Holiday Cheer

‘Tis the season to be jolly!

This has been a pretty packed holiday – usually I get to spend these days indoors catching up with videogames I want to play – but this year was different. Lots of people, parties, going out, things to do.

The Christmas lunch was at Nico’s with all the gang. As usual, we got stuffed like this was gonna be our last meal on Earth, but the food was top-notch.  Afterward we went to see Sherlock Holmes – which is fun btw.

Yesterday I traveled to Brooklyn to Roxy and Slava’s place for another get-together. There was Russian traditional food, lots of booze and happy music. Pictures from the joyous event can be found here.

Looks like this is it for 2009, so I’ll see you all happy people next year. Cheerios.

Rainy Days

The past two weeks have been packed. Almost every night I had somewhere to be, someone to see or something to do.

On Friday night I went to see an independent movie, the “artsy” kind. Or so it was supposed to be, because it didn’t move me much. The director tries to combine sexual psychology with horror elements, but it comes out a bit of a mess. Good thing I knew about the really gory scenes from before, otherwise I would’ve had a bit of a shock. Chaos reigns, indeed.

On Saturday I decided to pay Ethan a visit in Flushing, for more Debasaki and bubble-tea. Which would’ve been great, except for the pouring rain that started when we got there – it did rain all day, but not as bad as that evening. In conclusion, we got to the place – a 15 min walk from the subway – completely drenched. Later we dried (a bit) at E’s place, while watching Rock’n’Rolla.

On Sunday I took advantage of the sun and got out in the afternoon to take a walk and some pictures of Queensboro Bridge. In the evening I joined my friends and went to see Video Games Live.

Monday, Borderlands was released. Been playing it almost every night since.

Tuesday night I met with a classmate from primary/junior high school that was in NY as well. We’ve reunited by accident, as she was supposed to meet with one of my friends that visited me last month. That didn’t happen but at least I saw her last week and got to catch up on our former classmates. Surprising how many of them ended up here, in the US. Andreea, if you’re reading this, holla!

Wednesday night I went with Yacine and Ethan to an iPhone developers meetup, a tech talk about concurrency and threading in application development. It was pretty interesting, but the best part was that they gave us free swag for attending it: books, download coupons, notebooks.

On Thursday night I joined E and his friends for ramen (japanese noodle soup). After, more Borderlands.

Friday, Roxana celebrated her birthday at a small restaurant in Brooklyn. Afterwards we went to her and Slava’s place for drinks & cake.

Saturday I got up early to help Francis get his son to the doctor – he’s been having some problems with his eyes and he can’t drive. Since we were in the neighborhood, we met up with Ethan afterwards for dim sum. In the afternoon I joined Bogdi, Renee, Linh and others and went to Jersey, to Roman and Jenny’s place for a belated birthday party. It was a fun afternoon – and since it was Halloween, we got plenty of trick-or-treaters. Also, I got to put my camera to some use.

After we got back, late at night, I got to experience some Halloween of my own: I went to a costume party at Studio Square, the nearby beer garden. The place was crowded with zombies, superheroes, video game characters (a Scorpion, Sub-Zero and Jade from MK) and even some japanese school-girls. I tried to take some pictures there as well, but they came out too blurry.

I’ve spent Sunday resting after the previous nights. Watched Up and some episodes of FlashForward (which is very good btw) and uploaded pics from the party.

Finally, Monday night, while checking out Facebook, I decided to take out some information from my profile: namely the relationship status (I figured it was a bit TMI). Next morning I woke up to find “who’s the lucky girl?” written on my wall… Could be worse I guess, considering I took out also the “Interested in: women” part, I could’ve found “who’s the lucky guy?” Smile

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