Last week I had the opportunity to go to New York City for the CASE/NAIS conference with a few coworkers. It was my first time in the Big Apple, and I had such an amazing experience even though most of my time was spent at the conference.
We stayed at the Marriott Marquis on Times Square, which is where the conference was held. It was such a great location for my first trip to the city. I do have to say, though, that my first impression of Times Square was “This looks nothing like Times Square!” I guess it just looks bigger and more open on TV. But it is quite a spectacle, especially for a people-watcher like myself.
When we first got there, we had some time to walk down 5th Ave and see Rockefeller Center, the Trump Tower and all of the stores. And I had the chance to do the one thing I wanted to do in NYC – go to the APPLE STORE on 5th Ave! It’s gorgeous… Unfortunately we didn’t have much time to explore the whole store, but I was as giddy as a kid in a candy store for the 5 minutes we were there.
That night, we went to a tiny Italian place in the Village. It’s called Po and my boss said that it was originally owned by Mario Batali and another chef. Mario moved on to other restaurants, but she said that she thought the other chef was still running it. I had the pasta special and it was delicious, but then we got dessert… an apple tart, chocolate torte and cappuccino gelato. Oh my goodness, I could go back just for the desserts.
The next day, we had an alumni reception in Soho, so we left the hotel a few hours early to do some shopping. We had been talking to this guy on Times Square the night before and he told us to hit up Uniqlo. It’s kind of like a Japanese Gap – walls and walls of jeans and T-shirts and sweaters, all the basics in all the colors of the rainbow. There were so many other great stores around there – this was definitely the area to go for shopping in NYC. After shopping, we headed to the Grand Soho Hotel for our alumni reception.
After our cocktail hour, we needed to eat dinner, so one of the alums had recommended Nobu, a sushi place. I don’t eat sushi, but I agreed to it. Nobu is (Iron) Chef Matsuhisa’s restaurant. Our alum had said something about seeing Lindsay Lohan there once, so we were joking about what celebrity we would see. We were seated at a table on the back wall but we soon noticed that the curtain along the wall was simply hiding a private room in the back. And just as soon as we realized this, the host and a big bodyguard came back and peeked in the curtain. They walked back to the front and then came back with two more people. There was a woman with her bangs down in her face and her hood up over her head, trying not to be recognized, and then behind her was Jay-Z! We couldn’t believe it! Just imagine four adult women trying hard not to act like teenage girls but failing miserably.
The next day was busy with one more conference session, lunch and heading out to the airport. I was exhausted, but I can’t wait to go back for vacation some day!
When we returned to work, my boss’ yearbook students suggested that the woman with Jay-Z was Rihanna, so she asked me to look up some pictures of her. But instead I stumbled upon a picture of her and Beyonce in an article about their Hope for Haiti Now concerts that weekend. It turns out that Jay-Z was with his wife Beyonce at Nobu. Classic.