Jumpseat With Me // New York City Edition
Everyone loves a weekend getaway. For Flight Attendants, we take our weekends when we can get them and we take our getaways to whatever city has a wide open flight and we do all this on a flight attendant budget.
This weekend happens to be a Wednesday and Thursday, and Passrider.com is telling me good things about the Tuesday night Delta redeye from Seattle to New York City's JFK airport. So I grab a couple fellow flight attendants and we get ready for an adventure.
Let's go jumpseating.
8:14pm: Running a little behind, but finally get to the airport at SeaTac. Frazzled from a full week of flying but its nothing that a little under-eye concealer and a giant Caffe Vita coffee can't fix.
9:37pm: We are standing around at the gate, eyeing the other non-revvers and jumpseaters, wondering who has a higher priority number and who's going to get on the flight. The mode is primal. I make aggressive eye contact with a nerdy Buddy Passer, who scampers away.
9:49pm: The gate agent calls our name and we jump up and run through the jet bridge to board the plane. YES. We have been put in the exit row. It's not first class but it'll do. We quickly settle into our space, popping in ear buds and a few Benadryls to try and sleep for a few hours.
5:49am: An unusually bumpy landing jolts us awake, and we are in New York City!!! ...well, actually we are in Queens, but close enough! Let's do this!
6:13am: A quick glance in the airport bathroom mirror reveals that half (and only half) of my makeup has mysteriously been wiped from my face. I look next-level crazy.
6:44am: We have found coffee and a questionable scone and are finally on the forever A Train that will take us into the city. Time to set up iPhone as a mirror and fix face. Half the train is doing the same thing. Welcome to the NYC Subway system.
8:13am: I forgot how long the train takes to get from JFK to the city. We are finally getting off the A Train at the 8th Ave stop, and after dragging our suitcases up the stairs we emerge into the gritty white light of NEW YORK CITY.
8:34am: We enjoy our 15-minute walk through gorgeous Chelsea/Greenwich Village neighborhood, squealing and generally freaking out about the brownstones and the old rich ladies and their dogs and the cute shops and everything else. We arrive at the Jane Hotel, looking a hot mess.
8:52am: The front desk is awesome and lets us keep our bags behind the counter until we can come back and check in around 3pm. We attempt to freshen up in the lobby bathroom, and then exit the hotel in order to find some lovely New York City breakfast.
9:27am: We have arrived at the Bagel Mecca: Murray's Bagels. Salt bagel with lox, please, large orange juice and a black coffee and I am feeling ALIVE. We sit out on the crowded New York City sidewalk patio and watch leggy model girls running to their callbacks and business type guys who still insist on carrying their Blackberries in cellphone holsters. I have cream cheese on my face and I'm grinning like a crazy person but I don't care, because I am back in my city.
10:01am: Now that we've been fed, it's time to wander and SHOP. Another ten minute walk straight east is Union Square, where the day is just starting. We wander around a four story Forever 21 and then find ourselves in lovely old Strand Books. After buying an unnecessary top and a totally necessary book on the history of the Big Apple, we hop on the 6 Train and head Uptown to the MET.
10:37am: We get out at 86th street and wander towards the park. The crowds are just starting, and since it's a Wednesday in September, its not too bad. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as most museums in NYC, are "suggested donation," meaning that you do NOT have to pay the suggested $25 for admission! Remember, we are on a flight attendant budget here.
12:26pm: The MET has sucked us in, and I realize I could spend a lifetime here. But we need more food. And maybe more coffee. We hop back on the 6 train and ride back down to Union Square. Just a few blocks away is the East Village, and lots of great little lunch spots.
1:03pm: We arrive at 2nd Ave between 7th and St. Mark's Place, where B&H Diner sits hidden between a Pommes Frites shop and a frozen yogurt joint. We enter and sit at the counter, eyeing the specials. I go for my usual, the Tuna Melt and a cup of Matzoh Ball soup. The line cooks toss us a plate of Challah bread and butter to start, and I feel right at home.
1:49pm: We need to walk off the insane amount of bread we just ate. We walk South on 2nd Ave until Houston, where we veer off onto Elizabeth St and through the Lower East Side, Little Italy, and finally, Chinatown. We duck into Vanessa's Dumpling House for a quick Sesame Pancake, burning our fingers with sticky grease. Outside on Broadway and Canal, the street vendors are in full swing, with knockoff designer bags and watches being sold at every stand. We peruse, and I narrowly avoid getting sucked into buying a fake Kate Spade. Time to move on.
3:17pm: At Canal Street we hop back on the A Train to head back to The Jane. It's check-in time, and time for a power nap. Our room is small but adorable (think 1930s ship cabin complete with wood paneling and bunk beds and a porthole), and we quickly pass out. After a two hour nap and a much needed shower (we both set alarms and promised to wake up!), we are refreshed and ready to hit the town again.
5:50pm: Back at the 8th Ave stop, we get on the lifeline to Brooklyn, the L Train. I forgot that its rush hour and we are PACKED into a train car full of the hippest looking people I have ever seen. I feel frumpy. We stop off at 1st Ave and walk over to Beauty Bar. Happy Hour here means a $10 martini and manicure in an old school beauty parlor. Yep, a manicure. And yes, the manicurist will lift your glass to your mouth while your nails are drying and you won't believe how you ever lived before you discovered this place. Magic.
6:47pm: The nails are dry and the buzz is on. Time for food, Brooklyn style. We hop on the L Train again, transferring at Metropolitan Ave to the G Train. Greenpoint is an old Polish neighborhood that has become a mixture of cheap European bakeries and metal bars, with the hipster crowd closing in on the last remaining "affordable" housing in North Brooklyn.
7:21pm: We arrive at Five Leaves, my absolute favorite dinner spot in Brooklyn. Think white wine and truffle fries and a burger with grilled pineapple while an adorable bartender slangs drinks and spins old Reggae records. So much yes.
9:02pm: After waiting half an hour for a table and then chowing down on the most amazing food ever and consuming more wine than planned (white girl's downfall!), we stumble out of Five Leaves towards the Lorimer stop. The sun is starting to set and we decide to grab a rooftop margarita at Night of Joy. And yes, get your margarita blended. It's like a adult slushy.
10:17pm: The sun has set and all of New York is coming out to play. We head a few blocks over to Union Pool, the hipster playground of Brooklyn. There is a patio in the back and a taco truck and sometimes shows. Tonight there is just a gathering of kids trying to make summer last forever.
11:54pm: The night has gotten weird and I've run into several people I know (and several people I don't care to see). Time to leave Brooklyn. We hop back on the L train and return to Manhattan, getting off on 1st Ave in the East Village. We head straight to International Bar and sink into a seat near the back. It's old timers here amidst the exposed brick and worn barstools. The bartender is playing dice with the regulars, and suddenly it's three hours later and we've made friends and are pretty drunk.
2:59am: It is late but this city actually never really sleeps. We head over a block from I-Bar into South Brooklyn Pizza, which is not actually in South Brooklyn. But we don't care because the pizza is absolutely amazing. They bake just one pie at a time, and although there is no seating, you wait. Because when that slice is finally ready you will know what all the fuss is about.
3:27am: The air is crisp and it's time to grab a cab back to the hotel. As we race along back streets, we roll down the windows and stick our faces out, smelling all the weird and wonderful things that this crazy city has to offer. Back at The Jane, we fall face first into our bunks and sleep like we've never slept before.
11:13am: A maid is knocking and it's so, so bright out and it's probably time to check out. After a shower and quick change of clothes (we may or may not have slept in whatever we wore out the night before), we stow our luggage with the front desk and head out for the day.
11:58am: I forgot that Cafe Gitane is in the lobby, and it's delicious and just what we need. We nourish our hungover bodies with avocado toast and espresso and little glasses of orange juice. It feels fancy but for the West Village, the prices aren't bad.
12:45pm: Today is crisp and perfect for strolling. We wander through the neighborhood down Greenwich Ave until we arrive at Washington Square Park. We grab more coffees and watch the chess players and buskers in the park.
1:23pm: Next, we take the 1 Train down to Battery Park and the Staten Island Ferry Terminal. Both spots are free to access, and great for snapping photos.
2:00pm: We take the Staten Island Ferry and revel at Lady Liberty and the retreating skyline. So much to see, never enough time.
3:37pm: Roundtrip complete, we head back to The Jane. The front desk retrieves our luggage for us, and we are almost ready to head off to the airport... except that, of course, we need more food. Always.
4:12pm: We choose one of thousands of generic New York City combination convenience/liquor/deli store (AKA Bodegas) and head to the back, where the clerk/sandwich maker stares us down. For $5 and some change we have a custom built NYC smorgasbord of carbs and meat. Side note: one time I was stumbling home at like 5AM from my bar job in Brooklyn, and I stopped into my usual deli. Before I reached the counter the guy started my order. He knew my sandwich. Because I ordered it so often. It was simultaneously the happiest and saddest moment of my life.
4:48pm: With sandwich and just one more burnt NYC coffee in hand, we jump on the A Train off towards JFK. It's rush hour, but we manage to get squished into the corner where I shamelessly (and messily) enjoy my sandwich. Even crammed into a smelly train car with a hundred other people, I feel oddly relaxed. This is my city, and it's crazy and overwhelming and overbearing (sort of like a family!) but it always welcomes me home.
6:04pm: At JFK we check in for our flight and wait for the Standby gods to hear our prayers. Right before the gate agent shuts the door, we see our names flash on the screen and we run onto the plane, dehydrated and full of fatty foods and smelling like this insane city.
6:25pm: Goodbye, New York, it's been real.