In January I went to New York for a business trip and extended it for a few days so I could have the weekend there. I had planned to go to some galleries, maybe attend a performance at the Metropolitan Opera and go vintage shopping in Brooklyn. But then the weather turned after the first day and everyone warned us about one of the biggest storms ever to hit the east coast. Thinking it might be exaggerated in that OTT way US news anchors love, we waited as the temperature got colder, the wind more biting, the clouds that creamy dull colour they go before it snows, and lo and behold the skies opened on Friday night. I had dinner with friends at Rebelle down on Bowery and walked all the way back up to my hotel in midtown as within hours the roads were already chaotic.
When I woke up on Saturday I felt like a kid on Christmas morning, running to open the curtains to see piles of snow everywhere. The skies were grey, every surface had 20cm on already and it wasn't stopping. I fired up the TV and watched the news unfurl over the next hour or so: the subway was closing, half of Broadway was closed, roads were being closed at lunchtime and by early afternoon there was a full on travel ban. The TV showed coastal flooding and power cuts along the eastern seaboard, interviews with mayors urging everyone to stay indoors, excited meteorologists saying it was going to be a top ten, historic blizzard (they were right: it was a category 5, the most extreme, and NYC's second highest snowfall on record) and poor people stranded in their cars in 12 hour traffic jams on frozen roads overnight. I pulled myself away from the television and ventured out... It was a bizarre experience walking down the middle of Madison Avenue at 1pm on a Saturday, passing only a handful of people with not a car in sight on the silent streets, as the snow continued to fall.
Everywhere was closed apart from hotels (as the staff could sleep there), so I did a little hotel tour and chatted with the snowed-in staff. I had delicious salmon yakitori for lunch at The Roger and went to the usually-packed Gansevoort Park Avenue rooftop bar where there was about three people (and two brave people swimming outside!). By Sunday the roads and transport systems were getting back to normal so I went to see the Jackson Pollock exhibition at MOMA, walked around Central Park which was sparkling white in the sun and stopped for a glass of Champagne at the iconic Plaza before meeting an old colleague for lunch at The Bar Room.
Before the snow came, we went up the Empire State Building, warmed up with a drink at cosy French wine bar Vin Sur Vingt on Broadway one evening, had sushi at Ootoya in Times Square for dinner, excellent Italian food at Marta and had cocktails with great Midtown views at 230 Fifth on my last night before heading to the airport. 13,000 flights were cancelled - fortunately mine was only delayed, although I had the worse check-in at JFK: dropping my bag took over four hours and I wasn't even near the front of the queue by the time my flight was supposed to have departed. A crazy end to a crazy few days. Thanks Storm Jonas for a unique New York experience!