Put down that checklist and get lost…
Whenever I travel I have one or two things that are my “off the beaten path” musts, and the rest I leave to chance. I bum around like a local or with locals, and enjoy keeping people company who have something in mind, because I get to see another slice of who they are through the activities they choose. Also because my job is constant planning, I really appreciate it when I can just tag along, after all, it’s good company that makes even the mundane tasks fun.
Prior to the trip we had collectively worked on Google drive spreadsheet since we had so many people traveling together and needed to coordinate major events like: proposal, group dinner, Sleep No More, and a group brunch. Other than the aforementioned items we were free to explore as we pleased.
On my personal list of musts were only two things:
- The hidden tennis courts on the 4th floor of Grand Central – I found this in an article in the NYTimes, which I only started reading regularly after being captivated by Page One.
- Guggenheim – I’m in love with Frank Lloyd Wright buildings. There’s just a certain attention to detail and an art deco flare that exists in his work that is so attractive. He was self taught and I am mesmerized by the fact that someone can create something beautiful that others can appreciate beyond your lifetime. Sidenote: My adoration with this building began when Will Smith ran up it’s winding floors chasing an alien in the first M.I.B. movie. This film came out in 1997. Dah! I’m old, but wow my memory of this beautiful thing is spot on.
The only other thing I *planned* was a reservation at Sushi Nakazawa – the apprentice from the movie Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Honestly, “planned” is a strong word. What happened was Patricia had booked an extra reservation for herself, having not decided when she wanted to eat that day and instead of letting the reservation go, let me partake in her efforts. Who am I to reject documentary worthy sushi?
While Alex and Patricia were going to visit the MET, I have been now roughly around 5 times including a trip just to see the wicked Alexander McQueen exhibit, of which I have no epic photos, as they were prohibited. From that trip I didn’t end up buying the calendar at the time, but ended up finding it on eBay later so I could frame the images, now displayed in my bedroom.
Instead of the MET, Jen agreed to go find the Vanderbilt Tennis Club with me in exchange for visiting the New York Public Library. I hadn’t heard about the library and their exhibits, and what? It’s right by Grand Central. How many times have I gone to Grand Central Station without having ever walked past it to get to the library. SO many… I suppose I don’t read enough.
Here are the snaps from the library.
What was annoying at the library was the plethora of selfie sticks. Normally this wouldn’t irk me, except for the lady trying to view her selfie creations while leaving the stick out, walking about and managed to hit me in the process, along with several others. Maybe I don’t hate the selfie stick itself, but rather when people are being tools. I digress.
Then following instructions from the web, we ended up here. Check. Pretty!
Afterwards we had a bit of time before the Halal meet up so naturally we decided to go to get hazelnut hot chocolate at Balthazar in Soho. We discovered this the year before when we finished seeing the cast of Palo Alto at the Soho Apple Store, were freezing and randomly ordered it. I generally don’t like chocolate, but I friggin’ love this drink.
By the time we finished in Soho, we decided it was Halal times per the group schedule. But Google Maps search for Halal failed us since there are so many in NYC and we ended up lost somewhere after getting out of the subway. In my normal spirit of solving problems, I suggested we throw money at it. It was too cold outside to keep walking, and we’d be super late to meet the gang if we didn’t. Grabbed a cab easily and then waited in a short line to eat outside in the frosty cold.
After that we headed to the Gugg. The main exhibit at the time was On Kawara – Silence. There’s something magical about Kawara’s OCD meticulousness in tracking history, details, places, friends, paths, and just the methodical nature of capturing it all that speaks to me. The description of his work as “the personal and historical consciousness of place and time” is akin to what I feel like social media platforms and blogging allows us to do now with ease, which is ironic as Kawara had such a hatred for social media. Jen and I both opted for the audio tour, and I have to say it was worth it. I enjoyed slowly meandering about listening to only the items I wanted to know more about, as Jen paced a bit more quickly than I did. To understand what I mean about the Kawara exhibit, you can experience it virtually here on Artsy.
Stayed until closing at the Guggenheim and with a little time to spare before our 9:30pm reservation, we decided to get macaroons at Laduree and then go for a walk in Central Park and again ended up at the Bethesda Fountain and Terrace. I’ve now Instagram-ed two photos of this exact terrace 1 year apart because it is that stunning to behold.
Shortly after that we cabbed it again to dinner and were immediately greeted with smiles and great seating at the bar for omakase. It began…
Then we befriended two coworkers who were seated next to us that were pretty drunk. They shared their bevy of beverages. It was a fun night.
Caught a cab back to the hotel where I texted the girls that we had macaroons to share. Everyone piled into our room and we just shared stories of our day and were so boisterous I thought we were going to get the boot. Alex finished our left over halals and was rambling about carrots or something then Patricia broke out the Chex party mix while we shared the Laduree macaroons and our taste profile opinions.
This night in NYC ended perfectly with this followed by sweet slumber.
Late night laughing with friends is the best vacation I could have asked for, regardless of where we are at or what we are doing.
— Jessica Cheung (@jessicacheung) March 28, 2015