Saturday afternoon is when the weekend really started, however. My good friend Casey Bolger from home flew into the city with his dad Tim, brothers Brian and Kevin, and Kevin's friend Bryce. I went down to their hotel around 5pm. It took me about an hour to get down there because where they were staying was located more towards the lower east side, so it just takes longer to get down there from the upper west side, especially on the weekends.
They were staying at the Gramercy Park Hotel which is SO nice. Casey said he thought it was scary but I thought it was really neat. It's kind of like a super old hotel, but it's revamped. The decor is amazing.
Casey and I decided to go out and explore the city a bit. He's not new to New York. His dad grew up here so they come every year, however Casey hasn't come out in two years so it had been a little while.
I wasn't sure where to take him, especially since I'm not familiar with that area. We ended up walking close by Shake Shack so we made a stop there since our dinner reservations weren't until 9:15. I wasn't hungry at all but of course couldn't help getting a peanut butter concrete. It wasn't the best one I've ever had, and frankly I'm starting to be a little disappointed with the Shack as my last couple experiences haven't been up to par.
Here's Casey and me in front of Washington Park. I like how I look like paste. Casey has been doing nothing all summer but going to the beach, while I've been doing nothing but working. So sad. Such a stark difference to last summer.
Then we just walked uptown on 5th Ave. We made a stop at Cheap Jack's, a vintage store. Chelsie and I stumbled upon this place once and it's pretty fun. It's HUGE and outrageously overpriced. When I'd gone in there before I didn't go downstairs to the guy's department, but after going there with Casey I found out that's where the real treasures are. There was a strict "no photos" policy, which was a total crime. Some of the best things we found included: hot pink Lee jeans (for guys), a pink tuxedo jacket, a powder blue button up shirt, much like the one my dad wore at my parents' wedding reception, pants with mallard ducks all over them, and onsies pajamas with a trap door. There were SO many other great things besides just these, however.
Then we headed up and walked past Bryant Park, through Columbus Circle, and then went to see the Manhattan LDS temple since Casey hadn't seen it before.
After that we headed down to meet everyone else for dinner at Amalia on 55th and 7th Ave. We got there a little early so we took a pic while we were waiting.
Once we finally got seated I realized we were in a very nice restaurant and I was feeling a little under dressed in my tunic, leggings, and rainbows. I was really wishing I had more of a refined taste when it comes to food. The menu was very expensive, and I hardly knew what anything was. I was finally able to spot a chicken dish, so I went with that. It was pretty good. I couldn't even tell you what I got for dessert. I thought what I was ordering was something chocolate with fruit, and it turned out to be some concoction of peaches, almonds, raspberry slush on the side, some clear jelly that I thought was a little ice sculpture until it started jiggling, and various other things.
Casey was so excited to have me along because everyone in his family has very refined taste, and he's super picky, just like me. Here we are being the picky eater's club. (Don't worry, I wasn't rude, I think I hid my pickiness pretty well.....wait till you hear what I tried the next day.)
After dinner we headed down to the basement where there's a bar and club. I don't know how else to explain what it looked like other than it reminded me of a crypt. I kept thinking there were hidden passage ways and secret clues sine I'd just finished Angels and Demons the night before. It was pretty empty as it was only 11pm and these places don't start getting busy until 1am at least. Casey and I were pretty tired so we decided to take off, as well as his dad, but his brothers and Bryce decided to stay for a bit. His dad insisted on putting me in a cab and giving me way too much cash to pay for it. I felt guilty, but I have to admit it was such a treat to take a cab. Tim is such a nice man!
Sunday morning I got up early, around 8am (definitely early for a Sunday!) and headed down to the hotel around 10:30. We hopped in a couple cabs and headed down to another very nice restaurant called Balthazar. Casey, Tim, and I took one cab and as soon as we stepped out Tim realized he'd left his phone in the car. Understandably he was very upset. Casey was smart and pulled out his phone and kept dialing his dad's cell. Luckily the cabbie picked up and we were able to meet up to get the phone back. Phew!
Balthazar was another very nice restaurant. Thanks again Tim!! The other boys were struggling because they'd been out clubbing till 4am.
After brunch we headed back to the hotel for a bit to kill some time. This was the first time I got to walk past the lobby. The rooms were seriously so nice. I loved how the bathrooms were designed and wish I could explain them to paint a picture. Everything was amazing though. There were huge flat screen tvs and really comfy beds. We chilled out and watched some tv and everyone but Casey took a nap (including me.) :)
Casey thought the walls were really creepy the way they're painted red. They reminded me of The Shining.
We headed down to the lobby to meet up with everyone to go to Wicked. I was so excited. I've been hearing about Wicked for three years now and everyone raves about it. Tim totally bought tickets for everyone which was so nice of him. He'd seen it before so when Casey's cousin Jill found out she was going to be in town Tim let her have his ticket.
We sat in the bar for a few minutes while everyone gathered. There was really cool tile on the floor so Casey and I attempted to capture it in a pic but it didn't quite work out. It just looks like normal tile, haha.
When we finally were all ready to head to the theater there was a very nice black Mercedes waiting in front of the hotel to drive us to the theater. Nice.
We were seriously so excited...
You can't see but the stage is seriously about five feet away. We could see the director of the orchestra. Seriously amazing. Tim, you are my fav.
Of course the show was great but I have to say I don't think anything could live up to the three years of reviews I've been hearing. Everyone goes on and on and on about how wonderful it is, as if it's three hours of euphoria. Don't get me wrong, I loved it. I thought it was great. Everyone should go see it, but it was a little oversold.
After the show we walked through Times Square for a bit (ugh) and then met up with Tim back at the Gramercy Park Hotel bar for drinks (obviously Diet Coke for me and water for Case.) Then we headed out to dinner at a restaurant called Craft. This was honestly the nicest place I've ever eaten. The servers brought out new plates and silverware for every course, and it was about a two hour ordeal. The standard for bigger parties (there were seven of us) is to order a bunch of entrees and sides and everyone shares. Again, I ordered the chicken. There were a couple different potato variations ordered and of course they were delish. Everyone else ordered different kinds of meets and fish and whatnot. Casey and Tim split the Porter House T-bone steak and let's just say the price tag was in the 3-figures. I felt so guilty eating at such an expensive place, but it seemed pretty normal for everyone so I just tried to blend in. I was very proud of myself because I tried the scallops (not that bad, but I'd never order them) and, are you ready for this? Bone marrow. Yes, bone marrow. I know, right? Seriously makes me want to cringe. It came in, yes, bones, with the steak Tim and Casey had. It was there for so long and I figured when will I ever have another chance so....why not? I just had a tiny taste. It just tasted like a salty sauce. I was pretty disgusted after though.
After the entrees the servers brought us what looked like tall shot glasses filled with peach spritzer. It was to "cleanse the pallet." Then we all ordered different desserts and shared these also. They were amazing. I ordered chocolate souffle and a side of strawberry ice cream. Divine. Everyone's dessert was so good. After dessert the servers brought us chocolate chip biscuit type things. I can't even remember the fancy name for it.
After dinner we walked home. It was pretty nice out. It was about 10:30pm when we got back to the hotel and I decided I would head home because I was exhausted. I said my goodbyes and once again, Tim wouldn't allow me to get on the subway. He hailed a cab for me and forced money in my hand. I felt so badly but there's just no telling him no.
It's so nice to be around such generous people. Despite all the fancy spoiling of the weekend, however, I just had the best time with Casey. I've been looking forward to this all summer. Casey is the kind of friend you know no matter what you do you're going to have the best time. Literally every time I'm with him I get in one of those giddy moods and just laugh and laugh, and it was basically like that for 48 hours. It was the best time.