Sunday, July 29, 2012

SideTour: Sailing on the Hudson

Every SideTour I've done has been a great experience. Last weekend's excusion on the Hudson River was no exception. I'll admit that I was nervous when Josh suggested it. I hadn't been on a boat in years. The last memorable trip I can recall when a deep sea fishing trip that ended with me...sick...and curled up in a ball in the galley. Luckily, this this 3 hour tour was nothing like that.

I didn't really know to expect, but I was pretty excited one we got to Pier 66. Jackie had just gotten back from a vacation at the beach so she was incredibly tan, which looked even stronger next to my Edward Cullen-esque skin tone. Josh was carrying a rented camera lens in his backpack. I'm used to taking pictures on my iPhone, so his camera looked like it could be used to see craters in the moon. There was a cute, young couple that had also signed up. After we were all fitted in our life jackets (yes, mine color coordinated with my outfit), we made our way down the dock.

We had to get in a small, motor boat to take us to our sail boat. Once we were on board our sail boat, I was charged with raising the sails. I was surprised. I expected to just sit back and enjoy the ride. But I was glad to try something new and learn a little bit. Josh has some pictures and yes, my arms look amazing. The only rule for posting pictures? Please make me looks somewhat tan. I'm still waiting. It must be a harder job than I thought. As the wind would change and we need to move the main sail from one side to the other (I forget the technical names), Jackie and I would take turns loosening the lines on one side and tying them on the other. We were a pretty good time.

Once we were up and running, I wanted to get some good pictures of Manhattan. Josh was busy using his paparazzi lens to get artist shots of everything. I just took pictures of the main sights on my iPhone. It occurred to me that so many people in the city want great views. A view of the river is a prized commodity, but so few people realize you can do more with the Hudson than just look at it. It so cool to see the city from another perspective. We could see the new World Trade Center, the Empire State Building, the Intrepid, and Riverside Park.

Our captain, Andreas, did a great job at making sure we learned a little and had a lot of fun. He was only 23 (Ugh. 25 feels old), but he had such a great attitude. He's passionate about what he does and he makes a living doing it. Very inspiring. As we were sailing, a cruise ship was getting ready to leave. I figured we'd give them their space. Nope. Andreas got us pretty close so we could wave to the passengers. They waved back. It was so cool.

As we were making our way back to the...hmm...area where the boats are anchored, Andreas tasked me with using a long hook to grab our anchor and attach it to the ship. What? Damn. No pressure. I took a few times around, but I got it. It wasn't easy to pull in though and I definitely thought I was going to go flying into the water. Luckily, I used my massive arms to reel it and connect the rope to the boat.

And thus our 3 hour tour ended. It was such a relaxing, freeing, adventure. Naturally, I wanted to do it again. I can see the draw to sailing. It's so peaceful. Just friends and the water. A bottle of wine couldn't hurt. Every SideTour I've done has been so much fun, but I think this one was my favorite. It was a perfect Sunday afternoon.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Mom and Sam's NYC Visit

Godbys don't handle stress and / or excitement. The idea of my parents coming to visit me in the city was both touching and terrifying. My mom and had spent a few weeks planning their visit and going over what they'd like to see and do. Everything was set, but my nervous stomach didn't know that. So just like the last time I saw my family, I spent the early part of the morning throwing up. I blame my incredibly large vitamin getting caught in my through as much as I blame stress. It's a lethal combination. I was scared to look in the mirror. I figured that my face would be dotted with broken capillaries. Luckily, I was okay.

I made it to Penn Station on time. Phew. But where are my parents? Their train arrived at 8:28 am and they were still MIA at 8:40. Oh no! Did they miss their stop and end up in Connecticut? Luckily, we found each other a few minutes later. It was so great to see them. I know they prefer the peace and quiet of the Pennsylvania country, so it was really cool that they made the trek up here.

We took a cab to my apartment. I think my stepdad's first words were, "this is it?". I figured my tiny studio would be a bit of shock. But I love my apartment and I think there were happy with once they got the grand tour, which took about 30 seconds. Here it is. Boom. Done. But it's my home and it's safe and it's clean. What more could I ask for at 25? Then we went to Corcoran. I still find Corcoran intimating at times so I had so no idea how they'd feel. But it was great. Everyone in the pod got up and introduced themselves. Anne made a few phone calls and get us access to view the W Downtown. Everyone was really nice and I think my parents were happy to see me with such a good second family. I got my parents some coffee from our kitchen. Of course my mom starts cleaning the countertops. Lol. That's my mom.

Next up was Carnegie Deli. They had seen it on TV and wanted to go. It was definitely built around tourism because our waiter was so unbelievably nice. Mom and Sam split a massive sandwich and I got challah french toast. It hit the spot. That spot would be the spot that my first breakfast occupied before spending 10 minutes with my head in the toilet.

After brunch we walked through Times Square. It's a must for anyone who hasn't been to New York. It doesn't really do anything for me, but I can appreciate it's grandeur. As we passed from the touristy Times Square area to the somewhat gritty 30s full of wholesale fabric stores and wig shops, I realized it was time get a cab to take us to Battery Park to catch the ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Both sites are quintessentially New York, but I don't think many New Yorkers visit them until they are entertaining tourists. It's a shame because they are definitely sites to see. The State of Liberty was a little smaller than I expected. Ghostbusters made it seem massive. But it was still cool to see. Ellis Island a was more educational. It seems so barbaric what immigrants had to through as late as the 1920s.

After getting back on dry land, we waited for the rain to stop. Most of the day was drizzly and dreary, but it was downright pouring as we got off the ferry and back into Battery Park. After a few minutes of resting while staring as groups of pigeons pick anything they could find off the concrete, we started walking the few blocks to the 9/11 Memorial. It was sad, as I expected. The pools that now occupy the land where the towers used to stand are massive. The sound of the water rushing over the sides is impressive. It's a site to behold but also very calming and reflective.

Thanks to Anne from PR, we were able to go next door and get a private tour of the W Downtown Residences. Our of agents had his assistant take us to the rooftop patio for some amazing views. I chuckled when my parents were flabbergasted that apartments started at $1 million. Even though I can't afford it, the prices seemed more than reasonable. It was so cool to get a view of the city from such a gorgeous terrace.

At this point the day was going amazingly well. They were having a good time and so was I. I could tell that everything was going well because my appetite returned with a vengeance. We started walking towards the South Stree Seaport for dinner. It was a bit of a walk, but it had stopped raining so it wasn't bad. I kinda felt like I was a bad tour guide because I couldn't answer any of their questions about Downtown Manhattan. Oh well. I don't frequent Battery Park / FiDi that often.

We went to Cabana for dinner and it was great. I was nervous to go out to dinner with them because I know the prices would be high along with their expectations. At first Sam ordered coffee and my Mom ordered a Diet Coke. Uh oh. Does this mean I can't order a fancy martini? Crap. Luckily I was able to convince them to get cocktails too. They both go mojitos and I got some red, sweet martini. We laughed and had so much fun. Some girls were giving out samples of drinks made with Sake. I tried it and loved it so I ordered the drink with whatever they were promoting. They had to slide in our booth for pictures while I put on my complementary glasses and my mom held up the XL t-shirt they gave me. Just awesome!!

Alas the fun had to come to an end. We got a cab and headed back to Penn Station for their train back to Pennsylvania. It was such an awesome day! I love my parents and I'm glad that I got to share some of my NY life with them. We try to get the whole family as often as possible, but it was nice for it to just be the three of us. We haven't gotten to do something like that in as long as I can remember. It was a day full of great memories that I'll treasure for years to come.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

4th of July

I've never one of those people that will celebrate a holiday by starting to drink in the afternoon. I always admired those people because they seemed so carefree and relaxed. And yesterday I became one of those people. My friend, Josh, has a great studio in Chelsea with rooftop access in full view of the Hudson River. You could not ask for a better spot to watch the Macy's 4th of July Fireworks. Dan, Anthony and I all got there early in the afternoon and immediately started drinking. Mojitos straight out of the bottle with a little club soda are very refreshing (and deceivingly strong). We hung out, watched Shame (eh it was on in the background and we only really paid attention and *certain* parts). We tried to get Jackie to join us, but she was stuck in Brooklyn. Every party needs a little Jackie Buddie!

By the time 9:00 rolled around, we were all pretty buzzed. I notice that when I drink I'm either in one of two states - 1) fun, exciting, life of the party or 2) throwing up in the toilet. I'm usually responsible enough to make sure that I stay in the first state and last night was one of those nights. The four of us headed up to the roof. Of course, it was packed but that made it even more fun. Josh was carrying his camera so he could take pictures and I had a glass of perseco in each hand. The show was awesome! We had a front row seat for the fireworks and it was so much nicer than having to watch them from the ground. I ended up taking pictures with Josh's camera. Now, I have never claimed to be a photographer by any means. I was doing my best. It took Dan and I a few minutes to make sure the lens cap was off. I just kept clicking away. I didn't see anything on the screen, but I didn't know how to change any of the fancy settings. Oh well. I probably took a hundred pictures and I bet none of them turned out.

I usually hate when people talk about their drinking escapades. I don't think that being falling down drunk is funny or entertaining. But last night wasn't about being wasted. Josh is quickly becoming one of my best friends and Dan and Anthony are also really great to hang out with. The really great part about last night (one of them) was that I could see myself going out and doing things and really letting loose. I am usually very shy and reserved, so it's great when I can forget all that baggage and just have fun.

Happy Birthday America!