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July 4, 2008

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Playing Tourist in NYC

I had an old friend in town last week and Thursday we played tourist in NYC. I love having visitors and an excuse to do all the things you don’t otherwise.

But H wanted to go to Ellis Island. A very patriotic place. On the 3rd of July. With about 2 million tourists in town (I don’t know how many, but there’s a LOT of map totin’ going on in my corner of the world).

So I say to my very dear H, “Yes, we can go but we have to go EARLY.” “How early?” “The first ferry leaves at 9am.” “I could check out of the hotel and be to your place by 9:30, maybe 9:45.”

Fair enough.

I know he will be late. He is always late. But I gave him the benefit of the doubt. After all, he lived here 8 years ago and we’ve all changed a great deal since 2000.

At 12:50 after standing in line for 40 minutes in the blazing sun, we found out the next (and last) ferry would depart at 2pm and we needed to go stand in line now to get on, but there was no guarantee it wasn’t already full. WTF?!

Deciding that maybe standing in line all day wasn’t the best way to spend the day, we bailed and instead took the easy and free Staten Island Ferry to chill and have a great view of Lady Liberty.

We then walked through the oldest part of downtown, stopping by Fraunces Tavern, where

at the end of the Revolutionary War in 1783, it played host to General George Washington’s famed farewell dinner for his officers.

Continuing on to a photo op at the Stock Exchange on Wall Street, we stopped to eat on this cute-as-can-be street. I worked on Wall Street until Septemeber 11th and this walk made me realize how much I miss this rich and historied part of my city.

Fortified we continued through downtown and made our way into Chinatown. I love Chinatown. It always make me feel like I have left NYC and made it to another country and I did all all on foot. I do not mean the Chinatown of Canal Street, oh no, I mean East Broadway and Catherine and way under the bridges Chinatown. It’s stinky and crowded and glorious. And cheap. The fish is the freshest; you choose it swimming and they cut the head off for you. The produce is beautiful and strange and everything seems to be $1. It may not be organic, but maybe it is and with prices like this, it’s hard for me to care.

It makes me have fantasies of putting a wicker basket on my bike and heading down every Saturday morning to do my Chinese food shopping, hitting the Farmer’s Market on the way back home and spending the weekend cooking. Must Buy Wicker Bicycle Basket.

Armed with three different types of Bubble Tea, we carried on through NoLiTa and the East Village before collasping on the couch.

By dinner time we were ready to go again and made our way to the MeatPacking District for dinner here, which was made even more lovely because they were able to seat us outside, it was a gorgeous evening AND they had strawberry shortcake.

The rest of the evening was spent pouring over boxes of photos from the past and getting more than a little teary-eyed. That’s the thing about the past, no matter how great it was, it’s never coming back.

Friends like H are priceless and I am incredibly blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life. Now if they would just stop leaving NYC….