Courtney arrived at my apartment bright and early on the morning of June 1, 2016. Not before scrambling across my kitchen to lunge my still-warm hair straightener into my weekender bag, I opened the front door to find her doe-eyed and grinning (Court is consistently infectiously pleasant) with duffle and backpack in tow. I welcomed her in and apologized for being all over the place (I am consistently horrible at packing) and if I remember right, we exchanged some words about coffee: how much we needed it, when we could stop to acquire some, how long we could survive gliding along the highway without it before losing our minds. Naturally, we had spent the previous evening buzzing around our bedrooms and communicating via text message about our last-minute outfit choices for the trip to New York on which we were about to embark. My dress will look gorgeous next to your romper, let’s all wear mini dresses the second night, should I bring the red lipstick or the pink, etc.; dilemmas such as these consumed our attention until far past midnight, and though we were in dire need of coffee, there was no denying that those were splendid problems to have.
Hilary, who also took part in our late-night wardrobe discourse, was set to arrive at 9:15. Or 9:30? Perhaps it was 10:00. Whenever. She arrived, and when she did we piled our excessively overpacked bags into the trunk of her SUV to the excitement of our little girl gang’s queen bee, Lola.
2:00 PM (ish)
Having booked our stay in Astoria, we arrived at our destination sometime around 1:30 PM or 2:00 PM, quickly checked in, and decided to explore the neighborhood. With a peppy little Lola in tow, we headed for our first stop: Astoria Park.
Spanning nearly 60 acres between the Triborough Bridge and the Hellgate Bridge, Astoria Park is an urban oasis of sprawling green space stretching along the East River. The park features plenty of space to catch a tan or walk the dog, running tracks and tennis courts, its well-known pool attraction, and stunning views of the city. Also, Avengers.
After dropping Lola off, we buzzed over to Soho for an early dinner, drinks, and shopping. Our first stop was the can’t-miss bistro Jack’s Wife Freda. That afternoon was breezy and warm, and we were lucky enough to score one of their sidewalk tables to enjoy our meal in the sunshine. Their location on Lafayette looks out to Petrosino Square and is nestled smack in the center of a grid of hundreds of charming shops, cozy cocktail bars, and trendy eateries.
The menu that Jack’s Wife Freda offers is a cute, creased one-pager with all sorts of offerings and fun little doodles. Their cocktails all use your favorite classic spirits, and while the gin numbers were tempting (Hendricks and The Botanist were the stars of two drinks), we immediately requested three Pimm’s Cups.
We sipped our refreshing (and extremely photogenic) Pimm’s and spent way too long deciding what to order, only to learn that we were actually too early to order entrees. Too hungry to wait, we all agreed to opt for sandwiches instead. Hil opted for the Chicken Prego (below, left) while Court and I both went for the namesake Madame Freda (below, center and right). Our plates were, unsurprisingly, just as camera-worthy as our drinks.
After taking our time finishing our drinks and eating our (and each other’s) meals, perhaps after watching too many folks walk by with arms outstretched like branches dangling shopping bags of every make and color, we decided it was time to shop.
We made it about three minutes before realizing we needed dessert.
Outfitted behind a little window on Spring Street, just around the corner from JWF, is Baked by Melissa, which offers macaron-sized cupcakes in a dozen flavors and at a dollar a piece. While I easily could have eaten a dozen myself, we each tried one and conquered our communal sweet-tooth.
The rest of the afternoon was spent shopping around before we headed home to change for our first night out. We tried to go to a famous (defeating the purpose) speakeasy but, lacking a reservation, our endeavors were unsuccessful and we crept through that hot dog shop and crammed into that tiny phone booth for nothing. Pro tip: call ahead. (And before 3:00 PM, because they book fast.)
Instead, we went across the street and popped into the artsy little East Village Social, where we ended up having the time of our lives and staying until 4 AM. Hilariously enough, our first drink at the bar was a mystery shot (the contents of which remain unknown to us to this day) recommended by our beloved bartender Didi, who swore it would prevent any and all hangovers. We certainly indulged ourselves as the night went on, enjoying the company of our new BFF Didi and the number of artists and magicians that joined in on our conversations, and by some miracle, it worked. As we rolled home on the M (or was it the W? who knows) at 5 in the morning, we watched the sunrise and scurried off in search of late-night (early-morning) sustenance, which we found behind the steamy counter of a bakery that had only just opened. The owner gave us a giggle as he presented us with our pair of bagels and cream cheese and handed over a grease-stained paper bag.
“This is what you must order next time,” he said. We rolled it open to find a steaming, ridiculous-looking pastry rolled in sugar and filled with–bless his soul–Nutella.
And that’s how you spend your first 16 hours in New York.