Monday, July 14, 2014

New York City, 2014

I realized I never had a chance to recap our recent trip to New York City, and in the spirit of LA beating NY in the Stanley Cup playoffs semi-recently (yep, I'm behind), here it is.

(For all my "trip posts," click here.  I'm fairly certain I haven't blogged about everything; for example, this was my third time in New York, and although my blog pre-dates all of those, I've never written about this city.  I used to think I'd want to live there, but each time I return home, I'm thankful for space and quiet.)

First of all, I must apologize for the lack of pictures of food, and pictures in general.  I was 12 weeks pregnant at the time, and I was mostly trying to survive the trip while getting everything that we wanted to get done, since it was "The Ukrainian"'s first time there.  Said trip was planned before I got a little passenger myself, but I think the timing worked out because this was just around the point I was able to endure life again. =)

I was really happy to escape work because I haven't had much break in six months, and especially happy to remove myself from the summer-like heat we were having back at home.  We took a red-eye and arrived before 5 AM New York time.  I have done this before, and I really like how quickly you seem to arrive when you fly at that time.  The chill in the air actually made me shiver, something that I haven't felt back at home since winter.  We slogged our way to the Air Train and into the city, which took longer than it should have because it was Sunday, and subway service is slightly limited on those days.

We had breakfast at a place called Veselka, a Ukrainian diner that I visited the last time I was in New York.  The picture I have below is actually from last time, since I was too hungry to take my photography duties seriously.  We shared these vareniki (pierogis basically, with a side of apple sauce, sour cream, and weird sauteed onions), a potato pancake, and an omelet for the protein.

We walked around the Chinatown area nearby and then headed to the site of the World Trade Center.  This is a site I have not had a chance to visit yet in my other trips to New York, and it felt so eerie to be walking around there.  We spent some time sitting around the fountains, enjoying the view, people-watching, and thinking of how much transpired in this relatively small area.

Next, we decided to go for another thing I haven't done in New York -- see the Statue of Liberty on Stanton Island.  Unfortunately, in addition to walking there from the World Trade Center, they closed off a park that led directly to the ticket lines, adding what seemed like miles to the walk there.  After we got tickets, there was... more walking.  Yes, we walked a TON the first day, maybe 15 miles if you count the evening time.  In the first part of the day, we had our luggage with us, too.  We packed lightly, but still.  Now you know why pictures are lacking...

I'm pretty amazed that I didn't toss my cookies on the ferries.  We also got to see Ellis Island in the process.  We lucked out with great weather the entire trip, and it was cool to see such iconic landmarks in person.

At this point, we returned to mid-city and tried to get lunch, but the place we planned was closed for renovations, and the place we ended up eating in its place was a HUGE whomp whomp (*ahem, Momofuku Noodle Bar*).  We headed to Brooklyn, where our studio was.  We rented from AirBnb, my first time using this service.  The area was definitely eclectic, but ultimately, the whole rental experience was easy, cheap, clean, and safe, so this did work out for us.

We slept for about an hour or two and headed out again to Times Square to visit all the usual spots like the Toys 'R Us and candy stores.

We were eating various things that night, most notably, I made a return trip to one of my favorite places ever, Xi'an Famous Foods.  Unfortunately, in the rush of them closing, I'm not sure I ordered the right thing.  Below is some of the food from the last time I was in New York, as it was way too dark to take a photo this time, relegated to some dark NYC street bench.  I ordered a noodle bowl like the one below (top, when I should have ordered more like the bottom one), and it was so gross.  It was way too oily, and I had to eat around lamb bits, which eeeew.  Thank goodness we were sharing everything.

The next morning, we headed to the Chelsea area, where they have a really nice market with lots of great food shops/restaurants and a renovated former railroad line that was converted into a park.  It was a great place to walk in between food tasting.

Me on the High Line, looking like I ate one too many things at Chelsea Market.

One of the things that was eaten (not by me!).  Gotta love my hand sanitizer reminder in the back.

We then headed to the Grand Central Terminal, where I wolfed down a 600-calorie milkshake from this place called Shake Shack, which I constantly hear about from my NY colleagues.  It was a good milkshake, indeed.  Then, we headed to Central Park:

We ended the night in the Flatiron District to dine at Eataly, which is an Italian marketplace.  I'm sorry I didn't take pictures here, but it was crowded and I was hanging on by a thread again energy-wise.  I did have some really good pasta here, though -- tube pasta in a light tomato sauce.  "The Ukrainian" had a wood-fired pizza.

The next morning, we decided to head to Coney Island.  It was a long, choppy ride, and I think I almost lost it by the time we got there.  An orange-ade from Nathan's Famous saved my life.

Nearby is an area known as "Little Odessa," a.k.a., Brighton Beach.  Basically, everyone talked like "The Ukrainian"'s family, exact same accent/tone and everything.  I'm sure it was like the equivalent of when I am out in my hometown and everyone speaks the Cantonese that I grew up hearing.  We sampled some food from the Ukrainian stores, and as I walked the streets there, I remembered that I'm carrying a little Ukrainian myself. ;)

We then went to Wall Street, where I accidentally ran into this vegan food truck that I fell in love with the last time I was in New York, The Cinnamon Snail.  Their donuts did not disappoint again, although the wait did.

We then returned to Chinatown and ate ridiculously cheap dumplings in the hole-iest hole-in-the-wall ever and then to Little Italy where we took some cannolis to go.  By this point of the trip, we were both growing weary and missed the relative cleanliness and tranquility of our home (HAHAHAHA), so we rested and spent the next day walking around Brooklyn and taking FOREVER for our flight to leave.

All in all, we were happy to be back on this side of the country.  I'm not sure how people live over there, as I complain about public transit enough without it being so central to life over here.  I had a prenatal appointment the morning after I returned, and although I was sluggish as heck, the little one was very wiggly indeed.  He or she must have enjoyed all the strange food raining down on it during our time away.

I think it's safe to say that I'm done with traveling for now.  That plane ride back was long enough for me to go internationally, and frankly, I am tired and find that the comforts of home are best.   We may do something short and local before the baby comes, but even better, a "staycation" at home with everyone assuming we are at work would be amazing

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