This morning we had an early walking tour of Chelsea, the Highline and Meatpacking District...it started at 9:30am, so we had to be up and out the door early. Luckily, we got over with no issues and found our way by subway to the right stop. We even arrived 10 min early! There was quite a large group, so they split us into two. (The tour was with New York Tour 1).
Our guide was a pretty funny guy named Kevin ('looks like Brad Pitt' was his quote...lol). He was handing out high 5's when people answered his trivia questions correctly. So his first question was about Nabisco's most famous cookie (Chelsea Market used to be the Nabisco factory)...I stupidly said Arrowroot, but of course it is Oreo. No high 5. But then, my chance to look like a brainiac. He asked the name of the cookie that Nabisco stole the Oreo idea from. He said...no one ever gets this one...but thanks to the magical powers of podcasts, I knew the answer (Hydrox). Thanks 99PI (99% invisible) podcast for making me look super smart...I got like 6 high 5's. Lol. Then he gave us 15 min to go take a run thru the building (and to cement the fact that we would be coming back after the tour ended). Lots of neat shops inside. The area is also home to a lot of tech companies (Google owns a whole block there)...YouTube has offices there. Also home to Food Network - so if you like super expensive food, some of the star chefs have restaurants nearby (I think 4 within a block). I don't do Food Network, so it was lost on me a little. Well, I shouldn't say that - I did use to get the FN magazine in the mail, but we don't do $$$ food.
Then we were off to the Highline. It's quite a feat they did there - we had been going to visit in 2011 but parts were still under construction. And we ran out of time. But it is amazing what they did with this old elevated railway track to make a beautiful park. Our guide Kevin took us up on the highline and showed us where they kept some of the original rail laid to give people an idea of what it was like before. There are lots of beautiful flowers planted so lots of butterflies and bees. There was one area nearby with a 'pop-up' shop with some artisans selling art, t-shirts and other things. Some of the interesting harbour things were pointed out (including another question I got right that not many people get - which ship left from the port and was sunk by the Germans, effectively pulling the US into WW1 - I had just listened to the audiobook about the Lusitania a few weeks before, so I knew that one as well. The book is called Dead Wake by Eric Larson if anyone wants a good read). He pointed out the Standard hotel (where Beyoncé's sister famously smacked JayZ, I think it was...lol). Not a particularly striking (pun intended) building. But popular with the rich folks!
We saw a short section of the Highline before heading back down and seeing a little of the Meatpacking District. We heard the lurid stories about decades ago when it literally was the meatpacking district, then the stories about back in the '80's when it was figuratively the 'meatpacking' district (as in, a hangout for gay men). Kevin pointed out Gansevoort Market which is still a bit 'undiscovered' so less busy and we had a few minutes to take a walk thru and decided we would go back for lunch as there are some really nice little food stalls there. We were told a little more history of the area (most of which I forget - google is your friend) and Kevin left us with some restaurant recommendations - there are so many amazing looking joints in the area - you can't go wrong. We decided to head back to Gansevoort Market and got some meatball sliders from the Meatball Guys. Very yummy and just the right size to hold us out until supper. It was one large meatball with pizza sauce and cheese on a lovely fresh bun. Messy, but whatever. And some lemon soda from Italy to wash it down. We wandered the market a little more and picked up 4 macaron cookies from Dana's Bakery. I can't rem the flavours we got (strawberry, orange, there was a blue one and ?? - but they were so delicious). http://www.gansmarket.com/
Nearby was a pastry shop I had marked on my map (BTW - CityMapstoGo is a great app I use on my iPad. You can use it offline to see where you are in real time. You only have to connect to the internet once when arriving in the city, then it is good to go. I love to pin places on the map I want to see - whether it is sights or restaurants or stores - then when we are in the area I can look at the map and make sure we aren't missing anything.) Well, I marked a lot of pastry (and ice cream) shops on my map, and unfortunately, this was the only one we got too. I'm not going to try and spell the darn French name... http://www.auxmerveilleux.com/home_en/
...but they have shops in London, Paris and NY (among other places) and I am determined to visit all three stores in the three cities this year. That is my goal! So I had this delicious little confection made of meringue, chocolate whip cream and rolled in chocolate shavings. I would have had a few to go, but they are so delicate, they would have melted in no time in the heat. So yummy. They were also baking what looked like raisin bread (but I'm sure it was some fancy bread). It smelled delicious. I'm glad I made it in. I just checked the other meringue flavours and I could be in trouble when we get to Paris...lol.
So now I was all hopped up on meringues and macarons, so we went back over to Chelsea market and popped into some of the shops. There was one that had lots of imported foods and we got some orange choco chip shortbreads from Scotland, and a raspberry soda from Britain. There was also a store with a bunch of stalls selling artisan goods and I got a really cute black Labrador key chain (Marc Tetro - very funky) and some lovely smelling soap that will probably come to Europe with me as it can be used on your hair from LimeGreen. The scent is zinnia and it smells quite nice. If I really like it, I'll probably order online from her. http://www.brooklynlimegreen.com/ If we hadn't just eaten a bunch of sweets, there was a doughnut shop there that I would have loved to try.
We decided to walk the length of the highline. It was getting quite hot by now, but we had a bit of a cooling breeze from the River. The other good thing was there were a few water fountains along the way - tho it was hard to fill a water bottle from them. Most of the benches with shade were occupied and it was too hot to sit in the sun. As we got near the end of the line, we found a covered/shady area with benches (near Penn Station I believe) where we could sit and cool down. We weren't too far from the end, which comes out not too far a walk from the Intrepid. When we got off the line, there were a couple guys selling drinks and cart food, so we got a nice ice cold bottle of water (at $4 a pop - whew!).
We walked the 10 min or so walk along the waterfront to where Circle Line has their cruises - which was covered by our NY Pass. Luckily, we arrived about 10 min before one was to leave, so we did that one instead of having to wait over an hour for the next. I had really been hoping to do a harbor lights cruise, but we were never in the right place at the right time - oh well, something to do next time. I had also hoped to do a schooner cruise, but again...never in the right place. We ended up doing the Liberty Cruise which sailed out to the Statue of Liberty and back. One scary thing that happened - I opened my bag to get my zoom camera lens out and there was a big ass spider in my bag! Lucky I didn't throw the whole thing overboard and thank God the spider crawled right out. It must have gotten in while we were on the Highline. *Shudder*
So back to over by the Intrepid at the end of the cruise (which went a long way towards cooling us down) and I was determined that today would be the day we would have Shake Shack, but first, we had to slog those long blocks back towards Times Square. It was pretty much supper time, so there was even more horn honking than usual. One intersection we came to basically had people going into the intersection and getting caught by the red light. Then the people going the other way tried threading thru the ones stuck and then they got stuck...pretty much gridlock. I stopped to take a photo (because it was hilarious to me) and there was a man walking and laughing and he said he was a bus driver and had to deal with that crap every day and that people were so stupid and never learned...at least he was amused. I think today we made a run to the library before hitting Shake Shack and were able to get the bookends that we missed the day before.
So we did pretty good at Shake Shack. The place is bonkers crazy. Most times we walked by there would be a few dozen people in line on the sidewalk. When we hit, there were maybe 6 in front of us. By the time we got to the counter, the line was about 2 dozen long again out the door. Took less than 10 min to get to the counter and less than 10 to get our meal. We even managed to snag a few chairs by really keeping an eye on who was finishing up and getting ready to leave. They messed up hubby's order, but we didn't want to go thru trying to get it fixed (he ordered bacon and didn't get it). The burgers were good...certainly better than your average fast food burger, and the fries were good, and I really enjoyed my vanilla milkshake...but I guess you hear so much about these places that you really build them up in your head to be the absolute best you've ever had...well...they were above average, but not super duper. If I'd spent 30 min standing in line, I'd be a little upset. So, if you are wondering about Shake Shack...if the line isn't too long...go for it.
After Shake Shack we went to Midtown Comics (snore...for me) and hubby picked up a couple of t-shirts so he was happy. Because of the heaviness of the bookends and the heat of the day, even tho it was only about 7pm, we decided to head back to the room so I could do some night shots of the city. We walked down to the waterfront again and meandered along the path, stopping to rest and take photos along the way. There was a pier with a bunch of food trucks (oh, I would have loved to try the waffle one) that were just starting to close up for the night. Oh, we also got to meet an absolutely adorable golden retriever pup...who seemed very tired and didn't want to move once he stopped so we could pet him...soooo adorable. We got back to the room a little before 10pm and decided to just get an early night. This may have been the night where at 2am, the smoke detector decided the battery was dying...so it started beeping...and beeping...OMG. But our host heard it and must have heard me come out of the room (I thought maybe it was something in the hallway before deciding it was the smoke detector in our room). So he came down, piled two ottomans on top of each other (!)...the ceilings are quite high...and got the battery out, apologizing profusely. Of course, hubby can fall right back to sleep, but I have a hard time once I'm up...so if probably took a good hour + for me to get back to sleep. UGH.