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  • Writer's pictureJoanna

Ahead by Half a Century

Updated: Jun 16, 2023

Ugh... the dreaded day had finally arrived.

My 50th birthday.

It's a tough one, suddenly realizing that you're old. I remember feeling like I was getting old at 30... and then at 40... and suddenly, where did the time go... I'm 50????



It can't be.


It creeps up, really it does. Just yesterday, I was 49, frolicking around, without a care in the world. I read somewhere that turning fifty feels like contentment,... and I have decided to focus on that, rather than my bum knee, fat body, thinning hair, wrinkling skin, sun spots and ever approaching menopause.

I choose contentment... maybe.

We'll see.

I think New York is the perfect place to make me feel better. It's the big apple... although I admit, I've had more pizza than apples.🍎

It's the city that never sleeps... thought I'm old, and desperately need sleep.

Especially as the illusive hotel outlaw, I'm a room with no windows... I could sleep all day!

This city has actually made me cry. A couple of times. I just get so completely overcome with emotion, because everything is just so utterly overwhelming. Sensory overload.

~ Every intersection has four new spectacular vantage points.

~ Every corner brings a new perspective.

~ Every street has a story.

~ Every block has its own unique characteristic.

~ Every building brings new fascination.

~ Every step gives me a new appreciation of this magnificent city.

And magnificent it is... thought magnificent doesn't even seem like the right word.

It's too grandiose.

Majestic. Tremendous. Phenomenal.

And no, I'm not just emotional because I'm old. I've always been emotional.

Anyway... back to my 50th birthday celebration.


I wanted us ALL to do one thing together for my birthday, and I chose a food tour. Everyone likes to eat, right? There were actually so many to choose from, so Nicole & Mike decided on Chelsea Market. Everyone was in!


#7 on Bucket List,

Chelsea Market Food tour ✔️

The Chelsea Market, located in the heart of New York City's hip Meatpacking District (once home to the NYC slaughterhouses), is a boutique & international food hall, chic shopping centre, office building and television production facility. You name it, it's here.

Food Network. Oz. Even Oprah.

Had I the money to have gone absolutely crazy with my spending, this would be the place to get 'er done. I wanted everything, but I knew I had to be content with photographs.

We were instructed to meet at one of the market's flower store, and that was where our tour was to begin. Our tour guide was Joe, and he was a born & raised, New York City actor, with a food tour guide gig on the side. Not bad for a profession. Eat, act... meet people! He loved food, so it seemed like the perfect fit for him. Joe was friendly, fun, charismatic and knowledgable about his surrounding & each flavour New York had to offer. He walked us around, explaining the history of the buildings throughout the years, as well as stopping along the way for us to savour artisanal specialties, such as biscuits with apricot marmalade, cumin & cheddar cookies, chocolate mushroom buttons, ham-flavoured chips, handmade hot dogs, gourmet mozzarella pizza, Japanese-style tacos and creamy pistachio ice cream!

The Chelsea market was the dream of a man, named Irwin Cohen. The area had originally been the National Biscuit buildings, but after than had shut down, had fallen vacant and crime ridden. He managed to convince investors it was a good idea and even offered leases of 20 years to entice vendors into the area. It was cool to hear all the history and discover the architecture like being part of a live documentary. There was an interesting story behind everything in the Chelsea Market. The elevators, the doors, the floors, the art... Every piece of it represented New York and it's history.

From the market, we wandered through a small portion of the Meat Packing District and then up on to the highline.

#11 on Bucket List

Walk the High Line ✔️

The High Line is a 1.45-mile-long elevated greenway trail created on a former railroad spur. Richard, ZeeCee and I set off to make the trek, but Richard decided he would sit down and wait for us instead. We made our way to the end, and Richard was picked up by Sheena & Kilby, and they hung out back at the market until we returned.

I really didn’t want anyone to feel obliged to have to hang out 'in a group', just because it was MY birthday. It was actually giving me a large dose of anxiety, and I rehearsed my "go your own way if you want to" speech many times prior to the moment directly after the Chelsea Food Market tour.

Despite my knee pain... I was determined to walk every inch of this metropolis, but I knew there were people that would not, could not or refused to do anything of the kind. Speaking of knee pain... after 3 days of wobbling along, I finally decided it was time to start the pill-popping part of my life. Only seemed a natural thing to do on my 50th birthday. Decrepit me and my stupid knee. Let the Tylenol 3 with Codeine begin... and dammit, it worked...

I'm mobile again!!!

Joe, our tour guide had given us a tip on a friendly, inexpensive, local's bar nearby... and it sounded cool to me. We took him up on the suggestion and ended up at Flannery’s, a real New York City dive bar. The decoration was exactly what you would expect from a dingy, dark sports bar, but the bartenders and the local patrons gave it the colourful character we'd been seeking, without the tourist price tag. Their motto was, "come in as strangers, leave as friends."

Damn straight!

#1 on the Bucket List.

Carrie Bradshaw's apartment. ✔️

66 Perry Street. West Village.

Sheena, ZeeCee and I left Flannery's temporarily to make our way to Carrie Bradshaw's iconic apartment. For anyone that doesn't know, she was the lead character in the TV show, Sex and the City. Her so-called apartment was located in one of the most serene areas... tree lined streets, historic brownstone buildings...

I wanted to call up to her, but that seemed slightly ridiculous...

I can see it now ~ Crazed Fan Arrested on her 50th Birthday.

The owners had obviously had enough of us and there was a photo-taking donation box, as well as a chain across the stairs. It wasn't enough to deter this fan from capturing a few selfies though. Plus, it was my 50th birthday... I was allowed to do whatever I wanted.


Once Pandora's dive bar Box had been opened, Richard jumped right in with his suggestion of Rudy's... the most historical dive bar in New York City. Richard had become fixated on Rudy's, so we all decided we would trust his suggestion and head there to finish off our very own New York food tour.

#16 on the Bucket List

Dive Bar. ✔️

I had originally wanted to go to the Ear Inn, but Rudy's was better - so I can tick that off the list.

Rudy's, a Hell's Kitchen neighbourhood staple since 1933. This tavern is known for its no-frills atmosphere & FREE hot dogs.

Definitely NO frills.

This was the real New York we were all looking for - to a certain degree. It was even MORE dive than Flannery's! I made friends with a local guy at the bar while I was ordering, and I bought everybody two pitchers of beer, two glasses of wine... and with that, we got 10 FREE hotdogs.

Total? $34.00.

Pays to visit a dive bar every now and then.

That would have been well over $100 in Times Square!

My new friend at the bar asked Richard if he was "my fellow" and Richard thought he was asking if he was "my father." There were a few offensive words thrown into the mix... but eventually the miscommunication was sorted out, without going to blows.

More pizza finished off the evening.

I'm turning into pizza.

ZeeCee, Sheena, Kilby and I hit the road looking for some place to have dinner.

We wanted quaint, close and CHEAP!

Seems reasonable? No...?

Not really, in New York.

I'm attracted to anything with lights and fake flowers, so I'm often easy to please. Pizza usually seals the deal too.

Well, we managed to find the B-Side, an Italian pizza joint tucked away on West 51st, in Hell's Kitchen. We took refuge in this wee treasure and ordered a few artisan brick-oven pizzas. Stella & Stuart joined us shortly after we arrived and I think we all agreed, the pizza was delicious. So was the wine!!!! 🍷

Artisan hand-crafted pizza drizzled with chili oil and honey... mannnn...

the perfect ending to a fabulous day.





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