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The Big Apple

2011 February 28
by rob

I guess I kind of ended my last post with a cliff hanger. Why exactly did I have my birthday party a full week ahead of my birthday? It’s because I went on a trip! I went to New York City for a few days with Janet. It was great!

We found some discounted tickets on Porter Airlines. We were supposed to leave at 8 AM on Thursday February 17 and return the afternoon of Monday February 21. Everything was going smoothly. We took the ferry to the island airport, negotiated the checkin and airport security much more quickly than we would have at Pearson airport and enjoyed a coffee and snack in the cozy waiting area. We boarded our plane and taxied the short distance to the runway. Then the pilot told us that the airplane was having mechanical problems and the flight was cancelled. Boo! We had to wait until 10:40 AM until we were able to get onto another flight.

So, what’s my resulting impression about Porter Airlines? There’s a lot of convenience involved with the tiny airline airport. Security and checkin are quick and easy. There’s more leg room on the plane. There’s no middle seat. The waiting area is definitely nice (not as nice as a real business class lounge, though). All those things are plusses.

However, people told me that there would be amazing snacks — including freshly baked cookies. I saw no evidence of wonderful snacks — just ample supplies of factory cookies in packages and chips made from exotic vegetables. Having a self-serve cappuccino machine and other drinks in the lounge was nice. These items, however, are not really adequate to substitute a proper meal, though, especially when you are trapped on the tiny island airport for three hours you didn’t expect! Porter didn’t offer any other compensation after cancelling our flight.

Is Porter worth the extra cost? I feel like it isn’t. Maybe I’m just cheap.

Anyways, what did we do in New York? So much stuff! I had been there before, but it was only for three hours during a layover on my wonderful weekend trip to Cologne. This was my first real trip there: three full days and two part days. You’d think that this would be enough time to accomplish everything I’d ever want. Not even close…

We went to the Metropolitan Opera twice. I’m a burgeoning opera aficionado and thought it was really great! The quality of the singing, acting, dancing, and sets were very impressive. The opera house itself is a glorious piece of architecture. Those tall arched windows in the front are so inspiring!

Originally we had planned on only seeing one Opera: Don Pasquale, a classic comic opera by Donizetti from 1843. The production was extremely entertaining. I was particularly amused by the rampant overacting and exaggerated everything-else.

Don Pasquale was scheduled for the Saturday afternoon. We didn’t secure any discounts for these tickets and paid a lot of money for them. Our seating wasn’t that great — the last row of the orchestra section. Thankfully, we didn’t have any bigheads blocking our view.

Our real opera coup, though, was the night before. Janet used her student status to get us amazing tickets for Armida. We got to sit in row H. So close! This opera was also well done, but very long. I’m embarrassed to say that I was so tired from walking really far that day that I fell asleep partway through the second of three acts. Janet was tired, too, so we headed back to the hotel before the opera finished.

We also saw Billy Elliot on Broadway — a musical about a boy who just wanted to dance! It was very well choreographed. I felt that every actor’s every move was practiced and planned. No movement was wasted. I was very impressed!

Our other glorious adventure was our epic lunch at Per Se. It was very fancy. It was very expensive. It took us four hours to eat the bounty of extravagant dishes that were served to us. I’ll try to write more about this in a different blog post.

We didn’t go to many other restaurants. The only other meal we had at a sit-down restaurant was at Eataly and the less-gourmet-but-still-quirky supermarket Trader Joe’s (quirky is good, trust me). Janet was very excited to visit these supermarkets and was talking about them for months!

We spent much of Friday at the Statue of Liberty. This excursion was very touristy but very excellent! After being closed for many years, the authorities have re-opened access to the crown at the top of the statue’s head. These tickets were very limited, so I had to buy them a couple of months in advance. You had to climb a steep and narrow double-helix staircase inside the statue to get to the top. From inside, you could see all of the metalwork supporting the statue. The curves and shape of the statue’s clothing were easily visible from inside.

I typically abhor such touristy activities, but I greatly enjoyed the statue. Why is that? I considered this and decided that I simply enjoy climbing things: mountains in New Zealand, temples in Cambodia, pyramids in Mexico. Perhaps I’m part monkey? I do enjoy bananas, after all. I think this is a sign that I should take up rock climbing.

We were blessed with warm springlike weather during our first two days in New York. We took advantage of it by walking for hours and hours. We walked through downtown. We walked to the Brooklyn Bridge. We walked on the High Line. We walked home. We were so lucky!

The remainder of the trip was much colder, though. We took advantage of that with indoor activities: the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. These museums were vast and filled with very engaging content. We weren’t able to come close to seeing all of it. We’ll have to visit them again the next time we come to New York.

I think I’ve covered the bases of all the major things we did in New York. All of the hype is deserved; it’s a fantastic city. I need to go back!

Rob Sz
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

3 Responses leave one →
  1. Matt permalink
    February 28, 2011

    New York is my favourite North American city that’s not the one I live in! I’ve been there four times now and always get to see new things, but I’ve never been up the Statue of Liberty. Jealous!

    I agree that Porter is spendy, I think it was only worth the price back when I lived a 5 minute walk from the ferry. That was awesome! Now I think I’d just as soon go to Pearson as the distance is not much different.

    Also, the giant Nutella tub from your photos? We definitely saw the same thing in a market in Chelsea:

    Love the photos of the food from Per Se!!

  2. February 28, 2011

    Ha! It looks like the same market to me. I wouldn’t be surprised if it wasn’t the same monstrous $70 tub of Nutella :)

  3. Matt permalink
    February 28, 2011

    Yeah, who buys a tub of Nutella like that at such a fancy-pants hipster market?

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