Twenty two years ago, I embarked on a whirlwind three-week Contiki tour around Europe. The trip introduced me to two wonderful people who became cherished friends–Australians Sue and Dave. This week, I had the great pleasure of being reunited with Dave, for the first time since my last visit Down Under in 2009.
As soon as I saw Dave, it felt like no time at all had passed. We picked up right where we left off–enjoying some beloved NYC haunts along the way.
We brunched outside at neighborhood eateries Beach Cafe and Five Napkin Burger, both of which I love even more now because they’re dog-friendly. My sweet Benji joined me and Dave, quietly taking in the scenery while we ate.
Taking advantage of picture perfect weather, Dave and I also strolled around Central Park and the High Line, and did rooftop drinks at Meatpacking District hipster hotspot the Gansevoort Hotel. For dinner, we lingered at The Plaza’s Food Hall by Todd English (epic truffled lobster mac and cheese), savored the Greek delights of Gramercy bistro Barbounia and indulged in Italian fare at favorite UES Bottega restaurant (Tiramisu to die for).
Throughout the delicious meals and engaging local sights, Dave and I shared wonderful, soul-soothing conversations about life, love, loss, careers and travel. I was in awe when Dave told me about his post-tsunami volunteer work in Sri Lanka. And he listened with compassion as I confided what I have been through over the last year.
I’m a big believer in the saying that friends are the family we choose for ourselves. God has truly blessed me in my extended family–and I am so thankful Dave is a part of it.
Til next time, my dear friend.
Years ago, during my Single Gal In The City days, a blog reviewer astutely identified my most successful love affair. That love affair is blossoming anew as I rediscover the many joys of life in the Big Apple.
One month into my job at the legendary Pierre Hotel, I am truly savoring every workday. From a picturesque location directly across from Central Park to talented and welcoming colleagues—The Pierre has reminded me why I love what I do. Hospitality attracts creative, dedicated and generous people. And it offers the opportunity to be immersed in everything that makes the Big Apple so special.
Over the last week, I’ve been to three Broadway shows (Present Laughter, On Your Feet and Cats—all must sees!). I’ve taken in the sweeping views from Top of The Rock and walked the High Line with one of my best friends. I’ve enjoyed a girls night out that included dinner at Rosa Mexicano in Union Square and seeing the always awesome Jessie’s Girl. And I’ve enjoyed a beer garden and five-star cheese shop in Williamsburg. On the work front, I’ve helped to launch an exciting upcoming outdoor event and I’ve become acquainted with a delightful, accomplished opera singer who shares my passion for all things NYC.
I feel like I am looking at every Big Apple adventure through fresh eyes. Before my five-month stint last year in L.A., my vision was more than a little cloudy when it came to NYC. Now, I know with every fiber of my being that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. In the city so great they named it twice. The concrete jungle where dreams are made of.
And where it’s never, ever too late to begin again.
One of the high points of my five month stint in LA last year was getting to know my colleague Inga. We became fast friends while working at the SLS At Beverly Hills, bonding over our long distance then-boyfriends and efforts to acclimate to California life.
Inga later moved back to Hawaii, her home prior to LA. We got to catch up this week while she was in town, during a truly epic girls day out.
Our first stop was Vella, a wine bar that used to be a favorite of mine. Time hasn’t been kind to this Upper East Side venue. The hostess was surly when I asked if they could turn down the blaring house music more appropriate for a nightclub. We were given dirty glasses that had lipstick marks on them, as did the replacement ones. If you’re in the neighborhood, skip this place and visit the far superior Uva and Vero.
Our second destination more than made up for the first. Mela East restaurant offers rustic charm, great Italian fare and wine selections, and fantastic service. Affable Italy-born host Enzo took great care of us.
While seated comfortably at the bar, Inga and I continued our wonderful, wide ranging conversation. We talked about career crossroads, why L.A. wasn’t for either for us, old flames, new crushes and the joys of having a pet (I’m planning to get a dog soon). About ten hours passed before we said goodnight.
Another dear friend bought me an engraving that says friendship brings the sun. As I come out of the darkness of depression, it is truly the light of all my friends that has gotten me to the other side. That and being back in the city I love more than ever.
One of the great blessings that has helped in transitioning to life in LA is knowing some pretty awesome people out here. I was reminded of this during a recent girls night out with journalism school classmate Cole.
We met up at cozy West Hollywood wine bar A.O.C. Over some fantastic white wine and shared plates, Cole and I had a fantastic conversation about long distance love, leaving the TV news world behind and the emotional journey of moving from NYC to LA.
It felt so comforting to talk about shared experiences — from acclimating to LA’s significantly more sprawling layout and follow your bliss vibe to the high volume of aspiring celebrities waiting to be discovered at almost every bar/restaurant. And to have a sympathetic ear for the challenges of making such a huge life change.
I am thankful for the opportunity that brought me here and the great friends new and old in my new zip code. Still, LA doesn’t quite feel like home yet. That reality was apparent during two recent weekends away when I was asked by multiple Uber drivers where I am from.
“I’m from New York but I live in LA,” I replied.
I just couldn’t bring myself to say I am from LA. When you’ve spent most of your life in New York like I have, it is more than your hometown — it is a huge part of who you are.
Of course, it has only been 3 months since I left the Big Apple and I have barely scratched the surface of La La Land. But I know for sure that I will continue to carry NYC with me. Always.
On Thursday, I enjoyed a girls night out with my colleague Inga.
In the crowded landscape of burger joints in the Big Apple, Five Napkin Burger is one of the best. So I was excited when 5N recently opened a second location — right around the corner from me.
Like its sister restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen, the Upper East Side 5N offers a low-lit bistro vibe, friendly wait staff and a mouthwatering menu of options for burger aficionados. During my first visit, I grabbed a high table near the bar and enjoyed the asiago turkey burger, delicious and as plentiful in size as its beef counterpart. Their cocktail menu is equally robust. I enjoyed the Velvet Mule, a refreshing variation on the Moscow mule.
Signature drinks were also on the menu during my second visit to 5N, with galpal Ayesha. She tried the Breakaway Mai Tai while I savored a Rum Swizzle Punch, both from the Caribbean-inspired drink menu section, and which immediately made me think about relaxing on an island somewhere.
Speaking of travels, we talked about upcoming vacations (I’ve got 3 getaways planned for 2016), fighting the holiday battle of the bulge and job changes. The new year will bring an new dimension to work, with the addition of the Sheraton Grand Chicago to my marketing manager job. So excited for this–and the promise of a fresh start that always accompanies turning the calendar page.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!