Wednesday, April 6, 2011

NY Birthday Bash!! March 18-19, 2011

As part of my third cross-country trip since July, this time from Arizona to PEI, I stayed in New York for 27 hours. Since I didn’t keep up with these posts during the trip, I figure I’ll include one of the trip highlights on a day when nothing particularly interesting happens in the present. That’s what we often do during slow times, isn’t it? Reminisce about the past, get out the photo album, go through old home movies?
Anyway over Spring Break, I drove up from Washington DC to NY with three friends: two high school friends (as in we were friends in high school…not that they’re in high school now) and one of girls’ sister. I have been to New York many times before, though rarely for longer than 2 days. These fast trips are always centered around a Broadway show, so I have done few touristy activities. Luckily, my friends had not visited the Big Apple before so they had done all of the prep and had big ideas.  
We arrived on Staton Island, parked, and took the free ferry across to Manhattan to do all of the activities on the southern tip. On the ride across, there was a fantastic view of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. We wandered around Wall Street, ate a NY street vendor hot dog while sitting on the steps of the original US capital and where the Declaration of Independence was signed, went by the 9/11 ground zero site, wandered into a few gorgeous old churches, and strolled through the park back to the ferry. We then drove onto Manhattan and tried to arrive at our hotel on 46th without any new scratches on my car. This should be an easy task but the street was 6 lanes wide, without any discernable lane markers, and a million cars moving without the restraint of a speed limit. I’ve never felt so hillbilly and back country as I did driving around NY. I was hoping they couldn’t see Granny sitting in her rocking chair on the roof, but frankly I was skeptical.
We arrived at the Staybridge Suites, a hotel with the comfort of a chain but hip and individual style made it look like it belonged in NYC. Unfortunately, like most hotels in NY, there is a $150 non-refundable deposit for pets. I had looked into a doggie hotel for Sampson, my 10 lb Pomeranian who has been my travel companion, but he doesn’t have the distemper shot within the prescribed time. So since I was clearly not going to pay $150, I took my chances with him being caught, especially for one night. This means I had to sneak Sammy upstairs in a black duffel bag. He’s a good 14 year old dog and was happy to sleep the day away once I got him in the room, but the rides on the elevator were tense. On one trip down to let him relieve himself, my black zippered duffel started moving. I just smiled to the man in the elevator with me and pretended like I moved it. By the end of the second day, Sampson was not happy to be zippered up and it took some coaxing to get him in there one last time.  
Anyway I skipped over Friday night and Saturday’s activities, and there were many! We went to great Greek tapas joint on 10th avenue and met up with two high school friends that live in New York. We had some interesting dishes, including a dandelion salad that had no yellow flowers, only spinach looking leaves. Then a friend and I went to see the Addams Family on Broadway with Bebe Neuwirth (Lilith on Cheers) and Richard Reeves (one of the bad guys on Robin Hood: Men in Tights). It was a quirky show that had many laughs and great special effects, but our awful cheap seats definitely took away from the magic of broadway. Dang this unemployment! We enjoyed the sights of Time Square at night on our way back to our hotel.
Saturday morning I ran off to my favorite bagel shop only a few blocks away and enjoyed ordering an everything bagel, toasted, with heaping mounds of scallion cream cheese. This was the right way to start my birthday! We then jumped on the subway and went over to see the UN building and split up from there. My friends went to the top of the empire state building and a few other sights I had seen. Meanwhile another friend and I went to the Chelsea Market. It’s this really hip market in the old Nabisco factory. (Sidenote: Nabisco stands for National Biscuit Company…duh that makes so much sense!) The market is made of brick and has many little stores that as expected of pretentious NY shops only sells one item. We went to a sample sale, perused the cupcake shop, which was right next to the brownie shop, sampled some olive oil in the oil shop, went through an Italian market, a sushi & seafood store, bookstore, and even a nut shop! We had a great lunch of fantastic soup and sushi, and finished it off with a chocolate cupcake with a big poof of pink frosting. This was the first birthday dessert which would eventually be followed by 3 cakes over the next week by loving family and friends.
We then got back on the subway and rejoined our friends at Central Park. As they were headed to get pizza, I ran to my favorite H&M store on 5th Avenue and bought a couple of great shirts that I really really needed (really). I went by St Patrick’s Cathedral, Rockefeller Center, NBC Studios, Bryant Park, the NYC library, and many more sights I flew by as I fastwalked back to the hotel. I felt confident based on my quick pace and sneer at slow-walkers that I could have been a local. (Not once did I get my camera out during this walk to reveal myself as a tourist.) I got back to the hotel and had a quick birthday celebration with my friends before sneaking Sammy down to the car one more time and dropping them off at the Rock so they could go to the Nintendo store before catching the train back to DC. I drove on to Buffalo, NY in a much less Clampet-style than when I drove onto NYC only 24 hours before.
Really my birthday had begun weeks earlier. I celebrated with my sister in Arizona at Target while bathing suit shopping, and then a week later with my parents and a beautiful rose bouquet with gift cards smattered throughout. My birthday celebration didn’t end in New York. I stopped in Scranton, PA for dinner, and couldn’t resist seeing the building ‘the Office’ was supposedly set in. I went to Five Guys for dinner and enjoyed a burger that was as tall as it was wide, in addition to really greasy fries. This is what you should do on birthdays! I was able to celebrate three more times in Canada: once in Lynden Ontario with friends from Kenya, once with my cousin and her kids in Toronto, and once the day after I arrived on PEI with a cousin and her family. What a treat! Plus I got to enjoy this last cake for a whole week of birthday breakfasts! I couldn’t have celebrated with more lovely people and feel quite fortunate to know them let alone to have them surprise me with cake and presents!
(PS I didn't turn 25 but that was a really great year. I turned 28).

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