Since my brother Zach was still a student at NYU and the weather was warming up, Tom and I decided to take advantage and head out for a long weekend in the Big Apple. It was our first flight together (4/8/2010) and Tom, without many flight tickets to his name thus far, stared out the plane window practically the whole time. We arrived to a gorgeous sunny day in Manhattan and watched passerbys as we waited for Zach to greet us in Union Park. The buzz of artsy college hipsters vying for places in the spotlight was ever so present… the city of lights where dreams come true. After a quick tour of my brother’s typical dorm room (a 4 by 4 room with posters taped lazily to the tired walls) we were off on the subway to enjoy the day. We refused to use a cab the entire weekend and succeeded.
Our first stop: Times Square. This was not my first time in NYC – my dad took me for my sixteenth birthday – so a lot of my enjoyment came from seeing Tom experience the metropolis for the first time. Honestly, Times Square was just as overwhelming on my second visit with the over-the-top ads, lights, shops, and mass of tourists. Tom and I took some photos, explored Toys’R’Us complete with a full sized ferris wheel inside, passed the famous Radio City music hall and NBC studios, and made our way to Rockefeller Center. We watched some ice skaters and tried to envision the countless concerts and memorable shows which have taken place at that very spot.
Next it was time to see the skyline from a higher perspective… 104 floors up to be exact. Elevator after elevator transported us up to the top of the Rockefeller building where we were free to roam around outside and take in the insurmountable views. The picture perfect sights of gaping Central Park on the north and the Empire State Building on the south were enough to keep us up there for over an hour taking it all in. Afterwards we made our way back to ground level where we walked 5th Avenue and met Tom’s good buddy Steve Valenta (living and working in NY post-college) for some fun. We reunited at a local pub where Steve’s company was hosting a free (yes, free!) happy hour of delicious bar food and bottomless kegs.
A few hours and few too many beers later, we made it back to the NYU dorm where we met Zach’s roommates, fancied up, and made our way back downtown to Zach’s theatre production dubbed ‘Rehearsal!’… a small yet entertaining compilation of amateur writing and hilarious scenarios. My brother of course played the over-the-top buffoon which he does so well. After the play Tom and I tried out Zach’s motorized scooter and had a few dark beers before meeting back up with Steve and Tom’s other friend Mike Anello who was visiting for the weekend as well. It was a night to remember with people we rarely get to see.
The slight hangover and overcast skies failed to damper our moods as we set out early the next morning to explore more of this enchanting town. We happily left the air mattress on the less-than-sanitized dorm floor, grabbed a traditional street vendor hotdog, and were off to Battery Park on the southern tip of Manhattan. We were both pleased to buy some knockoff illegal goodies by
haggling street sellers while we waited in line for our ferry ride to Ellis Island. As we sailed closer to the monumental Statue of Liberty, I tried to
picture myself as an immigrant years ago who saw the torch-holding lady as their ticket to freedom. The Statue is remarkable from every angle, and absolutely massive from below! (I had never been to see it before, so this was a treat for both of us). We explored the disappointing Ellis Island Immigrant Museum next, and once back on land made our way to the financial district and the unnerving spot where the Twin Towers once stood. This was before the memorials were
constructed and the emptiness brought chills to my spine.
It was time for some R & R so we found the oldest pub in NYC, McSorley’s, on behalf of my parents’ wonderful suggestion. We were so happy to
enjoy this gem of the city! The place has not been vacuumed since its erection
in 1854, so the ambiance is that of faded newspaper clippings covering the
walls, spider webs and dust hanging from the age-old light fixtures, and tiny
mugs of beer served four at a time which come in just two options: light or
dark. Yum! We ended up staying longer than planned as we wet our whistles on
tiny mug after mug of light brew, bringing us back in time.
There was no time to freshen up for our romantic night on the
town so we headed straight for Chinatown and then made our way to our destination: Little Italy. Benvenuto!
Ciao Bella! We were yelled at in Italian from all sides of the street – the chefs competing for us to enter their restaurant and try their homemade pastas. The smell of tomato sauce and fresh garlic envelopes the quaint cobblestone
street decorated in Italian lights hanging overhead. It was as perfect as I’d imagined…which made choosing a place to open our wallets quite the challenge.
Though we were starving, we made our way up and down the entirety of the street to experience the little pleasures and finally chose ‘Pellegrino’s’ where we enjoyed mouth-watering homemade pastas and a bottle of red wine amongst fellow patrons of New York. It is still one of our favorite dates we’ve had.
A quick change at Zach’s dorm and we were hauling our bags to Steve’s chic and impressive apartment where we were met with a pregame party of over 30 guests. Steve and his gang brought us to their favorite New York hotspot – home to flat screens lining the bar which played 80’s music videos the whole night.
A drunken dance party of course ensued.
Rise and shine for our last day in NYC – the city that literally never sleeps! Steve joined Tom and I on a walk through SoHo where I taught them how to haggle for stolen merchandise and cheap knockoff watches and sunglasses. We followed with brunch in Madison Square Park, saw the famous flatiron building, and took a brief pit stop in the Museum of Sex where Tom and I were
sporadically interviewed by the Dr. Oz show. Yes, we made it on the show; no, the dirty stuff did not. Phew.
A relaxing and picturesque afternoon in Central Park was to follow. Tom and I climbed around like kids, duplicated a photo my parents took when they were dating, and laid on the grass among blooming Spring trees. Zach
met us with some grade-A grass which led me to puke in the middle of the day in Central Park. Guess I can cross that off my bucket list. Our threesome enjoyed
the sunset before Tom and I parted for Times Square again where we spontaneously bought cheap tickets to a live stand-up comedy show. We later changed at Steve’s apartment and tried to make it out before basically falling asleep at the bar. It is safe to say we packed it all in… We left the next morning with “New York, New York” playing in our heads.