20 June 2007

NYC: The Southern View

One doesn't discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.
~ Andre Gide

I have been meaning to write about my recent trip to New York City for a couple of weeks now. It was a life changing weekend for me and I needed a little time to process everything that happened. As such, I will do a couple of posts to cover the trip details. This first one will focus more on the city itself and the food.

I had been to New York City once before, my junior year of college, on a weekend trip with a group of friends to hear the Tallis Scholars perform works by Tomas Luis Victoria at the Church of St. Ignatius in Manhattan. We arrived at night, in time for the concert, but not in time to get a good walk around downtown. So I count this last trip as my first real look at New York City.

Sullivan grew up in Brooklyn, knows his way around and had friends we could stay with, so he came along to act as guide. And thank goodness he did! This little Southern Belle would have been completely lost! I am not quite a country bumpkin, but close enough to warrant and be exceedingly grateful to have a Yankee city slicker around. ;-)

The main purpose of this trip was two-fold: 1) to check out The Catholic Underground as a possible future gig and 2) to scout things out for the big New York trip with about 5 to 8 friends in mid-July. We took the bus from Chinatown in D.C. ~ for $35 roundtrip, you really can’t beat it! We would have spent more than that on gas alone! And our driver must have had NASCAR dreams as a child ~ we made it in under 4 hours. Even with my own mad NASCAR-esque driving skills, I could never have made it up that fast!

One of the first things we did once we arrived was meet Sullivan’s old family friend, Carl, who I immediately fell in love with. Carl is a stereotypical Brooklyn-ite ~ Italian descent, retired NYC cop, accent, attitude and all! He was a real gem whose wry wisdom and dry humour kept me in stitches practically the whole weekend. He picked us up and we went to meet my friend Diane for a late lunch at Katz’s Deli (where apparently Harry met Sally ~ never saw the movie) and I had my first taste of New York City: the biggest hard salami sandwich I have ever seen and half-sour pickles. Half-sour? Yes. I thought it was weird too ~ but they were delicious! It was almost like eating a cucumber fresh from the garden, with just a slight pickle taste to it. I also ordered fries and they were the best fries I have ever had…anywhere…period.

But what impressed me most was the friendliness of the people! I was surprised to find that the stereotype of New Yorkers being grumpy and not talking to anyone is not really true ~ and yes I do live in a Southern cocoon. The guys behind the counter at Katz’s were sweet, funny and acted like we had been friends forever. It was a breath of fresh air. I felt like I was back in my hometown. It was a lovely experience and one that tickled Sullivan to no end. He and I are forever having lively yet playful debates on North vs. South. ;-)

My next foray into New York cuisine was on Sunday. We met my other friend, Imelda, for lunch at a downtown Manhattan pizzeria. More than once Sullivan and I have debated pizza as well: he insisting that New York pizza is far superior to any pizza we have in Virginia. To which I would respond with rolling my eyes. No more! My apologies, Sullivan. When it comes to New York pizza, I am in complete agreement with you ~ no pizza I have ever had in Virginia comes close! I now find myself longing for another slice and I think driving 4 or 5 hours for a good pie is not unreasonable! :-D

After lunch, we strolled down Broadway for awhile, where I bought the most sweet-smelling roses (Janet, you would have appreciated them!), posed in front of Juilliard and then Imelda made me close my eyes and then led me to the front of the Metropolitan Opera House. When I opened my eyes, it was the most glorious scene: the beautiful fountains in front of the Met were dancing lightly, almost in time with the strings playing Pachabel’s Canon in D in the background as a misty rain began to fall. It was a magical ending to an epic weekend.

Tomorrow: Sailing out of Safe Harbors

Oremus pro invicem,
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