Two Quick and Wet Days in New York

16 Aug

Washington Square Park, Manhattan

On Saturday morning my friend Dave rushed us down the Mass Pike to get me to South Station in time for my 11 am bus to New York. We’d had a late night in Allston and he just barely got me there on time. Even though the Peter Pan bus hit some heavy traffic, I passed out for most of the journey and woke up as we were getting close to the New York state line. I’ve done a lot of bus traveling in the last three years, and though the American buses are not the best I’ve ever been on, I was surprised that they now have free Wi-Fi. It’s not the best signal, and in my case was pretty lousy, but beggars can’t be choosers. It was air conditioned, quiet, and seemed pretty safe to me.

Arriving from the north and pulling in through The Bronx, Harlem and eventually to the Port Authority on 42nd Street, I looked for the familiar street scenes I’d known since I was a child. We lived in the suburbs of New York in Westchester until I was eight years old, but always went back to visit family and friends in the city. Driving through upper Manhattan you pass by the usual scene throughout the city–shops, storefronts, restaurants, bars, basketball courts, theaters, etc. There is something on every corner and plenty of little streets to get lost on.

Even after getting off the bus, it still look me about an hour and a half connecting on the subway to reach my grandma’s apartment down in Brooklyn. The city is huge, and though most people refer to “The City” as Manhattan, the other four boroughs are also a part of New York City. My cousin Josh and I later agreed that a Brooklyn scene can best be described as a little old lady with a pushcart. Some parts of the borough like Kings Highway can be pretty depressing, but it’s the old stomping grounds for us. It was the first time I’d seen my grandma in two years and we caught up over some of Brooklyn’s finest pizza, speaking in Spanish and English as we could finally share something unique. She was proud to see how I’d learned to speak like an Argentinian and could talk about the same places where she once lived.

Part of NYU's Campus

As it was getting dark I left Brooklyn to head back to Manhattan, where I was going to meet up with my cousin Josh and stay at his apartment in The Village. For years I wanted to live in The Village, a trendy part of the city with an untold number of cool boutiques, bars, restaurants and galleries. We quickly headed out to meet up with some of Josh’s friends and our cousin Samara, as well as her friends. It’d been at least 3 or 3 1/2 years since we’d seen each other, and this time we were all of legal drinking age. Josh knows the area pretty well because he not only lives there now but also went to NYU, so we visited a few bars he recommended before moving on to the Chelsea neighborhood for one last bar before calling it quits.

As we waited for a cab we got soaked under a downpour which had been going off and on all night. Waking in the morning, we saw that the weather was going to be crappy all day, so there was no point in trying to avoid it. I accompanied Josh for a brunch and then went to my own, catching up with my friend Dorothy who I studied abroad with in Spain. I’ve never had Vietnamese food for brunch after a night out, but the noodle dish did the trick, and after finding Josh again, we set out in the steady rain for Eataly, a unique indoor market on 5th Avenue that features imported Italian goods. You can shop around like at a Whole Foods, or sit down at a restaurant inside, or stand up at a table and enjoy some wine and paired food. We chose to go up to the 14th floor to visit the Birreria, or Beer Garden. I asked the sloshed kids next to us what we should order for our second round and they highly recommended a 4 ounce beer that was 18% alcohol, which had a bit of a kick. We got lucky in that they produce so little of it and demand is so high, it’s only available for about two weeks a year and is always kept on limited stock.

View from the High Line

Thinking we’d seen the last of the rain, Josh and I left for the High Line, a project which I’d never heard of before. Josh said it was opened in 2009 from former railroad tracks on the west side of Manhattan, running from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street. The High Line is a park open from 7 am to 11 pm daily and is a great place to go for a run, sit and read, or take a stroll above the city streets without having to stop for traffic. You get a great view of the river and Hoboken, New Jersey.

The beer garden under the High Line

Walking along the path you find lush flowers in bloom (in the summertime, anyway) and a peaceful atmosphere which was undisturbed on a rainy Sunday afternoon with hardly any tourists. It’s another one of those things that makes New York so interested and fun. Below the High Line we stopped at another Beer Garden, this time underneath the Standard Hotel, where for $8 you could choose between three beers. Pretzels, sausages and other treats are also available. The rain continued later into the night as we headed back out for some Mexican food. By chance the restaurant/bar was doing a Tequila Trivia night, meaning they would read off shots and the first person to answer got a free tequila shot. Josh got three answers correct, so we were treated to some drinks on the house, and the food was excellent to boot.

The trip went by quickly but was thoroughly entertaining and fun. Though I’ve been to New York consistently throughout my life and at one point grew aggravated at having to make the trip down, it remains obvious why it’s such an attractive city to so many. There’s obviously something going on all the time, but it’s not just something. It’s something awesome, unique, and different. I hate to say it, but New York has what many other cities in the world don’t, Boston included. Simply put, there is only one Big Apple. With just one week until I move down to Washington D.C. I will soon be on the move again, but since the capital is only four or so hours from New York, I’ll definitely be making a trip back at some point soon.

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