Friday, August 9, 2013

The Big Grape

Yesterday was my first cleanse day in almost a week! We decided to skip off to New York for a bit of a break and as per the rules, no cleanse days when you're on vacation! You're probably thinking New York in August? H-O-T!! B-U-S-Y!! C-R-A-Z-Y!!

But the weather was unbelievably perfect the whole time - warm, but not sweltering, blue skies and no humidity! (Yeah, Ms. Meteorologist at your service here.) Plus we stayed at the Essex House overlooking Central Park and somehow, the Park eased all the stress of August in the city. (btw, the hotel looks a little dated from the outside, but it was just lovely!

We had an incredible suite on the 32nd floor with a view of the Park that was ... well ... life-changing. To watch the sun come up over the Upper East Side every morning? To see the place, so ominous and huge and black at night? Wow. It was just amazing.

Being on the Park is actually quieter than most places in Manhattan - even with the horse-drawn carriages and the bagpipe player who insisted on entertaining us every morning. The trees, the ponds, the sheer breadth of the place, somehow absorbs the harried pace of the city, not to mention the sound of traffic and sirens. I've never stayed Uptown before - but it's quite a treat. Especially if you can spend a lot of time in the Park. Usually, New York vacations are anything but relaxing - exciting, exhausting, fun, sure - but relaxing? Not really. Yet the natural beauty of the Park made every hour you spent there feel like a whole week at summer camp.

Believe it or not, the Park was originally established not just for wealthy Manhattanites to have a pretty place to show off their parasols, but to offer "working-class New Yorkers a healthy alternative to the saloon."  Ha! Talk about a civic experiment that worked out!

Having said that, you can actually get a drink in the Park and (naturally) a few of my personal highlights included doing just that. I was super-excited about the trip because the last time I was in New York, I was on a 28-day cleanse. To be honest, even the Big Apple is more interesting with fermented grapes.

The first morning, we headed out fairly early, wandering the Upper West Side and going into the Park (I'm doing some research for my novel there.) We had already been out a couple of hours when the clock was just striking noon. "Whaddaya wanna do now?" the hubs asked.  "I know!" I said. "Let's go to the Boat Pond for a drink!" Because last time we were in NYC, we were there but had to drink iced tea and lemonade!! Wah-wah!!
The Boat Pond (or Conservatory Water) was modeled after similar ones in Parisian parks and there were quite a few kids - and even more grownups! - twirling the remote control sailboats around the water. We sat at the green iron tables in the sun-dappled shade of Knish Nosh, the conservatory water snack bar, and I had a lovely - if teensy and plastic - glass of pinot grigio and soaked up the sights.

Another memorable park tipple was at the Boat House which boasts being the only Manhattan resto on a lake. This was my second glass of wine for the day in the Park. We were actually headed back to the hotel, but when we saw the place, it was just so elegant and picturesque, we had to stop for a drink. Plus it was pretty entertaining to watch the tourists flail about the lake on rented rowboats - banging into each other like so many bumper cars. Everyone everywhere was in such a good mood! Well, almost everyone.

It's always fun to people watch - especially on vacay - and there was a particularly interesting couple at the Boat House that day. I noticed her right away. Her bleached blonde hair, her pouty lips, her gorgeous sunglasses, her this-season Prada saffiano bag, her schmancy black suit - and diamonds, diamonds, diamonds! We're talking French Revolution-level diamond-wearing, mid-afternoon in Central Park! Judging from her perfect, lineless skin - and that natural pout - she was possibly twenty-two.

Her husband, on the other hand was sixty. Probably closer to sixty-five. White-haired, pot-bellied and casually well dressed (read blue suede Tod's moccasins). Despite his lovely date and the snazzy shoes, he was slouched forward as if he was feeling badly about something. She pounded back two glasses of white wine for every glass of red he had - and they did not say a WORD to each other the whole time we were there. I have no idea what the spat was about - possibly he wouldn't buy her that pair of $5000 Louboutins or something. Or maybe they just never talk at all. Because she was still ignoring him when we saw them again later that night! 

What are the odds you're going to see the same couple six hours apart in Manhattan? I mean, even if you are all staying Uptown. The hubs and I were heading out for a swishy Italian dinner at Sirio at The Pierre.  Here's a shot of the bar there. I just love bars! Go figure. All the bottles, the lights, the labels.

Anyway, on our way there, we walked up 5th Avenue, chatting about the day, excited about the night, when who do I spot? Well - first I noticed the platinum blonde hair (you haven't seen that shade since the 50s) - and then, holy crap!! A diamond choker that flashed like strobe lights around her neck. We're talking red carpet diamonds here. The hair was up, the LBD was short and the heels were sky high. She and sugar-daddy walked side-by-side, not holding hands - and still not talking. Her arms were crossed, her little eyebrows were furrowed (she was pre-Botox age) and the pout was even worse than in the Park! She seemed to be seething about something - I have no idea what. I started to think ... Were they possibly father and daughter on some kind of getaway? Who knows? I just wanted to stop them and say: "What is your story, man!? It's freaking me out!"

Here's some footage of our view from the Boat House patio. You can see the couple I'm talking about sitting next to the pond, the man's back to us. Btw, this is the only time I remember her even looking at him - let alone anything else.  I apologize for the shaky framing and whatnot - had I thought I was going to post it, I would've tried to be a little more Kubrickian. ;) Next time!