May. 20th, 2012

I got to visit New York this week! Last year, my dad got suckered into some Hilton timeshare thing. He loves to go to those "get a free ski vacation if you just listen to this sales pitch" things, but in the last few years, his resistance to the sales pitch part of the deal seems to have been waning. When we were kids, Dad and Mom were experts at leading the sales people on and then ultimately disappointing them, while the five kids happily hit the slopes for free. He's running out of time to use all of his "points" this year, so he's been begging me and my siblings to use them. It's pretty sweet, I must admit. As long as we go at unpopular times, we can get a free night or two in any city with a Hilton. This hotel we stayed at in New York was super lush: they had a free breakfast bar, a gym and a free happy hour at night. Our room also had the most comfortable bed we've ever slept on.

We took a MegaBus there on Wednesday, which was pretty easy, except that our driver got pulled over by the police, so that took awhile to clear up. But overall, it was a simple journey. I love that they have wifi on the busses!

What did we do in New York? The first day, we had just enough time walk to the southern tip of Manhattan, look at helicopters landing for awhile, buy a $5 margarita on the pier and get half price tickets to Peter and the Starcatcher. (Fun musical, by the way. Very witty and fast paced. If you love pirate Renaissance Faires then you'll enjoy it.)

Thursday was our most fun day: we spent the morning at the Met and the Natural History museums, had lunch at the Shake Shack (famous for its hamburgers, a lure to which I cheerfully succumbed to, despite my wannabe vegan status). We wandered all over Central Square, racking up the exercise points, and had a really delicious tea at Alice's Tea Cup. After that, we went back to the hotel for free cocktails and rested a bit, then we split up. I wanted to see a lecture on Passive Houses and Bri wanted to go to a Haunted House, so we agreed to meet later in time for dinner. My lecture was awesome. (Check out this news report...we got to watch a movie on this topic and then there were a bunch of architects that got on stage to answer questions.) It's pretty exciting stuff. Check out this quote from Sane Energy:

"Passive House is an exciting new tool to change our energy future. If buildings were built or retrofitted to Passive House standards, we’d be using 80-90% LESS energy than we do now to heat and cool them. This is not only possible, it’s already happening: Passive House is now the building standard in Europe, and 34 projects have started here in NYC. If we can save that much energy, there’s clearly no need for new pipelines, or for a continued reliance on fossil fuels. This is a game changer."

Anyway, in the middle of the lecture, Brian got bored of his Haunted House early (I win!) and came to collect me. Since they are going to be putting the whole 3 hour conference online eventually, I didn't mind leaving. We went to a food truck festival in midtown. It was pretty packed and expensive so we both just got a quick snack: I got a small arancini and Bri got a couple of fried chicken legs. Then we wandered the streets like lost souls looking for a suitable bar to hang out at until our Improv Comedy show started. (We never seem to plan our restaurants out ahead of time. We had this same problem in Rome.) We eventually found a neat neighborhood restaurant called Tappo's. We chose it based on the fact that a dog was casually tied up in the entrance doorway-it seemed like a good sign.   They are mildly famous for their thin crust pizza and I can attest that the mushroom (Shroomtown) pizza, in particular, was extremely delicious. They have advanced salads there, too, not just the usual boring kind.

Then we went to the weirdest improv comedy show I've ever seen. I call it Andy Kaufman-esque, because it seemed like they were deliberately keeping the action on that quiet, anxious time when no one can figure out what to say. I thought they were just having a bad night, but certain clues made me think the whole thing had a structure. There was a big finale at the end that was clearly planned out ahead of time, for example. Also, in the end, they made a point of thanking their "director" in a way that made me think the arc was highly thought out and stylized. I found it mildly interesting and Bri loved it, of course (he's taken a ton of Improv classes and is fascinated by the process). It's funny, at the beginning they asked the audience for "a subject" and they got "marmalade". Then they proceeded not to mention marmalade at all (that I can remember). Hmmpf.

Friday, we just had enough time to go in search of the famous New York bagels (ended up at Ess-a-bagel) and then we had to pack, check out and find the bus pick up point.  Then we had a long, boring 6 hour journey back to Boston...but at least our driver didn't get pulled over by the police.

Next time: Bri wants to do all the touristy things we've never done, like visit the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building, and I want to try out the bike paths there, to see what it's like biking in New York city.

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January 2014

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