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Stolen Says: Top of the Rock

Every once in a while, a good New Yorker has to come down from his or her holier-than-thou, nothing-fazes-me pedestal and partake in something known as the Double T – Tourist Trap. Knowing which Double T’s to take part in, and when, however, is an art, and one that all good New Yorkers have perfected in order to emerge on the other side completely unscathed. The factors in play? Location, timing, and of course, the company you keep.

One particularly beautiful pre-fall afternoon, my friend C visited the city from upstate. It was almost her birthday, and she had come to see an opera and to celebrate with L and me. As it turned out, C’s father joined us, and another friend, D met up with us as well.

I’m working backwards here – but there’s the company I was keeping when I dove into the DoubleT that Saturday afternoon. C from upstate, her father from Philly, L from Inwood, and D from the Upper West Side. The special thing about this group is that none of us were tourists. C used to live here (with me, actually, when we first moved to the city after college we were roomies in Sugar Hill), and her father grew up on Long Island, so the city and all its mysteries aren’t quite so mysterious to us. Which brings me to the main focus of the first point, the company you keep. In order to really enjoy the DoubleT, you have to be making a memory, not just visiting it for visiting’s sake. Of course, seeing the Statue of Liberty with an out-of-towner is refreshing as it can renew your excitement about living in this fabulous city, but it somehow doesn’t hold the same gravity.

In any case, we chose to do Top of the Rock that afternoon. When C and I lived together we had some guests from Germany, and as a thank-you for showing them a fantastic time they had bought us a gift certificate to Top of the Rock – so we thought it was about time we cashed in on it.

Central Park

Deck

In case you’ve been wondering this entire time, Top of the Rock is the top of Rockefeller Center, which is between 5th and 6th Avenues at 50th Street. Other attractions in or around Rockefeller center include the skating rink (open only in the fall & winter), Radio City Music Hall and the offices of NBC. Rockefeller Center is also the focal point of the hit comedy TV show 30 Rock, starring Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin and Tracey Morgan.

So. We’ve covered location (Top of the Rock), and company. Timing is also important, depending on the DoubleT you’ve chosen. The staff at Top of the Rock does an excellent job of regulating the flow of traffic and crowd control, so in this case it’s the time of year that comes into play. Fall is amazing. What better place to see all the changing leaves in Central Park than from a bird’s eye view? In addition to Central Park and its mass of oranges and yellows, from Top of the Rock you can see from one end of Manhattan to the other – and beyond. Brooklyn, Queens, New Jersey and far up the Hudson River are all part of the view.

Manhattan

The other great place to get a bird’s eye view of New York is the Empire State Building. However, I’m a big advocate of doing Top of the Rock because when you take those iconic photos of our glittering city, you have the most iconic skyscraper in them as well. 😉

Empire State Building

The DoubleT – not always the necessary evil that keeps New York’s economy going. When the timing’s right, you can have the most fabulous adventure of all!

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Stolen Says: The Boathouse

Last weekend my dear friend J came to town, and we had a blast! J used to live in New York but moved to the other side of the country for various reasons. (She’s been mentioned here before – she’s the one I used to sit with on the glowing red steps above the TKTS booth in Times Square at 2:00 in the morning to bask in the energy of our glittering city.) In any case, it was refreshing to have a visitor who knew her way around the city and didn’t drag me to all the tourist sites I’ve seen a thousand times. Knowing me for the social butterfly I am, she was content to tag along where ever I went and be a part of the NYC social scene for a few days.

Some of our activities included a trip to Room Service, my new favorite Thai restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen, a housewarming party on the Upper West Side and, of course, a Sunday brunch (no visit to New York is really complete without a brunch). After brunch, J and I decided to take a little walk through Central Park with M, and visit a very nostalgic place for us – Loeb’s Boathouse.

the boathouse central park

Loeb’s Boathouse is often just called The Boathouse, but regardless of its title, it is definitely a must-see/do spot. The Boathouse is located at the edge of a pond in the mid-70s on the East side of Central Park. That’s my best guess – locations in the park are rarely an exact science, neither is finding them. It is a fantastic restaurant, but, as its name suggests, is also an actual boathouse! For just $12 an hour you can rent a rowboat or a kayak and spend a blissful afternoon floating on the water – it’s so relaxing, and a ton of fun!

When J and I were in college, we used to take weekend trips down to the city just for a day. J was an art history major, so we would start at the Met, and when we finished there, we’d venture into the park. For some reason, probably because of its convenient proximity, we would often find ourselves at The Boathouse. There is a quiet little path that winds around the edge of the pond, and we would walk it, thinking how romantic it would be to rent a rowboat with a lover and row under the famed Bow Bridge.

So when J came to visit, we decided we would really do it this time. I think we had avoided it before because we thought it would be too expensive. Of course, inquiring about the price might have helped, but as it was, we were pleasantly surprised to discover how inexpensive it is! And so J, M and I spent an hour that perfectly sunny Sunday afternoon rowing and trying to avoid running into the other rowers who had come to enjoy one of the first beautiful days of fall.

the boathouse central park

the boathouse central park

 

the boathouse central park

I highly recommend this activity – it’s really not that difficult (although, as M found out, it takes a little getting used to), and there is something about floating about with the hum of the city in the periphery that is so calming. Aside from other New Yorkers testing their boating skills, there are plenty of ducks, turtles, and banjo-playing men to keep you company. If the day is right, with a baguette, some cheese, and a bottle of wine, this is one of the most fabulous ways to spend a fall (or spring, or summer) afternoon.

the boathouse central park

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Stolen Says: Central Park’s Sheep Meadow

Glittering skyscrapers, glamorous people, fast-paced business and even faster-paced nightlife swirling by in a flash of color and lights – this is probably the most well-known and fantasized image of New York City. As much as I love the bustle of the big city with the laughter, dancing and social connections that can be made in a few hours out on the town, the calmer, more relaxing areas of New York also absolutely deserve to be appreciated.

Summertime is a season of terrace brunches and weekend trips to the beach, and it is also a time for peaceful gatherings in one of my favorite places in the city: Sheep Meadow in Central Park. Just like the rest of Manhattan, Central Park is somehow sprawling and endless despite its physical boundaries. Within its four square miles, it contains several bodies of water, numerous baseball fields, fountains, a carousel, a boathouse, and many, many patches of grass upon which New Yorkers and tourists alike congregate to spend a sunny Saturday afternoon. Sheep Meadow is arguably the most popular “patch” of grass to be found.

Located on the west side of the park, between, approximately 63rd and 68th Streets, Sheep Meadow is my favorite spot for picnics and game days, some dry and others accompanied by sangria. (Actually, most of my picnics with friends are accompanied by sangria, but that’s not the only reason we have so much fun at Sheep Meadow!)

We kicked off this summer on Memorial Day with a small gathering that included a few games and a few drinks. The weather was perfect – hot, but with a light breeze. We chose a spot near the edge of the meadow so we could opt to move into the shade of the trees if we felt our tans were becoming too lobster-like, and that afternoon was quite possibly one of the best so far this summer. The city sounds of taxis honking, construction crews drilling, buses unloading passengers and people yelling into their cell phones all fade away as you lay on the grass and gaze up at the blue sky. You can almost forget that you are lounging in the middle of one of the busiest cities in the world!

The only afternoon at the park that could possibly trump that relaxing Memorial Day is the yearly event put together by my dear friend (who is, if this is possible, more of a social butterfly than I am) in Sheep Meadow that is of truly epic proportions. This, as we have come to call it, is the Summer Social Extravaganza. He invites all of the fabulous people he knows (which is quite a few), and then all of those people invite all of the fabulous people they know. As you can imagine, it becomes one huge, fantastic mish-mash of friends-of-friends meeting friends and making connections that would otherwise never have happened. It is truly one of the most beautiful events that could occur on such a gorgeous, sun-filled summer day.

So the next time you’re in New York during the fairer seasons, you must make a trip to Central Park and spend at least two hours lazing about on your blankets spread on the green, green grass, watching the world go by.  You’ll see lovers sharing their first kiss, wizened golden retrievers shuffling after soccer balls, friends tossing a frisbee and a fair amount of beautifully sun-kissed skin. (Occasionally there are a few who are not so beautifully sun-kissed – but we give them credit for trying.) And for those of you who live in New York – summer’s almost over! Get to Sheep Meadow and soak up the sun while you still can.

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Stolen Says: New York!

When I first moved to New York, I worked on the 18th floor of an office building in Times Square overlooking the ball that drops every New Year’s Eve. Each day at 5:30pm I would step out onto the sidewalk and traipse down 42nd Street to Bryant Park and catch the D train back uptown to Harlem. On my short walk to the subway, I would look down 42nd Street and see the Chrysler Building and then look up to my right and see the Empire State Building. Although I knew it marked me as a newbie, a huge grin would light up my face. Here I was, finally, at the center of the universe, after 10 years of planning and scheming. It was incredible.

New York is showcased in myriad television shows and movies – Sex and the City, Seinfeld, Gossip Girl, Will & Grace, 30 Rock, Ghostbusters, You’ve Got Mail, Spiderman, any Woody Allen flick (the list goes on and on and on) –  and they have nurtured and brought into the limelight a vast number of celebrities. By playing Carrie in SATC, Sarah Jessica Parker has become an international fashion icon, and the entire cast of Seinfeld may never escape their association with the Upper West Side in the minds of most Americans. And who can forget Jennifer Aniston and the rest of the Friends crew as twenty-somethings trying to find their place in this bustling city? These shows all recount different New York stories, and yet – from high style to Soup Nazis, coffee shops to drama-laced dating and late night comedy to the upper echelons of society – they all have one common theme: New York, the ultimate celebrity.

New York truly is the ultimate celebrity, and she won’t let you forget it. I used to text one of my best girlfriends on hot summer nights when neither of us could sleep. We would take the A train to Times Square at 2:00 in the morning, pick up some fries at McDonald’s and sit on the glowing red steps above the TKTS booth. We would sit there, showered in all the lights that blink and glitter through the night, and just soak up the city’s inexhaustible energy and power. Of course, Times Square is only beautiful and bearable at 2am when one actually has the luxury of lounging on those stairs without tourists requesting a photo every eight seconds, but we felt so connected to New York in those moments – so lucky to be there in the midst of it all.

Since then, the real inner workings of New York have slowly been revealed to me. During the summer, between the hours of 5:30 and 8:00 in the evening, you could be sure to find me in SoHo at Cafe Noir or Boom, just around the corner. Sunday brunches at Barbounia on 20th and Park have become a staple of my diet, along with the bottomless mimosas and subsequent sunbathing in Sheep’s Meadow at Central Park. Some of my favorite memories consist of lazy Saturday afternoons wandering through the West Village after a visit to Magnolia Bakery and popping into the Marc Jacobs boutique. Even if my young professional life isn’t so glamorous, I definitely make up for it in my social life – whether it’s happy hour bellinis at Campbell’s Apartment in my patent leather shoes, or dancing in my Chucks to a live Bulgarian folk band at Mehanata Lounge on the Lower East Side.

The possibilities are endless, and so Stolen Says: New York has the spotlight. Meredith, Lindsay and I believe the same is true on Cubicle Chic. Those two have brought you to many of its famous landmarks and neighborhoods, including Rockefeller Center, Bryant Park, Park Avenue, the East and West Village, Cobble Hill…and more. We have decided that New York should play a starring role in our style venture, especially because so many of you love the city, so I will be reviewing restaurants, hot spots and general goings-on to be featured on CC. The city will take the stage for which she was born. I will do my best every week or two to bring you the best New York has to offer and further immortalize the city as she deserves.

So here’s to New York. Glam. Glitz. Fashion. Celebrity. Fun! The most fabulous thing about our glittering city is that there really, truly is something for everyone. You could begin an evening with a quick bite from a falafel cart in the West Village and end up at Johnny Weir’s birthday party at Hudson Terrance. As we like to say, it’s New York – anything can happen.

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