a perfect weekend in new york by way of jersey city

Oh, hey there. It’s been a little while, hasn’t it? My writing mojo’s been missing, so I was just taking a little break, zooming through books, and planning our end-of-the-year escapades to Australia and New Zealand. (I’m not counting down the days, not at all.) But now I’m back, and I’m going to tell you about Memorial weekend in NYC by way of Jersey City. And this coming Saturday, I’ll be jetting off for 5 days in New Orleans, so you’ll have those posts to look forward to, as well (there I go being presumptuous, just assuming you look forward to my posts—you’ll allow this girl to keep the dream alive, won’t you?).

So, back to Memorial weekend! I flew into Newark to visit one of my best friends and favorite people in this world, Kate. I make it sound breezy, but it wasn’t so much, at least not the getting-there part. We left the house two and a half hours before my flight. It should have been fine. An hour there, an hour to get through security and to my gate before we boarded. But no. Highway traffic on the Friday before the holiday weekend had other ideas. It took us two hours to get to the airport. That’s right, I tucked and rolled out of my mother-in-law’s still-moving car promptly at 3:30 pm. Boarding was supposed to end at 3:45 pm. Commence harried begging at security to get me through faster, a sprint through the Westin entrance in the Delta terminal, and a barefoot-slapping, arms-full-of-crap, almost-left-my-license-behind, panic-filled sprint through the airport. Oh, and did I mention I was on standby? No? Oh, well, that just added another fun layer to an already fun experience. So I skidded up to the desk, panting, coughing, and asked frantically, “Did I miss it?” The attendant looked at me dubiously and asked, “Miss what?” To which I, of course, responded, “My flight to Newark.” (Subtext: “DUH.”) And he looks me with what could have been pity and said, “We haven’t even started.” To which I exhaled a whoosh of breath, which prompted a charming coughing fit (I am not a runner, in case you’re wondering). BUT friends, I made it! I made it through security and to my gate in less than 10 minutes—so, you know, in case you’re wondering, it is possible, if not heart-attack-inducing. And then we sat on the runway for 45 minutes because of something involving snack service and an out-of-order bathroom. Good times. BUT I made it to Jersey City in one piece, so I can’t complain too much.

a perfect weekend in new york
My favorite mural in JC.

On Friday night, we did what best friends who live far apart from each other do: We grabbed a giant pesto pizza from a place a few blocks from her apartment and caught up while plowing steadily through it. Previous visits to see her were a little more jam-packed with touristy things—on my first visit, we did Top of the Rock, we saw some Shakespeare in the Park, we picnicked in Central Park, we window-shopped along Fifth Avenue; my second visit was to attend BookCon with the express purpose of seeing BJ Novak interview Mindy Kaling following the release of her book, Why Not Me?—but we didn’t really know how all that works, so we didn’t get there three hours early to wait in line, so needless to say—womp, womp—there was no Mindy Kaling for us that day, but we did see Nick Offerman and Aziz Ansari, and that was pretty cool. I think she and I also saw Chicago on Broadway that visit (it’s weird to say I saw Chicago in New York). And on my third visit, my husband came along, so he and I did Top of the Rock and visited the Guggenheim, and had expensive chocolaty goodness at Max Brenner’s, and we all walked the High Line and hiked through a park in Brooklyn (not in the same day). But this trip was a wonderful balance of hanging out at her apartment—catching up on shows like Younger and Jane the Virgin that, had we still been roommates, we would have hung out and watched together in younger years, and chatting away like only old friends can—and hitting the town for some New York-y things.

On Saturday, we had lunch in Greenwich Village at the White Oak Tavern, which was all leather seats and chandeliers from the ’20s and dark paneled walls. It seemed like a place Hemingway and Fitzgerald might have hung out in to write back in the day—or maybe that’s just me projecting my Lost Generation fantasies on the place (I do it in Paris, too). I had a fantastic burger, and she had a super-healthy ancient grain salad with salmon that she said was also fantastic. We worked off our lunch with a little walk through Washington Square Park, mostly so that I could see that famous arch, and then along a few other charming leaf-copsed Village streets before we caught the train to World Trade, where I fulfilled my gelato dreams and got myself a cup of Crema di Grom (seriously, I dream about Grom gelato) before we caught Book Club at the nearby cinema.

Me and the bestie in Washington Square Park.
The Washington Square Arch.
The fountain in Washington Square Park.
That’s me in the green dress in front of the Arch. I look tinier than usual.
Under the Arch.


Our founding father and homebody George Washington adorns the, erm, Washington Square Arch. (Duh.)
A French restaurant in the Village.
Y’all know how much I love taking pictures of doors…
Emma Lazarus lived here.
…and doors…
…and a peace sign made out of foliage of some kind…
…and fancy doors…
…and windows with shutters and flower boxes…
…and hella old windows…

On Sunday, we went to see the Mean Girls musical at the August Wilson Theatre—and it was SO GOOD. Kate says it’s second-best musical she’s ever seen—and she’s seen a lot of shows since she’s moved to New York. Mean Girls was the perfect musical for us to see, too—it harkened back, again, to our roommate days, when we would watch that movie together. I had a smile on my face for the entire show. I’ll admit, I was a little skeptical when I heard that they made Mean Girls into a musical, but man, they really pulled it off. The production value was off-the-charts. They had a curved screen in the back which efficiently and effortlessly changed sets between scenes, or sometimes during song-and-dance numbers. SO MANY COSTUME CHANGES. And it was straight-up hilarious. (Not that I expected anything less from that comedic genius Tina Fey.) And the girl who plays Regina George, Taylor Louderman? That girl can belt it out. My arm hairs stood on end a couple of times when she really nailed those high notes! Moral of the story: Go see Mean Girls. Who knows how long it’ll be on Broadway (though 12 Tony nominations should be enough to keep it around for a little while, at least); it’s totally worth the hundred-something dollars you’ll spend on the cheap seats!

After the show, we hit up Eataly for dinner. Every single time I’ve gone to New York and come back, my co-worker promptly inquires whether I went to Eataly that time, and up until this time, I’ve always responded in the negative. Well, I wasn’t going to disappoint her this time, you guys. And thankfully it was Memorial weekend and the city was dead everywhere that wasn’t Times Square, or else we might not have made it happen. We ate at the first restaurant we happened across upon entry, one of the pasta ones on the main floor; I had pea ravioli with a mint bechamel sauce—delectable—but there are a handful of different places you can sit down and enjoy a meal in Eataly, including a place upstairs with nice views. Eataly is interesting, because it’s part-restaurant(s) and part market, so you can buy fresh meats and seafood and cheeses, and you can also buy pasta and canned sauces and the like. We topped off our visit with some creamy gelato—I got the lemon and it was super refreshing. I don’t know that it lived up to the hype my co-worker created around it, but it was a cool way to spend an evening and was like a little slice of Italy right there in the big city.

Deadpool 2/Gummy Bears Advertisement in Times Square, because why not?

Monday was Wonder Bagels for breakfast and walking along the water so I could see Lady Liberty and chilling out at her place and watching The Greatest Showman before I had to catch my flight. My husband was flying in from his weekend in LA, so I actually got to meet him at his gate when he deplaned, which is really rare post-9/11 and was kinda cool. If I’d been really cool, I would have made some kind of jaunty sign with his name on it a la Lily and Marshall from How I Met Your Mother—but alas, I did not…

20180528_104621So, as previously mentioned, I’ll be exploring New Orleans next week, so be on the lookout in the coming weeks for an itinerary and some individual posts on the things we’re going to do there—like a ghost tour, because that’s apparently the thing to do there, and I’m simultaneously terrified and excited (ghosts really freak me out). Till next time!

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Published by ashleymmaynard

Oh, hey. I'm Ashley. My passion is travel: from planning to adventuring and everything in between! I'm here to impart my wisdom on epic but affordable travel: how-tos, must-dos, and don't-dos!

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