I started the trip not from home, but from a peer coaching group meeting downtown. As a result, I was solo for the train ride and security check. Because this was an overnight trip, I had only my work backpack with a few extra clothing items packed. Thanks to TSA Pre-Check, I was through quickly and sat down at the Publican to wait for Virginia to join me.
After lunch (Hot Doug sausage for me; turkey sandwich for Virginia; frites to share), we had a completely uneventful flight to LaGuardia. Now LGA is under a massive and much-needed expansion, which also leaves the roads in terrible condition and traffic backed up forever. So we decided to take the shuttle bus to Jackson Heights and get on the subway from there. It actually worked out great and saved us a lot of money over taking a taxi.
We checked into the Even hotel at 35th and 8th, with perhaps two hours to while away before meeting friends for dinner. We enjoyed coffee at St. Kilda Coffee before walking over to Hell’s Kitchen. We spent a glorious 15 minutes or so in Veritas Studio Wines, looking over their well-curated selections before selecting two reds and a sparkling wine.
We then headed to dinner with our friends Jordan and Edward. Jordan had prepared a sausage stew and a green salad followed by a tangerine curd with a bittersweet chocolate-lined crust. The rest of us contributed wine and were grateful to Jordan for the wonderful meal. We talked for hours, played Ticket to Ride (Virginia won; I lost, but still did all right) and returned to our room around 2am.
After the late night, we slept in until around 9am. Virginia declared that she wanted eggs for breakfast, so we walked over to Friedman’s at 35th and 10th. We waited only about 15 minutes, not even time enough to sip a cup of coffee while waiting outside (there was no space inside for people lacking seats). The staff were on top of their game, and within another 10-15 minutes I had pastrami hash and sunny side up eggs with berry butter and toast, and Virginia had nova Eggs Benedict over potato pancakes with a kale salad. That, plus significantly better coffee than the take-out I had gotten while we waited, perked us back up.
We went back to the hotel to collect our stuff and check out. We had a full day in Manhattan before going back to LGA, so we decided to stop by TKTS in Times Square and see whether any plays caught our eye. We decided on a matinee of The Play That Goes Wrong, which allowed us to bypass all the people trying to get into musicals and get tickets fast.
Afternoon plans set, we started to wander around. We walked over to 5th Avenue and headed up to Central Park, landing at the Plaza Hotel. We briefly walked through the food hall in the Plaza but decided not to stop due to all the holiday traffic. Instead, we headed over two streets to Momofuku Milk Bar for take-away coffee and cookies. Hot beverages in hand, we ambled down 6th Avenue with plenty of time on our hands. While stopped, we talked about why we don’t live in New York and that we’d likely do the same things we do in Chicago on a day-to-day basis, but at much greater expense. We agreed we can brave the Chicago winters and visit New York when we want.
We got to the theater around 2:30pm, just in time to enter. Our seats ended up in the fourth row on the aisle, which meant we could interact with the actors who passed by. Then the play started, and it was excellent! Superbly acted and technically marvelous (especially as the set literally falls down around the actors), we basically laughed for two hours straight.
After the play ended, we walked up to 50th and 8th for an early dinner at Don Antonio Pizza. We’d been there before, and returned because their Napolitean pizza is far, FAR better than any place in that location needs to be. We decided on two pizzas: margherita with smoked provola, and sausage and pistachio pesto. We paired it with a pleasant Sangiovese and had pizza in almost no time.
After dinner, it was back to LGA for us via train and bus. Again, fairly smooth — I’m not sure whether I’ll go back to taking taxis, even after the renovation is complete. Once at the airport, we stopped in the AmEx Centurion lounge before going through security and hopping to the Admirals Club before going to the gate for…
Surprise upgrade! Virginia had put us on the list but we had no expectations. Then we were cleared about a minute before boarding. We weren’t seated together, but that turned out to be fixable after half of first class wanted to switch. So we ended up together in the front row for our flight home to Chicago.