A Short NYC Vacation

Earlier this year I discovered that I had a bunch of air miles with United that were going to expire. Coupled with a bunch of Marriott reward points, we had the makings of a cheap vacation somewhere.

Originally, we decide to book a four day weekend in NYC for the first week of February. As you may have seen with my earlier post, a work trip to Brazil came up and we had to move the trip to the first week of March instead. As it turned out, that was a good thing as NY got hit by a massive storm that first week of February.

On arrival at Newark airport in New Jersey. It was cold, but neither of us was hungry enough to be tempted by the food truck in the parking lot.

On arrival at Newark airport in New Jersey. It was cold, but neither of us was hungry enough to be tempted by the food truck in the parking lot.

We flew from Vancouver to Newark through Calgary on Friday morning, and the trip was pretty uneventful. Typical flight, nothing too exciting. We decided to take the bus from Newark airport in New Jersey to downtown Manhattan. While cheap, it took much longer than it should have, and wasn't the most comfortable thing ever. By the time we got into Manhattan and dropped off outside Grand Central Terminal it was close to 9 pm.

Grand Central Terminal and the Chrysler Building

Grand Central Terminal and the Chrysler Building

We walked the few blocks up Lexington Avenue to our hotel, the Eastside Marriott at 49th and Lexington. After getting checked in, we headed back out to find some dinner along 2nd Avenue. We ate at a local pub - not great but it did the trick. It was getting late, so we called it a night and headed back to the hotel.

Chelsea_Market

We woke up Saturday morning to a very nice, sunny day. Which was good as we had mostly outdoor activities planned. We hopped on the subway headed downtown, to the west side of Manhattan in Chelsea. After getting off the subway at 14th Street, we headed over to the Chelsea Market. This was one of the things I had not done on my previous trips to New York, and it was pretty cool. The market has a collection of food vendors, arts and crafts and other interesting stuff. We grabbed some breakfast and wandered the market.

Our next stop was a bit further north at 34th street, where we had booked a guided walk of the yet-to-be-opened third phase of the Highline Park.

You can see the elevated Highline Park, taken from street level. It was a beautiful day, so the park was very busy.

You can see the elevated Highline Park, taken from street level. It was a beautiful day, so the park was very busy.

The Highline Park follows the west side of Manhattan, starting in the south in the Meatpacking District, around 9th Street and runs up to 34th Street where the yet-to-be-completed 3rd section will end. It's one of my favourite things about NYC - that and wooden water towers. Such character that you just don't see anywhere else.

The Highline Park follows the west side of Manhattan, starting in the south in the Meatpacking District, around 9th Street and runs up to 34th Street where the yet-to-be-completed 3rd section will end. It's one of my favourite things about NYC - that and wooden water towers. Such character that you just don't see anywhere else.

highline_art

For those that missed my previous posts on our previous trips to NYC, the Highline is a relatively new park that converted an old elevated freight rail line into what I think is probably the coolest open space in NYC. I've walked all the current sections of the park, and found this guided tour of the third and last section that is scheduled to open later this year.

They have installed a series of large sculpture installations along the third section, and the trust that operates the Highline were offering guided tours. How could I pass that up? We met at the start of the tour near the Convention Center, where we met up with the small group and guide.

The starting point for our Highline Art walk, featuring sculptures by Carol Bove.

The tour itself was pretty interesting, more for seeing the next stage before it is completed than for the art, but the woman giving the tour provided lots of interesting information about the Highline and the art installations.

The tour lasted about an hour, and we walked the full length of the new section in both directions. It also have me a chance to take lots of pictures.

The terminus of the Highline Park's, incomplete 3rd section. It's a work in progress, and was the starting point for our walking tour on a beautiful, sunny March afternoon.

The terminus of the Highline Park's, incomplete 3rd section. It's a work in progress, and was the starting point for our walking tour on a beautiful, sunny March afternoon.

Justine playing on the art.

One of the things I love about the Highline Park is that they incorporate so much of the historic elements of the old elevated rail line into the structure of the Park. The old rail lines and ties end up being incorporated into the new Park infrastructure.

This might be one of my favourite building in New York. There's just something very appealing about this huge, old building. The combination of the brick, wood and steel, and the old wooden water towers on top. It just has such character.

After finishing the tour on the new third section, we walked back south along the open section of the park. It was crazy busy, as it was such a nice day. Despite the fact that the park was pretty much dormant from the winter, it was still pretty nice to walk along. We ended up back in the Meatpacking District, one of our favourite parts of the city, and where the Highline starts.

A busy day on the Highline.

NYC_Highline_Empire

We continued out walk east, stopping for lunch at a little place we found along the way. It was full of twenty something's having late breakfast, and I have to say it left me feeling a little old. Ah well.

After our short stop we continued east into Union Square, where Justine felt the need to do some shopping. One of the main reasons for coming to New York. Fortunately that didn't last too long, and then we hopped on a very busy subway train back uptown to the hotel. That gave us a couple of hours to chill out and relax before our dinner reservation at 7:30.

NYC_Spice_Market_logo

Around 7:00, after getting ready we headed back out for dinner. Our reservation was at Spice Market, in the Meatpacking District. This is probably my favourite restaurant in New York, and we try and go there every time we're in New York. We took the subway back downtown and were pretty much right on time for our reservation.

I stole this picture off the Internet, because, strangely enough the two people in the middle of the picture are sitting pretty much exactly where we were. It's just such a cool place.

I stole this picture off the Internet, because, strangely enough the two people in the middle of the picture are sitting pretty much exactly where we were. It's just such a cool place.

As always, Spice Market was amazing! It seems to live up to the lofty expectations - the atmosphere is great, the food was amazing and of course the company was as good as it gets. And also, as usually happens, we ate way too much. The only downside to the evening was that the wine I picked wasn't very good. 

After dinner, it was still pretty early so we headed a couple of streets over to a bar in the Meatpacking District that we both really like. We've been there a number of times, including the night that we got engaged. So it holds some pretty good memories. The first time we where there we ended up chatting with one of the bartenders, who happened to be Canadian.

This time, as we're in the heart of college basketball season, I was hoping to catch the second half of the Duke/UNC game. The bartender switched it, so Justine and I had a few drinks while we watched the game. Duke won, so all was good and we headed out not long after. Justine was suffering through a pretty bad cold, so we ended up calling it a night pretty early (maybe 11:00), and were back to the hotel before long.

Given the time zone change, I was still pretty wide awake, but Justine needed to get some sleep. So I headed down to the lobby bar to watch the end of an NBA game, while she got some sleep. I ended up talking with a guy from Australia for a couple of hours. He was a pretty interesting guy (despite being a Man U fan...) and we chatted until they closed the bar, and I headed back up to bed.

The napkins from the Marriott's hotel bar. In case you can't read it: 

On August 5, 1926 magician Harry Houdini performed his last and greatest feat in front of a group of journalists at the Marriott Eastside Hotel, previously known as hotel Shelton. Houdini spent 91 minutes inside a coffin submerged in the hotel Shelton swimming pool. He then emerge from the coffin making this the longest underwater burial. The skeleton of this pool still exists below what is now the O’Keefe meeting room on the lower level.

All in all, it was an excellent start to our min vacation. A tour of the Highline, great food and some time wandering around NYC. 

We spent quite a lot of time coming and going from the 14th Street station on the E line. Both Justine and I really like the Chelsea part of Manhattan.

We spent quite a lot of time coming and going from the 14th Street station on the E line. Both Justine and I really like the Chelsea part of Manhattan.

One of the signs inside the Chelsea Market.

One of the signs inside the Chelsea Market.

Yes, it's very random, but how could I pass up "Rocket Pig"?

Yes, it's very random, but how could I pass up "Rocket Pig"?