New York part two - Ethan Hawke, Where Harry Met Sally, crap cocktails and great views

Day two - Sunday

Kind of hard to get the bloke out of the extremely comfy bed. We just miss breakfast and instead get room service. The bloke always says you can tell how good a hotel is by the quality and quantity of room service available, and this one rates pretty high by all accounts. I go for a smoked salmon omelette and some green tea (which is the nicest I have ever tasted) And the bloke gets the full American breakfast. He can't even finish it, and we realise we're going to have to get used to how big portions are here, and maybe order less.

We leave the hotel and have a quick walk to Times Square to check out how mental it is. Spend a lot of time looking up and going: "Wow!"

There's something really familiar about it all and I realise what it is - the sound! If you close your eyes you'll recognise it from a million movies. Traffic, both close and far away at the same time, sirens, New Yorkers chattering, feet on the pavement. It could only be the Big Apple.

We walk down Ninth Avenue all the way to Chelsea. Encounter our first (and only) New York nutter of the trip. A black guy who shouts at me to put my map away or he'll "fuck me up" or even "kill me". Like a true Englishwoman I pretend it's not happening and keep walking. A bit further down we see Ethan Hawk walking his scruffy little black dog, just like any other person would. No-one bothers him at all.

Have a look around Chelsea market, which must be great if you're a foodie, (it's nearly all food) but we're not that bothered. It is cool to see people eating massive lobsters at one stall though. After unsuccessfully trying to find two flea markets (both of which have moved) we go to the Apple store and the bloke splurges on an iPad. the shop assistant says he's had lots of Spaniards buying them. He sold 30 just to Spanish people yesterday.

Then it's on to Pastis for lunch. It's like an old worldy style French Bistro and again, the food is amazing. I'm not too hungry so I have a goats cheese salad and the bloke has some home made pasta. But the real treat is in the dessert. Our waitress recommends the cheese cake, and it's really out of the world. We finish with some digestive liqueurs which give us a bit of a glow.

Next, on to the High Line. It's an old decommissioned subway line which runs over the oh so trendy Meatpacking District. They've transformed it into a green space, with a wooden walkway and lots of flowers and plants. It's nice, but considering how lovely some of the countryside around Madrid is, we're not as impressed as we maybe should be. We're certainly not as impressed as the New Yorkers we see see exclaiming with excitement at the bees hopping from flower to flower. Or the ones furiously taking close up shots of the flowers on their camera phones.

Half way down the High Line there's the imposing figure of the Standard - one of New York's trendiest new hotels. It looks pretty horrible from the outside but the rooms are meant to be amazing. We try to go for a drink in the rooftop bar but find it's shut on Sunday afternoons. Instead we have a drink in the main bar, which is full of poser types. I order a ginger rum cocktail that's so spicy I can hardly drink it.

We leave to watch the sunset over New Jersey from the High Line, but the bloke has a better plan. So we cross the road to the waterfront and walk down pier 54. We have a much better view from here of the sky slowly turning pink and purple, and there's no one else around. Only a man sitting reading and a boy and his dad throwing a baseball to each other.

Back to the hotel where the bloke plays on his iPad a bit before we go and check out The View - an amazing 360 degree rotating restaurant and bar 43 floors up in the Marriot Hotel, Times Square.

On the way there we see the famous 'Naked Cowboy'. An extremely buff man who goes out in his underpants (which have 'Naked Cowboy' emblazoned on the back of them, just so you know) cowboy boots and hat, and carrying his guitar. He sings songs, and with his guitar covering his crotch, he looks like he is, in fact in the nutty. There's a massive crowd around him, and he keeps stopping every few bars of his song to put his hands in the air and flex his muscles, posing for photos. Someone standing next to me says he makes 50 grand a month, but I can't see how, as I can't see anyone giving him money. I have seen him in some films and documentaries though, so maybe that's how he makes his mullah.

We take the scary super speed lifts to The View and are shown to some window-side seats. The whole thing has a tacky feel to it (sort of like how I imagine Vegas to be like) but it's just perfect. The bloke takes about a hundred pictures of all the buildings as we whir round at a snail's pace and we try to figure out what they all are. The cocktails are horrible and we make them last over an hour as we're too busy looking at everything to drink.

After we've been round a few times we go back to the hotel and get more room service. Too knackered to do anything else.

Day three - Monday

Actually manage to make it down for breakfast this time, and I have a melon with palma ham. for once the portion is not enormous and I don't feel uncomfortably full. We walk to the Rockefeller Centre to go to the Top of the Rock observation deck. I've booked 11am tickets. A few people have recommended it to me in place of the Empire State Building as the queues are shorter and you actually get the Empire State building in the view.

Up we go after walking though the little mini museum dedicated to Rockefeller. He was an interesting chap. He was a t-total oil magnate who hated art but he helped re-appeal prohibition and embossed some pretty impressive art collections. I think it was all down to the woman he married, Cessie Rockefeller - who was a bit of an art-loving free spirit.

The view from the top is very impressive. Like Sim City - doesn't look real. We ask ask a security guard where the Two Towers were and he sadly tells us "just to the right of the Empire State Building and all the way to the end".

After we've got enough photos we go back town and accidentally come out in the subway. Take another taxi to soho and seriously hit the shops. Lafayette street, Broadway, Spring Street. The bloke buys so much stuff in the G Star shop we can hardly carry it all. Decide to drop the bags back at the hotel before lunch.

On the way out we're stopped by a Kanye West-lookalike in the street holding a sign saying 'will rap for free'. He does a pretty good rap about New York and we give him a few dollars. He thanks us, explaining that he's saving up to buy his own studio. We wish him luck and leave.

in the taxi back the traffic is rammed. In Times Square we see a group of kids praising Jesus through the medium of breakdance. Doing headspins and shouting "Jesus! Praise the lord!" Very strange.

Lunch at Katz Diner. The place made famous in 'Where Harry Met Sally', where she fakes an orgasm sitting at one of their tables. We sit in the famous spot (which has a sign above it saying 'Where Harry Met Sally, hope you have what she had')

The place is so authentic. From the outside it looks pretty scruffy. When you go in the guy on the door gives you a blue ticket. Basically when you get something you give it to the guy at the counter serving you and he writes what you've had. then you pay at the end.

everyone in there is speaking Spanish so the bloke chats away to them. They're famous for their pastrami sandwiches so we get one each, plus a hotdog, just to try. Both are mouth-watering. But I don't quite manage to finish mine. on the walls are loads of pictures of famous people, the bloke even spots Bill Clinton. All with the mustached owner Katz, smiling his jollly head off.

We wander back to Soho and Noho to finish our shopping. We check the designer vintage store ING and the bloke gets an amazing Versace jacket for 200 dollars. I go visit Screaming Mimi's, a fantastic vintage shop with stuff from the 60s, 70s and 80s, while the bloke has a drink in the bar next door. It's happy hour so we both have a few before having a final walk down broadway to All Saints before calling it a day on the shopping front.

We have dinner reservations in La Esquina/The Corner, so I check to see where it is - it's back in Soho! that's three times in one day we've been back and forward to Soho - oops! But this place is supposed to be amazing so there's no way we're missing it.

We arrive at The Corner and it looks like a complete dive. A tiny diner with a red neon light above it. "Are we really eating here?" asks the bloke. We're early, so we have some mojitos in the bar next door.

It's finally time to go eat at 11.30pm (it's the only time we could get a reservation as the place is so popular and we left it late to book) but we're unsure where to go. there's a main entrance in the diner, and one round the corner. The security guard on the main entrance directs us to a girl holding a list and she ushers us down some stairs. A waitress takes us through a kitchen, where a load of Mexican guys say "hola", then past a whole wall of different types of tequila bottles, and onto the restaurant.

it's not what I was expecting. Sort of a mini club, with a DJ and even some people dancing. We're seated at a booth with a huge painting of a crying girl with 'niña triste' written under it. Little buckets hang above us from the ceiling and at the next table sits a cap wearing Dominican gangster type and his heavily made-up girlfriend.

Our waitress apologises for not speaking Spanish. She is Mexican, she says, but doesn't really speak the language. We order mushroom fajitas, chicken and meat tacos and pork ribs. it's all delicious.

In the taxi on the way home we get the giggles about something and seem to be really annoying the taxi driver. When the bloke gives him the money and asks "is that good?" he shouts: "No man, that is not good. You gave me a 10 cent tip. Not good." We apologize and give him a few extra dollars and make a swift exit.


  1. The upstairs bar at the Standard was nothing to write home about - it was hot and busy and the the cocktails were all $30.
    How did you find your pastrami sandwich? They are FULL ON - I had a dodgy tummy after mine :(

  2. I'm thinking of writing to Jim'll fix it with your exact itenerary. It sounds bloody amazing. Let me know about day 3, don't want to keep Jim waiting! Great blog

  3. Emma - that's good to hear. $30 is a bit steep. I loved the pastrami, but I didn't come close to finishing it. No tummy troubles surprisingly - but then i do live in the land of extreme meat lovers, so I've had some good training!

    Anonymous - Glad you're enjoying it. It was bloody amazing, wish I could do it all again. more to follow very soon! x

  4. Sounds like you had an amazing time, bar the odd nutter and cranky cab driver. It's making me want to book a ticket right now!

  5. Yvonne - just goes to show you get nutters everywhere! Everyone else was really nice, including the cops, who really couldn't have been sweeter. Not what I was expecting at all.

    If you can, go - you won't regret it!

  6. Your post brought back great memories of my first visit to New York with The Man. It was when everyone talked up NY as such a dangerous place. Not my experience at all, I'm a city person a Londoner born and bred and I treated NY like London. If you are streetwise you instinctively know what areas to avoid. Hope you enjoy the rest of your trip and I would recommend the 2nd Avenue Deli - fantastic food but you probably won't be hungry again for a week - whatever you do don't order the "complete meal" you won't be able to get up from the table.

    We have a place in Spain inland from Alicante on the route towards Alcoy where we try to spend any time we can pinch from work.

    Do you live permanently in Madrid?

  7. Hi Masia Mum, so glad you enjoyed the post... and New York! such an amazing city. thanks for the reccomendation, but will have to check it out next time - I'm back in Madrid :(

    Can't complain too much though. I do live here permanently and I love it. Lived in Barcelona for two years before moving here four years ago.

    Alicante is such a lovely part of Spain - you must really love spending time there.