3.25.2017

Nature Meets Urban Vibrancy in the Big Apple

 An Evening in New York City

(I started this blog post in November and am just getting around to finishing it up.)

As far as cities go, the Big Apple never fails to inspire, and my recent trip there was no exception. With a visit to the Highline, drinks at an inviting neighborhood bar, coffee and conversation in a classic coffee shop, and a meal and show at a great venue, it was an stellar night in the city.

Mike and I were in good hands as my cousin Frank and his wife Clara took care of all of our arrangements. All we had to do was follow along and this worked out perfectly as you can waste a lot of time finding your way around if you aren't familiar with the city. This was Mike's first time on the Highline and his first trip to New York City in decades, and having knowledgeable local hosts was ideal.

In many of the world's biggest and most dynamic cities, it is possible for the intrepid traveler to find a natural oasis. In New York, that spot is the Highline, where we started off our time in the city. It was great to wonder the abandon railroad track and see the urban meet up with the natural environment. My first visit to the Highline was a few summers ago and it was interesting to see the change in vibe during the fall. We arrived during the last few hours of day light and it was twilight when we left. Between the changing light, fall colors and crisp fall air, it was wonderful time for a stroll. Gone were the sunbathers and other folks just hanging out as in summer. Rather, people walked purposefully stopping to enjoy the art work and installations. Below the Highline, neighborhoods gentrify offering boutique hotels, neighborhood bars and lively markets. Between the regularly changing series of public art along the walking path and the lively energy that often fills the air in New York City, a stroll along the Highline is a must-do during any trip to the Big Apple.

Brass Monkey, as seen from the Highline, New York City
Brass Monkey, as seen from the Highline
After our stroll, we headed to the Brass Monkey, where Clara was to meet us for a beer before we made our way to the City Winery for dinner and a show. The Brass Monkey is a great neighborhood bar (It was mentioned here: http://annvinciguerra.blogspot.com/2016/10/bar-dream-sense-of-place.html) and this was my second time there. As with my first visit, the bar did not fail to exude it's welcoming vibe and cozy atmosphere. Once again, I couldn't help but think that the Brass Monkey would be my go-to spot if I lived in the area.

After finishing our drinks, we realized were early for our dinner reservation. Since we had a long night ahead of us, we decided coffee was in order, and as good fortune had it, we stumbled across Kobrick Coffee on 24 9th Avenue. Established in 1920, this intimate location has a comfortable charm and makes a great cup of coffee. The long narrow coffee bar area in the front was pretty crowded and the few tables in the back room were full. In defiance of the New Yorker stereotype, a gentleman saw us looking for a place to sit and offered to share his table. He ended up being quite chatty and engaging, and we had a nice time talking to him. With his posh accent, steely grey hair and professor-esque blazer, he exuded the vibe of someone engaged in a creative pursuit, probably writer we surmised. Throughout the course of our small talk, he revealed that he lives in the vicinity and that the Brass Monkey was his preferred spot for a drink thus confirming my impression that the Brass Monkey is a great place to hang out.

City Winery, NYC
The evening's plan had been to have dinner and see the Gregg Allman Band at the City Winery. Unfortunately, a few days prior to the show, Mr. Allman had to cancel due to health issues. His band was kind enough to offer a free show, so although we didn't get to see a legend perform in an intimate setting, it was still a wonderful night of music.

I had heard of the City Winery for many years and it has developed a reputation as a great place to see a show.  The venue seats just a few hundred people, and with an elevated stage and elevated seating in the back, there is not a bad seat in the house. The line-up of upcoming shows was impressive and I do hope to make it back there sometime in the near future.

If I had gotten around to finishing this back in November, I could have told you about what we had for dinner and what the band was like and all of the details you'd hope to hear when reading about a night out for dinner and a show. Instead you are left with a brush-stroke image of a notable concert venue I visited during a great trip to the city. The main point is, everything mentioned in this blog post is worth doing. Don't worry about the details, just get out there and visit them for yourself.

Also seen along the Highline...