Thursday, April 14, 2011

Installment 5: Getting Home Alive

I just wanted the title to rhyme.

So when we last left off, I had finally managed to finish Saturday. FINALLY.

So Sunday!

We ate lunch here. This is Becco, an Italian restaurant a couple of blocks from our hotel that had been reccomended by one of Monica's friends. The place seemed very small at first glance; some tables, the bar in the middle... until we were taken to our tables and realized it was much larger in the back than we had assumed.

The food was incredible; they brought us bread to eat with olive oil, pepper, a white bean dip. A little dish of olives, both fresh green only-slightly-preserved olives as well as your usual green olives... it turns out no one else at the table liked green olives, so I may have gorged myself.

Only a little.

The other three ordered a special they had where you received essentially endless serving of three kinds of pasta, chose between a caesar salad and a seafood antipasto (Hunter chose the antipasto and definitely loved it). I chose peppers stuffed with meat. I don't remember what kind of pepper, or even what kind of meat. I just know that it was so good, and I couldn't stop eating, even when I didn't need to eat anymore.

My three companions really enjoyed their pasta, too; especially a baked fusili with four kinds of cheese.

How Monica felt after our entrees were done.

Really, that's a good illustration of how we all felt.

We still decided to get a piece of cheesecake to split. Which was also delicious.

At which point we waddled out the door to prepare for that afternoon's Epic Adventure: Central Park.

You can tell you've gotten to Central Park once you start seeing more than one tree at a time in the distance. That's when you know you're headed the right way.

Central Park is huge. I mean, I knew it was big, but I honestly had no conception of just much space inside the city is devoted to this single gigantic park. It's a great idea; it's a centralized location for people to come hang out in, get a little sun and a little nature, a little less constant concrete and steel. There are food carts everywhere, an area where street performers entertain the masses, ponds, a resevoir, a carousel.

Hunter and Monica posed on top of huge rocks for us in their running clothes. I'm still impressed that Hunter managed to do some serious running that soon after lunch, because heaven knows I was still full to bursting by the time we left Central Park. All I did was walk.

It's kind of fun to stare across the huge expanses of green and see the tall buildings telling you exactly where the park ends; they butt right up to it. You literally cross a street and suddenly trees, trees everywhere.

Trees and fountains, statues and bridges and big open areas for people to gather in. That picture up there? Is technically a photo of the angel fountain, but behind it is one of the waterways, with people boating on it. There's a boathouse right there, to the far right in the photo.

Close-up of the angel fountain... also some boats.

We walked through the park (with Hunter running ahead, then circling back to tell us which way she was going, then running ahead again) until we came to the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Resevoir, a huge man-made lake of sorts. Looking it up, it covers 106 acres. That... is a lot of water.

It's also pretty breathtakingly gorgeous on a pretty New York day.

We took photos (which then had to be looked over to see how good they were), and walked in a huge circle all the way around the resevoir (Hunter, as before, would run ahead and occasionally come back to us... this time Monica got in on the game, too and they ran together). It's a little over a mile and a half to go all the way around. Although, to be honest, trying to keep track of the amount of miles I walked while in NYC was definitely the kind of game you lose... there was no telling. All I know is, multiple miles every day.

When we finished our circle, we started to head back until we were distracted by some street performers, acrobats who had gathered a crowd by the time we walked up. We stayed long enough to laugh at their jokes and watch one of them do a crazy flip over a boy from the audience, before having to head off in time to be ready for dinner and then Kelsey's Show!

By then, the sky was starting to cloud back up a little bit, although it went back and forth on whether it felt like being pretty all day.

After a sushi dinner across the street from Carnegie Hall (the shorter brown building in the foreground above), we went inside to wait for the doors to open! Actually, we all went inside, then Monica, Hunter and I decided to walk down to a nearby Starbucks, then come back a little bit closer to the opening time.

When we left, there were definitely some people standing around waiting.

When we came back, that amount had quadrupled.

Carnegie Hall is smaller than I expected it to be, but about as opulent nonetheless. The crowd was packed in, but Gena snagged us some great seats towards the front, where we would be able to see the singers pretty clearly.

Since photos and recordings were expressly forbidden and I was trying to be good, I don't have any photos of Kelsey singing, or of kids singing at all.

All I have is the piano.

We had a bit of a hilarious misunderstanding in that we didn't realize there were two different National Youth Choir groups that sang. When the first one came out, we all searched in vain for Kelsey, growing increasingly agitated and worried that we couldn't seem to find her face on the soprano side... then Monica noticed Kelsey was still sitting with some of the kids in the audience and we all breathed a huge sigh of relief.

There were two small single-school groups, as well as the two multi-school groups. We were surprised to learn later that Kelsey's school was the only one that was a private Christian school, since nearly all the music chosen was very religious in nature. Then again, some of the most beautiful and difficult music for singers that has ever been written has been religious music.

After the performances were finished, the ushers basically ran everyone out of the room as fast as they could with an absolute minimum of politeness (Gena was told she couldn't stand still long enough to take a photo of Kelsey near the stage, and essentially pushed out). We were able to get some photos of Kelsey, as well as photos of Gena and Kelsey and Gena, Monica, and Kelsey while we stood and bravely tried to fight against the push of the crowd heading for the exits.

We ended up in a diner, where I got hot chocolate with real whipped cream and there was pie, oh... oh how there was pie. And cheesecake. And spaghetti with meat sauce... of which Kelsey had two or three bites, Monica and I each ate a little, and Hunter ate about half of. Then Kelsey decided to try chicken fingers and fries, since the spaghetti hadn't worked for her. I'm pretty sure Hunter, Monica, and I helped her with quite a bit of that meal, too.

Which is awesome, since not a single one of us was remotely hungry.

but the food in New York is so good.

We dropped Kelsey off at her hotel room and went back to our own to pack our stuff up, snuggle into bed, and get ready to go home.

Except that Hunter stole my blanket during the night and I woke up with a thin white sheet, shivering. I looked over at her with my blurry no-glasses eyes and watched her snuggle harder into her perfect blanket burrito. Gena was already up and I looked over at her and just pointed at Hunter... at which point Gena helped me out by pulling the bottom of the blanket up to fix my issue. She is a very helpful lady.

There was a cab ride to the airport in which both Monica and I were carsick by the end of it thanks to the cab driver's relentless gas-brake-gas-brake-gas-brake even when it was not entirely necessary.

There was a flight home that got... bumpy, there, at the end... thanks to it being quite windy in Charlotte, North Carolina when we came in for landing.

You know you have problems with flying when, at the end of the flight, a complete stranger with sympathy in her eyes leans over, puts a hand on your arm, and asks if you're going to be okay from across the aisle.

I hate planes.

Then again, planes are the fastest and in most cases the safest way to get to a new place, to see new things, to experience different parts of the world. And the plane rides back, well...

They bring me home.

To warm air, humidity, to rolling hills and green leaves. To spring.

To South Carolina.

To home.

So that was New York. Oh how that was New York. And it's done, finally! I know this last installment went up something like two days late, but it turns out I am very lazy and only occasionally motivated...

but I'm done!


I can only thank my mother-in-law and my aunt-in-law, so to speak, Gena too... for making my whole trip possible. And I got to see the Lion King! And eat delicious foods! And see Tea and Jess!



1 comment:

  1. Interesting post Katie.
    I have never been to New York.
    Now I understand why a property developer in my hometown Jakarta built an office, apartment and shopping complex using the name Central Park.


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