Our great friends Sommer and Pete met us in New York after missing two flights en route from Boston, only one of which was their own stinking fault. I could tell we were really on vacation when even Sommer seemed to roll with the punches; upon discovering they had missed their flight because they were busy computer-ing away at a nearby gate, she responded with, "Eh. At least I don't have kids with me." And so it went with every setback along the way of the trip, such as closed subway stops, temporarily misplaced ID's, and the sound of a mouse (I contend it was a rat) awakening us at 1:45AM eating his way through a paper sack on our bedroom floor, hopelessly trying to get inside a glass jar of peanut butter. Overall, everything felt easy and all went spectacularly well. We had an extremely good time. Highlights for me included touching the Flatiron Building (which was on my life's bucket list!), seeing Vermeer's "Girl Interrupted at Her Music" at the Frick Collection on the Upper East Side (tip: go on Sunday from 11-1 for the Pay What You Wish rate!), delicious dinners of pad thai, Spanish tapas, and French baked seafood, a three-hour walking pizza tour that hit three of the greatest (and oldest!) pizzerias in the United States, and meandering through the hustle and bustle of New York. BJ also planned us a visit to an eccentric speakeasy-type bar called The Raines Law Room, and my-oh-my, did we get a kick out of that place! It was completely unmarked on a residential street, and when we rang the doorbell we were greeted at last by a puzzled-looking fellow with an ill-fitting suit, crazy hairdo, and face resembling the lead singer of Fun. We asked if the four of us could get in and he quickly shut the door in our faces after telling us to "hang on." By then Sommer was already loving this place. He re-emerged a full two minutes later to tell us that he could maybe have a spot for us in an hour and a half. An hour and a half! Amused, we gave him our phone number and decided to walk around Lower Manhattan to burn off dinner anyway. Ten minutes later we got the call from an anonymous number that Raines was ready for the likes of us. After being escorted through a tunnel-like entrance and through a curtain (it's a marvel that we didn't turn around on the way in), we found ourselves in a long, narrow, dimly-lit room configured into numerous little seating areas with plush furniture. At Raines you summon your server by pulling a little chain that lights up and you can pass the time with cheesy popcorn, good conversation, and extremely erotic wallpaper with ideas for group activities, if you're into that kind of thing. It was all hilarious. Drinks were about 15 bucks apiece, but they were delish, and the bartender did a great job of concocting a virgin drink based on my choice of strawberries. It was a wonderful evening spent with wonderful friends, and even the subway ride home was hilariously not-to-be-forgotten.
My last trip to New York was exactly three months before the World Trade Center attacks, and on that trip I found New Yorkers to be generally disagreeable. I prepared myself for the same on this trip and was pleasantly surprised to find New Yorkers now so amiable! Absolutely everyone we encountered was pleasant, and many of them were hilarious. Happy tenth anniversary, BJ! We couldn't have celebrated it better!
My bestie and me riding the subway
BJ in front of the building that housed the first pizzeria in the United States. It is completely unmarked, but our guide Scott was in the know. The brick oven was later moved to its current location at Lombardi's, established in 1905.
BJ was quite studious throughout the tour. I hope this results in good homemade pizza.
The Freedom Tower is near completion!
The tiny thing way in the background is the Statue of Liberty.
Knocking an item off the bucket list by touching the Flatiron Building!
The Flatiron Building
The pull-chain at Raines and the accompanying kinky wallpaper
Walking through Central Park on our way to the Frick to see the Vermeer, another item on my bucket list!
We always sit this way. It's very normal.