veen on the road: new york 2020, part two.

the second leg of my new york adventure was a long weekend with kat, alex, jeremy, and lauren. we had not all been together since summer 2019, so it was great to manage a weekend that actually worked for all five of us coming from three different cities. we found this beautiful apartment in harlem to use as our base, and from there we took the city by storm.

here are all the antics we got up to during our weekend together.


city gals. queens, new york. march 2020.

everyone arrived at different times, so it took us a while to all be reunited. kat got in first and came to crash at maggie’s place; once alex arrived and i got ready we left queens to head up to harlem. jeremy had landed in the meantime and was waiting for us at lenox saphire. we each had some food and spent some time catching up with kat and hearing her updates.

we still had some time before our airbnb was ready, so we stopped in to lenox coffee roasters to grab coffee / tea / hot chocolate and to wait out the rain storm that came through. it was a very cute coffee shop with quite a homely feel.

loved this drawing. new york, new york. march 2020.

by then our apartment was ready, so we headed up to check it out and get settled. lauren arrived about a little while later, at which point we went to the supermarket and wine shop to pick up some provisions. we spent a few hours just hanging out in the dining area, snacking and drinking and laughing and enjoying all being together again.

back together again! new york, new york. march 2020.

as it got close to dinner time, we needed to decide on a restaurant. after a lot of debate [mostly because none us can make a decision], we wound up at ponty bistro a few blocks from where we were staying. the drinks were tasty and the food was delicious, and we had a great time. alex and i shared the fish dinner special with veggies which was phenomenal.


buon appetito. brooklyn, new york. march 2020.

we staggered our wakeups on saturday morning and made our way to brooklyn for lunch at llama inn in williamsburg. it’s a beautiful space full of natural light and plants everywhere, and we were all charmed by its ambience. i can’t remember specifically which cocktails we each had, but they were all delicious. i had the crispy pork shoulder sandwich as my main, and i very nearly licked my plate clean. we absolutely loved our experience and all highly recommend it. pro tip: make a reservation.

cool kids. brooklyn, new york. march 2020.

we all needed a walk after that meal and alex wanted to check out the everlane store, so we decided that was a good destination. we stopped in a coffee shop along the way, enjoyed the sunshine, and had a peek at what everlane had on offer. we don’t have an everlane brick-and-mortar in memphis, so it was nice to see so many of their items all in one place.

new york street art. new york, new york. march 2020.

from there it was time to head back to manhattan to chelsea market. we had a bit of an adventure with the L train, but we made it eventually and had a wander through the shops and stalls before making our way to the high line. it was a beautiful day out – albeit a little windy – so new yorkers were out in droves to take advantage of the glimpse of winter’s end. we took our time walking, taking notice of the views and the artwork along the way and making note of all the instagram husbands out earning their keep.

the vessel. new york, new york. march 2020.

our final destination was the vessel, the newish structure that sits at the north end of the high line. we had tickets to enter at 5pm – perfect for the sunset hour – and spent about 40 minutes wandering up and down and around. it’s an incredible feat of art and engineering and i’ll be honest and say i still don’t fully understand how it works, but it is pretty incredible to behold. there are a lot of steps, and we slowly but surely made our way up to the top. it overlooks hudson yards and the hudson river, and with the sun starting to go down the light was incredible. we had ourselves a few photo shoots, both at the top and back down on solid ground, and generally made fools of ourselves. the wind was crazy so we all looked a little wild, but we had a blast.

we all needed to thaw out a bit, plus we were all getting hungry and thirsty, so we went to mercado little spain. we had some time to kill before our next plans, so we figured this was the best place to do so. over the course of a few hours we ordered some drinks, we had some snacks, and we shared photos and stories from the day so far. it was a much-needed opportunity to rest our feet and get ready for the rest of the night.

because our next event was one of the wildest experiences of my life. sleep no more is an immersive, choose-your-own-adventure theatre experience, and it is incredible. i honestly don’t want to give too much away because alex didn’t [she had done it once before] and it made the experience so much better because i didn’t know what to expect. it was absolutely something i will never forget, and i hope to do it again the next time i’m in the city. if you want more details let me know and i will be happy to share in more depth. pro tips: book your tickets early because it sells out quickly / wear comfortable shoes, because you will be on your feet for 2 hours

we were supposed to go to my friend stephen’s birthday party after sleep no more, but by that point we were all wiped and decided to just make our way back to harlem and get some sleep, especially since the clocks were changing that night and we were losing an hour of sleep.


i’m such a good instagram husband. new york, new york. march 2020.

on sunday morning alex met her friend rochelle for brunch while kat, jeremy, lauren, and i went to fred’s on the upper west side. i first ate at fred’s in 2014 with bianca and her friends, and i have been dreaming of their homemade strawberry butter ever since. i stopped by for my birthday in 2016 but found out they only serve the butter on weekends, so this seemed like a perfect opportunity. we managed to snag a four-top table on the sidewalk, so we were able to enjoy some sun and some great people-watching while also sipping on our drinks and gobbling down our food. i had the salmon benedict, which was fabulous, and yes, i had two rolls so i could have all the butter. maggie joined us just as we were wrapping up and regaled everyone with tales of me from our grad school days. it was a blast, and if i ever live in new york, fred’s will be my go-to weekend brunch spot. pro tip: they don’t take reservations, so be prepared to wait

didn’t take us long to turn into 5-year-olds when we spotted the ball pit. new york, new york. march 2020.

we wanted lauren to have a chance to walk through central park for a bit, so we strolled through for about 10 blocks until we needed to get on the subway to make our reservation for color factory. i first heard about color factory when the first one launched in san francisco and have been following it ever since. when we planned our new york visit, i kept checking the website to see when they would release tickets; it is a temporary pop-up, so they release tickets in 3-month blocks and then reassess if they’ll stay. i’m so glad they did, because we had a great time. color factory allows you to engage and interact with color in ways you never have before, and it is so cool. we played instruments, we roamed around in the ball pit, we had a dance party, and we took so, so many pictures. pro tips: buy your tickets in advance / go in a group of even numbers, if you can / the whole experience takes about an hour

we all needed a breather after that, so we stopped by ear inn to get drinks and french fries and to once again share all our photos. it is one of the oldest pubs in manhattan and is a former home of one of george washington’s emancipated slaves, so the building is very old and very historic and looked like a fun place to meet some interesting people if we had had more time.

more new york street art. new york, new york. march 2020.

being lauren’s first visit to the city, we wanted to take her to see ground zero, so after ear inn we bade farewell to maggie and made our way downtown. we walked around the 9/11 memorial and talked about where each of us was on that day and how we remember it and how it shaped the years that came after. we also had a wander around oculus, the giant shopping and transit center across the street, before heading back uptown.

red rooster. new york, new york. march 2020.

we were staying right around the corner from red rooster and had decided it would be a great sunday night dinner option, and we were spot on. they had a live band who were fantastic, and we spent close to 2.5 hours listening and talking and drinking and eating. i had the lamb shank which was huge and cooked to perfection. i have a big appetite, and even i could not finish it, but i gave it my best and was so satisfied at the end of that meal.


the best bagel sandwiches in the city? potentially. new york, new york. march 2020.

we had to be out of our airbnb by 11am on monday but had time before we needed to depart for our various flights, so alex suggested we get breakfast at russ & daughters. we took the bus to the one in the jewish museum but were turned out because we had all of our luggage with us [totally fair]. we called an audible and took turns going in to place our orders to go and then walked over to the park and had ourselves a nice little breakfast picnic. it was another gorgeous day [we really lucked out with the weather], and we reminisced about the weekend and began planning next year’s adventure in mexico city. we walked up to the lake to get some final view of manhattan and then said our goodbyes. kat left for jfk, and the rest of us shared a ride to laguardia. lauren and i dropped alex and jeremy off at the american terminal [they were on the same flight] and then went to the delta terminal. our gates were side-by-side, so i hung out with lauren until her flight took off and then used the free wifi to do some work at my gate until it was time for mine [she actually landed in boston before i even boarded in new york].

more than anything, it was so great to have those 3.5 days together. i am so grateful we managed the trip, especially in light of everything that happened as soon as we left. love these people so much.

it took me longer than i anticipated to finally get these written and posted, but also it was nice to take this little stroll down memory lane in the midst of everything else going on in the world.


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