Three Days in the City

The four musketeers got here on Saturday night, a bit later than I was expecting since they had to go through the wonderful process of US Immigration and Border Protection, meaning they got to my place around 10 PM, a good 2 hours after they landed. We spent the first evening talking about what’s been happening back in Romania and reminiscing over our college days.

On Sunday it was nice out so we headed out into the city. I already had a route planned – I’ve used it before when showing NYC to visitors – so we started at the south-east corner of Central Park and made our way downwards. Fifth Avenue, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Rockefeller Center, the works. We stopped at a few stores – notably Saks, Nintendo World and Toys ‘R Us – and then from Times Square we headed towards Grand Central.

By this time we already got hungry and started looking for a place to eat. Sadly, we were right in between the lunch and dinner times, when – most of – the restaurants are closed. We ended up having some chips and fruits in a small green space somewhere on 3rd Avenue. Fortunately we made up for it by having dinner at an all-you-can eat sushi buffet where we had our fill.

We spent Monday downtown, around my work place. I took them to see Wall Street and around Financial District, South Street Seaport and City Hall. Around 5 we headed toward the Empire State Building since the guys – experienced photographers – wanted to get up there about an hour before sunset in order to get the best lighting possible. Surprisingly there was almost no line, so we ended at the top much faster than I expected. We spent about 30 minutes up there, shivering from the chilly wind while taking lots and lots of pictures.

For dinner we headed over to a Korean barbecue place and afterward I had them try out some delicious frozen yogurt. Naturally, they loved it. We ended the night in the city by going up on 230 Fifth – the lounge with a beautiful view of the Empire State Building – and sampling some local drinks.

Tuesday I was hoping to get back around Brooklyn Bridge and get to cross it, since we didn’t have enough time the previous day. As it turned out, we still didn’t get to it.

We started the day from Union Square and made our way down toward St. Mark’s Place. We stopped at a bubble tea place since they wanted to know what the fuss is all about – I kept mentioning it almost every time we were chatting over IM. The verdict was an unanimous thumbs-up Smile

After LES we wasted a lot of time in the SoHo shops – I figured I owed the girl some shopping she’ll be interested in (after dragging her through gadgets and comic book stores) – and then went further down through Little Italy and Chinatown. We had lunch there, this making it the third time we had Asian food since they got here (pretty much every time except breakfast), followed by more bubble tea (I told you they liked it) and – in one case – a delicious Dulce Split Dazzler from Haagen-Dazs.

Stuffed, we headed back home. At 8 we had tickets for a Broadway show so we needed some time to change. We got back to midtown a bit early and we took another stroll around Times Square before the show started.

The play was… ok. For some reason I remembered it to be better somehow, which is why I wanted them to see it (still, it was my backup choice, after Avenue Q closed its doors). They seemed to have liked it, at least some of them. After the show we stayed in the neighborhood to sample some of the city’s night life Wink

I’ve got a few phone pics, I’ll upload/link the rest – much better ones – when I get them from their cameras.

MihneaIlincaAdi and PoeEmpire State BuildingMihnea, Ilinca and AdiEmpire State Building

Today we had planned a visit to one of the museums – Natural History or MET – and since I’ve seen them so many times recently I decided to let them by themselves and come to work to save on vacation days. I’ll meet them afterward and we’ll probably have dinner at a good burger place around here. After three days of Far-East food, it’s time they experience some American cuisine. At an Irish pub Smile

Off to Canada

The backpack is full, the gift bags are ready, the gadgets are charged. I even have some black tea bubble tea for later, when I’ll be driving part of the 10-hour trip. It’s guaranteed to keep me awake until late night with no problem.

I’ll be back on Saturday, when I’m flying from Toronto. Should get to NY around 8 PM, same time as my friends from Romania. And then the fun begins!

Last Days of Summer

Friday we got off early from work (since Monday is Labor Day) so we filled up the extra free time by having a Wii party at my place. I bought Wii Sports Resort and 3 extra MotionPlus controllers (damn you, Nintendo) so we can have proper 4-player matches. It was fun – it’s a good game to play with friends over. We finished the day with a small stroll around the neighborhood and dinner at Plaza Lounge.

I woke up pretty early on Saturday and because of that I found myself falling asleep after noon. Around 3 PM my nap was interrupted by the gentle sound of a drill-hammer right outside my window. A ConEd truck was parked in front of my building and the guys were breaking up the pavement (later I found out it was about replacing a leaking gas pipe, so I guess it’s a good thing they’re doing it). I took it as a sign to get out of the house and enjoy the rest of the day out.

My plan was to go to Central Park and do some reading, but first I took a quick detour to Chinatown for some bubble tea. There was a place I haven’t been in over a year that had some great mango tea and good, cheap food – even by local standards (there’s cheap, and then there’s Chinatown cheap). I ended up paying less than $10 for food that could have easily satisfied 2 people, plus my mango bubble tea.

The “quick” detour ended up to last about 2 hours, with me walking afterwards from Chinatown up to Union Square. There were a lot of street fairs along the way, on Spring street, Prince and a bigger one on 4th avenue. I left the latter with a corn on a cob, which for some reason reminds me of my childhood summers at my grandparent’s place.

Around 7 I finally got to the park and camped on a bench close to a cross-street. Which made for an interesting experience, since I could overhear the horse-and-carriage drivers telling NY stories to the tourists they were carrying. I learned a few things about the park’s history and some of the many movies it’s been in. I left a little after 8, since it got too dark for me to read.

Back home the ConEd workers were still there, still noisy. It looked like a good time to pay a visit to my cousin, who keeps asking me to come crash at his place in Jersey for a change (he comes to Astoria almost every weekend). So I packed some extra clothes and headed out.