I just woke up to the sounds of the Big Apple coming to life on a rainy Friday morning. As I lay here, a muffled cacophony of car alarms, sirens, horns, police whistles, and people shouting can be heard from below my hotel window. While not quite the same as waking up to the sound of waves in the morning, it’s not too bad. In fact, I think I love it.
For those unaware, I landed in New York city (NYC) on Thursday afternoon. If my count is correct, this is my millionth visit to the Big Apple. Clearly, I love NYC. My first trip occurred way back in grade 10, when I was about 20 years younger. My art class jumped on a bus and made the long trek to the city to spend some quality time exploring its cultural offerings. The city was much different then; Times Square was mainly a centre for porn shops and XXX theatres. The seedy, dank, dark, and sleazy has since been replaced by bright neon lights, billboards, and Naked Cowboys (who by the way, are not really naked). I think Mayor Rudy Giuliani has been credited with cleaning it up, for better or worse. Whoever is accountable, I loved the city then, and I love it still today. In the past year alone, I’ve been thrice. Thrice! And I’d come back again in a heartbeat.
For those that have never been (and might I ask why haven’t you been?), the city is vibrant. There is some sort of indescribable electricity in the air. I know that sounds corny, but it’s so true. I love it. And I love the people of New York. There is just so much diversity, you can’t help but love it.
Of course, most New Yorkers are also loud. Really loud. So loud, that most people are taken aback the first time a native New Yorker barks at them. And I don’t write bark in a derogatory manner. It’s just the way New Yorkers communicate. To the uninitiated, the bark might be construed as anger or aggression. But it’s neither, generally speaking. New Yorkers are loud, and they may bark, but they are friendly, and helpful, and typically happy. At least, that has been my experience.
One of my favourite things about the city is the food. So much food. And food of all different varieties, from different cultures, and different traditions. If my hernia didn’t prevent me from eating a lot at once, I’d be gorging on food like it was going out of style. Maybe my hernia provides a silver lining for my waist line; a silver belt if you will.
Anyway, our gastronomic adventure began within a few minutes of getting checked into our rooms at On The Avenue. Around the corner from the hotel is a cupcake store that Gerarda loves called Crumbs. While I’m not a cupcake person, we always make a point of stopping in. The coffee is delicious, cheap, and very dark. Just the way I like it.
Gerarda opted for a small classic chocolate cupcake with sprinkles, while Alan went for the full-sized chocolate hazelnut cupcake, which I have been informed was full of Nutella goodness. Based on the smiles on their faces, the cupcakes did not disappoint. Elisabeth opted for a traditional jewish pastry typically served during Purim known as a hametaschen. Verdict – delicious.
I wasn’t to be left out however, as I paired my coffee with a really tasty cinnamon bun. Oh so cinnamon-y and gooey and tasty. A perfect touch of sweet to go with my dark roast java.
Following our lunch of pastries and sugary treats, we wandered the neighbourhood (as Elisabeth has not been to NYC before, apart from one visit associated with a Physics conference many years ago). The weather was perfect; not too hot, and definitely not too cold. The sun was shining, the sky was blue; almost as if the universe was compelling us to wander, taking in all that the city had to offer.
Eventually we made our way to The Dead Poet, our favourite pub. We always drop in for a beverage or two while we are here. While enjoying my second and third Guinness of the day (the first having been consumed at the Airport Lounge back in Toronto), I was compelled to join a special club that the bar was advertising. Specifically, it was the 100 pints of Guinness club. To obtain full membership, you have to drink 100 pints of Guinness (purchased of course from The Dead Poet). Clearly this is a challenge that I am up to. Clearly it means I need to return to New York, otherwise I might not make this challenge. Note: the pints do not need to be consumed at once thankfully, as I am a light weight these days.
Dinner followed drinks, and it consisted of an italian dinner at a nearby restaurant (which name I can’t recall). Dinner was good – I had a very nice linguine with clam sauce. We paired our meals with a very nice chianti1, and of course, much laughter. By the time dinner was finished, we were all very stuffed, and very much ready to call it an early night.
Before we turned in, we wandered down to Times Square. There we visited the M&M’s store, and the Swatch store. Mainly, we just enjoyed the scenery and chaos that is Times Square. My favourite part was trying to translate the conversation that I apparently had with some rather large drunk man, who felt compelled to stop traffic so that we could cross the street. I gathered enough from what he told me to know that he was “mo fo wasted”, and “slappy in the way, fo sho”. At least, that’s how I heard whatever he said.
We returned to our rooms, exhausted, still very much full, and quite content with our day. As I crawled into bed, I wondered what gastronomic adventures might await us on Friday. I drifted off knowing that whatever they be, they’ll be awesome. New York has a way of not disappointing.
1 Which adds bottle 7 to my list of 30 new wines – a part of my Not-So-Bucket-List list.
P.S. Happy Birthday (yesterday) Lara 🙂