Extra Day in NYC: Solo Travel

After an unexpected flight cancellation, I had an extra day in NYC before leaving that evening for SFO. I wanted to make the most of it, despite the pretty gloomy weather. I woke up to rain, left during a lull, and quickly realized that the best $10 I was going to spend the entire weekend was on a basic black umbrella. It was pretty flimsy but since there was only rain without wind, it held up fine.

First, I wanted a NYC bagel so I found Liberty Cafe via Google Maps. There was a line, so that’s a good sign. I ordered the #5 on advice from the guy at the door who was serving as crowd control. The customer in front of me had asked him what his favorite bagel was. The guy responded, “Why do you ask?” and then laughed uproariously. Man’s got jokes.

Mom had suggested I go to The Cloisters, but first I decided to go to the Met for another chance at going to the Van Gogh’s Cypruses exhibit. I’m so glad I did because it was so good! The virtual queue was only 15 minutes. It was in a three room exhibition gallery that was definitely congested, but not terrible. Gaps would open up here and there that allowed me to get close to the paintings and even stay for a little bit. Except for Starry Night. That painting required it’s own crowd control man. He was pretty chill, moving people along “only after their 17th selfie.” I asked him if he photo-bombed any pictures and he said, “Sometimes. But only if they’ve taken a lot.”

I really liked the exhibit. There were sketches, drawings, and paintings. There were two paintings hung Wheat Field With Cypruses and A Wheatfield, With Cypruses (keep them straight!) that hadn’t been hung together since 1901. The left painting was more edgy while the right more stylized. I preferred the left, but it was interesting to see what changes led to a more refined painting, per art critics.

The apogee of the Cyprus theme was Country Road in Provence by Night. In his own writings, Van Gogh stated that he felt he had really captured the night stars, the cyprus, and the surrounding landscape. I agree. And I spotted a selfie stick!

Before leaving, I wandered through the Dutch Masterpieces at The Met Exhibit. There were a lot of 17th century Dutch businessmen in excellent lighting, but I was most impressed that The Met had three Vermeers just casually hung as part of a larger exhibit. Oh, don’t mind me. I’m just super famous and rare! There are only 36 known Vermeers in the world!

As I walked through the museum, I accidentally came across a Fabergé exhibit with three eggs just casually on display. Amazing! There are only 57 known surviving eggs today.

I also hung out with George.

And I spent some time in a gallery full of Winslow Homer, including his last, unfinished painting.

And finally, I found Leda, the anti-bird lady. Although really, who could blame her? That myth seems particularly terrible.

On my way to the subway, I got caught in some rain. My shoes were soaked.

Then, it was up the island to The Cloisters which, once I got to them, were amazing. The train ride wasn’t bad, I just took the longest walking route possible and nothing makes an imported stone-by-stone castle seem enormous as when I’m forced to walk around the whole thing trying to find the entrance.

So, as far as I could tell, John D. Rockefeller imported a castle which was reconstructed brick-by-brick and then put in a bunch of chapels and alters from other provenance inside. This is probably not the tour guide version, but this is what I think was going on. [Ok, ok, I had to look it up. It seems its a compilation of five separate cloisters.]

And looked what I found! Only the most famous unicorn tapestry in the world! Somewhat gruesomely, it is part of a tapestry commemorating a unicorn hunt. Even this tapestry called The Unicorn Rests in the Garden is clearly an injured unicorn penned into too small an enclosure.

The central courtyard was really pretty.

It was a really great museum and I was so glad my Mom had told me about it. I had never heard of it before and it was a great place to see.

King Arthur!!

After seeing The Cloisters, I headed back downtown to see a show. Although I considered seeing something different, I decided I had to stick with the theme of the weekend and see Camelot!

Even though it was no where near as magical as seeing it with my parents and my seat was no where near as good, it was awesome to see again. The score and lyrics are so good! Also, based on the shortened run, I don’t think this is a musical that’s going to have a revival anytime soon. So, totally worth seeing twice!

Then I went to the West Village for dinner at L’Artusi, which came highly recommended by members of a particularly discerning Facebook group. Yes, I know. That doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement but apart from the blackberry focaccia, which was only ok, the rest of the food was so good! I had a salad, scallops, and a delicious red. I sat next to a nice-enough guy. We spoke a bit, but he also ordered three different mains. Maybe he’s a once-a-day eater cramming it all in, but he certainly didn’t look like a person who would pack that much away!

And then, that was it! It was time to head home via JFK to SFO. The flight was again delayed so I got home really, really late. Like, 2 hours before I had to go to work late. Yuck. So, not the best travel experience, but the weekend overall was amazing. And I definitely feel lucky the bad travel was on at the end so I didn’t miss the show and our awesome Friday together!

Tourists in NYC: The River Cruise Edition (aka, we took the Ferry!)

After an amazing Friday featuring an excellent Camelot performance, my parents and I had the morning to spend together before we parted ways. After the complimentary breakfast, we decided to head to the Tenement museum.

The museum is in a beautiful neighborhood but at the time we went, the actual preserved building is undergoing renovation. They only had guided tours through their museum and reconstructed models. In addition, we hadn’t booked in advance so the earlier tour we could get would require a two hour wait.

Instead, we decided to make our own historic NYC tour! Our goal was E 87th St, where my Dad’s grandparents used to live. Dad had memories of visiting as a young child and he was interested in seeing the neighborhood. We walked a mile to the Corlears Hook ferry stop. It was starting to get a little warm, but it was manageable. We took the ferry south one stop to Pier 11/Wall St. There, we disembarked and bought another set of tickets for the Soundview (SV) line that we took to East 90th St. The Wall St ferry dock was a bit of a scene due to huge lines for the Rockaway Beach line, which made sense since it was a gorgeous beach day. Our route was nowhere near as popular, but it made for a great boat ride up the East River.

Yes, I strongly recommend the NYC ferry as part of a tourist’s plan to see the city. SMS and I had done it on a Brooklyn trip (whoa, right before COVID) and we loved it. On this trip, it was a beautiful day and the architecture was beautiful. Dad is also a good tour guide. He gave the back story to the UN building and location site. We also passed the Rockefeller University where my sister used to work. It was really a pleasant way to see the city- the breeze also helped on a warm day! Oh, yeah, so did our cold Pilsner from the ferry bar!

We landed at the E 90th St stop. We walked by Gracie Mansion and through Carl Schurz park. Then we crossed to E 87 St and walked past the old house’s stoop and St Joseph’s Church where my Dad’s older brother and sister were baptized. His parents got married in the rectory. We took several pictures and went inside the Church. Dad spoke to a few neighbors. It was really a special time where multiple time points in a person’s individual NYC history converged in one spot.

After that, it was time to part ways. Mom and Dad went to Amtrak and I went to EWR. The rest of my afternoon/evening featured flight delays, boarding, ground stop for lightning, crew reaching their time limit, flight cancellation, and sadness. Hahaha, yes, it was a bit of a mess but that’s Summertime travel + East Coast afternoon thunderstorms. I rebooked onto Alaska out of JFK the next day.

I went into the city and stayed at a Courtyard Marriott near Times Square for the night. I had big plans for the next day to take advantage of my extended weekend!

NYC mini-trip with my parents!

There are a few categories of formative music albums in my life. While I think I was fairly knowledgable about 90s alt rock, my high school listening memories are dominated by the Frank Sinatra/Tony Bennett Duets album and the 1960 Lerner & Lowe’s Camelot cast recording that features Julie Andrews, Richard Burton, and Robert Goulet. Dad would drive me into school and he picked the music, saying that he could only handle so much (aka, not 90s alt rock) in the morning. Another strong sensory experience that went along with the music was how cold it was in the grey Oldsmobile where the heat would finally kick in just as we got to school!

So, when I heard that there was a Broadway revival of Camelot this Summer, I had to go! I bought tickets for my Dad’s birthday weekend and we were set! Until it I got an email saying I needed to rebook or get a refund since the show was ending its run early. Oh no! After a few texts with my Mom, we figured that we could make it work in July. Hooray!

So, I took a red eye flight into NYC arriving Friday morning. Red eyes are not as easy as they used to be, but they are very convenient! Mom and Dad arrived via Amtrak. We met in the Moynihan Train Hall, which is beautiful. It is full of light, clean, and with an awesome food hall. While I was waiting, I got a H&H bagel (good) and a Blue Bottle Americano (ridiculous $$$).

We went to the Iroquois hotel, where we were able to check in. Score! Then we decided to take a walk towards the Met. First, we passed St. Patrick’s cathedral and Rockefeller Square. We stopped for lunch at Fleming by Le Bilboquet, which was delicious. As a bonus, they served on of my Mom’s favorite sauvignon blanc by the glass, Cloudy Bay!

Then we went to the Met for a bit, but it was crowded. In addition, I was pretty tired so we went back and I took a power nap before the evening. I’m very glad I was able to do that!

We went for a pre-theater dinner at Le Rivage. My parents enjoy French food and, when we walked in, we realized it was an extra good choice since it was Bastille Day! The dinner was enjoyable. Then we were off to the theater! We took a ride share, which gave Mom time to order intermission drinks (pro move!).

Then, we took our seats which were first row! It was awesome! We loved seeing the actors expressions and it felt so immersive. It was also fun to see the musicians although they sort of faded into the background during the show. The sound was the tiniest bit imbalanced with the orchestra dominating based on the actors’ location on the stage but since we knew all the words, it totally worked.

I thought the show was amazing. The actors playing Guinevere and Lancelot were the star principals and they had such amazing voices. Arthur was played by his understudy who definitely held his own. It was really magical seeing music I knew so well be brought to life in a full show. So, I strongly recommend seeing it.

After the show, it was pouring! The heavens were crying for the loss of Camelot! We eventually made our way to the subway and grabbed a nightcap in the Algonquin. It’s a really beautiful bar, but different than my Dad remembered. The bartender was very personable and created a great vibe. Then, it was back to the hotel and off to bed!

72 Hours in Brooklyn

Near Madison Square Garden, walking between subway stations!

SMS and I had an extended weekend in NYC!  It was fantastic!  We arrived into EWR very late on Friday and took a ride share over to Brooklyn.  We stayed at an Aloft that was on the edge of the DUMBO district.  The hotel had a few mixed reviews, mainly regarding the paper thin walls (true) and the too-tiny size (not really true but this is very subjective).  Importantly, it was clean, on the inexpensive side, and a place to sleep.  Since we usually travel to do things rather than hang out at the hotel, I would recommend the Aloft.  The only reason I wouldn’t stay again is that I would likely want to explore a different neighborhood rather than repeat an experience.

It wasn’t the most über-cool part of Brooklyn, but enough that there was an awesome food hall nearby.  We ate at the DeKalb Market Hall three times during the trip.  We had thin Spanish-style churros (awesome), arepas (really disappointing), pierogis (delicious), and coffee (necessary).  The building also has an Alamo Drafthouse and Flying Tiger so it’s definitely worth checking out.


We were in town to celebrate my college friend’s birthday.  I still owe her for the amazing time she showed me on my 21st birthday (heavy sarcasm).  In all seriousness, I wanted to be there for my amazing friend for her landmark birthday so SMS and I made it happen!  Saturday was the main day so after sleeping in (we stayed on West Coast time the whole trip) and eating at DeKalb, we headed over to Citi Field for a private tour!


Overall, Google Maps is a lifesaver for figuring out how to take public transport in a new city but there are definitely some gaps in the system.  We found a big one on our way to the tour since we took the subway to the LIRR with the plan to go two stops to Mets-Willets Park.  We were cheerfully oblivious that this would not work since the train does not stop there on game days.  Fortunately, a very nice conductor saw our tickets and told us this before we reached Woodside, so we hopped off and took a Lyft.  So, not the most efficient and we didn’t have time for a pre-tour drink at Mikkeller, but at least we weren’t late for the tour itself.

The tour was awesome!  We went to the press room, different box seat levels, the rotunda, the club house, the dugout, and the field.  I think the highlight for me is knowing that beer cooler #1, the Grand Central Station of all the non-craft beer to different vendors around the stadium, is directly opposite the Clubhouse.  It was nice to meet some of Karen’s friends before the group grew for a delicious Thai dinner at SriPraPhai.

Best Bobblehead Collection- more were on the side!

Dinner was delicious.  SMS and I shared a green curry and pad see-ew.  After that, we headed back to Brooklyn with Laddie, Dave, Hillary, and Jason.  Laddie, Hillary, SMS, and I grabbed an after-dinner drink at Svendale Brewing Co. Tasting Room, which was a really cute place with a nice bartender.  All the beers were served in wine glasses, which angers one of Karen’s friends on principle but fortunately, he wasn’t there.

On Sunday, SMS and I slept in again and then headed to DeKalb.   We headed to the NY Transit Museum, which was pretty interesting.  It’s not a must-do but it is cool to learn more about the vast, iconic subway system and what went into making it and the maintenance and upgrades over the years.

The most Brooklyn thing that every Brooklyn’d.

Then, we went to the Other Half brewing company where we had a few taster beers with Karen and, a little later on, Stephen.  The beers were delicious and it was fun to try a lot of different small pours.  Then, we went to Laddie and Dave’s house for the Super Bowl with a brief stop in the most ridiculous, gourmet grocer on the way, Court St Grocer.  It’s less ridiculous if you just accept it as a slightly mis-named fancy sandwich shop.

Laddie had an ad in the Super Bowl line-up, which was fun to see.  The game was an exciting, fast-paced one with a comeback ending.  And that’s about the depth of my analysis and caring.

What nightmares are made of…

Monday was our dedicated tourist day.  I had listened to Abbi Jacobson’s A Piece of Work podcast and I really wanted to go to MoMA.  There were a few Jackson Pollack’s that were really cool and “Number 1A, 1948” was interesting to look at in juxtaposition with Jack Whitten’s “Atopolis: For Edouard Glissant.”  I also liked The Planes of Color gallery.    We also enjoyed Haegue Yang’s Handles installation and took a few pictures there.

The highlight, though, was a trip across the river to PS1.  This is prime evidence that SMS is a saint because once I realized the James Turrell Meeting was located there and that it wasn’t in the middle of Long Island (I don’t know why I thought this), I wanted to go so badly.  And SMS gamely agreed to two art museums in a day!

PS1 was so cool! It’s located in an old public elementary school and is such a throwback, evocative building that the setting itself is one of the best elements about the visit. It reminds me of St. James Catholic School in Red Bank, NJ.

We saw Meeting (yay!) and a few other pieces.  SMS thought the coolest thing was the old coal furnace in the basement.  It was huge and very elaborate!  We grabbed a coffee in the little cafe and then headed to Williamsburg for pulled noodles at Xi’an’s Famous Foods, which were delicious!

In North Williamsburg, walking towards the water.

Skyline at Dusk.  The ferry pictures were a bit blurry.

We walked around Williamsburg, including McCarren Park.  Then we headed to the water and took the East River Ferry from North Williamsburg down to Dumbo, which was a gorgeous thing to do at sunset.  We walked through Dumbo and settled on Colonie for drinks and a light dinner.  I loved that bar and, since we came upon it rather than researching it, were lucky that we found the perfect fit for what we were looking for!

After dinner, we headed to the hotel and watched two episodes of Cheer.  It’s a good series and it let us stay up so we were still on West Coast time.  One more episode to go!  Will they win?!?!  I think the answer is yes but I’m waiting to watch with SMS!

Bluestone Lane.  Can you tell why I picked the place?

Our last day, we went to Bluestone Lane for breakfast after testing the wheels on my MUJI roll-aboard.  Still holding strong!  Strong recommend- both the cafe and the suitcase!

9/11 Memorial

Then, we went to the 9/11 memorial since SMS had never been.  It is so amazingly powerful.  It doesn’t even feel like history since I can so vividly remember the day and it still has such wide ramifications on our current time.


Afterwards, we went to Eataly and grabbed a coffee while discussing a super cool company, Cesta Collective with the two founders.  It was really exciting to talk about a promising, mission-based business that these two women believe in so strongly.

One World Trade Center and the Occulus

Then, it was time to go.  We took the PATH train from WTC to Newark-Penn Station.  Then, we took the 62 bus, which was really easy and came every 10 minutes.  Even an Uber wouldn’t have been that much faster and it was nice to use public transportation.  Basically, getting to EWR is a bit of hassle no matter which way we would go but hey, the flights are the cheapest!

We had cheesesteaks before our flights because we like to choose the healthy option.  Then, it was back to the West Coast for an abbreviated work week.

Hold out your hand for a special surprise! Seriously, is this sign for real?

Busy (NYC) Weekend


On Friday, I got a few hours of sleep and then woke up to start the journey home.  I grabbed my takeaway breakfast from the fridge and walked to the station.  The journey home was pretty uneventful although connecting through Brussels was a little nerve-wracking since there was a HUGE line for non-EU citizens leaving the Schengen zone.  I also had to run back to the United counter to get a sticker saying I had been through security.  This seemed ridiculous because of course I went through security, there was no other way to be at the gate.  Anyway, it was a pretty tight connection because of all that but I made it and got home, just in time for Chief’s Dinner.

After a nice dinner with colleagues and some funny roast skits (on video), I went home and slept pretty soundly.  The next morning, I got up to…take a plane to NYC.  I know.  Totally crazy but a friend of mine was having a baby shower hosted by friends with an amazing apartment.  So, off I went!

I landed in Newark and took the train into Penn Station.  I had made an appointment at the Apple Store near World Trade Center so after a delicious lunch at Sliced.  It was delicious and pretty healthy, too.  I had an open-faced toast and the counterman was really nice.

Then I walked down to the World Trade Center area.  I walked through the memorial, which was pretty somber.  It is clear that in the NYC area, 9/11 is an event that affects people daily.  I feel that elsewhere in the US, while people treat the date with solemnity, the direct impact is felt less often by the overall population on a day-to-day basis.

The Oculus mohawk

Inside Oculus

Next, I walked into Oculus, a futuristic-looking multi-use space that is impressive on the outside and the interior even more so.  I walked through Eatly and then went to the Apple store where they took my laptop away to send it in.  Although the girl tried to insinuate that I must have done something by showing my photos of a few spots of micro-rust from water damage, it ultimately turned out that the logic board had failed.  I didn’t have to pay anymore than the (expensive) base rate and my computer was returned with memory intact (my last backup had been a month ago!).

After that, it was time to party!  Michael and Scott organized a great party with awesome drinks and delicious food.  We went up to their deck and socialized while admiring the spectacular views.

The star of the party! (On the left.  Sheesh.  I’m not that self-centered!)

Brooklyn Bridge from M and S’s apartment

It’s all fun and games until there are unintended consequences.  Fortunately, none here!

Then the party headed downstairs where we ate and drank some more.  We played pin-the-sperm-on-the-uterus after getting fairly liquored up (varied from person to person), which was a lot of fun.  One of the (gay) guys was right on target (cheater) and very proud of himself.  Most everyone else did rather poorly but there were no hurt feelings or broken household items.

The party was still going but I had to leave to meet up with my AirBnB host.  I know I wasn’t thrilled about my Gothenburg experience but NYC is expensive!  I met up and it was a cool loft, although several units had eviction/condemned notices up for overcrowding violations.  So, a little shady but my stay was fine.

Then I met up with Hillary and Karen for Ethiopian food.  It was so fun to hang out with them and after dinner, we headed over to Hillary’s to hang out and drink some wine.  They were a little mad at me for staying at an AirBnB but both of them were so busy with family and job obligations that I didn’t want to stress them out.  But they said if I ever came again, no AirBnB!  Stay with one of them!

The next day, Karen and I met up for brunch.  Afterwards, I walked for a bit and then met two of my aunts for a second brunch.  One of my aunts and I had planned to go to the Met but my grandfather really hoped to see me.  Well, the Met can wait!  Also, it was Father’s Day so it was nice to spend the day with family.  We had a really nice dinner at Navesink.  I took an Uber to Newark.  There was very little traffic and I made my flight without a hitch.


It was a wonderful weekend.

NYC Fall weekend!

Outside of Diner

This past weekend, I took a quick trip up to NYC to see several of my college friends.  It was amazing!  I feel so lucky to have these women in my life.  It’s even more impressive in that we’re not necessarily the best in keeping in constant contact but I think we revive our email strings juuuust frequently enough that we’ve managed to keep in touch over the years.  I wish I was part of the NYC-area contingent so I could see people even more but hey, I’ll take what I can get!

Flying into LGA

So, the weekend didn’t start out super-auspiciously since I got stuck in an unexpected delay on the highway.  I mean, yes, it was rush hour but traffic was stopped for 20 minutes.  Not ideal.  I ran to the gate and saw the door closing just as I approached.  Boo!  But, the missed flight was easily rebooked and it meant I could meet up with my amazing friend at LaGuardia and head into the city with her.

A chicken in the apartment!

Unfortunately, Marissa’s roller-bag was forced gate-checked and utterly, completely lost by Delta. Boo!  We waited for awhile at LGA with growing baggage despondency which was totally offset by our delight in catching up with each other.  We headed into the city to meet up with the rest of the group.  We went to a bar briefly before heading back to the house where we drank wine, ate Dorritos and talked until 2 a.m(!).


The next day, my eyes flew open at 7:20 (boo!) and I stayed quiet-as-a-church mouse until everyone else got up around 9:30.  We got ready and headed out to brunch at Diner, a great restaurant under the Williamsburg bridge.  We had drinks while we waited and then had a nice brunch outside on a gorgeous Fall day.

Chloe’s Sweets


Afterwards, we headed into Manhattan where we took the Big Onion Satan’s Seat Prohibition Tour.  It was fun to have an guided walk through the Bowery and West Village.  The tour guide only talked at specific stops rather than the whole time so while I prefer continuous guiding, it was still a worthwhile tour.  Again, the weather was incredible.  It was so nice to be outside and in such good company.

How does a selfie stick wor-*click*

We went shopping for a bit so Marissa could get some clothes.  Then we headed back to the apartment to get ready for our night out.  We stopped by Hillary’s sister’s apartment, which was beautiful.  Her sister and parents were there.  It was so nice to see them!  After socializing for almost an hour (and we could have kept going!), we went around the corner to Lilia.  We had an incredible meal of shared dishes to include roasted cauliflower, roasted trumpet mushrooms, mafaldini, ricotta gnocchi, butternut squash ravioli, scallops and lamb.  The lamb was incredible and, really, all the dishes were winners in my book.

Very important a.m. pit stop

We went back to the apartment and spent some more time talking before going to bed at 1:30.  The next day, I slept in until 8:30 thanks to two late nights and daylight savings time!  Marissa left on the early side to catch her flight back.  As for the rest of us, we packed up our bags and headed down to cheer at the NYC marathon.  We were in the Hasidic section of Brooklyn, so our cheers were heard since it was otherwise quiet. Later, when we walked in deeper to hipster Williamsburg, there were a lot more spectators out.

Run, run, run!
Cheering and working up an appetite!

From our spot, we saw the men’s leader pack and the motorcade in front of them, which included Meb Keflezighi.  Watching other people run made us decidedly hungry so we went out to brunch/lunch in the city where we could watch some football.  We ate at Duke’s where the food was fine and hung out for a bit more until we started saying our goodbyes.  Hillary, Laddie and I headed to the Upper East Side, where Hil and I met Laddie’s daughter whom I’m fairly certain is a living doll. She’s so cute!

Norfolk Buddy!


Norfolk Buddy #2!

I went out to Central Park to cheer a Norfolk friend running in the marathon.  She looked great!  I held onto her dog while her boyfriend took pictures and said hello.  Then I headed back to Laddie’s, said goodbye and went on a long walk through NYC.  It was another gorgeous day.  I walked through the park with the constant stream of marathoners to my right and then I headed downtown past Rockefeller Center.  I got to Karen’s house just about the time I needed to head out to the airport.  I was thinking of an Uber but since it was $130(!!!!), I took public transportation.  $8 for the win!

I headed on my flight, already missing my friends but so happy to have had such a great weekend!  I can’t wait for the next one!