Sunday, 9 January 2011

No Pants Day

After another early wake-up call (thanks to Lucy's iPhone alarm!), we decided that the only cure for the 'last day in New York' blues was to return to the Townhouse for breakfast. Having being greeted with another warm American welcome, we were seated in a typical diner-style booth. Looking around filled my eyes with too many familiar faces, and I soon realised that we wernt the only kids-on-the-block who had sussed out this gem of an eatery.

I didnt need to look at the menu to know what to order: French toast with maple syrup and bacon was an obvious choice, alongside my hot chocolate and glass of iced water (which seemed to be customary and complimentary in most places we had been to!). Unlike yesterday's diner, this hot chocolate did not seem to come with a free-refill, which saddened my taste buds, but which I'm sure my bladder was thankful for!

Wrapping back up in a zillion layers and out onto the streets to Grand Central, where we were planning on catching the Subway down to Central Park. As we approached the beautiful building, a group of men turned to stare at us (something we had got used to by this point!) before shouting out to Jade: "Hey, I like your head ornament!" Head ornament?! Last time I looked we wernt wearing china across our foreheads....

A few stops later on the Subway and we arrived blinking in the daylight as the wind hit our faces up the street steps. In front of us was Ralph Lauren, which we had heard so much about from Tova over breakfast that morning. She had insisted that we go, as the store layout and visual merchandising was amazing, plus she highly recommended a trip to the toilets, as even they were worth checking out. Feeling happy with ourselves that we had made it to the store without even an ounce of trying, we went in. Within two seconds of us setting foot inside, we were greeted with a huge smile from the doorman, with the usual "Hi, how are you today?". Whether it was because he was a fabulous human being or because he sensed our tourist activity, he immediately told us how to get discount on all the products in the store, along with providing us with his own personal copy of the store directory. Feeling pleased with ourselves, and feeling a little pained by the smile which had been plastered across my face, we moved further into the store to explore.

Where was the amazing interior Tova had told us about? Dont get me wrong, all the stores I'd been to so far had had great insides, and this was no different, but it didnt reek of the magic which I was so expecting.
I looked down at the directory for some sort of clue as to where the toilets were, which is when I noticed the title on the cover. BLOOMINGDALES it read. We were in the Ralph Lauren section of a department store. Idiots.

Having laughed about this a bit too much, and gaining a few too many weird looks from the locals and workers, we made our way over to the makeup section. With a six hour plane journey facing us at midnight, we thought it was best that we kept our selection of face products up to date and full to the brim.

In this particular Bloomingdales is the David Burke @ Bloomingdales restaurant, which looked really delicious; and had we not have been on a student budget or full of maple syrup yumminess, I would have insisted that we go for a spot of lunch.

"Blazing across distinctions between chef, artist, entrepreneur and inventor, David Burke is one of the leading pioneers in American cooking today."

When I next go to New York, I will insist that my incredibly rich and devoting husband take me there, who wont mind paying $15.95 for a chicken ceaser salad...

Next stop: Urban Outfitters, where we were greeted by the best looking man I had ever seen in my life, which encouraged me to stay longer than necessary in the store. Luckily there was a huge sale upstairs, which meant that my few remaining dollars were effortlessly parted with me.
Inside the store was fairly classic for U.O, and not quite as exciting as the layout of the 5th Avenue store. That's what I thought, but that was before I went to the changing rooms!

All the doors reminded me of something similar to a scene from Alice In Wonderland, as they were all identical, and filled the whole room. The inside of the fitting room with it's plain gold chair and long mirror meant that there were no vast distractions to inhibit between you, the tryer-onner, and the clothes. This layout must have worked, as I bought both the things which I tried on:

The playsuit at the top is absoloutely lovely, and looks good as both a playsuit and with a top over it so that it looks like a pair of shorts. Favourite thing to wear with: cycle shorts.
The sleevless tee-cardi (bottom) was a bit of a wild card for me, and not something I would usually pick, but it looks great on. It works well as a layer over a see-through black body suit, bringing it together in the middle with a gold chain belt.

Paying for these items was a slightly less enjoyable experience, as only one member of staff was on the tills, and the person in front of me seemed to be having some sort of issue with returning a web-purchase. NB: I have no idea if that was what she was actually doing, but from my experience of working in retail, that looked like the most plausible option. Either that, or she was spell checking an essay for the woman.
Whilst I was waiting in the queue, I had a cheeky peak at the jewelry next to me and found this beautiful leather chain bracelet which I thought would work well on my wrist alongside my River Island cuff and new All Saints charm bracelet.

Having spent over $100, it was definitely time to leave.

Me being me, I thought that I knew the way to THE Central Park, as I tried to remember seeing it from the bridge when we first arrived in Manhattan. Sadly after walking around for no more than five minutes and a random trip to the Betsey Johnson store, my friends lost trust in my ability to direct, and so we touristically asked the nearest passer by. Being pointed in the right direction (being the opposite one to mine) we made our way down bustling streets until something caught Jade's eye. Barbie.
The big pink letters glared down at the three of us, and being the good friends that we are, ran like little children into F.A.O Schwartz and up into the lift to the first floor.

In the right hand corner, was Barbie heaven. There was a Barbie catwalk, where each Barbie robotically made its way down to the catwalk, including a little 360 spin at the end. There was an interactive section for kids, where you could sit down and virtually create your own Barbie (yes, mine was styled to perfection). Along with hundreds of other things, I spotted a Louboutin Barbie. After studying it for a good two minutes, I came out with "This one looks like a transvestite!" which seemed to amuse the woman next to me who looked at what I was talking about and burst into laughter.

Already the day was slipping away, and having left the store (+ one Barbie) we recognised exactly where we were - on our favourite 5th Avenue, East 39th Street, with Central Park and the fascinating Apple store directly infront of us. We were in New York heaven.

Having been here before, we knew that Armani was only a five minute walk away, and I was determined to return and purchase some $30 tea from the Armani:Dolci section of the store. Out of breath and looking a little red from the New York air, we made it to the chocolate counter where we were greeted by a new assistant. Secretly each one of us was praying that this time we'd be lucky enough to get offered a sample of the delicate and delicious chocolate treats which we had gazed at last time we had been. The woman clearly sensed our hunger and asked if we'd like to try a sample. Yes. Obviously we would. It was already 2pm and our fat new New York bodies were dying for something sweet!
As I tried to be as dainty as I could in opening the wrapper, I finally let loose and ripped open the tiny chocolate square and popped the whole thing in my mouth. I began to chew and waited for the cocoa goodness to melt over my tongue, but instead I was presented with a bitter and extremely powdery tasting hardness. I'd eaten 70% cocoa before, but this was simply not to my liking. Losing all sense of where I was, I whispered to Lucy, "I hate it!" before bursting out laughing at how awkward the situation was!

Sensing my dissatisfaction, the woman smiled and offered me a 'sweeter' white chocolate instead, which was much more enjoyable. Despite it's delicious taste, it didnt taste anything spectacular, and I soon realised that if I were to purchase any, I would merely be paying $15 for the brand name, and not the quality of the chocolate. Dont get me wrong, I'm sure many chefs have slaved over those chocolates to get them to perfection, but to my average British tongue, I was not blown away and thus didnt purchase. I was more tempted by the tea range however, but after learning that they were leaves and that my strainer/pot set was not at Uni with me, I thought that $30 for Black Tea with Chocolate could wait until my richer days. I would so like to one day offer someone a 'cuppa' and say that it's Armani...

By this point it is fair to say that I was beyond ravenous, and so begged Lucy and Jade to agree to have lunch. Easier said than done, as we seemed to be in one of the richer ends of New York, and so finding anywhere that matched our budget was a little out the question. Using our common sense, we decided to take our hungry tummies to the back streets away from the main strip, where we knew that milkshakes would soon be replacing champagne.

During our search, we passed a beautiful place called Sprinkles Cupcakes on Lexington Avenue, which to my disappointment, had not yet opened. Having Googled it, I think it was for the best that it wasnt, as I would definitely have returned home with a suitcase full of squashed cake, and a stomach full of icing.

Nonetheless, the website looks amazing, and the variety of flavours from banana, lemon coconut, peanut butter chip and vegan red velvet would suit anybodies diet or tastes. The store in New York opens April this year - perfect timing for my birthday. Another reason for it to be 100% necessary for me to return for my 19th.

Examining hundreds of menus and walking for what seemed like fifty blocks, God spoke. 'Eat Here Now' was what was written across a canvas top covering the door to a diner. We double checked the menu for prices (as all princesses shouldnt have to) and it looked like the perfect thing, and not just because they served milkshakes!

To sum up, it was a yummy and (thank god!) affordable diner, where the milkshakes were good and the waitresses dont judge you for swapping your salad for fries. Everyone seemed pretty chilled out in there, and I'm sure the woman on the table next to us would have been smiling to, were it not for the severe restrictions her mouth seemed to be having due to excessive botox.

Note to self: When handing you the bill, the server will always turn it face down onto the table. Guess this is an American custom? Though I'm not surprised they turned it upside down at 'Eat Here Now' otherwise I'd have gasped in her face when reading the included $7 service charge!
I am now a reciever of an urban email chain, which sends me venues of underground warehouse parties and secret events in NY, alongside other cool things which only the exclusively cool know about. Before you ask how I managed to get on the mailing list, I was forwarded into it by a shop assistant in one of the vintage stores. At the time, she had told me that today was going to be a 'No Pants Day' and to watch out for it on the Subways. In the nicest way possible, she was a little odd, and having seen everyone so far with their bottoms still in tact, I thought this could be another one of her weird little fantasies.

However on the way back to the hotel, I was stunned by a group of individuals walking down the stairs in just their pants. Trying not to stare was more difficult than I thought, and I felt a huge sense of satisfaction that I knew why they were doing it, instead of just being like every other shocked onlooker.

Just before returning to the Eastgate Tower Hotel, we took one last stroll down 5th Avenue, and stopped off in a shop which we appropriately named 'Tac Tac'. Whilst purchasing my various 'souvenirs', the shop assistant commented on my rings, saying how they make me look 'wild', before continuing to pursue me with questions to assess exactly how wild I was!

The final walk home to the hotel was a sad one, but everything seemed so magical and surreal in the New York City lights. We passed LEX Bar once again, which I'd so wanted to go to (damn being so young!) although it is definitely on my 'to do' list for next time!

As we collected our suitcases from reception and boarded the coach to the airport, I had a moment to think about the past few days and realised that the only thing I would have done differently is to have caught a yellow cab, which didnt really seem necessary at the time, as we were able to Subway/walk everywhere!
The past few days felt surreal, even after having done them all. New York had definitely exceeded even my high expectations, and already I was planning my trip back (maybe when the weather would be a little more to my liking!)

Jade & Lucy

Sitting in the airport waiting for our 11:40pm flight seemed to last a lifetime, and I had a McDonalds to pass the time. Who'd have thought they'd even do an American sized Happy Meal?!
I'd missed a certain few people since I'd been in New York and so was really happy at the thought of being able to go back and see them; but in my ideal little world, I'd have just popped them into a human-sized suitcase and have brought them back to NY with me, for my own little fairytale life.

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