The Prelude to France

Yeah, yeah, yeah…it’s been a while, so long, I’m not even sure I should still call myself a blogger, even if I do just do it for a hobby. For those of you that have been looking for a new post, here it is. For those of you that know me personally and have been asking about my recent trip to France, here it is. And for those of you that just happen to stumble upon this post, welcome. Also, I wasn’t compensated in any form by any businesses or brands named in this post and all opinions are mine.

So, “S” and I recently took a trip to France for a wedding. It was my first time out of the country, aside from driving through Canada and staying on the Canadian side of Niagra Falls, which I don’t count, and it was his first time in France. Yay for adventures together, right? Yes! Also let me share, we were together all day, everyday for a total of 18 days and had never spent more than 6 days in a row together, coupled with I often sit at home alone in silence (dogs outside, no tv, no music), so this trip could’ve gotten real interesting, but everyone made it out alive.

First, I recommend Google Flights to help you find your flights. It doesn’t always have the smaller carriers, but I’ve always had great success with the larger ones. It allows you to play with your dates and compare airlines for you to get the best price as you navigate your trip. After playing with our dates and cities, we decided to get a direct round trip flight from JFK in New York to Paris and find a flight to New York around the same time. We often price trips from Charlotte or Atlanta, along with Greenville-Spartanburg, to find the best deals. I won’t kill you with all of the details, but we ended up saving about $500 each with a pit stop in D.C.

D.C. was a blast as always. We stayed with a friend and just hung around the city. We checked out the National Museum of African-American History and Culture, which was a very powerful and reaffirming experience. I definitely recommend. The 4th floor was my favorite!

Now, if you’ve been with me from the beginning, you know I did Chicago in 24 hours years ago, and I thought about giving the Big Apple a go too, but some of us aren’t as spry as we once were. So, I decided not to “plan” New York, but just to let things happen organically, plus I’m not really down for the tourist stuff.

In New York we stayed at the INNSIDE by Melia-NoMad, a stylish hotel in Chelsea, just blocks away from almost everything Manhattan. The front desk was extremely friendly and helpful and our room on the 18th floor had a fantastic view of the southern part of Manhattan (Is that even a thing)- think One World Trade Center.

Our room wasn’t quite ready when we arrived, so the hotel held our bags while we went looking for something to eat. I figured being in New York, I needed pizza. Using Google Maps, I found several $1 pizza places, but I also saw we weren’t far from Lombardi’s Pizza. Figured it was worth a shot, not knowing this was the second location for the pizzaria known as ‘America’s First Pizzaria’.

While I’m usually a meat lovers type of pizza eater, we went for one of their most popular pizzas, the famous clam pie. What kind of foodie would I be, if I didn’t step out of my Southern box? Exactly what I was thinking. The clam pie is a 14″ pie topped with freshly shucked clams, garlic, oregano, Romano cheese, black pepper and parsley. The disclaimer on the menu says may contain shells and sand, but I didn’t have any bites with either. S and I both enjoyed this pie.

After lunch, we took a walk on The Highline, since it was only a block or two away. Let me tell you, The Highline has some fantastic people watching and architectural views, which are two of my favorite things.

Our dinner in New York was at The Wilson, which is located on the ground floor of the hotel, INNSIDE. The Wilson is a cute little spot, very bright inside with a stylish covered patio in the front of the hotel. We sat at the perfect table beside the street, great for people watching! Sal was our waiter and knows his stuff. He took great care of us and made wonderful recommendations.

We started out with several appetizers- tuna crudo, Brussel sprout tacos, and octopus. All three dishes were delicious, but “S” loved the tacos and I loved the tuna crudo. It was kind of warm out, so the tuna crudo was great for a light, refreshing taste to start the meal. For our entrees, we had the sea scallops and the fish of the day, which was Branzino. Both were cooked perfectly. We completed the meal with the chocolate chip cookie skillet. It was tasty, but a little too rich for me, as I’m not much of a chocolate guy, no pun intended.

The rest of the evening included drinks at a Barracuda, a cash only gay bar in Chelsea that seemed to be filled with couples on that particular night, not that it was a problem, it was actually refreshing to see. We also ended up in Times Square around midnight, which can already be an overwhelming experience but seemed pretty bizarre at night. We also took this time to enjoy NY street food- $1 slice pizza, a kabob and a pretzel.

The following day, we had several hours to kill before boarding our flight to Paris, so we started the day with bagels from Murray’s Bagels. “S” confused the lady at Murray’s by naming all of the ingredients he wanted on the bagel, instead of saying he wanted the traditional on an everything bagel, all because he didn’t read the menu.

For brunch, we walked to Jack’s Wife Freda, which was extremely packed, but well worth squeezing through all of the people to get two seats at the bar. I have to say, I do not like melons or anything melon flavored, but I did give the cantaloupe juice mimosa a try and it is quite good. “S” had the Madame Freda and loved the duck prosciutto. I had the eggplant baguette, which was delicious!

The rest of the afternoon consisted of walking the streets of Chelsea and accidentally visiting an adult novelty store, drinks at Gym- a gay sports bar, walking to Greenwich Village and having drinks at The Stonewall Inn and Julius, and picking up some quick bites from Chelsea Market, which I need another visit to because of ALL of the food!

Needless to say, we did A LOT of New York for our 24 hour stay. Definitely can’t wait to go back. Next post we go to France, stay tuned.

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