on his microphone, and said to the lady "Hey you, I'm talking to you, they're alright!!". I got quite pissed off with her attitude, and gave her a bit of a serve myself!!

On the train ride out we were all a bit sleepy, and not having eaten since breakfast, I was so hungry I felt sick! We were picked up by Sandy and Co at the station in super-warm cars, and driven to their beautiful house, where we were served with home-made Baileys and bubbles. Then came the stuffed mushrooms, the cheese and crackers, the prawns, the prosciutto wrapped mozzarella sticks, and Ronnie's homemade blue cheese dip. It would be fair to say that I hoovered most of that up, hence when the lovely turkey was served, I could hardly fit in a bite. Ooops! By then we had progressed onto the Apple-pie Moonshine - oh yum! That was enough dessert for me, so I did not partake in the NY cheesecake that Suze had brought, nor the beautiful torte that Ronnie had made. What a guy!! It was a beautiful evening, and the homeliness of it after a week of hotel living made me feel quite homesick for real life! We caught cabs back to the station and made our merry way home, full of Christmas Cheer. Many thanks to them for welcoming us all into their home.

New York Part 8

With our FIT days over, the fashion explorations continued, starting with a visit to Dover Street Markets. Being uber cool, it didn't open until 11am, but we were happy to get breakfast first, and found an awesome diner, where Jo and I got to sit at the counter! The largely Mexican staff were fantastic, the coffee was good, and I had a cheese omelette on rye - yum! Dover St was visually stunning, and was again one that I normally would not have been brave enough to go in to alone. We went straight to the top floor with the idea of working our way down the seven levels. For the first time in my life I saw Comme des Garconnes garments in the flesh - and they were amazing!! I first heard of the label when I was studying Art History at the University of Queensland, and thought it was all a bit of &%$*, you know, deconstruction for the sake of
being different etc. What I saw though, were fabulously interesting garments that I really appreciated! Whilst in this space, I had a good chat with Marg about some fashion design techniques from Bunka, where numbers and letters are used as the basis for design - can't wait to check that out!

Delicious leather jacket!
Neoprene was definitely noted as a fabric of interest

More Kale in footpath gardens...

A decorative pillar on the ground floor


We caught the subway to Central Park - oh the squirrels! Oh the bitter cold!! The winter landscape was fascinating for me, coming from the land of the eternal summer where maybe one tree is deciduous.

There were bullrushes, soft grasses - all juxtaposed with a bright blue sky and skyscrapers - and horse carriages too! After a good walk around - we actually covered quite a bit of this very large park - it was off to the Guggenheim. I snapped a person wearing this awesome backpack on the way in - turns

out it came from the Guggenheim store, and I am now the proud owner of one! The current exhibition was 'Zero', and was fabulous - again, another surprise for me. It was of quite bizarre50's-60's tactile art pieces, which for once didn't cry 'contrived' at me, but genuinely interested and intrigued me, and I enjoyed the experience immensely. It was a post WWII art movement which I was completely unaware of.We stopped off at Bloomingdales on the way home, which was absolutely enormous. Of course, I managed to find the show section!
We went to the subway to go home, but our train wasn't running, so we had to catch one to Grand Central, catch the shuttle to Times Square, and finally catch one to Penn Station - seemed like an age. Pantene had a wonderful display of fashion sketches in the subway, which  of course, drew our attention!

Dinner was a stop off at  Asian Goodyland for the now ubiquitous something-a-rita, and this time, some noms from their extensive buffet. Not a pretty sight, so no photo for you, but it did the job!

New York Part 7

We slept! We slept!! I was up at 7:30 to get a little washing done and tidy the bomb site that was our room. Too tired to call Matt last night, he called me before he was about to go to bed, as I was on my way downstairs to get a coffee and cheese croissant. Not quite what I expected - it was filled with cream cheese!! Our guide from FIT today was Emma Sosa, who was to take us on a vintage shopping tour. Well, if it wasn't Svenja's day! Queen of the op-shop find at home, it was no different in New York. I made a purchase at almost every shop! My first find was these lime green and purple lattice shoes for $9, then a beautifully soft faux fur shrug. I bought this with my sister in mind, but later when I tried it on and it fit me...... sorry sis!!

Next stop, some funky embellished leggings for $10, new, and then on to The Thrifty Hog. This was quite a high end second hand shop, and here I found a reversible leather jacket, metallic on one side, black the other. It was quite pricey, but I decided to try it on, just to see, and proceeded to decorate my companions with all of my layers. It fit perfectly, and I said, "well, I'll know as soon as I look in the mirror"... damn. It was good. Then the shop assistant said it was also 20% off... Sold!

For lunch we visited Eataly, which was a foodies paradise. Look at the mushrooms! Look at the cheese counter!! 

I ordered a sopressa and provolone panini (more like a baguette) which was very rich and delicious - the remainder went in my backpack for dinner!

My final purchase for the day was at Reminiscence - a pair of buckled, purple suede booties. Not everyone had as good a time as I did - some preferred the high end shopping experience more. Ah well, the joys of group travels!

I'm not sure which shop these amazing light fixtures were in - beautiful and very effective sprays of white plastic buttons!

I spent the evening revelling in my goodies, and had just taken the leather jacket off when there was a knock at our door at 10:30. It was Suze and Marg, doing a physical headcount of us all, as they had heard that an Australian student had been hit by a cab in Sixth avenue - we were on Seventh! All safely accounted for, much to their relief!