Tag Archives: Swatch

How To Succeed In Shopping Without Really Trying

Having travelled to New York, I fully expected to shop. That is, I came here expecting to buy some new clothes. I could have bought them at home, but I really wanted to try to find some things that I wouldn’t necessarily be able to find (easily) at home. The fact that our dollar is as strong as it is (compared to the US greenback), and the fact that the cost-points in Canada are always greater than in the US, and the fact that the US economy – to be frank – seems to be swirling the drain, may have strengthened my desire to shop here. That is, the prices were all but guaranteed to be excellent.

Happy shoppers, despite not finding any new clothes.

Well, shopping day 1 – that being Friday – didn’t really turn out so well. I mean, we wandered the streets of NYC looking for something, anything that would turn this poor pathetic man into something that would force passerbys to do a double-take. But sadly, nothing. I did see a few things that were interesting, but nothing that jumped out at me. Nothing that screamed “buy me”. All I managed to buy were some chocolates. And that on its own is something to write about, but when one is expecting to find some new clothes and all one manages to find are several bars of chocolate no matter how delicious and wonderful, one feels a bit let down. Gerarda fared a bit better – finding a new Swatch watch. Steph was in the same boat as me.

To drown our failed-attempt-at-shopping sorrows, we decided to celebrate with a very tasty 30-year-old bottle of port that I mentioned in a previous post, and chocolates that we purchased from Michel Cluizel. These chocolates were recommended to me by Jeremy Newton of The Twitter (a.k.a. @NewtonsNoGluten – whom you should follow because he’s awesome). And I have to say, well-played Jeremy, well-played indeed. The combination of the chocolates and 30-year-old port more than made up for our lack of shopping success.

Dear Michel Cluizel, your chocolates are in my belly.

Of course, if one fails one shouldn’t give up. It’s best to get back up on the horse after being thrown from it. Even better – if one can get back up on the horse without really trying. And that dear friends, is what happened today. That is, on the way back from seeing Seminar staring Alan Rickman, we moseyed by Hugo Boss – or for those who know me – my personal form of crack. I discovered Hugo Boss just before my 30th birthday. It was also then that I learned how good an idea it is (fashion wise) to let the salesperson play dress up with you. They are after all, the supposed experts. This doesn’t always make one’s bank account happy, but we’re not focussed on financial smarts right now.

ZOMG - It's Snape!

Anyway, I was fortunate to have Dino serve me. The man clearly knew what he was doing. He found me several pair of pants – that actually make me look like I have an ass – no simple feat. He also managed to find several sweaters; something that I desperately need as I have very few of them. And given the coming winter freeze, something that I absolutely require.

The extra bonus; because of the economy and the Canadian dollar, I didn’t spend nearly as much as I had thought I was going to. In fact, I spent just slightly more than half of what I assumed the clothes would cost. Amazing!

The final verdict: I have somehow managed to successfully shop without much effort. Even better, I feel pretty damn sexy in my new clothes. I can’t put a price on that.

Note: More pictures are coming, but we’re off for more adventuring so they’ll have to wait.

An Open Letter To New York. Hint: I Love You

I can’t believe my four-day adventure to New York is over already.  It seems like only four days ago I was boarding a plane.  Um, right.  Anyway, the trip was fantastic.  New York was amazing, and it’s always nice to get away with good friends.  I think I can write with confidence that this won’t be my last trip to the Big Apple, and it definitely won’t be my last trip with Gerarda and Alan, and hopefully Elisabeth too.  We had far too much fun!

I decided on the plane ride home that I needed to write a letter to New York as I’m always slightly depressed when I return from a trip.  I thought a letter might be a good way of getting past the post-vacation-low by getting my thoughts and feelings onto paper (in a manner of speaking).  This is as far as I got.  Really, it sums up my current state perfectly.

Dear New York,

I miss you already.

Love me.

As with my trip to Hawaii, I provide a summary of our various comings and goings whilst adventuring in New York, in list form, of course :)  Should you have any questions or want some ideas for your own personal adventure, just let me know.


Enjoying some beverages from the Maple Lounge at the airport.
  • Lunch at the Airport Lounge, plus some Guinness and Port.  Clearly the vacation is starting on the right foot :)
  • Check-in to On The Avenue hotel (77th and Broadway).  This hotel is awesome; I’ve stayed here on 3 separate occasions and I have never been disappointed.  It’s located in a vibrant neighbourhood, close to Central Park, and within walking distance to The Dead Poet, Crumbs, and various other locals that we tend to frequent while in the Big Apple.
My schwanky room at On The Avenue
  • Prior to taking in the city, we need caffeine and we need sugar.  Clearly, we require coffee and treats from Crumbs.  We probably spend far too much time in this place.
  • Wander the city, stop for a few pints at The Dead Poet. Join the 100 Pints-o-Guinness challenge.
  • Purchase some brand spanking new running shoes.  This was a much-needed purchase, as I have been putting it off for about 8 months (far too long).
  • Our first dinner in NYC – Italian – linguine and clams for me, with a nice bottle of Chianti.  YUM.
  • We end the night by touring the M&M’s store, the Swatch store, and Times Square


  • Begin our morning having breakfast at Good Enough To Eat.
  • Visit the Museum of Natural History
    • Exhibits include Journey to the Stars, The Brain, Butterflies, and Sea Rex.
    • Got to hold a silkworm cocoon.  Very cool.


Be very, very quiet. There's a dinosaur behind me.
  • Snacks and Beverages at The Amsterdam Inn
  • Wine dinner at Maloney & Porcelli
    • Raw Malpeque and Bluepoint oysters
    • Four bottomless wines!
    • A crackled pork shank the size of my head
    • Homemade fig newtons with Fragelico
    • Much hilarity
  • Hit up The Dead Poet for a night-cap (clearly what we needed)
  • Hit up The Amsterdam Inn for a further night-cap (best idea ever, says my hangover)


  • Breakfast at Starbucks; coffee and egg sandwich to cure the hangover.
  • Walk to Magnolia bakery for breakfast part II
  • Saunter through Central Park on our way to the Museum of Modern Art, also known as the MoMA
  • Tour the Museum – see the works of Warhol, Seurat, Van Gogh, Modigliani, Miro, De Kooning, Kandinsky, Pollack, etc.


I fell in love with this sculpture. From one angle, it reminded me of a grasshopper, from another, a man looking up at the heavens in a rage. Very cool. Of course, I didn't write down who the artist responsible was.


  • Breakfast on the patio from Zabar’s.  Smoked salmon, bagels, coffee, and some treats from Crumbs

Walking off into the sunset that is another vacation's end. Sigh.
  • Wander through Central Park one last time
  • Head to the airport to go home.  Boo.

Lastly, I leave you with the following Haiku.

City never sleeps,
The food, the lights, the chaos;
I miss you New York

I Ate New York

I just woke up to the sounds of the Big Apple coming to life on a rainy Friday morning.  As I lay here, a muffled cacophony of car alarms, sirens, horns, police whistles, and people shouting can be heard from below my hotel window.  While not quite the same as waking up to the sound of waves in the morning, it’s not too bad.  In fact, I think I love it.

For those unaware, I landed in New York city (NYC) on Thursday afternoon.  If my count is correct, this is my millionth visit to the Big Apple.  Clearly, I love NYC.  My first trip occurred way back in grade 10, when I was about 20 years younger.  My art class jumped on a bus and made the long trek to the city to spend some quality time exploring its cultural offerings.  The city was much different then; Times Square was mainly a centre for porn shops and XXX theatres.   The seedy, dank, dark, and sleazy has since been replaced by bright neon lights, billboards, and Naked Cowboys (who by the way, are not really naked).  I think Mayor Rudy Giuliani has been credited with cleaning it up, for better or worse.  Whoever is accountable, I loved the city then, and I love it still today.  In the past year alone, I’ve been thrice.  Thrice!  And I’d come back again in a heartbeat.

For those that have never been (and might I ask why haven’t you been?), the city is vibrant.  There is some sort of indescribable electricity in the air.  I know that sounds corny, but it’s so true.  I love it.  And I love the people of New York.  There is just so much diversity, you can’t help but love it.

Of course, most New Yorkers are also loud.  Really loud.  So loud, that most people are taken aback the first time a native New Yorker barks at them.  And I don’t write bark in a derogatory manner.  It’s just the way New Yorkers communicate.  To the uninitiated, the bark might be construed as anger or aggression.  But it’s neither, generally speaking.  New Yorkers are loud, and they may bark, but they are friendly, and helpful, and typically happy.  At least, that has been my experience.

One of my favourite things about the city is the food.  So much food.  And food of all different varieties, from different cultures, and different traditions.  If my hernia didn’t prevent me from eating a lot at once, I’d be gorging on food like it was going out of style.  Maybe my hernia provides a silver lining for my waist line; a silver belt if you will.

Gerarda, clearly happy that we found the cupcakes.

Anyway, our gastronomic adventure began within a few minutes of getting checked into our rooms at On The Avenue.  Around the corner from the hotel is a cupcake store that Gerarda loves called Crumbs.  While I’m not a cupcake person, we always make a point of stopping in.  The coffee is delicious, cheap, and very dark.  Just the way I like it.

Gerarda opted for a small classic chocolate cupcake with sprinkles, while Alan went for the full-sized chocolate hazelnut cupcake, which I have been informed was full of Nutella goodness.  Based on the smiles on their faces, the cupcakes did not disappoint.  Elisabeth opted for a traditional jewish pastry typically served during Purim known as a hametaschen.  Verdict – delicious.

I wasn’t to be left out however, as I paired my coffee with a really tasty cinnamon bun.  Oh so cinnamon-y and gooey and tasty.  A perfect touch of sweet to go with my dark roast java.

Following our lunch of pastries and sugary treats, we wandered the neighbourhood (as Elisabeth has not been to NYC before, apart from one visit associated with a Physics conference many years ago).  The weather was perfect; not too hot, and definitely not too cold.  The sun was shining, the sky was blue; almost as if the universe was compelling us to wander, taking in all that the city had to offer.

A tasty Guinness, and probably the best club I've ever joined.

Eventually we made our way to The Dead Poet, our favourite pub.  We always drop in for a beverage or two while we are here.  While enjoying my second and third Guinness of the day (the first having been consumed at the Airport Lounge back in Toronto), I was compelled to join a special club that the bar was advertising.  Specifically, it was the 100 pints of Guinness club.  To obtain full membership, you have to drink 100 pints of Guinness (purchased of course from The Dead Poet).  Clearly this is a challenge that I am up to.  Clearly it means I need to return to New York, otherwise I might not make this challenge.  Note: the pints do not need to be consumed at once thankfully, as I am a light weight these days.

A very tasty Chianti to go with our tasty meals

Dinner followed drinks, and it consisted of an italian dinner at a nearby restaurant (which name I can’t recall).  Dinner was good – I had a very nice linguine with clam sauce.  We paired our meals with a very nice chianti1, and of course, much laughter. By the time dinner was finished, we were all very stuffed, and very much ready to call it an early night.

Before we turned in, we wandered down to Times Square.  There we visited the M&M’s store, and the Swatch store.  Mainly, we just enjoyed the scenery and chaos that is Times Square.  My favourite part was trying to translate the conversation that I apparently had with some rather large drunk man, who felt compelled to stop traffic so that we could cross the street.  I gathered enough from what he told me to know that he was “mo fo wasted”, and “slappy in the way, fo sho”.  At least, that’s how I heard whatever he said.

So many M&M's. The. Rainbow. Is. Overwhelming. So. Freaking. Beautiful.

We returned to our rooms, exhausted, still very much full, and quite content with our day.  As I crawled into bed, I wondered what gastronomic adventures might await us on Friday.  I drifted off knowing that whatever they be, they’ll be awesome. New York has a way of not disappointing.

1 Which adds bottle 7 to my list of 30 new wines – a part of my Not-So-Bucket-List list.

P.S. Happy Birthday (yesterday) Lara :)