Sleepless in NYC: January 31st to February 17th 2013
Less than 40 cumulative hours of sleep the first week, 38 meetings, 11 dinners out and 7 bar jaunts, shopping on 5th Avenue, a snow storm, the Super Bowl and more…. That pretty much sums up my 2-week+ trip to NYC. I am a bit sluggish now, at the end of the trip (to put it lightly) but things will restore themselves to normalcy on my return home. My trip, has lived up to everything I have come to expect of NYC- sleepless nights, power packed days, hard work, harder parties, meeting old friends and gathering new experiences. It’s the beginning of February, which means it’s the thick of winter, the coldest month of the year. Temperatures have been at the freezing mark all week and its dark by about 5 pm. It’s impossible to get a cab and even though I’ve carried sufficient warm clothing, there hasn’t been a day where I haven’t been freezing at some point. Nonetheless, it’s been fun and the city’s energy isn’t hampered at all. Here’s all that I have done.
Thrashing out business strategies & planning corporate restructuring for the coming year, in freezing cold temperatures is not recommended, regardless of the office heating system. Add to that severe jet lag and sleep deprivation from a 16-hour flight, across 10 time zones and you’re really in trouble. Aided by LOTS of Starbucks Caramel Latte, I gallantly powered through the first day. But lesson learnt, never again! If you are expecting yourself to be productive and its takes serious brain space to do that, your body needs to rest. Unlike me, give yourself at least a day of recuperating time before you dive into work. But all’s well, that ends well. It’s going to be a very busy year, full of positive changes.
The Knicks game at Madison Square Garden
On my first weekend there, a colleague very kindly offered me courtside tickets to a New York Knicks game. Now, I’m not a fan of basketball but after a tiring couple of days at work, the prospect of an exciting experience at one of the world’s busiest and most expensive in-door arenas, with the best seats in the house, sounded tempting. It was a fantastic evening. Madison Square Garden is awe- inspiring for energy trippers. It has a capacity of roughly 17,000 seats and is packed with fans cheering on their home team. It is very well organized and managed. The fact that our seats were part of the Delta Club was icing on the cake. The Delta club has its own private entrance, open bars, Nespresso machines, cotton candy and free food as well as service to your seat. The New York Knicks were playing the Sacramento Kings. The Knicks dominated the first half 38-4 and finally won 120-81. It was a perfect start to a fun filled trip.
The Super Bowl XLVII
American Football is to the USA like cricket is to India or like Soccer is to England. Every year the largest and most popular league in the game, the National Football League of America (NFL), hosts the Super Bowl. It’s the Big Daddy of championship games accounting for the 2nd largest day for food consumption in the USA and is often the most watched American Television broadcast in the nation. Revelers all across the country support their favorite teams through the season, which culminates into this final. It is quite an event to be a part of, even if you are not in the actual stadium itself! Fans of home teams are spread across the country and will congregate at bars to cheer their teams on. My week in NYC luckily coincided with the 47th Super Bowl, played between the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens in New Orleans. I watched it at a neighborhood sports bar. Both opposing teams were favorites for the championship. In the first half the Ravens built a 21–6 lead but the second half saw a major turn in events and the game ended with the Ravens beating the 49ers, 34-31, only by the skin of their teeth. The game had sufficient amount of drama in itself, and so did the actual event. The head coaches of the opposing teams were brothers; the stadium lost power in the middle of the game, for nearly 30 minutes; Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys & Beyonce gave phenomenal performances (Beyonce’s was particularly drool-worthy); 110 million Americans tuned in to watch it; ad space sold for an average of $3.8 million for 30 seconds; Baltimore wide receiver, Jacoby Jones broke the longest play record with a 108 yard kick-off return for touchdown; Total social media comments made during the game topped 30.6 million. All in all it lived up to all the super bowl hype- the games always worthy of a watch!
Learning to take the Bus
Cabs this winter seem to be in seriously short supply and although my colleagues say that this is the case every year, this year I felt particularly stranded. Midtown east is also probably the worst area in terms of MTR subway connections; SO, in desperation I’ve learned to take the bus from home to work and back. I used to stay away from the bus due to traffic but it’s better than trying to take a cab. It’s quick, regular, easy, efficient and most importantly its WARM. M34 – you’re my new best friend.
The UP Band by Jaw Bone
Shopping highlight of my trip! Woke up mid week to an email from Fed Ex saying my much awaited, newly ordered Jaw Bone band had arrived. As you’ve possibly read health-monitoring bands are the latest trend. Almost every New Yorker has one. My husband and my brother in law swear by Nike’s fuel band, while a dear friend recommended the JawBone UP band. After reading the merits of both I decided to go with the Jawbone. It monitors my activity- the steps I take, my longest active and inactive periods, the calories I burned; my sleep- the hours I slept for, how many times I woke up or drifted in and out of deep sleep; my food intake and more….And like all important things these days, its controlled by an app on my IPhone. Hopefully this will lead to a healthier life, even when I travel.
Shopping on 5th avenue & Macys
5th Avenue is probably the most famous area/street in NYC. You’ll probably meet a person or two who hasn’t heard of the Empire State Building, but its difficult to find one who hasn’t heard of 5th Av! 5th Avenue is actually a major thoroughfare that runs through the center of the borough of Manhattan. The section that is best known, is in Midtown between 34th and 59th streets. Consistently ranked one of the most expensive real estate slots and shopping places in the world, every important brand has an outlet here or on one of it’s by-streets. You can find luxury brands like Gucci and Prada, as well as the popular ones like Armani exchange and Abercrombie & Fitch here. If there is a store that’s missing, its probably on neighboring Madison Avenue, home to the likes of Chanel, Hermes and Cartier. I usually start walking from the spectacular Apple store on 58th street, and depending on the weather conditions (and my shoes), end at the New York Public library and Bryant Park on 40th Street. Shops, departmental stores –the likes of Saks and Bergdorf Goodman are my favorites- Café’s and points of interest line this avenue. You are guaranteed not to be bored.
One block west of 34th street and 5th avenue, is Herald Square- home to Macy’s, the largest departmental store in the world. It’s a personal favorite, reasonably priced shopping destination. It has everything from low end to medium/high-end men and women’s clothes, accessories, beauty products, home ware and more. The stretch of 34th street leading from 5th Av to herald square is also lined by other major stores like The Gap, Express, Forever 21 and Vicotia’s secret.
One would need to spend much more than a day in this area, to cover 5th av and Herald Square completely. Due to time constraints (and my loathing for extensive browsing), I had a focused shopping list and visited my favorites.
Note to shoppers: while Manhattan has shopping options galore, from soho to 5th av, if you want to spend some serious G’s and do as less damage as possible, outlet stores just outside the city, like Woodbury commons, are a good option.
Cinderella on Broadway
As soon as I got to NYC I heard that Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella was on Broadway. I was dying to see it, but when I checked I found that it was sold out day after day for the 2 weeks I was there! Luckily, a thoughtful friend managed to score great seats for us, and I am so thankful that he did. It was delight fully magical! Watching it made me feel like I was 6 again, when magic, my fairy godmother and prince charming were all realities. The cast and crew are excellent, as is the music and soundtrack. The storyline has slight variations from the Disney version, has been adapted to be more current, and has fantastic comic timing. Watch out for the sly costume changes that will leave you wondering how they did it! As the play’s tag line goes “glass slippers are so back!”. It’s guaranteed to leave you smiling.
Harry Potter Exhibition at the Discovery center Times Square
What a treat for a huge Harry Potter fanatic like myself! The Discovery Center at Times Square had an exhibit of original artifacts from the HP movies- all 7 of them. It was like a behind the scenes tour of all the objects and I could not stop smiling and admiring them with glee. Of course, on the way out, I bought myself Lord Voldemort’s wand from the very well stocked gift store. A must visit for Muggles who love the Wizarding world of Harry Potter.
Top of the Rock and the tour of NBC studios
On a slightly less busy day I decided to walk to Rockefeller Plaza, it is one of my favorite places to sit and watch the world go by. On a whim, I walked into the NBC Studios Store and asked about the tour. Lucky enough there was a spot available. The tour is fantastic and has lots of little tidbits of information for fans of NBC shows like Friends, SNL, The Office, Parks and Rec. and more… I was lucky enough to see Oscar winner Christoph Waltz rehearsing for his upcoming show on SNL! Just around the corner is the entrance to the Top of the Rock viewing gallery. The view from the top is stunning. Some say its better its better than being on the top of the Empire State building. I couldn’t decide.
Bars & Restuarants Visited
(Some also Reviewed separately: See post Sleepless in NYC- Bars & Restaurants)
- Joshua tree (Midtown East Bar)
- Bar 515 (Midtown East Bar)
- The Bar and Restaurant at Fig and Olive, Midtown
- Sunday Brunch at Bar Boulud (Upper West Side restaurant)
- Mermaid inn (Lower East Side restaurant)
- Alta (West Village Side restaurant)
- Cinema (Midtown East restaurant)
- Masala times (West village restaurant)
- Daniel (Midtown East Michelin Star restaurant)
- Ayza Wine and chocolate bar
- Mayahuel (Lower East Side restaurant)
- Brasserie Ruhlmann
- Artichoke pizza
- Max Brenner
- Brick oven pizza 33
Other trip notes:
As my second weekend in NYC approached, I switched on the TV only to realize that a snowstorm was hitting NYC!! Snow storm Nemo had NYC covered in over 1 foot of snow starting Friday afternoon into Saturday evening. So it was a restless weekend spent indoors. Nyc’s weather seems to be getting worse and worse. On my last trip I was stranded in hurricane Sandy and this time I was consumed by Snow Storm Nemo! Is someone listening to Al Gore?