Asher on Aspen: All in a New York minute

Shannon Asher
Asher on Aspen.
The city that never sleeps.
Getty Images

Stepping out into the smoggy late-night streets while hailing down a cab from LaGuardia Airport, I knew I was a long way from home. The bright lights and bustling city noise kept me alert after a long day of travel. It was almost as if I had been shaken awake from the snow-globe dream I was living in after what felt like a never-ending winter in Aspen. We pulled up to my sister’s apartment in Astoria, and I was immediately welcomed by a familiar face.

My sister gave me a tour of her apartment with her impressive rooftop views, and instantly, I could feel the energy of the city. After just a few hours out and about in Queens, I was exhausted in the best way. I fell asleep to the subtle sirens and honking in the distance and fantasized about what our next day would look like. For some strange reason, I already felt at home here in the Big Apple.

It’s true what they say: Everything is faster in New York City — the nightlife, the people, the conversations, the walking. Quite literally, New York is the city that never sleeps. The subway runs 24 hours a day, bars are open until 4 a.m., and the lights are always on in Times Square. With just three full days in the city, I knew I wouldn’t be able to get everything checked off my bucket list, but we were certainly determined to try.

As soon as we stepped off the subway at the Fifth Avenue–59th Street station, I was wide-eyed and over-stimulated as I scanned my surroundings. I could almost feel different parts of my personality emerging that I hadn’t tapped into for years. Walking out into a sea of skyscrapers, buzzing crowds, and traffic commotion — it felt like I had just slammed a few shots of tequila without having drank anything at all. I was drunk on the energy of it all, and I loved it.

The Plaza Hotel, New York, New York.
The Plaza Hotel/Courtesy photo

The first experience was afternoon tea at The Plaza Hotel. The fancy teapots, decadent tiers of petite pastries and finger sandwiches, and the excuse to get a little dressed up for the occasion? Yes, please! The posh interior of the restaurant featured high ceilings, Roman statues, and lush greenery. The Plaza has so beautifully perfected this time-honored tradition of afternoon tea, and it was the ideal outing to set the vibe for the weekend.

From the finest of restaurants to the most luxurious of shops, NYC is known for its extravagance and sophistication. Seeing as how my sister and I were already dressed to the nines in cocktail dresses and high heels from our tea date at The Plaza, we decided it would be fun to mosey into Tiffany’s (the flagship store on 5th Avenue). With scenes from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” running through my mind, I was excited to see the building remodel and dive into the full Audrey Hepburn experience.

Tea at The Plaza is a quintessential New York experience.
Joe Thomas/Courtesy photo

Eventually, we found ourselves at Da Marino, an authentic Italian restaurant in the heart of the theater district. It was a delightful little place that served up traditional Italian fare and live music. Looming in the corner sat a mysterious piano man who kept the guests entertained throughout their dining experience. He belted out lyrics to “Light My Fire,” by The Doors, while we sipped cabernet and devoured our delicious pasta dishes.

Conveniently located, Da Marino was just a block away from the Al Hirschfeld Theatre. Here, we had tickets to see “Moulin Rouge! The Musical.” As a big fan of Baz Luhrmann’s revolutionary film, my sister and I were impressed with how they brought the film to life onstage. The three-hour performance led us into a world of splendor and romance, eye-popping excess, and luxurious enchantment. The cast featured Joana “Jojo” Levesque who played the lead role of Satine. That name “Jojo” took me back as I recalled her #1 singles “Leave (Get Out) ” and “Too Little Too Late.”

The Dutch is located on the corner of Prince and Sullivan in SoHo.
The Dutch/Courtesy photo

Saturday evening, we stumbled upon a trendy SoHo restaurant on the corner of Prince and Sullivan Streets called The Dutch. Known for its well-stocked oyster bar, The Dutch served up Southern comfort food like hot fried chicken with honey butter biscuits and slaw. This was the ideal spot to have a nice meal and catch up with my sister.

After dinner, we walked a couple blocks to explore the famous Washington Square Park. All I could think about was that scene from “When Harry Met Sally.” For those who know the film, it’s when Harry and Sally first arrive in New York after their road trip together from Chicago. She looks at him and says, “Well, have a nice life.” It was a charming little lively park filled with artists, musicians, and what I assumed were NYU students.

The Dutch in New York serves oysters and elevated Southern food.
The Dutch/Courtesy photo

Even though Times Square was filled with an overflow of tourists and street performers, I was still impressed by the magnitude and liveliness of it all. As Alicia Keys would say, “These streets will make you feel brand-new. Big lights will inspire you.” Our trip wrapped up on Sunday with a leisurely brunch, followed by some bar hopping around Bayside with my sister’s closest friends. I briefly got a glimpse into my big sister’s world and her fast-paced lifestyle. I loved getting to meet her tribe of friends, visit where she works, and get a feel for her local hang out spots.

Throughout the trip, my sister and I realized that we both lead drastically different lives. To put things into perspective, I carry bear spray, while my sister carries pepper spray. I ride around town on my Vespa, while my sister travels around by means of the subway. I am on the lookout for mountain lions and bears, while my sister keeps an eye out for dangerous criminals. All things considered, we live in two very different parts of the country.

New York City offers a sense of perspective and culture like few other places can. It takes you out of your comfort zone and drops you into something completely brand new. The hustle and bustle of the city is intoxicating, and there is excitement and wonder around every corner. As I write this article, listening to the river run outside my bedroom window, I’m happy for my travels, but I’m also happy to be home. I think I’ll stay here in Aspen for a little while longer before my next big escapade across the country.

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