Before the Wine Bloggers Conference in a couple of days, I thought it would be a great idea to change it up from the previous night and hang out in New York City by myself for a bit – and perhaps I would meet up with the rest of my Vancouver crew for dinner if I didn’t end up crying by a NYC alley in the fetal position (TRICK QUESTION: Manhattan doesn’t have alleys).
Just a few days ago I signed up for this thing called the Free Tours By Foot: it’s essentially a themed tour in a listed city where you pay however much you think the tour is worth at the end. I’m sure there’s some sort of reverse psychology witchcraft that goes on where you guilt yourself into paying more, but I’m blaming all my thriftiness on the shit Canadian dollar. Three cheers! (Though I can probably only afford two.)
In the morning, I duck out onto 8th Avenue to buy fruit for breakfast because I miss fruit almost as much as I miss sobriety, and then I travel down to the meeting point on Wall Street. I eventually find our tour guide Xavier and our group eventually grows to around 20 humans from all over the world: Australia, Cyprus, Greece (Xavier: *points outwardly* “hey look, a functioning economy!”), New Zealand, Toronto, Poland, etc. I’m pretty sure someone’s from Minnesota or some other random state I embarrassingly cannot locate on a map.
Okay. I won’t go into exhaustive details about the stops on this tour because you don’t care, so here’s a rocky 12-point summary. Obvious suggested background music: Party in the USA (Pitch Perfect version ONLY) or Rather Be by Clean Bandit but only an acoustic cover found on the third page of Youtube search results.
1) This Wall Street Charging Bull sculpture thing. I didn’t even try. I’m a terribly lazy tourist.
2) I think Wall Street used to be an actual wall of some sort, but I wasn’t listening because I was too busy scheming a subtle way of slathering sunscreen all over my bald head without looking like I dipped my scalp in toothpaste.
3) However, the Trinity Church is indeed a church.
4) Burger King serves beer in New York. What?! Is this new? Have I been living under a rock? Does this fascinate me enough to actually go to Burger King? (no.)
5) Chinatown is fucking amazing and it’s much more riveting than I expected. Stories about gambling, gangs, and its inception. Xavier is the one in the hat, and in this picture he is probably promising one of the girls that we will indeed stop for ice cream, because she is being weirdly persistent about it.
6) 1 dollar dumplings. Get into it. Maybe burn your tongue enough for someone in the group to ask if you’re okay. Also, I thought it was cute that there were some people in our group that have never had or known of dumplings before. Girl. Giiiirl.
7) Also: Chinatown ice cream. Egg custard flavour. New friends in tour group are fascinated. Proceed to be weird by offering others a lick while promising I’m not diseased. Tip: if you look at the picture below and squint you might be able to see my social sense drifting away.
8) Winona Ryder lives in this SoHo mansion or something. Xavier could’ve told us that an extra from High School Musical 2 lived here and I still would’ve taken a picture.
9) Cast iron was once uncool but now it’s A Thing and basically it’s the most hipster of all building materials.
10) So no one told you life was gonna be this bae.
11) Asking your tour guide to take your picture in front of the Stonewall Inn is awkward while everyone else watches from across the street but then NOT GIVING A SHIT BECAUSE OMG
12) We went to another church and some cute old woman couldn’t find the rosary I wanted to buy for my best friend so I took this picture for him instead pff whatever same value right
And so we end on the High Line followed by me insisting that we should take a group photo because I’m all about that group photo life, and then drinks ensue because there’s a rooftop bar called Terroir on the Porch. And like, half of the people in our crew are excited about ice cream sandwiches because they’ve literally never heard of one. I immediately feel a little fat.
Local beers and shit. Apparently I resemble Job from Banshee.
I’m thinking hey: it’s been a good run and maybe I’ll head down to the Chelsea Wine Vault to pick up cans of wine to drink back in my hotel room while taking selfies and listening to Taylor Swift. But two awesome folks from Australia, Paddy and Tegan, invite me to hang out for dinner with his brother John and his brother’s friends who happen to be in New York City at the same time. I’m like fuck it, why not? I have to make up for that time I literally went to bed before midnight on New Year’s Eve because I’m a boring piece of shit. I’m pretty sure I lowered the New York livability index as soon as I stepped off that plane.
So we taxi over to some beautiful house in East Village (“oh my GOD IS THIS WHERE I DIE”) where I meet the amazing John and four other well-dressed lads in quick succession. Did I just walk into a New York variant of HBO’s Looking crossed with a spinoff of Lena Dunham’s Girls? Have I accidentally acquired superpowers to walk into the first half hour of an independent gay film that scores 87% on Rotten Tomatoes? Am I secretly playing a passerby role in the first 2 minutes of a porno?
I’m trying to recall names: I remember Dom (mostly because of Pérignon), and, I think – Phillip, Christian, and Jared. Fuck you, sculpted Mount Rushmore of Australia. And half of them are lawyers. Bye. How do you appear interesting in front of lawyers, engineers, sex toy aficionados, and theatre buffs when all you do is drink for a living? Whatever. I’m gross and sweaty at this point and I consume their beer and water because John is a generous goddess.
We have dinner at the Northern Spy Food Co. which is a cute little spot. Mostly everyone orders a leg of lamb because they fucking can, but I order a kale salad because I fucking have to. And I thought it was going to be a pretentious tiny handful of kale with a smidgen of sauce whose ingredients were acquired by blind nuns, but it looks like they served me a diorama of the fucking Amazon rainforest. (Yum, though.)
Wine-wise, I have the Puzelat-Bonhomme Melon de Bourgogne because everyone and their goldfish knows I’m a Puzelat-Bonhomme groupie, while I think someone orders Beaujolais because I found a random picture on my phone of such, and I’m almost certain that there are several bottles of Prosecco.
We walk back to the apartment and talk about life and chill some more and do other things. I eventually part at 2AM not without insisting on another group photo – which Paddy really should’ve been a part of – and it will not see the light of day because I look like a gross and brand new Pokemon borne from a lack of fresh ideas.
I head home but can’t find myself to go to bed, even though I have an early bus with the crew to Keuka Lake for more pre-conference shenanigans. It’s raining, and I pretend that means NYC is sad to see me go. The conference hasn’t even started yet and I’m already pretty tired, but I’m also still feeling pretty amazing. New York is altering my brain chemistry, and gin cocktails on the bus make for the best medicine.