I’m home! I had a blast in New York City over the weekend. As always, I returned home exhausted. Not so much because it was NYC versus any other city, but because I tend to be on the run whenever (and wherever) I travel. Granted, I was also out later at night than I normally am (didn’t get to bed until 3AM on Saturday/Sunday morning). Anyway – here’s my attempt at a brief run-down of the trip – categorized by topic:
I used the Fung Wah bus (AKA Chinatown bus) that goes from Boston’s Chinatown (though recently relocated to nearby South Station) to Manhattan’s Chinatown. What a great bargain this is!. It’s so much cheaper than Greyhound, Peter Pan or Amtrak and was quite comfortable. It’s also an express bus – meaning that it doesn’t pick-up/drop-off passengers along the way (which Amtrak does constantly). My ride from Boston to NYC was on a standard bus (carpeted, reclining seats, bathroom in back, TV monitors (though, not on). The biggest difference was that there were little shopping bags hanging off each seat’s arm to put your trash in (a good idea). Well, that and there are taped up paper signs all over the bus windows in Chinese and broken English explaining the rules of ridership. About 2 hours into the trip the driver pulled off the highway and discharged the passengers at a highway-side Roy Rogers so that he could fill the bus up with gas. This ride took 4 hours and 15 minutes.
The return trip as a bit more interesting. I got to Chinatown 30 minutes early (as the ticket indicated). There was a bus at the street corner (there’s no station) so I approached it. A friendly but aggressive Asian-American asked if I wanted to get on the bus that was about to leave. I said sure, got on and grabbed the one remaining seat. On the plus side, I got to leave 30 minutes earlier than expected. On the negative side, this wasn’t really a bus. It was actually one of those courtesy vehicles that airport hotels operate. There were only 5 rows of seats and no bathroom. I’m not sure if there was air-conditioning, either…but the windows were operable so there was quite a breeze. This driver stopped less than an hour into the trip to buy gas. But the ride only took 3 hours and 30 minutes. Ironically, it took me nearly 1/3 of the time I spent on the bus just to go the 2 miles from Boston’s South Station to North Station by subway.
One last transportation comment – cabs in NYC are CHEAP! I rarely get a cab in the Boston area for less than $15.00…it’s usually closer to $20.00. We took quite a few cabs in NYC and the most we ever spent was $9.00 (including tip).
After Chris and John picked me up in Chinatown, we took a cab to Chris’ brother’s apartment in the Village so I could drop off my bag. Then we immediately went to lunch, where I got a turkey meatloaf sandwich. MMMM. Afterwards, they brought me shopping in Soho. Chris has been determined since July (in Philadelphia) to get me to buy what he calls “butt jeans”. Apparently, I’ve always dressed in a way that hides my body (I’ve always been…and still am…self-concious). And, since I’m not into fashion at all, I tend to wear my clothes until they fall apart (usually years later). Consequently, most of my pants are a 33 or 34 waist (I used to weigh closer to 200 pounds) or a medium/large for a shirt.
What Chris helped me discover this weekend (by forcing me to try on more fitted clothes) is that I’m actually a 32 waist (something I never would have figured out because I never would have tried anything on smaller than a 33) and that I can fit into size small shirts, too. Go figure. By the end of the weekend, I bought one pair of jeans, one button-down shirt, and two black t-shirts.
On Friday afternoon/early evening we went to the Christopher Street pier and watched the sunset. I’d been to the Village countless times in the past 15 years – but never went to the pier. It was nothing like I expected. I was expecting to see a run-down pier with abandoned warehouse buildings and people cruising for sex. What I found was a beautiful grassy waterfront park and boardwalk…with people cruising for sex.
First things first, Chris and family eat late (on both nights we didn’t arrive at the restaurants for dinner until after 10PM). Friday night we ate in the West Village at a place called Blue Mill. It had a great art deco interior (especially the bar area) and I was provided my one celebrity sighting of the trip. I always have celebrity sightings in NYC – Al Pacino, Michelle Pfieffer, Barry Williams (Greg Brady), Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson. This time, at the next table I saw Balki’s cousin from Perfect Strangers – Mark Linn-Baker. WOO HOO! After a morning on the bus, a full day of shopping, and a late dinner, we were too tired to do much more so we went back to the apartment and crashed for the night (getting to sleep sometime between 1AM and 2AM)
On Saturday evening, Chris, Patrick (his brother), and Jarrett (Patrick’s boyfriend), and I went to Arte Pasta for dinner. Once again, a yummy meal was had by all. After dinner Patrick and Jarrett went out for dessert and Chris and I decided to explore the nightlife.
On Saturday night, Chris and I went to Hell. It was located in the meatpacking district. And, like the Christopher Street piers, the area was nothing like I had expected. I was expecting the area to look like the meatpacking district as depicted in the movie “Cruising”: dark, dirty, deserted, dangerous. Apparently, this area has come along way since 1980. It was simply oozing with self-determined fabulousness and superficiality (and I still love the fact that the dirty/gated buildings across from all the bars are still used by the meat industry during the day).
Anyway, Hell was a bar/lounge with a mixed crowd (mostly gay). The people-watching was enjoyable, especially when we snagged a seat on the sofa against the wall. It was here that I realized I’m just not a night person. Don’t get me wrong, I was enjoying myself – but I just didn’t “get it.” I mean, the place wasn’t filled to capacity (according to Chris) but it was so crowded that you could barely walk. What are bars for, anyway? Are they too hang out with friends? Meet new people? Hook up? My guess is all of the above – but I don’t necessarily think bars are the most efficient place to do that. The music is too loud for conversation so that provides an obstacle in effectively meeting new people or chatting with existing friends. The place was too crowded to be comfortable (constantly having to be aware of your surroundings to make paths for people to walk by). There was one adorable pudgy/muscular, balding man who kept dancing and singing to all of the songs and he kept both Chris and me entertained.
OK – so we left Hell and I let Chris decide where to go next. We hailed a cab and he drove me to the East Village to a place affectionately named the Cock. This place just screamed defiance. There was no sign out front except for a neon rooster (Cock…get it?). They charged a $10 cover charge and the space was only about the size of my condo. It was dark and smoke-filled (defying the smoking ban). We went towards the back and within minutes the place was filling up. A pathetic go-go dancer began dancing on the bar (and hitting his head on the low ceilings). Another one eventually showed up and danced against the back wall in a jock strap. However, he arrived as Journey started singing “Just a small town girl, living in a lonely world, she took a midnight train going anywhere.” The dancer couldn’t figure out what to do so he more-or-less stood there in a jockstrap holding onto a metal ring in the ceiling. We lasted here much longer than at Hell – mostly because I enjoyed the non-traditional club music (where else could you hear a Journey song in a bar?). The crowd was definitely scuzzier (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, although I think I like the crowd at Hell better). I was even able to witness a pathetic troll of a man snorting cocaine in an attempt to be cool. Tragic.
My trip to NYC also coincided with the 3rd anniversary of September 11th. I guess I’m not exactly sure what I expected…perhaps a more somber tone. But the city’s “life must go on” attitude left me (and apparently millions of other people in Manhattan) oblivious to the anniversary. Everybody was treating it as just another day. It wasn’t until evening when we noticed the skybound blue light beams where the towers once stood that it all came back (albeit briefly) before we continued our activities.
This and That
In between the things listed above – the better part of the trip was spent walking and talking – two things I really enjoy. Everybody I met and hung out with was really great and the hospitality shown by Chris, John, Patrick and Jarrett was refreshing and welcoming.
I’ll be back.
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