On a whim, Warwick and I decided to go to New York for a weekend holiday. Three of our colleagues – Adam, Scott & Mike – would also be there, but those poor buggers had to work. Our company has an apartment that sleeps five in a great location in upper Manhattan (on the 43rd floor, close to Central Park) so accommodation was sorted…and free!
The view from the apartment
Alas, we tried to book our flights too late – Friday around noon – and found that there were no reasonable flights left for Friday evening. We finally found flights for Saturday morning at six am. Ouch! However, since our evening was now free we were available to join some of our other colleagues in going to watch an ice hockey match. We saw the Carolina Hurricanes outclass the Edmonton Oilers in what ended as a blow-out: 7-2. There’s few other sports that can match ice-hockey in pure spectator excitement! Such a fast, dynamic – brutal – game.
Ice Hockey at RBC Center, Raleigh
So we get up at stupid o’clock Saturday morning and fly to NY. After a typically terrifying taxi ride (those guys are nuts – they drive fast, close and furiously!) we got to the apartment still early enough to wake the other guys. Warwick and I decided to take a long jog around Central Park and Scott joined us. It was cold, just below zero, but that run was fantastic. Thousands of people were out walking, running and riding; it was a great way to start the day.
After breakfast and the obligatory Starbucks (it’s horrible but the best in the US…), the other guys shuffled off to work while Warwick and I decided to walk some of Manhattan. We walked for many kilometres, through Times Square with all of its lights and glitz and down around Union Square and Bryant Park where an ice-skating rink was being set up. Since I’m a book nerd we stopped in to take a look at the NY Public Library. It’s impressive – old, large with a huge collection. A great resource.
Bryant Park with the NY Public Library in the background
Nutjobs protesting at Union Square
We continued our walk down to Little Italy where we had a fantastic dinner (gnocchi and osso bucco) matched with a wonderful Italian wine (An Ecco Domani 2004 Merlot for the record). Earlier in the day, on recommendations from a few friends, we’d bought tickets to see the Blue Man Group. You may know of them from commercials for Intel. They are three completely – vibrantly – blue mute men who perform various hilarious skits often involving music. Hard to described, very easy to enjoy! Seeing the show was a real highlight to my stay in New York and I highly recommend you see them if you get the chance.
The Blue Man Group
We headed back to the apartment, met up with the rest of the guys, watched some TV, then headed out for a few drinks at a nearby bar. By the time we arrived home it was approaching 4 am and Warwick and I were feeling a little tired after having been on the go for nearly 24 hours.
Sunday we woke up (in a city that never sleeps…) to the drool-inducing smells of a breakfast whipped up by Adam. After having eaten hotel breakfasts for a fortnight this was a real treat. Scrambled eggs with melted cheese on multigrain bread, grilled tomatoes, croissants and yoghurt. Delicious!
While the other guys headed off to work Warwick and I left for MoMA, New York’s Museum of Modern Art. What an amazing place. Five floors full of the modern masters. The top two floors contained paintings and sculptures and this is where we spent most of our time. I recognized many of the works but seeing them in the flesh gave you a better appreciation for the skill involved. Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night was a highlight for me – pictures in a book simply do not do it justice. I can understand why Don McClean wrote a song about it. As well as an extraordinary collection of paintings and sculptures, there are other floors devoted to architecture and design, drawings and photography (disappointing). We must have spent at least four hours there and still didn’t have time to cover the film and media exhibitions floors. Stunning place, I definitely advise going if you’re even the slightest bit interested in art.
A evening descended we set off in search of a sports bar. It was getting toward the serious end of the NFL season, semi-finals, and the New York Giants were playing the Green Bay Packers. We found a bar with a few huge TV’s and watched the pre-game analysis (damn, I though AFL commentators could talk crap. They’ve got nothing on these guys!) . We were scheduled to fly out mid-way through the match but we figured even watching half of the game – amongst a rabid NY audience – would be fun. Early on it was obvious that this would be one cold mother of a game. It was held in Wisconsin and, before the game had started, temperatures had fallen to minus ten celsius.
I was certain fingers were going to shatter if someone received a bullet pass.
The game began and the temperature kept dropping. It got down to a ridiculously frigid minus 20 later in the match – the third coldest game on record. Although both sides had played better football it was an entertaining match and we were disappointed that we had to head out to the airport to catch a plane…
…that was delayed! Surely the only time in my life I’ve been happy to hear that news. We found a sports bar at the airport and watched till the end of regular time when the Giants had a chance to win the drawn match but their kicker, Lawrence Tynes, missed his second field goal of the match. “Shithead” was about the nicest term of endearment heard amongst the crowd’s cries.
A quick check at the gate revealed that we had a little more time, so back to the bar we went to watch extra time. The Giants had managed to get a chance to win with a field goal, so out trotted Tynes again. This third attempt was his longest at 47 yards but, thankfully, he put this one through to win. The crowd went nuts – the NY Giants were on their way to the Superbowl! (They went on to win.) Our flight began boarding a few minutes later and we were on our way back to North Carolina.
My second time in New York was as much fun as the first, it’s a wonderful city! Special thanks to Warwick in joining me on the trip – you can be my
wing man travel buddy anytime.