[May 2012] Family was heading there – friends were on their way… all signs were pointing towards Tom and I to venture back over to the East coast for some classic NYC adventure. Our flight and two public bus combo was met with some traffic, albeit relief from the over-priced taxi service which we refuse to succumb to, Manhattan… $60 for a 20 minute ride? I don’t think so. Before we knew it we were towing our luggage on the upper east side to a friend’s conveniently located apartment just blocks from Central Park. Four of Tom’s buddies and myself, the only gal, celebrated this sunny day on the private apartment rooftop with a few cold ones in hand.
Soon it was time to venture south where we met my family at a classic upscale diner, Café Cluny where we feasted on tasty eggs benedict and lip-smacking mimosas. We worked it off enjoying the gorgeous spring day by walking around and finding the unique High Line. The High Line is an old above-ground subway-turned sidewalk and park… where pedestrians have the rare opportunity to walk a flower-lined sidewalk for blocks, avoiding the crowded streets and noisy city below. We settled for lattes at an outdoor café on fifth avenue for some time to pass before heading to NYU’s Tisch theatre for Zach’s play… the main reason for our trip.
The student rendition of The Madras House was spectacular: from costumes to set, to the delivery of the complicated, well-rehearsed lines. We were agreeably impressed to say the least. After the show the family put Zach’s girlfriend to the test over cheap pizza and pitchers of beer. Suffice to say she won us over with her warm charm and genuine character.
Although I was absolutely exhausted, Tom and I had to fight the NYC madness to make our way back to the north end of the island where his friends were drinking the night away at a crowded bar. It was just about the last thing I wanted to do… but we were otherwise homeless. So we fought our heavy lids and joined in on the fun. Luckily it wasn’t long before our host forfeited his apartment keys so we could turn in early.
The next morning was greeted with more beautiful weather. While Tom and friends caught up with beers on the roof all day, I took advantage and walked to Central Park, wondering the unending grounds and snapping photos before settling in with a Bloody Mary at the lakeside eatery, The BoatHouse. I was soon met with my parents’ company and we enjoyed the entire afternoon chatting and drinking with a backdrop of tourists on gondola rides and turtles playfully lapping in their scenic domain. It was one of those perfect days to remember.
As the sun dropped, I made my tipsy way back to the boys who were undeniably a few more beers deep than myself. Okay, a lot more. So I did what anyone would do and joined in. One large rooftop party and one crazy bar later, Tom and I left the party and braved the rain for a fancy dinner with Zach and Liz and my folks. We tried decadent tapas at the candlelit cave-like restaurant. Of course, the party continued post-dinner as some late-night shenanigans were to be expected.
Our last morning we brunched with the family one last time on bottomless pancakes. The day was less than inviting with whipping winds and unforgiving rain, but Tom and I were determined to take advantage of our close proximity to the newly revealed 9/11 Memorial. We walked the grounds of the finely groomed park and stared sadly into the echoing fountains where the towers once stood. The architecture is fascinating… water flows seamlessly into the twin gaping holes into the earth, the names of brave citizens engraved into every inch of its’ strong granite exterior. The place is hauntingly beautiful and equally sad. We took it all in in silence and eventually made our way home, our hearts heavier. Never forget: United we stand, New York.
[Feb 2012] This trip was not much more than a break. A break from the monotony of work days and morning frost on the windshield. A break from a cold winter in Chicago and a bevy of responsibility. A cheap flight (can you say, Spirit airlines!?) and a free stay in Colleen’s parents condo minutes from the beach… and we were sold. Four friends (Meghan, Brooke, Colleen and myself) would venture to the Southeast tip of our country and thaw out in Fort Lauderdale for a good few days.
I waited at the airport upon arrival (I flew solo as no one else needed to deal with dreaded Spirit air) and was met with a threesome of drunks. The goal was to catch up on the balcony overlooking a hotel pool in the warm night air, and play cards in the lovely condo we would call home. The night hours whisked by and the beers went down smoothly. We may have been a little too excited for the trip ahead considering our 2am night swim shenanigans invited a premature scolding from the retired neighbors not fond of our drunken stupor.
We woke up to our first gorgeous day of sunlight and 80 degree weather. We headed straight for the beach where we walked off our hangovers, toes in the sand, and explored the town. The day's agenda: the pool. Sun, music, and friends were all we needed as the hours passed by. A sudden rainstorm was met with an intense water volleyball match between me and Colleen. We freshened up for a lovely seafood dinner in town and happy hour with two-for-one glasses of wine. The fresh Chilean Sea Bass and gorgeous beach views from our outdoor table were perfection… and followed by a slightly less quiet evening of Taylor Swift karaoke and dueling pianos. The walk back proved interesting with a stop at a random outdoor hotel pool with an easy-to-climb gate…
The next day we laughed at the night’s events over a seaside brunch and mimosas. We let our melanin kick in at the pool for the day before showering up for a great evening. Newly tanned and ready to go, we enjoyed calamari and drinks along the harbor downtown before boarding a booze cruise around the inlet. We gawked at the mansions lined with palm trees and made a few notable bar stops along the water’s edge. Martinis capped the night of bar crawling, along with a Frank Sinatra dance party back at our digs. Encore!
Our third day was a beach day with crashing waves as our soundtrack. We chatted and napped, read and enjoyed. We may have tried a self-timer photo shoot and ended up with a few too many photos, but we got one keeper out of it.
After a long day we dressed our best for a picture perfect sunset at a lovely hotel overlooking the shore. The sun dropped and sky lit up in color as we sipped overpriced white wine spritzers and swayed in old fashioned rocking chairs painted a milky white. It was hard to leave that porch of paradise, but we had sushi reservations awaiting us downtown. Our scenic table set on the corner of the restaurant above a creek cutting through town was ideal – and we celebrated by ordering a bevy of sushi rolls. And by that I mean: way too much. I have never eaten so much sushi in my life – it somehow turned into a personal challenge to see if we could finish our ridiculous over-ordering… a hot dog eating contest of sorts with cold fish instead of ballparks. What a mistake. Our foursome was visibly hurting as we tried waddling our way through the cute shops of town, before giving up and heading back to the condo to rest our aching bellies. Tums, anyone?
We woke up significantly rested and overly burned. It turns out our all-day beach extravaganza was a little heavy on the sun and low on the SPF. My calves were so burned I felt tingles up my legs with every step! Luckily the weather was faulty this day so we didn’t feel guilty hidden inside watching scary movies and eating pizza. We did venture out for a casual dinner at Hooters – and freshened up for a much-needed night of dive bar-hopping.