Sunday, July 17, 2016

New York, New York

Oh, it has been lovely to be back in the city.  Here we are, driving into Manhattan from Brooklyn, on the iconic Brooklyn Bridge.  In case you're keeping track, this is still Monday afternoon, when we came into the city for the first time since being back in the U.S.
I have to say, I was so tired of NYC when I moved four and a half years ago (it's dirty, expensive, crowded, such a grind, etc. etc.)  but my first view of the city glimpsed over the bridge made me positively giddy.  The skies are so blue - we have been blessed with really good weather in the big apple this week, although it has been rather hot.
After we ran our errands all day, I dropped Michael off at Penn Station (he took the Amtrak down to D.C.) and I headed uptown to catch drinks and dinner with my cousins.

Never have I felt more keenly like a New Yorker, while walking uptown on Monday, with my headphones in my ears, in tandem with all of the strangers around me, dancing that seamless, smooth sidewalk sidestep with my fellow commuters, feeling the rhythm and groove of the city.
 This city is in my blood!  I couldn't stop grinning like an idiot while I practically pranced my way crosstown and uptown.
 It's good to be home again.
 The diversity!  The pace, the culture, the spunk, the grit, the interesting and insufferable and crazy characters, all of it!
I met my sister for a drink at the Italian wine bar Sofia, then headed to dinner with my cousins at Pompano.  It is so hard to get all of us together -- what with my being away in Chicago for law school, then my sister being away for college, then my sister living in Thailand and Arizona, and all complicated by my living in Hong Kong, these pictures are now fewer and farther in between, and when we manage to get together and capture moments like this I am so happy.
After dinner, we went to check out my cousin's apartment in midtown, which he bought last year.  He has a beautiful view of the Empire State Building, and, upon seeing it through his living room window, when it's all lit up at night... I thought, truly, is there anything more quintessentially New York?

Lest you think that I, you know, might be relaxing on my vacation (ha, ha, ha), please worry not - I headed back into the city on Wednesday for another day of whirlwind activities.  First, to catch up with a friend over lunch at ilili, a fantastic Lebanese/Middle Eastern restaurant near Flatiron/in the NoMad district, then to go to the Met with my parents, then to grab dinner with my parents and my sister, and finally to catch a cultural evening of chamber music at Lincoln Center.

I got to the restaurant a little early, and I couldn't resist taking some more pictures of the neighborhood while waiting.

 This is the entrance to Ilili, and I think you can actually see me (and some yellow cabs!) reflected in the window.  How perfect.
 The inside was soothing and calming and, most importantly, very cool.
 We ordered the set menu, with my friend choosing the labneh (wow, so good) and my choosing the fattoush.  The pitas were fresh and delivered piping hot to the table.
 My friend got a lamb dip sandwich with horseradish.  It was huge!
 I got a lamb burger with an insert of bresaola on a brioche bun, paired with a side of rocket and pickles.  It was really good.
After lunch, taking the subway uptown to meet my parents at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I was pleasantly surprised to discover I still have a subway map imprinted on my brain - despite not using it for months and months at a time, it is readily accessible!

We spent most of our tour in the Egyptian wing, although we did go upstairs to look at the Degas and Monet and Renoir for a bit.

After our visit to the Met, we headed downtown to dinner at Va Bien Tout to enjoy a pre-theater pre fixe dinner, before heading to Alice Tully Concert Hall to listen to the summer chamber concert series, featuring Mozart, Beethoven and Dvorak.  In particular, I really wanted to hear the flautist, who played two pieces and managed to conjure up the loveliest, shimmering notes out of her instrument.

It has been really nice to be back, and I'm glad I already managed to get two days in the city with my family and friends!

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