or finishing crap that should have been written weeks ago because I know y'all are dying to find out how I spent my down time in the Big Apple
Part A: Not All Hotels Are Created Equal
Okay, so usually when I/we go to the Big Apple, I/we stay at the Four Points Sheraton in Soho. It's a great place. Clean, comfortable, convenient, the staff knows us. It feels like a second home, especially when the receptionists greet us like old buds. It's our hotel of choice, especially when we venture to the City Winery located a mere block away. Plus I can usually get a pretty solid discount via the Special K Mother Ship. It's definitely a Win Win.
However, the hotel gods clearly had their respective knickers in a big ole bunch for Rhett-a-paloosa week (June 7 & 8) because all the usual haunts were booked or a gazillion dollars per night. I scoured the interwebs and booked two options with favorable cancellation policies. One was an apartment on Waverly (which sounded intriguing), the other a super affordable two-night stay in Chinatown that frankly gave me the willies. Geo and I had stayed in Chinatown the year before. To say it was creepy uncomfortable is an understatement. So, as a last ditch effort, I lit a novena candle and hopped on Booking.com the week before my trip in search of a more palatable option.
And lo, the hotel Deity were benevolent and bestowed upon me the OUT NYC. And it was GOOD!!
|the bell of hell - street view|
|how much is that tres fab chair in the window?|
This hidden treasure is located in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood at 10th and 42nd street. It's billed as a "straight friendly, gay urban resort". Dude, they had me at gay. I knew it would be FABULOUS! (hands in the air like you just don't care) And it was. Like uber fucking fabulous.
|300 count sheets, pillows galore |
AND grey goose vodka in the mini bar
It was sparkling clean, had lush 300 count sheets and the BEST hair and body lotions ever offered in a hotel. They were all organic and scented with mint, cucumber, cedar wood... Okay, I didn't use the cedar wood scented shampoo because that is just too manly, but OhmiGod they were luxurious as all hell! And tingly.
|two snaps and a circle, baby!!|
And here's the absolute best part of my entire stay... besides a spa with hot tubs, sauna and steam room (which I would never EVER set foot in. Sorry. Just not going there Not. At. ALL. Nope) they have two outdoor sitting areas. TWO!!!
|aforementioned hot tub time machine area|
A bamboo garden with a long teak table and cushioned L-shaped sofas...
|available for partays and such|
and the Great Lawn outfitted with bean bag chairs and low tables.
|a little help here getting out|
of the blue balls.
I don't know about you, but one of the things that makes me a little crazy is holing up in a stuffy hotel room between outings. I cannot tell you how wonderful it was to grab my book and sunglasses and while away the hours reading in the sunshine within the peaceful confines of this urban oasis until it was time to meet up with friends.
|relaxation doesn't even cover it|
until i had to get up
but that's another story
The staff could not have been more attentive. They even hosted a champagne happy hour.
Oh, yes, please.
I cannot say enough good things about this hotel. Do yourself a favor and book a stay. You'll never want to go back to the Marriott again.
Part B: This Is NOT Your Father's Hell's Kitchen Anymore
When the heck did Hell's Kitchen get all cleaned up and shit? I never once felt fearful or uneasy in this neighborhood. No more crazy scary lunatics brandishing machetes and arguing with invisible demons. All gone. Not once did my Spidey senses cue me to RUN AS IF I WAS BEING CHASED BY RABID DINGOS.
Ninth and Tenth Avenues are filled with one festive eatery after another. Throughout the course of two days I had Afghan Kababs (hands down my favorite hole-in-the-wall on Earth. the sauce. dear lord, the sauce...mmmm), Thai curry, brick-oven pizza, and Crab Benedict brunch with fresh-squeezed orange juice.
afghan kabobs with cucumber sauce
i would bathe in this sauce if i could, it's that addictive
"i can't quit you"
|mirrored wall in Olieng Thai|
post secrets sprinkled amongst the menu items
|love in the Thai afternoon|
So many ethnic cuisines... so little time.
Most of the restaurants offer sidewalk tables and hidden courtyards to enjoy the gorgeous summer weather. Anytime an opportunity arises to dine al fresco in any city, I'll take it.
|44 1/2 courtyard brunch|
try the mimosa and benedict
Not only is this area a feeding Mecca, there are farmer's market stands and charming parks prevalent throughout. The latter teeming with children playing. People are happy in this little corner of New York.
|the kiddos frolicking|
|a beautiful community garden tucked away|
|just in case you forgot what neighborhood|
you happen to be in
Two blocks away, at the bottom of 42nd is the famed Lucky Strike bowling alley. Good Lord this place takes up some serious real estate. Who wouldn't want to don a pair of kitschy two-tone bowling shoes, grab a 12-pound neon ball and let one fly down the boards in this groovy place?
|even Buffy bowls here|
if it's good enough for the Slayer, it's good enough for you
Across the highway lies the Intrepid, home to the space shuttle, Enterprise. Here she is at her final resting place. Her timeshare in Boca, if you will. Tours begin next week.
Call me a sappy asshole, but the site of this tiny spacecraft fills my heart with pride and brings a tear to my wee eyes. This marvelous workhorse and the rest of the fleet, quietly changed our world. They allowed our imaginations to soar. But alas, they each made so many trips into space to transport scientists, maintenance techs and finally builders for the International Space Station that it became commonplace. People barely noted launch dates. We all took for granted this brilliantly efficient program would be in operation forever. It makes me melancholy knowing it's over. I'll never again watch, in awe, this petite metal piece of American ingenuity defy gravity and blast off into the sky.
Thank you, little lass. You have served your country well. I look forward to standing in your belly some day imaging myself floating weightlessly in the vacuum of space.
Thwarted in my desire to tour Enterprise, I rented a bike and set out on the West Side bike trail which runs from the Brooklyn Bridge to 200th street. I headed south, passing a plethora of gardens, tennis courts, skate parks, helicopter pads, cool tree-lined sitting areas, netted driving ranges, and multiple marinas harboring beautiful sailboats gracefully navigating the waterway. My beacon the near complete Freedom Tower.
I can't wait to return with Geo to eat and drink our way up one side of 10th and down the other, bike past the piers and split some pins.
You never cease to surprise and delight me. I love you long time.
Until next time...