Tuesday, June 24, 2008

last day in gotham

Sunday was to be the spousal unit & I's last day to visit the relatively sizeable pomaceaous fruit of the malus domestica. This time, we had our host and her significant other as guides. Once again, there were a whole bunch o' things learned.

  • Our hosts assured us that while New York might have the lock on pizza, New Jersey was their equal in terms of bagels. While I'm not gonna render a judgment on that one, the NJ bagels we had were mighty fine.
  • While New Jersey is a diverse state with many beautiful areas, the area around New York is about as disgusting as you've heard. The good thing about having guides for this trip is that we could get a running commentary as to what manufacturing process was causing what particular smell. "That's methane...they trap it from the world's largest landfill and use it for power. That smells from this plant, this smell comes from manufacturing..." This is, of course, fascinating, but I just wanted a city-sized can of Lysol.
  • Staten Island is much like New Jersey at least in terms of smells and visual appeal, if the part we drove through is any indication.
  • New York roads are the worst ones I've personally ever seen, and everyone drives like homicidal, axe-wielding maniacs with constipation. I survived the car rides by focusing on the surroundings...but, as I've said, since it was mostly chemical waste dumps, that didn't help all that much.
  • There does seem to be a tremendous dropoff between Manhattan and the other boroughs.
  • The Staten Island Ferry is a cool way to get into New York. It's free, it's scenic, and it takes you within a pretty good distance of the Statue of Liberty. Since we didn't visit the statue otherwise (you can no longer actually climb up the statue...thanks, terrorists), this was a real plus.
  • When I saw Manhattan from across the East River, I kept thinking of The Crimson Permanent Assurance. I saw, however, no rampaging accountant/pirates.
  • The subways don't work as frequently on weekends as they do during the week...and this greatly annoyed our host's partner, who, being a native NJ resident, is not tremendously patient for such things by default.
  • I finally got my chance to try New York pizza at one of the approximately 2,683 Rays pizzas (don't know which one it was, but it was a bagel/pizza place). Very nice and cheesy, and the crust was good. I'll talk more about this in a later rant.
  • We spent a decent amount of time in McSorley's Ale House, a bar that's been open since 1854 (and only allowed in women in 1970). It's a classic place to have a beer...they have "light" or "dark" only, served in 1/2 pint glasses with a good 1" or more head. By the time we finally finished up and I was settling my tab, our drink count (among the four of us) was either 48 or 56. Later, when I told this to my spousal unit, she immediately replied, somewhat defensively, "I don't think I did any more than ten"...before we both immediately burst out in laughter.
  • After a few more slices of NY pizza (to soak up all that ale), we started to wander down to the Chinatown/Little Italy area before being caught in a horrendous downpour. After about an hour, we finally got tired of smoking cigars under a store awning while waiting for the rain to stop and decided to get a cab. Once again, however, this led to an unfortunate stereotype reinforcement period...our driver was middle-eastern. He was real fun, though.
  • Chinatown was really cool, and I was amazed by the variety of fruits and veggies (many of which I've never seen in person). Some of the shops also had a tremendous selection of astoundingly fresh fish. Unfortunately, everyone else wanted to eat Italian, so we didn't spend nearly enough time exploring the area.
  • Little Italy was an interesting mix of tourist t-shirt shops and restaurants. The spousal unit was, true to character, buying souvenirs for everyone she ever knew. We then went to a very good Italian restaurant (don't remember the name), ate a great meal (I had a delicious pan-fried trout in an olive oil/garlic/rosemary sauce), and talked until very late.
  • The ferry ride back was cool, because the city and the statue look even neater at night, all lit-up.

Coming up: a final thoughts rant and links to the photos.

1 comment:

Andy said...

Let me assure you the sort of driving you experience in the new york metro area does not extend north into the upstate region. Maybe as far north as the Tappanzee bridge, not much farther.

A friend of mine from Binghamton moved to the city and was lucky enough to inherit a car (since his after rent income wasn't gonna buy him one). He told me the secret to NYC metro driving. "If a car is in front of me, they're my problem," he told me, "if they are behind me, I'm their problem."

I've never done enough NYC metro driving to really test this theory out in that scenario, but I will attest that it is also a workable philosophy for driving a 21 foot Penske truck.