Being a “grown up” is hard work! Our days are filled with schedules, carpools and far too many responsibilities! Successfully maintaining the title, “adult” requires lists, delegation and the ability to juggle a million things all while appearing unfazed. That is exactly why it is important to take a little time every once in a while, to recharge our emotional batteries and nurture our exhausted souls. “Girlfriend Getaways” are the perfect way to do so!
Way back in the ‘80’s I met a bunch of cool chicks who would become my lifelong friends. We were all students at our beloved Juniata College where we lived together and made memories we still laugh about today. Each year we spend one weekend together catching up on each other’s lives and reminiscing about the days gone by. Since we are spread across four different states, we vary the location of our annual reunion but always try to make it easily accessible for everyone. Recently, we spent a weekend in NYC walking in the footsteps of another, more famous group of girlfriends, the girls from “Sex in the City!”
Now, being ladies of a certain age, we are successful enough to appreciate and dare I say, almost require, a nice place to stay on our annual visits. On this occasion, we chose the Warwick Hotel at 65 W 54th Street, in Manhattan as our home base. The Warwick Hotel was established in 1926 by William Randolph Hearst who built the hotel for the love of his life, Marion Davies. Upon arrival, one is instantly transported to another era filled with opulence and luxury. Randolph’s bar and lounge, located just off the lobby, with its large windows overlooking the Avenue of the Americas, was a perfect gathering spot as we waited for each of the ladies to arrive. Our evening there consisted of yummy signature cocktails, cheese plates and upscale appetizers as we chatted effusively, often simultaneously, thrilled to be together and aware of how quickly these 72 hours would pass.
The morning found us armed with coffee and a quick bite, ready to head off to the famed Plaza Hotel where we would meet our guide and begin our bus tour to visit the hot spots featured on the popular HBO series. In the frigid cold we waited with other groups of women, anticipating the fun we would have and hoping that the $50 ticket price would be worth it. It soon became obvious that it was time for the fun when we noticed a bus pull up covered in photographs of the characters from the show. (www.onlocationtours.com )
Upon boarding the bus, the entertainment began immediately. Our tour guide, who was an expert on all things Sex in the City, directed our attention to the video screens where we viewed clips from the show that related to the locations we’d be visiting that had been important in the lives of these fictional characters.
Our first stop was the White Horse Tavern ( http://www.whitehorsetavern1880.com ), right smack in the middle of the village at 567 Hudson St. This iconic pub, established in 1880, is the second oldest continuously run tavern in NYC and served as a backdrop to many girlfriend gatherings on SITC. The inside of the bar is warm and welcoming with much of the original woodwork and a beautiful tin ceiling. We were lucky to find seats as we enjoyed our first cocktail of the day (at additional cost) before re-boarding our bus for the next stop.
Magnolia Bakery (www.magnoliabakery.com ), whose famous butter cream topped cupcakes may have started the cupcake craze, was the next stop. We were served pink frosted cupcakes before leaving the bus and invited to explore not only Magnolia but the surrounding trendy West Village boutiques. Time passed quickly here and 30 minutes later we were back on the bus and headed for Budakkan!
Budakkan (www.buddakannyc.me), as fans of the show will recall, was the location for Carrie and Big’s rehearsal dinner. It is huge with several beautifully decorated rooms featuring giant wall murals and Asian artifacts. The menu is upscale Chinese and the prices are very NYC. We stayed for a cocktail, took several photos and we were back on our way.
As we parked at our fourth location, whispers and giggles could be heard throughout the bus. This was the R-rated part of the tour. Fans of the show will recall the famed “rabbit” that was introduced to the ladies by Miranda and which Charlotte became obsessed with! We had arrived at a shop called, The Pleasure Chest at 156 7th Avenue South. It was almost comical to see how “The Rabbit” was featured front and center on the largest store display. Clearly, we were a captive audience and they were hoping for lots of sales! The shop, which did feature some eyebrow raising unique items, felt less seedy than one would expect. Although interesting to explore, our group re-boarded the bus empty handed and ready for another cocktail at our next destination, the famed location of Aidan and Steve’s bar, Scout.
O’Nieal’s Grand Street Bar (www.loungenewyork.com) was the location used as Scout. Its storied history tells of an old speak easy with an underground tunnel to the police station across the street! We were thrilled to enter and find a hostess holding trays of Cosmos, the signature drink for the ladies of SITC! White twinkle lights around the front window seemed to beckon us to a cozy booth with 5 empty seats. It had been an interesting day filled with lots of cool trivia about one of our favorite shows but we were now ready to kick back and enjoy this tasty libation. Sadly, after 2 cosmos, we had to leave this adorable spot to rejoin the tour to visit our final destination. The tour concluded at the HBO store @ 1100 Avenue of the Americas (where else?) with smiles and thanks. We had spent 4 hours living like our favorite characters and now we were ready for more fun. Our tour guide handed us a variety of coupons for the locations we visited and gave us some “inside scoop.” It seemed that the REAL Carrie, Sarah Jessica Parker would be launching an upscale exclusive line of shoes the next day. This elite event would take place in SOHO at a pop up Nordstrom boutique! It felt serendipitous so we added it to our plan for the next morning.
At the suggestion of a foodie friend, we planned dinner that night at Ristorante Il Melograno, (www.ilmelogranonyc.com). It is an intimate authentic Italian restaurant located at 501 West 51st Street where the bread and pasta are homemade and the ingredients are imported from Italy. Our cute Italian waiter wooed us with suggestions from the menu and descriptions of the specials for the evening. Each of us selected something different and enjoyed tasting from each other’s plates. We topped off the evening with a delightfully rich cup of cappuccino and simple sweet dessert special.
Brunch after a fun filled Saturday night was at the hotel restaurant, Murals. We lingered over conversation since some of the ladies needed to begin their trek back home before the realities of Monday morning arrived. After saying our good bye to our pals, a few of us decided to see what the pop up boutique was all about. We hoped our SITC weekend would be topped off by a siting of the ever fashionable, Sarah Jessica Parker! We took a cab to the Nordstrom boutique at 372 West Broadway and quickly realized we were not the only people with this brilliant idea. The lines were down the block and around the corner! The energy was effervescent! Word was that she was on her way and would arrive any minute. Cameras were poised, the fans were elated. Soon, the energy waned. It became obvious the information about her impending arrival had been erroneous but we waited anyway, chatting with others in line, anxious to meet the star and even more anxious to try on her new line of fabulous shoes! Suddenly, without any fanfare, a black town car pulled up and from it emerged a petite well-dressed woman……SJP had arrived! Big burly guards surrounded her as she smiled and waved to the crowd. Quickly they ushered her out of the cold into the elegant boutique where she would meet with fans and assist in their shopping for the perfectly dreamy high heeled shoes. Again, we were in line, this time waiting to enter, explore and possibly make an expensive purchase. Reality began to set in. It was midday Sunday and images of our “real lives” began to creep into our thoughts. We decided to forgo waiting in line, promising ourselves we would check out her website to look at the shoes. www.nordstrom.com/SJP
Our final stop was at an adorable French patisserie, Laduree, 398 West Broadway, which we happened upon it as we began our walk back to the hotel. What a delightfully “frou-frou” boutique it is! We were captivated by the very French vibe and beguiled by the delectable treats in the bakery case. Front and center were 20 watercolor versions of perfectly yummy looking macarons. Each of us studied the flavors, oohing and ahhing over the decisions to make. After placing our orders, we were delighted to receive our purchases in elegant Lauderee signature boxes. Who needed shoes? We were returning home with French macarons in fancy boxes!
As we returned to the Warwick Hotel, we gathered our bags and summoned the valet. As usual our weekend together seemed to pass too quickly. However, our hearts were full and our “batteries” were recharged. We could return to our real lives refreshed and ready to be “grown-ups” again!