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Travel | Day-trippin’ in New York City

I love New York City.  It just has a special place in my heart and no other city can quite compare. So, when you’re only a quick train ride in, like I am, it’s silly not to take advantage of it.

I had this past Monday off from work and so I made plans to hop into the city for the day with my good friend Katie.  We patiently watched the weather and decided Monday’s looked just fine despite a little rain in the morning.  We set on the 9:20am train, which would get us in around 10:45am.  That is, if we didn’t happened to live in New England, where the weather changes quicker than my high school student’s current crushes.
Although careful studying of the weather the night before had shown nothing even resembling snow, we got on the road just in time to be inundated with a full on blizzard.  No lies, I think some of the snowflakes were as big as Austin (as in my dog, not the city).  The best part was, it seemed as if the entire state had forgotten how to drive in the snow.  At one point, after sitting on the highway for about an hour, only to have moved about 5 miles, Katie threw up her hands in frustration and yelled, “Like, are we crazy? Shouldn’t we go home?”
The good thing about Katie, is she’s the perfect person to embark on adventures like this with.  While most people would insist on turning back and calling it a day, Katie agreed with me when I said we should try for the 10:40am train and if we missed it, then we’d go home. And then, after another hour on the same highway, Katie suggested that the 11:45am train would be fine, too.  We both knew there was no way we’d just spent 3 hours to drive what usually takes 20 minutes only to turn around and go home now.
So we pushed on and eventually found ourselves on a train, New York City bound. Upon arriving at Grand Central we hopped on a downtown train, rode it a few stops, and popped up in the East Village to sunny, blue skies and all memories of snow behind us.
New York City

 

Starving and in need of a drink to shake the past five hours of travelling Hell, we scooted around a few East Village streets before settling into Cafe Mocha – after being sucked in by a sign promising $6 sangria. It reminded me of the Parisian cafes and had me a little nostalgic for my trip to France last year.
sangria
I had withdrawn $100 from the ATM with plans to spend no more than that on the day trip.  I secretly love the challenge of trying to see how much trouble I can get into with the least amount of money.  The train and metro already put me back about $35, so $6 sangria sounded just about right.

 

 

 

We split baked goat cheese and some of the best bruschetta I’ve had in quite a while.  At only $9 a plate, and with our $6 sangria, we ended up paying less than $20 each.

 

Cafe Mocha was the perfect place to relax and recharge.  We used our double straws as chopsticks to get out every last good bit from the sangria and then headed back out into the perfect spring day.
New York City

 

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We meandered for a while.  We had plans to meet a friend in Times Square at 4:30, when he got out of work, so we slowly made our way up to Union Square and then strolled up Broadway.  We people watched, chatted about the sorts of things you chat about when you’re with a girlfriend, and I tried for a good while to convince Katie she needed to get herself a pair of galaxy pants.

Around 4:00 the strong desire for a good espresso hit and I went to my Yelp app to help me out.  I’m honestly so obsessed with Yelp, it’s not even funny.  I love that they don’t just give reviews and price points, but you can see photos of what the place will look like, check to see when they’re open and even make sure they’ll take a credit card if you’re not carrying cash.  And, Yelp didn’t let me down.
espresso culture
It took me two blocks off Broadway down 38th street to a place called Espresso Culture.  I wasn’t disappointed.
Espresso Culture
I probably could have set up a small tent in the corner of this tiny espresso shop and lived their forever.  The walls were covered in a gorgeous printed wallpaper and chandeliers hung from the ceiling but then, on top of that, all sorts of line drawings were plastered sporadically.
espresso culture
The best part was that they knew what they were doing when it came to the art of making an espresso.  It was the best I’d had since France and had me seriously bummed that there is no where remotely close to where I live where I can get a decent coffee or proper espresso (and nostalgic for France once again).  I think I need to open my own coffee shop and start a coffee revolution.  No more bad coffee.  I’ll only serve proper coffee and teach the world that Dunkin Donuts is scamming you out of what a coffee really is.
In my espresso induced happiness we walked a few more blocks up to 42nd street to met up with our friends Calum and Diego.  We stopped for a beer at New York Brew Company first, where the bartender gave me a little sampling of all their IPAs so I could pick my favorite.
 Then they took us to a bar Calum described as “Like Hollister, but a bar.”  At first this worried me as I pictured a bar that was obnoxiously hot, full of teenagers and popped collars, and saturated in bad cologne.  But as we approached we saw a clapboard announcing it was board game night and I started feeling a little better. What can I say, I love games.
Reunion Surf Bar
 Reunion Surf Bar had the whole California- vibe going on.  Considering we’d started our morning in a blizzard, it seemed like the perfect place to end our night.
Reunion Surf Bar
Additionally, they had some lovely Happy Hour drinks which made my plan to spend less than $100 the entire day a lot easier.  For $6 you could have one of their three drink specials including a frozen mojito, and they also offered $3 Pilsners.  I started with the Paloma, which was tequila-based with lime and grapefruit juice.  I also sampled the Acid Drop, which had vodka and grapefruit juice with a vanilla sugared rim,  as well a Pilsner. I mean, at those prices, come on.
We all split a glorious concoction called “tat”chos, or something tricky like that.  It was just tater tots made into nachos and they were so dang delicious, Napolean Dynamite would have been proud.
Reunion Surf Bar
When I saw them replenish the board games with Jenga, I was all about that.  Even better was someone had written all sorts of ridiculous things on each block like “truth,” “dare,” “make a rule,” “remove an article of clothing.” You know, all the good stuff.
Katie pulled the one telling her to take a shot of Devil’s Spring and not being one to not follow the rules of the game I promptly brought it to the bartender.  He knew exactly what I was asking for and even gave it to us on the house in the spirit of game night.  I’m quite sure Katie is still cursing me for making her take this. I think it was supposed to be vodka, but she claims it tasted like rubbing alcohol.
Jenga playing was super serious business…

  

…until someone knocks it over, that is.

Around 9:00, Katie and I remember we actually had to wake up and be active members of society in the morning. The boys walked us back to Grand Central where we all had one last snack.

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I got a slice of pizza called “Bubba Gump” which was topped with chorizo and shrimp and it was about the best way to end the night.

And then two very sleepy, but very happy, little ladies rode the train back home.

What’s your favorite way to spend a day in New York City?

Which city have you visited that is your favorite?

Also, does anyone happy to know what Devil’s Spring is? Just curious.

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