Last year I turned 29 plus 1 by which I mean that birthday didn’t count since I spent it in quarantine. With the rollout of the vaccine and the number of cases going down each day, I figured it was safe enough to have a mini-staycation in the city with some friends for my birthday weekend. I reached out to my friends to see if this was something they would be up for, wrote up an itinerary with activities, booked a hotel room, and shopped my closet for outfits for the weekend. (And for the first time I actually didn’t over pack for a 3 day trip! I guess with age comes all kinds of wisdom even some for packing, hahaha.)
I had a blast with this “milestone birthday celebration re-do” that I simply had to share the experience with you. Giving myself this “get away” was an amazing way to recharge from being glued to the computer for work and such that I’ve found myself to be less anxious as a result, even today. I’m hoping that it inspires you to take some time off from working and disconnect for a staycation, be it solo or with friends/family.
Day 1 – Fri-Yay Dinner
I actually managed to get the Friday before my birthday off as the plan was actually to check into the hotel Thursday evening, with Friday being more of a relaxing, pampering spa day. Unfortunately I forgot to factor in that my friend’s schedules are not as flexible as mine so I had to make some last minute changes. It really didn’t matter though because I was still excited to be spending a couple of days back in the city after being away for so long.
Even though it was a Friday night, I thought it best not to make any restaurant reservations since my friends were coming to meet me right after they got out of work and I knew that there was a chance that something could come up that would effect meeting times. We walked a couple of blocks down from the hotel to Korea town to get some food. We settled for Bonchon, mostly because I mentioned that I really wanted some beef bulgogi, a dish I’ve really missed since I haven’t been in the city for the longest. It was a very nice way to ease into vacation mode.
This first night was all about unwinding and enjoying each others company after a long work week, so once we got back to the hotel we simply put on some face masks and got into the cozy beds and watched a couple of episodes of a K-drama I wanted my friend Diana to see. (We did end up falling asleep mid-way through the third episode. Seriously, what is it about hotel beds that make you feel like you’re sleeping on a cloud? It made getting up the next day that much harder, hahaha.)
Day 2 – All of the things
Having lost a day off of my original itinerary, I ended up filling this day with all the stuff I wanted to do. This meant brunch at Maman NYC, shopping in Herald Square, a museum tour at the Frick Madison ending with dinner and drinks at The Cauldron NYC.
I was super excited for this as I haven’t been back to the Frick since 2015 and getting a chance to look at the pieces a bit more closely than usual as they are presented without barriers now was an opportunity that I didn’t want to pass up. Unfortunately photography wasn’t allowed inside so I didn’t get to do the mini-museum photoshoot I had planned but I did have a great time playing tour guide to my two best friends who have never actually had a chance to see me in my element – being 17th and 18th century Baroque & Rococo art, which makes up most of the collection at the Frick. They seemed to enjoy it enough to suggest a trip to the MET sometime soon. After spending a couple of hours at the museum, we headed back to the hotel to rest our feet a bit, before heading out to meet up with the rest of our dinner squad at The Cauldron.
The Cauldron is basically a themed gastropub inspired by Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings located downtown on Stone Street, one of the oldest streets in NYC. From the drinks, the food, and the decor, everything is in keeping with this theme. I got the 6 of us reservations for their signature potion making experience which comes complete with one welcome drink, 2 potions (cocktails) that you get to brew under the watchful eye of your Potions Master, a witch hat and a wand. If you ever wondered what it would be like to step into this kind of fantasy world, this is the best place to visit.
The best part is there are non-alcoholic options available if you like me don’t drink. Although we didn’t get to try any of the food because we arrived late due to traffic (we ended up going to Greenwich Village for some Pommes Frites and Insomnia Cookies instead), it was still so fun to try our hand at a potions class. Funny enough even with two Ravenclaws in attendance, it was clear that we all failed the course since we got reprimanded (in jest) by our Potions Master throughout the evening for not adding in all the necessary ingredients when the directions called for them. We had so much fun that we’re already discussing going back soon, this time to try the food.
As for my outfit for the day, I went with something comfortable and Persephone inspired, it is spring after all, but also because I’m currently obsessed with Lore Olympus on the Webtoon app. I even decided to incorporate the colors associated with the characters with my make up – blue eye shadow and bold pink lipstick (that surprisingly didn’t get smudged with my mask. Shout out to MAC and their liquid matte lipstick!).
This dress actually was too big for me (even after some minor tailoring on the shoulders straps), but I didn’t want to deal with the hassle of getting a smaller size so I just layered a fishnet crop top over it and added a belt to cinch it at the waist. While I do love how this ultimately turned out, a size 16 would have provided a better fit.
Even though I had packed a more “witchy-Hogwarts inspired” outfit specifically for dinner, complete with Ravenclaw cameo necklace, I ended up not changing because of how much I ended up loving this look. I may still feature that outfit on the blog one of these days because it was really cute.
Day 3 – Brunch with the Girls
Because of the amount of activities I packed into one weekend, I knew that when it came to the inevitable end, we should keep things a bit more low-key before heading home to get ready for the week ahead. Of course brunch wouldn’t really be “low-key.” Being a Taurus means I love a level of extravagance and what better place to go for this than the always elaborately decorated Oscar Wilde NYC.
A bistro named after the 19th Century Anglo-Irish author, and playwright mostly known for his book, “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” the entire space with its high ceilings, stained glass windows and French fireplace mantle is truly inspired by its namesake and the maximalist design of the Victorian era. As a fan of his work and this particular historical period, I’ve been wanting to visit this restaurant since I first stumbled upon it back when I was in college so it was nice to finally be able to afford to do so.
The service and the food had my friends and I feel like we were a bunch of brunching aristocrats. I highly recommend checking out this sophisticated affair if you’re ever in the city. Right now is a great time to make your reservations for a meal there since restaurant capacity is still fairly low so you don’t have to deal with crowds. This time of year the place is decorated with huge pink blossoms for spring, perfectly in keeping with my personal color aesthetic, that being pink and black, but they also known for their holiday decor come the end of fall.
So cheers to officially joining the 30s club! If this weekend is any indication, this next chapter is going to be a lot of fun.
What kinds of summer activities are you looking forward to this year now that everything is slowly opening back up? Will you be traveling or planning your own staycation?