Thursday, July 3, 2008

The streets of Neuvo York are over run with S'BUX, good beer is hard to find, but 39 Steps, Central Park, shopping, Nia and Porter Airlines rocked!!!

Yup, too many Starbucks. Everywhere. As I do here in Toronto, I boycotted them, opting for morning coffee and a NYC bagel from Zabar's . They're on the upper west side, at 80th and Broadway. Go if you're in New York! Here's a map.

Along with the frustration of too many Starbucks was the challenge with drinking American beer. I was unable to find a beer with that richly satisfying deep amber hue, caramel/toffee nuttiness whose effervescence tickles my tongue. Yes, no Keith's/Rickard's Red here. And no recycling anywhere. Can you imagine?

It took me a while, but I finally did find Brooklyn Lager after a few disappointing trial and error pints. It's a bit more hoppy than I typically like (which, I find, takes away from the yummy malt flavours), but it reminded me of Mill Street's Tank House which I enjoy from time to time.

Does anyone else find this to be a funny sign to see in a drug store? The "ethnic products" (?wuh?) share the same aisle with the cold beer!

Still, New York City treated us well in the 3 short days we were there. Central Park had a lot waiting for us. What a place of magic! From fireflies mesmerizing my eyes with lightshows I haven't seen since I was a kid, to massive rocks to climb up on and a bike ride through millions of bubbles.

Ok, I know you're dying to hear more about the rock, since I've had a pretty long fascination with rocks (I think it started when we bought 45 Jedburgh Rd. when I was 25 in 1998...I created the mother of all rock gardens everywhere. Is it surprising that later on I got engaged at Ayer's Rock in Australia?).

Summit Rock, on the western edge of Central Park at 83rd St., is the highest elevation in the park, at 137.5 feet, just north of the Diana Ross playground (no, I'm not kidding!). As if drawn to a magnet, I scrambled up there, perched above everyone. Paul reluctantly joined me, and then admitted he's actually afraid of heights. Kim and Georgina came ambling along 83rd street and saw us and took the shot above, while I was busy photographing my toes for perspective...

NYC had a lot to tempt me with too.

Like street cycling. Pretty intense traffic-dodging tuned up my central nervous system when we rode on 5th Ave and then the wrong way on Madison Ave for awhile until Paul figured out we must ride with the couriers on the left, not right, side of the one-way street.

And like the enticing allure of riding on paths that tell me that I "must walk my bike" or on roads through Central Park. About 50% of the time we abided, and another 50% we totally pissed off the pedestrians (with the utmost respect for safety, of course).

Here's Georgina enjoying Times Square (that, or desperate to get away from all the people!)

On Broadway, we discovered that "Hitchcock" and "hilarious" can most definitely be used in the same sentence. We were treated to fine orchestra seats for 39 Steps (thanks Cliff!) which was quick-paced and deliberately slap-stick.

I have not laughed so hard in a VERY long time, and was both spell-bound and star-struck by Cliff Saunders (my pal Liz's adorable hubby). His ridiculously talented ability to entertain with physical comedy, his command of Scottish and English accents (several dialects), and imitation of the elderly was phenomenal. To top it off, rubbing elbows with Broadway actors after Cliff's show at Bar Centrale made me forget my humble beginnings!

And the shopping.

Oh, the shopping.

There were many subway rides and long walks to get all the shopping in!
(see the iPod case I got on Canal Street?!)

From Filene's Basement (thanks for the tip Alex!), to Century 21, to Canal Street designer discounts, shopping was going on all weekend. There was bickering amongst us as to the efficiency of the whole process, and reprimands from the clerks who several times told me that I was "not allowed to try on clothing if outside of the fitting room" and that I should "stop shopping from the racks that we use to sort the clothing". Boundaries. Always pushing them!

And Nia. Wow. I was privileged to take 2 classes while in NY. One with Blue Belt instructor Serena Puckett and another with Black Belt instructor Jason Griffin. It's been awhile since I was sooo motivated and so challenged athletically like I was in their classes.

Finally, Porter Airlines. Yes, the subway ride experience of air travel. It was a most pleasant experience. From the free lounge snacks at the Toronto Island airport to the below-the-clouds flight on July 4 which gave us an amazing show of Independence day fireworks the entire flight back, it was a treat. Aside from the bumpy landings (which, 4 barf bags later for Kim) and the full-on customs/baggage check back in Canada, it was refreshing. No big Pearson airport hassle, a quick commute to and from and exceptionally kind staff. Ahhh.

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