Lisa and Maggie’s Excellent NYC Adventure Part 1

I returned Sunday night from one of my bestest NYC trips ever. While there, I was thinking of the first time I was in NY. It was 1984 and I was with my college roommate, Maria. We took the bus in from Jersey where her boyfriend went to Fairleigh Dickinson College. In 1984, NY had not been cleaned up and Port Authority was scary and smelly and dark. Did I mention I had a cast on my leg from slipping on a piece of ice and breaking it? I was hobbling around Port Authority being accosted by bums and I would talk to them until Maria pulled me away and told me not to make eye contact and keep moving.

So much has changed with me and with NY since then. I no longer hang out with people who dine and ditch at the Plaza so that security follows us outside (that incident was NOT Maria’s fault).  The Port Authority, while still bustling, is much cleaner and far less scary than it was 30 some odd years ago.

The view from our window and one of my most favorite things about NYC...the wooden water tanks.

The view from our window and one of my most favorite things about NYC…the wooden water tanks.

My pal Lisa (see here and here) had a baby shower to go to this past weekend and invited me to tag along with her to NYC. Delta now has a silly cheap ($300 round trip) direct flight from Portland to JFK and Lisa has a nephew who works at the Ace Hotel and could get us a deal, so off we went!

There is an Ace Hotel in Portland so I know that it is a retro hip super cool happenin’ spot. I didn’t realize just how super retro hip cool the hotel is and how old 48 is.

I am at least 20 years too late for the Ace. I don’t have any I products (Pad Pod Pid etc), I don’t know how to accessorize, and I have no jeans that are so tight they could cause pregnancy…in other words I looked like a grandmother there. Nooo…even better, Lisa hit the nail on the head: we were invisible. And it is fine with me to be invisible, I’m too old to care about the Cougar thing; that cat left the cage years ago.

Once we dropped our stuff in our room (our room included an acoustic guitar), figured out the sensitive dimmer light switch which took at least 10 minutes, including much discussion and magical waving of hands, washed our faces, changed our clothes, stuck some hankies in our sleeves; we hit the lobby for some action or as we called it, food.  There seems to be a thing in NY, when you go in a bar…the actual bar stools AT the bar are considered the bar. If there are tables with chairs or bar stools, those are the restaurant and you can’t just sit down there. If you want to sit down and there is no room at the bar, you must go talk to a rude 25-year-old young woman who will tell you,

“Uhhhhh, it’s a 30-minute wait you old hag. If you want to get some Metamucil a drink at the bar, I can probably find something for you in a very dark corner near the garbage.”

We couldn’t have reached the bar without a machete; so we decided to take our chances outside the hotel.

Note to rude 25-year-old hostesses…. you better be really smokin’ hot to get away with that sort of attitude and um, yer not.

We found a cute place called Tavern 29. It was full downstairs so the very nice young girls told us to try the upstairs bar. We went up there and there were open tables but they weren’t really open, they were reserved for people born in 1990.  One of the hostesses asked us apologetically if we would like a little corner table up by the front window. Yes we would! And could you kids turn that music down? Great food and chat time before we strolled the city. Weather was lovely, cold and clear. We walked up to Bryant Park and through Times Square.

Ice rink at Bryant Park. Also nicest public bathroom ever is at Bryant Park.

Ice rink at Bryant Park. Also nicest public bathroom ever is at Bryant Park.

timesq

We returned to the Ace and found it more happening than before we left, packed, loud and hot.

Can you see how coo lit is?

Click on the photo to really see how cool the happenings are in the Ace. My old eyes can’t see it unless the photo is larger.

We scurried to the safety of our room. The next morning Lisa went downstairs for some coffee with some trepidation, not knowing if there might be a coffee rave or some sort of flash brunch going on.

Happily, on Friday we found places more our speed. After visiting Dylan’s Candy Bar and Gracious Home, we happened upon Neil’s Coffee Shop on E. 70th. Neil’s is a throwback to an older, grittier New York and we loved it! Lisa and I gave ourselves away as tourists (not that I’m ever going to look very New Yorkerish) by using menus. Everyone else seemed to know what they wanted or needed to know what the soup was. “Pastrami on rye, two pickles, no slaw”. I think I may have seen Scott Baio in there but I’m not sure. It looked like him and sounded like him but what are the chances of me actually sitting three stools away from ChaChi? After eating, I took a picture of this bustling lunch stop because, well, I’m a blogger. In a split second the girl (who previously had looked as if she had hot glue gunned herself to the  stool at the cash register) was out from behind her little counter and explaining to me that there is a “no photo” policy in Neil’s. Why? Because they don’t like photos to be taken in Neil’s. She stood next to me until I deleted it. So I went outside and took photos.

IMG_4412

Does anyone know why Neil’s shies away from the paparazzi?

Stay tuned tomorrow for the arts and culture part of the Adventure.

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21 thoughts on “Lisa and Maggie’s Excellent NYC Adventure Part 1

  1. Margarita says:

    Maggie, I think those water tanks in your picture are on top of the building where one of my friends lives! I, too, love the water tanks and am seldom close enough to them to take a decent picture. Not looking at a menu is not about being a New Yorker, it’s more about the place being a neighborhood joint with lots of return customers who come back for their comfort food. Probably because they don’t know how to use their stoves. And they probably don’t let you take pictures inside because they want to control the use of their images and charge money for the priviledge. So glad to hear you had a wonderful time! xoxoM

    • Maggie O'C says:

      M, I first noticed those wooden water tanks years ago looking out of my sister’s apartment window and then I noticed they are all over NY! I love them and they aren’t even old. Really had a wonderful time! xo

  2. mabukach says:

    ACE Hotel? Fancy. reminds me of this Portlandia skit – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsg_2WrNOHU

    Love this post! I used to live right by Neil’s – walked past it daily blast from the past.

    (ps, i have a ‘freshly pressed’ banner for you)

  3. sharechair says:

    Love reading all this. Several thoughts went through my mind: first… oh yes, I remember the scary port authority days! And for several blocks AROUND port authority you nearly ran in fear of your life. Central Park, too. When I was young, you would NEVER go in the park. I was there several weeks ago and it is now delightful (on a sunday afternoon). Such changes! And as for the rude young lady… she doesn’t know it yet, but in the blink of an eye she will be in the position of being ‘looked down at’ by the younger set. Time does not discriminate.

    • Maggie O'C says:

      42nd St. and the Port Authority were nasty. I remember being in NY for New Years in the 80s when I lived in Boston. Another stupid preppy girl and I left a party and got in a cab and said “drive us around! Take us to Times Square!” And the cabbie, to his credit, wouldn’t do it 🙂

  4. Addie says:

    Being a woman of a certain age, I’ve enjoyed this immensely. Why, oh, why can’t there be a hotel chain for our generation?? We aren’t Ace material–maybe, oh, Sevens or Eights? Where the bar has comfy chairs and classic rock plays at a low volume.

  5. I am glad you are home, alive, with great stories to tell. Phew.

    As for Neil’s, celebs go there regularly….so I am sure the management does its best to avoid the likes of TMZ sitting down to order a cup of coffee to wait for the Suri or Brad Pitt shot stuffing down a burger and fries.

    Our youngest manages a fancy-schmancy restaurant in SoHo and when we ate there, we left deaf and hoarse. Couldn’t hear a darn thing and couldn’t see either, the lights dimmed so low I almost needed a seeing-eye dog. That whole downtown culture escapes me. Glad to know I am not alone.

    I can’t wait to read Parts 2 and beyond!!!

  6. La La says:

    Sorry I missed you! Looks like fun!

  7. We stayed at a hotel in Savannah, GA that was similar. The bartender laughed at me when I asked if they had a soda vending machine. Jackass.

  8. […] « Lisa and Maggie’s Excellent NYC Adventure Part 1 […]

  9. travellingmo says:

    I’m loving the first part and can’t wait for more! I love how you tell stories, Maggie. You have such an easy and conversational manner that really comes through. I feel more like I’m having a conversation with you and hearing it rather than reading it 🙂

  10. […] I copied her. This is so Portlandia and I’m sure will wind up in the Ace Hotels (click here to read my NY Ace Hotel experience) eventually. Only in Portland (I think) do you find beer […]

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