Those two weeks come and gone, I'm back in the office, and already missing my vacations... or the vacations from my vacations (vacations squared).
First of all, for those of you who like looking at pictures of other people having fun, or mediocre points of view of a city that has been photographed since the first brick was laid, then go here.
I refuse, however, to give a blow-by-blow recount of the whole trip, mainly because it would make this post too long, and besides, I forget details easily... it would be frustrating.
So, without further ado:
Things I Loved
Visiting Chickpea, now known as Tahini. Different name, same awesome menu. However, the unconditional awe died a bit when we found a much better place at half the price very near the Clark Street Station in Brooklyn. However: finally getting a whole Shawafel in my tummy? Priceless!
Finally seeing the Alice in Wonderland sculpture (also known as the Margarita Delacorte memorial). It was everything I thought it would be, and more. If you delve into the Flickr set I linked at the top, you'll see I was very thorough in documenting all details possible, including a tiny snail right under the biggest mushroom, and a squirrel peeking out of the base of the Cheshire Cat's tree. It was big enough even for ME to climb into Alice's lap, and that was more than enough for me.
Running by accident into the Hans Christian Andersen sculpture, featuring a lovely, charming, adorable rendition of the Ugly Duckling. It was totally unexpected and heartwarming.
Di Fara's. Suffice it to say it has ruined all other pizzas for me. If you're looking for flashy, quick, blow-you-out-of-the-water experience, go elsewhere. This place was slow and not mind-blowingly friendly. It's a hole in the wall with more than a few kinks that need ironing out, from the layout of the tables to the state of the acoustic ceiling.
However, if you're looking for a sublime experience comparable to finally finding the truth about how death works, then this is the place for you. As soon as you cross the door, the first thing that hits you is the respectful silence. It's like walking into hallowed grounds, and indeed! Watching Dominic De Marco go about his business making pizza pies was like a religious experience - that is to say: I'm not conventionally religious, I also find the same kind of satisfaction from watching a beautiful sunset. Well, these were beautiful, delicious, delectable pizza pies. The best I've had. And the only thing that it provokes in me now is bittersweet tears: thankful that I had the opportunity of tasting such delicious pizza; dismayed that it will probably be a long long while until I taste it again (let's hope Mr. De Marco will last on this earth a great deal longer).
Sharing more than a few interesting experiences with Eze. Tears were shed, laughs were had. The whole trip was intense in any and all ways imaginable. However, the days shared with Eze, just the two of us by ourselves, were the best. I came to realize that, even through the bitter arguments, we are more like each other than what I would have first thought. We behave differently, but the things that attract us are pretty much the same.
Case to prove the point?
Union Square. We spent more than a few nights dallying around this area, from there to Saint Mark's Place and back. We felt incredibly at ease spending our dead hours just sitting on a bench (or on the plaza steps) just looking at the people go by.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art! I just wish I had a whole week to stay and peer at every single piece closely. To read all the information tags and the stories behind the expositions. There were SO MANY rooms I never got to visit ... this is a definite re-visit candidate, by all means. If only to sit in the Renaissance sculpture room (so pure and white when doused in sunlight ... so full of history!) Go to my Flickr set if you want to see a bit more of what I believed to be worth the furtive snapshot - cameras were allowed, however, I felt a bit like an outlaw. Taking pictures were my way of swiping my favorite pieces into my pockets and taking them home. (Don't miss the tiny heads and bulls "collections"!)
Trying new types of cuisine. I had Thai food for the first time in my life, as well as my first cup of Turkish coffee ever. I cannot say these were the best culinary experiences in my life, but at least I can say I tried it at least once. (In my opinion? Turkish coffee is extremely thick ... too thick to enjoy)
The smell of real roses. I had NO idea wild roses could smell so good. A whiff of one of these finally brought the comprehension that had eluded me all my life: I finally understood the passion for the smell of a rose. I finally understood why people obsess over these flowers. And I realized that it's of fools to pretend that a reaped rose will smell the same as one that's safe and sound still tied to the ground. We will never really capture the smell of a rose without sacrificing the sweetness of its aroma by its own death.
The John Lennon Memorial. A beautiful homage, forever kept alive by The People.
I finally saw a trilobite fossil! Forever haunted by the image of these animals, seeing them in other creatures, like the horseshoe crab and the Ohmu... and when I came to see what they were actually (sort of) like: they were freaking SMALL! Hahahah! Mini-Ohmus... cute! This was in the Natural History Museum, and the whole trek through the museum was fascinating and educational. As with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, this museum would require a few entire days to see and fully enjoy it.
12) Other places I tried and/or loved:
- Max Brenner - It's ALL about the chocolate. You step through the door and the chocolate aroma ATTACKS you! Lovely place!
- Così - Their specialty is sandwiches, but they also make "hearth-baked dinners" which actually means: a bunch of pieces of chicken and ham and bacon topped with a fuckload of cheese and put through the broiler. DELICIOUS!
- Bamn! - This is what I imagine true pop-Japanese cuisine to be like nowadays. Everything is bought through dispensing machines. How alien! But they surprised me with two over-the-counter offerings: green tea ice cream (I prefer the twist vanilla-green tea ice cream, it's softer to the palate), and snow cones (I had a cherry-flavored one, which is a slight departure from the traditional raspberry flavor we favor so much here)
- The AMC IMAX Theater - Totally new experience! We watched The Dark Knight there, which has a few IMAX scenes in it. Totally worth the over-price, but I just wish we had been able to see it with the usual movie theater gang.
- Ricky's - Take a beauty supply hole-in-the-wall, put it on steroids, keep the prices down ... what do you get? HEAVEN!
- Anthropologie - Incredibly expensive, but so uniquely cute! Thankfully, I'm not rich, otherwise I'd blow my savings account on this brand.
- Fanelli's Cafe - We went in without expectations. We got good beer and food at adequate prices. The surprise? Looking up and seeing "Saloon Certificates" that dated up to 1873!!!
- FuerzaBruta - Just ... watch the video... and be aware that whatever you see in there is not even an infinitesimal piece of the things you experience in those 50 minutes you spend in that room surrounded by insane performers.