(And beyond. But I liked the title and Iâ€™m sticking to it.)
Everything in New York City is about food. I hear all these random statistics. Something like, â€œIf you ate at a different restaurant in New York City for each breakfast, lunch, and dinner of every day, itâ€™d still take you 500 years to get through them all.â€ I believe it.
We have endless trays of tapas at Boqueria, via the menu tasting option. And pitchers of Sangria.
I found my favourite beer at The Pony, after a great deal of taste testing: Wahoo Wheat. Itâ€™s become clear to me over my travels that wheat beers are my favourite, like the Albino Rhino at Earls in Calgary. Yes, a chain beer. Still my favourite beer.
Back to NYC.
At Carmineâ€™s Italian restaurant in the Upper West Side, itâ€™s all about the fried calamari in tomato sauce. I donâ€™t think life will ever be the same.
I met some coworkers for the first time although Iâ€™ve been corresponding with them since 2008. Of course we ordered pitchers upon pitchers until finally the workers turned the chairs over the tables and the bouncer told us heâ€™d REALLY like to get home. We were THOSE kind of people.
Everything had its own feel. I never strayed far from Amsterdam, sadly. I didnâ€™t really have to. We went to The Underground, and then to some other Tavern bar that had Christmas lights, leopard-print chairs, a giant aquarium over the bar, and chalkboards in the bathroom. I could have lived there.
People in NYC donâ€™t have issues with space. I met Alisha and her boyfriend for dinner at Carmineâ€™s (see above) and the wait time was over an hour. But we crammed ourselves in and everyone was totally happy to do so, because the promise of good food is certain and itâ€™s New York City so why the fuck not?
Nobody in New York City is actually from New York City. Itâ€™s kinda like Calgary in that regard (again, tawdry comparison that no travel writer should ever use), except people here arenâ€™t actually making money.
Every time I ride the subway, Iâ€™m proud. I feel like when I emerge above ground again, I should be greeted by applause and great fanfare. It puts my anxious, worrisome thoughts at ease. Am I a real traveller? What am I so afraid of? I took the train to Brooklyn. And then I took it back again. And it was easy. Someone mistook me for a New Yorker and asked me for directions to Battery Park. I was surprised my furrowed forehead had unclenched long enough to look relaxed and confident.
I bowled in Brooklyn at Gutters. The lighting was dim and the floors were sticky and the bathrooms were co-ed and covered in graffiti. It was perfect. It was exactly what I wanted and needed from New York.
I hate bowling. I hate it, so much. We pulled two random girls into the room with us because we needed more players. I couldnâ€™t pronounce one girlâ€™s name, so she told me to just call her â€œJon-Jon.â€ Or something. They kept buying us shots of whiskey. I lost my purse, and my passport, and then found them both.
I lost my laptop charger at the hostel too, twice.
When Iâ€™m outside the city, it feels like the epicenter of the universe. The most famous city on earth. And then when youâ€™re IN it, in the thick of it, it feels normal. Like possibly, maybe, potentially, even I could fit in. So how can it be so prolific? Outside, itâ€™s hard to imagine what people do and see and think.
I love all the neighborhoods and titles of New York City. These classifications of areas. When you repeat them or use them to direct someone somewhere, itâ€™s like you really know the place. Upper West Side, Lower East Side, Flatiron, Brooklyn, Bronx, Harlem, Meatpacking District. Each and every title is an invitation to get to know that specific area inside and out. So you can slide place names into conversations to get them to fit just right. Places within places, like Russian nesting dolls.