This weekend marked Wok Man’s 1-year anniversary here in New York City. In light of the milestone, the events planner within grabbed the reigns for a fitting commemoration: A New York City Staycation.
The celebration began with a New York food staple: the bagel. Although many states and locales attempt to imitate it, a New York style bagel does not exist outside the NYC metropolitan area, save for areas dense with NYC-expats, like the tri-state suburbs and other affluent U.S. cities. A true new york bagel is hearty: thick-skinned with a doughy inside (like this New Yorker) and gives you at least 4-5 servings of carbs. Eek. But today, unlike most of my days, this amount of energy intake is justified!
The last time I was at the Statue of Liberty I was 15 and my 22 year-old boyfriend was able to purchase me a child ticket for the ferry. Since then the “child” age has been pushed down, I’ve realized how skeevy that relationship was and the major landmark installed airport-like security. I see Miss Liberty often through my daily travels but rarely acknowledge her. But now, up close, she is captivating.The Lady lurks within the trees.Making a friend on Liberty Island.Finding ancestors at Ellis Island Immigration Museum. If you’re in downtown Manhattan with limited funds and a hearty appetite, a visit to Little Lad’s lunch buffet is in order. Escape the bustle of Wall Street in this cavern of vegan value and dine with an interesting cross-section of strangers.
You also need to pick up a “need-um”. This time I tried the orange flavored which was scrumptious and sloppy, like a kiss.
Grand Central Station is the largest train station in the world (in terms of platform capacity says Wiki) and one of the most busiest and bustling square footage in New York, second to the kitchen of my childhood home, also often referred to as Grand Central Station by my father. I rarely find myself under the stars in the terminal’s main concourse, reflecting “God’s view of the sky” (e.g. backward constellations), so when I am there I marvel upward like an out-of-towner. For Wok Man’s special day, I read a passage on the secrets of the terminal, including the underground elevator F.D.R., President of the United States and my leading historical crush, utilized for an easy entrance into the fancy-schmancy Waldorf Astoria. The grand train station’s Whispering Gallery is also a hot spot. Here you and your loved one can whisper sweet nothings to each other’s ears from across the room and be perfectly audible.Espying the crowds from on top of the stairs of the main concourse makes for the best people-watching in the city. Many staircases and hallways pool people into the flood of motion. Practice your inference and observation skills while being thoroughly entertained by the beautiful subtleties of your fellow man. The exterior sculpture is also worthy of craning your neck. It depicts Mercury (Roman God of commerce) rising above the lounging Hercules and Minerva (Roman version of Athena). For more spectacular images of Grand Central, look here.
Speaking of Ancient Greeks, we happened upon a protest against the Beijing Olympics and a call to free Tibet. On the eve of the global day of protests scheduled to coincide with the first day of the games, the mostly Asian American crowd overtook the streets of Midtown East, where a more baffled rather than supportive group of on-lookers stood confused.After a brief storm, we headed out on a 3-hour sightseeing cruise circulating the entire isle of Manhattan. It is hard to believe so much is packed onto this tiny island, measuring only about 13 miles long and less than 3 miles wide. The tour took us down the Hudson and up the East rivers, passing those ridiculous Waterfalls. What is the point?, many ask. The answer from the artist’s statement:
“My point is not to reinitiate the discussion of nature versus culture or the natural versus the artificial, but both to open up the possibility of a nature-based experience within an urban setting and allow us to reconsider our experiences of nature.”
Oh. Much like the orange shower curtains in Central Park, grand scale art installations like this leave a bad taste in my mouth.
A rainbow on the river.
After the long cruise, a dinner at Manhattan’s only Zen Palate was well earned. Not to be confused with the restaurant on 9th avenue, turning the corner at 46th street brings you to the upscale Zen with the completely different menu, more enthusiastic service and the higher prices. Pictured below is Banana Bliss, a delicious dessert of pudding, banana and whipped cream in a graham cracker crust.
As we arrived at the Empire State building, there were countless news crew vans in action. Apparently an elevator heading up to the observation deck had been stuck for an hour with passengers trapped inside. Nothing stopped our determination to see the city from 86 stories up. The light show is impressive and worth the hefty fee. Given the constant lines of tourists, viewings continue until 2:00 a.m. daily.
With day-one of the NYC staycation over, the following day continued with a less is more approach: renting a tandem bike and peddling along the Hudson River Greenway. We biked from midtown to the George Washington Bridge in no time, enjoying the crisp, sunny waterfront, lazily docked boats and plush greenery of the parks alongside the Henry Hudson Parkway, all with the oohs, aahs and pointing fingers of children amazed by our double-bike. It was the best time I’ve had in my city, my home and travel destination for the weekend.
In the end, exhausted, we ended up at Curly’s Vegetarian Lunch. Pictured here, our portraits of each other on the place mats. What a trip!