Barrage of the senses. Jeff’s parents live in a relatively quiet part of town – Battery Park, but even in the wee hours, we can hear the garbage truck trundling down the streets, barks of dogs on their early morning strolls, and the almost irritating cheerful chirp of birds.
Going to brunch, our eyes feast in the bright green budding leaves on trees lining the sidewalks, the blossoms of tulips gently swaying in the morning breeze. Bright yellow taxis dot the roads, and small clusters of camera toting tourists start to clump around the ferry terminal to the Statue of Liberty.
The subway smells. Dank pee, stale sweat, but thankfully we soon re-emerge into the sunshine. East Village. We walk past bakeries with welcome aromas of warm bread, and freshly brewed coffee. Past workers industriously scrubbing their storefronts with hot soapy water. The city is slowly starting to wake.
Brunch is at Donostia, a Basque tapas place that a wine shop owner recommended to Jeff on his last trip to the city, for it’s lineup of Basque and Asturia ciders. It’s a long narrow bar, but with a tiny alcove with skylight that comfortably fits our group of 6. We get to ordering the ciders, but have difficulty deciphering the menu, which the proprietor helpfully decodes. He brings us platters of montaditos, toasted bread heaped with various toppings. Artichoke pate, salmon, herring, octopus, whitefish, cana de cabra cheese spread with jam. Peaches topped with anchovies and cream cheese. By the time we leave, we are stuffed and in love with this place.
The opera is next on the itinerary. La Cenerentola, starring Joyce Didonato and Juan Diego Florez, and a stellar cast who camp up this last performance of the Met’s opera season for all they are worth. The plot is so silly, but the music and singing is glorious. And it’s an opera with a happy ending.
We luck out with the weather. Although the forecasts warned of rain, it fell while we were safely indoors. We sidestep puddles and breathe in the still heavy air as we make our way to Soho, to meet up with Joe and Angela for the latter’s birthday.
The birthday girl chooses The Boil, where we eat messy bags of shrimp, crawfish and crab with plastic bibs and gloves. It’s a load of fun, and we are beyond full when we finally rip off the gloves and wipe the grease from our chins.
We have to walk off some of the food. So we meander towards Chinatown. We pass a dark plaza where two groups of women dance in unison to stereos blasting Chinese songs. Past Jeff and Joe’s old apartment where they grew up, and their elementary and middle schools. Eventually, we make our way towards Wall Street where we rest our tired feet in a quiet bar, and refresh with some drinks.
It’s late when we get home, but the skies have cleared so I set my alarm for 5am so we can watch the sun rise over the Statue of Liberty.
It’s a gorgeous morning. After we snap some pictures though, I crawl back into bed. Meanwhile, Joe has a four mile run in Central Park, and Jeff decides to go for a short jog along the Hudson River.
The clouds have completely cleared when we head out again. Jeff is decked out in orange, like the waiters at the dim sum restaurant we go to for brunch. The food isn’t the most satisfying, but we have a tight timeline to follow and our favorite dim sum place isn’t open till 11am. Shocking.
Jeff, Joe and I decide to walk home from Chinatown. First we stop by Eldridge Street Synagogue for a tour. As a kid, Jeff had to help polish the bannisters as a kid when the Synagogue / museum was closed for remodeling. It’s my first time in a synagogue ever. Love the serene hues of the stained glass. The stars motifs on the glass and ceilings of the synagogue remind me of the Little Prince.
Our walk also brings us past City Hall and Civic Center.
And the odd looking Frank Ghery building, 8 Spruce Street. Looks like a wrecking ball hit one side.
We make it home in time to visit with our niece. This is my first time meeting her; we brought her gifts in the form of a turtle soft toy and a shark and turtle t-shirts. For the most part, she’s a pretty calm baby.
To celebrate mother’s day, Mike and Joe’s birthdays, we pop open a bottle of Bisson Abissi Spumante, the sparkling wine that has been aged for 13 months 60m underwater. Wendy had tasted the wine before and loved it so much she gifted us a bottle too. It’s delicious, and the perfect refreshment for such a warm day (we seem to have jumped directly from winter into summer).
Before we know it, it’s time to leave New York again. The first cab we called took forever to show up, so we jumped into another one and beat it to the airport, just in time for the flight. But weather closes in on Chicago, so the plane diverts to Detroit for a bit. Happily, O’Hare reopens after a brief delay, and so we fly south into a golden sunset and spectacular displays of lightning to the east.