Monday, March 25, 2013

NYC - Day 3

What a long and wonderful day!

Knowing that we were going to be out late tonight due to the concert, I let Karen sleep late, and I relaxed for a couple of hours after I woke up. We got up around 10, and slowly made out way over to the East Village a little before noon, popping into Caravan of Dreams for brunch.

Caravan of Dreams is an organic vegan restaurant that has been around for a long time (especially when compared to other veg restaurants) and it's easy to see why. We got great service, the place has a wonderful atmosphere and the food is incredibly tasty. Karen order the country breakfast platter that came with fruit on top of pancakes and some great tempeh, and I had the polenta platter that was served with kale, cauliflower, cabbage, raw tomato and black bean soup. The soup was great, but the polenta was the best I've ever had. The vegetables were all cooked perfectly, and I think must have been cooked individually in order to achieve that. SO GOOD!

After wrapping up breakfast, we strolled north on 1st Avenue, admiring the little fruit markets and various stores, popping into The Bean to get Karen a coffee and me a hot chocolate and vegan chocolate chip cookie. The cookie was great and it lasted me all day. We continued through the East Village, making a note that we may want to come back and see more later. Seems like a very cool area.

We jumped on the L-Train to Union Square (and later realized we probably should have just walked there). After a quick glance around Union Square, we pointed south for a block and popped into Strand Book Store for a look around. Nothing particularly notable, just a nice big used bookstore. I'm sure some people would find it more notable, but after Karen worked at Half-Price Books for a few years, it's hard to get excited about used book stores unless something remarkable jumps out. Still cool to hang around in them though. Karen bought a book and a tote bag for us to cram jackets into.

When we left the apartment, it was lightly snowing, and it continued to on and off throughout the day, but by now, it had warmed up and was raining occasionally. We had both gotten quite warm, and shed a layer each.

After completing our purchases at Strand, we quickly popped into Forbidden Planet for a look around. It's a comic book/graphic novel/nerd accessory store. For some reason, I thought it was a chain, I think I was thinking of Great Escape which is either a chain, or has a couple of locations in Nashville. Apparently, it's a one-off store that does a bunch of online shipping. Anyway, nothing really jumped out at me, and I wasn't really looking to buy anything (I'm not into many comics), so we took off.

A quick jump back into the subway station, this time onto the 6 train. We shot up to Grand Central, and popped out into the Chrysler building. The Chrysler is really amazing, an icon of New York, and I really wanted to get a picture of it. I didn't realize we would actually end up underneath it, and when we did, I soon realized how tricky it was going to be to get a picture from the ground level immediately outside of the building. It was really cool to see all of the black marble on the inside of the building, but I had to reserve my picture taking for a later time, after we got further away from it.

Our immediate destination was actually Grand Central Terminal, and we eventually found an entrance to it. The spot we entered was actually through the Grand Central Terminal Market, which oddly reminded me a LOT of Harrod's in London. It was a bunch of little specialty gourmet shops smooshed in side-by-side. There was fruits, cheeses, veggies, breads, meats, fish, chocolates, desserts and more. A wonderful zone of great smells and sites. I love places like that.

We eventually made it out into the center of the terminal, and man is it huge! You've probably seen Grand Central in movies before (I always think of the opening scene of K-PAX), and it is just as impressive in real life, if not more so. It's beautiful with all of it's marble and lights that look like Fabergé eggs. We snapped some pictures, attempted to avoid all of the people "test-driving" iPads at the biggest and most inconveniently placed Apple Store I've ever seen, and just admired the view for about 30 minutes.

After getting our fill of the main concourse, we set off again, stumbling through a weird art installation of big straw horses with South American looking costumes on them. It was by Nick Cave, but apparently not "that" Nick Cave. Whatever that means. Very cool looking, but not quite sure what was happening.

After consulting a map, I decided we should head toward Rockefeller center. We made it about 2 blocks, when Karen spied the NY Public Library building. She really wanted to see that before we left, so we popped across to it and went inside. It's an enormous building, shaped much like the British Museum on the outside. Inside is 4 levels of collections, reading rooms, art galleries and giant staircases. We didn't see very many books at all, with the exception of 1 or 2 rooms, so we decided that this must be a public display building and not an actual library anymore. We spent about an hour wandering around, looking at prints, and checking out the map room that boasts over half a million maps. It was really impressive.

It was getting close to 3 o'clock and we both decided it'd be nice to sit down for a bit, and try to warm up some and get dry. We continued on toward Rockefeller, keeping our eyes peeled for a cafe or something that would look nice to sit in for a bit. Karen eventually pulled me toward P.J. Moran's, an Irish pub. Nothing remarkable here, but nice and dry. I had potato and leek soup that was a perfect portion as I wasn't very hungry, and warm, but I think it must have been inspired by the great potato famine as it had the tiniest slivers of leek and little bitty chunks of potato. Karen had a corned beef sandwich and said it was okay.

We headed back out, stopped in at Aldo for Karen to look at shoes, and then quickly ducked into this giant American Girl store so that Karen could get pictures for her mom who is obsessed with American Girl stuff.

We eventually did make it over to Rockefeller Plaza. It was pretty weird and funny. Cameras are great at playing trick on people. On TV, Rockefeller Plaza looks ENORMOUS. In real life, it's decently sized, but hard to understand how they get the shots that they do on TV. The Rock is shorter and smaller looking in person, and the courtyard area out front with the flags and ice rink is also much smaller looking. It's really cool looking, just smaller than I thought it would be. We got pictures of the building, ice rink, statues, and cool old neon signs for the Rainbow Room and Radio City before heading into Nintendo World for a glance around.

After killing 10-15 minutes looking at demos and clothing at Nintendo World, we looped the block and found Magnolia Bakery (credited with starting the cupcake craze of recent years). Karen got a pistachio cupcake and we walked across the street to Variety Cafe to grab drinks and spot to sit for a bit. I sampled Karen's cupcake, and it was really damned good. The cake was moist and tasty, and the frosting was super light and really creamy. I don't normally like frosting very much, but this stuff seemed to be like 70% air, and it was so tasty. I finished my cookie here, and we talked about all of the things we had seen today before finally getting up and heading toward Madison Square Garden to see Sigur Ros.

We got to MSG a few minutes before 7, when the doors opened. Stopped by the merch table and bought a shirt, and then stood in line to get into the arena. After a few minutes, the doors opened, and we made our way to our seats. I don't think many reading this will be familiar with Sigur Ros, so I spare details, but the show started an hour after the posted time. Due to the late start, it took me a couple of songs to really get into the feel of things, but once I did, it was incredible. They played all of my favorite songs, and ended with an incredible climatic rendition of Glósóli. It was mind-blowing.

We quickly made our way out of the building with the throngs of people. It was quite remarkable how quickly the place emptied out and a testament to the design of the building. Once out on the street, we decided to look for some food. We found a halal truck and I got a falafel and Karen a mixed gyro. Mine was really tasty and nice and spicy. Karen liked hers a lot also. Hit the spot. We jumped on the A train, and headed home. We got home at around 12:30, but for some reason, neither of us feel asleep until about 2. It's now 10:15 and Karen is still asleep as I type this up.

I THINK today is going to be our MoMA day, and we may swing by Central Park as we decided to skip it yesterday. Who knows???? We'll see where we end up.

Click here to see all of my pictures from today.


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