New York! – Sports in the City
This is my favorite city, hands down.
It has been written that there are so many restaurants within the five boroughs of New York City that you could eat at a different one every day and still not have tried them all 12 years later. There are eight AAA Five Diamond award winning hotels in Manhattan alone. In the US, only the entire state of California has more. New York has it all: food, bars, museums, Broadway, Central Park, concerts. The choices are unlimited. How is it that my weekend in the city turned in to a weekend of sports in the city? Well my friends, that’s how I roll. The opening round of the U.S. Open paired with a Saturday round of the Barclay’s? Yes please! Don’t worry sweetie, we’ll make time for the other stuff, let’s go! This is NYC eat, sleep, sports style.
The key to all lodging in New York is location, location, location. Although I try not to sleep while in New York, eventually you need a place to rest your weary head. Time of year is going to dictate price but in late August, there are some deals to be found. The best place to look is http://www.hotwire.com or in my house better known as gambling. My husband is not much of a gambler. In fact while in Vegas for his birthday his game of choice was nickel slots. However, he will do some gambling if say a $500 a night hotel room were to come in at half price. The gambling part about Hotwire is you’re never sure exactly which hotel you’re going to get. The upside is you can choose your location within Manhattan and see the value of the hotel (stars/price) along with the amenities and how frequently it is recommended by fellow travelers. As far as location? The best location is near a subway station and remember, not all are created equal so check it out at http://www.mta.info If your hotel is near a major station like Grand Central or Penn Station, even better.
After the gamble, our hotel was (drum roll) The Setai on Fifth Ave. This hotel is so choice, I highly recommend it. In the shadow of the Empire State Building (see photo above) and within walking distance to Penn Station, The Setai is one of NYC’s finest. Now unless you have serious cash you are not going to find large rooms anywhere but at The Setai the size of your bathroom will more than make up for it. The service at The Setai is some of the best I have ever experienced. By the time our stay was done I began looking forward to the same smiling faces at the door and in the lobby. Throw in high thread count sheets, great room service and a hip lobby bar and we have a winner. You can even request the “House Car” whenever available until eight p.m. The house car being a Maserati, you’ll be traveling in style.
Runners Up: The Alex, Hotel Americano, Trump SoHo New York, The Greenwich Hotel
Now that you have secured lodging, you are probably hungry. Let’s be honest, the number of restaurants is a scary proposition, one that could make even a savvy traveler indecisive. When making a decision about where to eat suspend disbelief, expect a bad decision, auction off your first born, and then agree that this won’t be your last rodeo. However, there is one place I can guarantee happiness and that is Balthazar for brunch on Sunday. Sunday is the perfect day in New York. It’s in between your golf outing on Saturday and the first round of the U.S. Open on Monday but more on that later. If you go before noon, liquor laws will preclude you from having a lovely “Hangover Drink” like a Ramos Fizz or Oyster Mary. Don’t let that get in the way, there’ll be time enough for countin when the dealins done. Instead try just about anything egg on the menu under the “Les Oeufs” section including the “Bella Donna” with plolenta, pancetta and tomato. Don’t forget the coffee either, I dream about it!
After brunch, walk off those delicious calories with a trip down the High Line. The High Line is a 1 mile linear park that was built on an old elevated railroad track. It is the most spectacular way to see the city, http://www.thehighline.org Then, take a short cab ride for a stroll through the Museum of Modern Art, throw in a run through Central Park and you’ll be ready for a tasty dinner.
With two locations in the city, Chef Alex Stupak’s Empellon empire is doing just fine. As one of Food and Wine Magazine’s best new chefs for 2013, Chef Stupak makes Mexican food special. At Empellon Taqueria in the West Village, tacos, or more importantly tortillas are the main event. The menu is short and to the point and excellent tacos like the fish tempura with cabbage and lime mayo are the star. Thirsty? Try the “Por que No?” Tequila blanco, serrano chile, cilantro and pineapple, to die for! On the opposite side of the island, Empellon Cocina takes Mexican food and puts is on it’s ear. Based on the principal that technique and preparation influence the flavor of food just as much as ingredients, Chef Stupak takes a page from restaurant El Bulli. The food at Concina is definitely Mexican but in a way that you’ve never seen or tasted before.
Runners Up: La Perla, Red Rooster
Now, down to business. The U.S. Open and The Barclays.
The Barclays and Liberty National Golf Course
The Barclays Golf tournament is the first leg of what I like to call “fall golf.” Fall golf is comprised of the tournaments after the four majors that are part of the the chase for the Fed Ex Cup. The Fed Ex Cup is the championship trophy for the PGA Tour and employs a Nascar like points system throughout the year to determine it’s champion. During Fall Golf the field is narrowed at consecutive tournaments starting with the top 125 at The Barclays. That translates to really good golf with all of the top players in a “major” like atmosphere. The Barclays rotates between four different golf courses, returning this year to Liberty National in Jersey City, New Jersey. Now before you say “Jersey?” see photo above. Jersey City is just across the Hudson River from Manhattan, just a short ferry ride for you and a beautiful one at that. You can see the skyline of Manhattan and in particular Lady Liberty from about half of the course. I usually like to use only my own photos on this blog but I have to admit this is a stock photo. Last year I was lucky enough to attend The Barclays at Beth Paige Black, one of the few public golf courses ever used in a US Open and it was phenomenal. This year with the tournament at Liberty National the views and golf are sure to be just as spectacular.
Victoria Azarenka from my seat at Louis Armstrong Stadium
Tennis at night? Yes please! In the city that never sleeps, the best tennis is played at night and the patrons wouldn’t have it any other way. To purchase tickets, go to http://www.usopen.org. Here are some tips…
1. A ticket to Aurthur Ashe during the day gets you into the grounds and into every other tennis venue on the campus including Louis Armstrong and the Grandstand.
2. To see your best tennis, it is best to sit in the “end zones” or behind the baseline. This will prevent you from craning your neck from side to side with each volley, not something you think about when watching tennis on TV. In order to get these seats at the smaller Louis Armstrong stadium, you’ll have to pay extra but it will be worth it. Some of the best tennis is played there throughout the day.
My seat on Opening Night at Aurthur Ashe Stadium, waiting for Roger Federer.
3. As I said before, night tennis is where it is at and you will have to purchase a separate night session ticket to Aurthur Ashe in order to attend. Usually it is the best male and female player of the day and it is most definitely the main event. You may even want to skip the daytime session all together for the evening session if you want to make the most of your time in the city. This tip will get you the most bang for your buck entertainment wise and you will leave feeling like you have seen tennis, just not all day tennis. Buy the best seats available, you won’t be disappointed.
This blog could go on forever. I didn’t even touch on my favorite speakeasies or my love hate relationship with Yankee Stadium. But, all good things must come to an end, even a weekend of Sports in the City.