Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Visiting NYC's Best, with Mom and Dad

Mom and Dad came to NYC for their annual visit recently, which was filled with sunshine, walking, drinking, and tennis. September is a perfect month to travel, particularly to NYC and it opened the door to all's kinds of activities we've haven't had the chance to experience together (at least without sweating or freezing).

Since I knew we were running out of sunny days and warm nights in NY, I wanted to take advantage of the time we were outside to enjoy some great outdoor features and venues the city offers such as the US Open, the MET's rooftop bar, and movies with wine under the Brooklyn Bridge. And, yes, there were a few non-drinking activities I threw in, such as a visit to the High Line Park. Here are some of the sights, sounds and landmarks we toured during their recent stay:

We took one sunny day on at the Frying Pan, located on Pier 66 (W. 26 St. at 12 Ave.) in the Hudson River. The ship, originally built in 1928 was used as a lightship by the coastguard - which works like a floating lighthouse - and was stationed at several spots along the east coast shore. During it's heyday fifteen men lived aboard the ship and worked to keep the light on the mast burning and foghorn sounding year-round, regardless of weather, season or time of day. It sounds like it could be an extremely boring job, peppered in with some bouts of serious fear.

Anyhow, the boat eventually sank and lay at the bottom of Chesapeake Bay for three years before it was dredged up and brought to NYC in 1989 to serve as a historical reference point, landmark and bar for NYC residents and tourists. The top of the deck is somewhat restored and covered with tables for patrons, while the inside retains the barnacle-encrusted motif that reminds you of the boat's amazing past. If you'd ever like to visit, which I strongly suggest check out NY Magazine's review for more information (). Some photos of the inside and out of the ship...

Below the hull, mom and I set up a shot amid the dusty old couches and rusted portholes:

Dad looking up from below a random walkway:

Headed back into town from the ship:

Another warm evening we dropped by Sasha Petraske's White Star for some absinthe and like sprits on the Lower East Side. Although Jerome and I have been caught up in mixology craze that seems to have taken over all major US cities, I couldn't think of the right spot to take my parents where my parents wouldn't feel uncomfortable after being out for a full day (my parents are smart folks, and like to be dressed well in well-dressed places). White Star on a Sunday night, with their windows flung open and empty bar offered us just the right spot to strike up a conversation with the bartender and find the perfect cocktail for our various moods. White Star (along with East Side Co. just down the street with equally delicious cocktails) offers an under publicized happy hour weeknights till 10 pm .

From there we wandered over to my favorite Chinese restaurant in Chinatown, Nice Green Bo on Bayard Street(). The sparse decor, harsh wait staff, and grease stained entrance would turn me off for most restaurants, but I simply love this place. The large round tables, which range from 10-12 tops are covered with light green table clothes and "decorated" with stellar reviews from such publications as The New York Times, Let's Go Travel Guides, and New York Magazine. I keep going back for their pork soup dumplings and ordered two rounds for my parents, Jerome and I. The entrees and beer are standard and above standard but the soup dumplings simply make me smile just thinking about them. So, after our $45 bill we happily wandered over to SOHO/Little Italy.

Jerome and my favorite little karaoke bar, Baby Grand (located on Grand at Lafayette), was well below its maximum capacity of 25 people when we dragged my parents inside. One of the owners , Mike - whose wife/bar partner Raylene had the night off - welcomed us with some tasty cocktails and a songbook. Although mom and dad were initially hesitant we got both of them on stage and took on some Abba, Beach Boys, and even Bob Marley. Baby Grand is a perfect place to start or end a night, check out my friend Alex's 30 day stint there ().. Some photo proof of the mother-daughter-singing-duo above.

En route to our good friend's house for a BBQ in Williamsburg on Saturday we dropped by one of my favorite outdoor/indoor spots in NYC. Radegast Hall & Biergarten () has enough room to stretch his arms and give each of his patrons a jovial, solid embrace. The beer garden is a male entity by default, since all the waitresses are in skirts and only meat products are served to tide over any potential hungry drinkers. The range and unique list of beers available always amazes me. I tend to go for the Lambic beers when I've had too much to drink the night before (which was the case on this fine Saturday) and loved my pear-flavored beer next to Jerome's pint-o-beer. Our long, wooden table and pints pictured above.

We also took some time to take in some art and culture, and headed over to the MET to see a complex exhibit, Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul. The exhibit was easy to get caught up in, with maps of ancient trading trails including the Silk Road, and stylistic materials such as nomadic gold found in this great civilization. The exhibit gave a good sense of the rich, diverse and troubled past of Afghanistan.

We also visited the museum's rooftop garden and bar, which offers unique treetop views over the park, unique sculptural art and good (pricey) cocktails. We had a great time catching up with my parent's friends from home, Bryce and Gary, coincidentally my grade 7 English teacher and her husband. They were a wonderful ray of light on the sunny afternoon and were doing an amazing job of taking in the city on their own terms, a task that most tourists don't seem to manage. The 2009 rooftop sculpture pictured here:

The best part of living in NYC, aside from all the amazing opportunities available to us at anytime of day, is the free summer activities. One of my personal favorites is the movies under the Brooklyn Bridge, technically DUMBO's Brooklyn Bridge Park. We grabbed some goodies from Chelsea Market and headed over to the Park to see Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid with Jerome and Emily one warm evening.

And, my newest favorite visitor spot, The High Line - a 1.5 mile park built on an elevated rail structure that runs down Manhattan's west side - was heavily photographed by my dad, but somehow missed my camera lens that day. The only photo I have of our venture there is the Park's turn over 10 Avenue:

And finally, some subway fun:

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