January 14-17, 2016
I'd been to NYC twice before, visiting my wealthy lawyer friend and my super-cool business friend, both in 2010 and in 2014. Through them, I was able to get a good balanced tour of the real New York City lifestyle and the necessary tourist destinations that I needed to cross off my list. The years roll by, though, and one moved away to Denver and the other fell out of touch. So on this trip -- I was tagging along with my boyfriend while he attended a week-long conference -- I was a little worried I'd be left wandering around by myself for hours on end. (Despite the fact that I made it around Tokyo like a pro for two years, New York still scares me.)
|View from the hotel|
But I had nothing to fear. My well-prepared bf, who foresaw my reluctance, made plans with his college friend Jana to come down from Syracuse and hang out with us for the weekend: a win-win for everyone involved. It was easy for the three of us to get along with each other with no trouble at all. And although it was a new adventure to actually look up places to go and find them with a map instead of following someone's footsteps, I liked exploring the unfamiliar with someone new. It's much less intimidating than trying to do it alone. Besides, Jana did most of the planning, so technically all I had to do was follow her!
Over the course of the weekend, we took in as much of Greenwich Village, Soho, Chinatown, Little Italy, Hell's Kitchen, and Midtown as we could, leaving our ritzy hotel at the Hilton Times Square every morning in search of nothing in particular but something cool to see. Neither of us wanted to visit anything famous like the Statue of Liberty, we just wanted to go shopping! And shopping we did; both of us spent more than we needed to at some really fun boutiques and vintage clothing stores.
Happily for Kyle, he didn't have to tag along and be bored while we were shopping, but he was able to accompany us for breakfast (diner food! bagels!) and dinner most days. Plus he had nights free to spend with us.
The biggest difference between this trip and my other two NY trips was the sheer amount of JAPAN we found. Jana and I accidentally stumbled on Sunrise Mart (a Japanese market), Panya (a bakery), various ramen shops, and even an izekaya (a type of casual restaurant/pub) during one of our walks. We also spent a lot of time at Muji (my favorite store from Japan), Uniqlo (like Gap, but better), and the Kinokuniya bookstore, a place so laden with cute things I thought I'd explode. (Later, Jana and I found a Korean bookstore, which definitely rivals Japan with its amazing stationery choices.)
And the food . . . oh! the food! Tonkatsu curry at Go-Go Curry our first night, ramen the second, and an izekaya feast my last night in town, complete with okonomiyaki, takoyaki, karage, nikujaga . . . all those things that taste so much better in a restaurant than when I try to make them at all. It was such a strange experience to sit in the restaurant surrounded by Japanese speakers, eating authentic Japanese food: it was just like being back in Gunma! I filled up on everything I'd been missing for the past three years, wishing I had a few more bellies to fit all that food into. Next time I will eat even more!
I don't really care for the craziness of Times Square or the claustrophobic feeling that comes over me every time I start down the stairs to get on the subway, but I really enjoy visiting New York City and soaking in its new experiences. I'm grateful that Kyle invited me along! And you know, sometimes he has business trips to Greece and Germany, too . . .