Tag Archives: New York

30 Before 30: Visit One World Observatory

19 May

In my 30th year of life, I’m attempting to do 29 new things. Full List Here. All Bucket List Adventures Here.

IMG_3307

Manhattan from so far above

On a clear and sunny day, my friend Zach and I trekked downtown to visit the One World Observatory at the top of the Freedom Tower. My obligatory tourist indulgence in a city overflowing with them. At this point, I’ve done Top of the Rock, top of the Empire State Building. So I knew at the very least, I’d get some great views. The whole thing was so orchestrated; though, it ended up feeling surreal.

After going through airport-level security, everyone was shoved into elevators that as they rose to the top floor, displayed on screens a 360-view of Manhattan developing over the centuries. From when it was home to Native Americans, to the first Dutch traders, to the Industrial Revolution, and present day. It was the most interesting part of the visit, but it went by so fast, and everyone in the elevator expressed varying degrees of nausea.

Upon exiting the elevator, we were ushered into a theatre, showing “street scenes” of New York, the kind of imagery constantly fed to people who aren’t from here. Women in high heels catching taxis, smoky hot dog stands, the rumble of a subway train. It’s a little less exciting and hypnotizing when it’s just an expression of your day-to-day. At the end of the movie, the wall lifted to reveal a floor to ceiling window, showing off Manhattan. All the tourists gasped and then clapped before we were ushered into a room where they tried to sell us interactive iPads to carry around. Then we were taken through a gift shop. Then we were forced to take a picture which Zach ended up convincing me to buy, because he’s a sentimentalist, even though I wasn’t ready and look like a goon.

IMG_3319

The green screen photo I CLEARLY wasn’t ready for, but Zach somehow was.

Finally we got to the floor with the views. My phone promptly died after one picture, but it felt better that way. Instead of worrying about the perfect picture, we took our time wandering around, admiring the city from every bird’s eye angle we could find. Once we felt like we had absorbed most of it, we left, caught a cab, giving the driver an address on the West Side highway.

“Oh, you go to the bar!” Our Island cabdriver said.
“You clearly know us.”
“I should park my cab and join you,” he said.
“I’d buy you a drink, man!” Zach told him as we all laughed.

At the Frying Pan, a bar on a pier, we drank cold Pale Ales and ate sandwiches. We laughed about the morning and chatted about innumerable things, the kind of conversation only possible between two people who have known each other 12+ years. Once it got too breezy, we wandered through Chelsea and stumbled upon another dive bar we like, and we grabbed one more beer to cap the day.

THAT’s New York to me. THAT’s the thing they will never be able to appropriately sell to the hordes of tourists. It’s a city full of lovely, kind people, chance encounters, wanderings that usually result in something memorable and familiar. It was great to take in the city from above, but it’s so much better to be living right down in it.

Advertisements

Tailgating: Or how I learned to stop worrying and love football

16 Oct

image

Last Saturday night, I met up with a group of friends at the Washington Husky bar to watch the UW vs. UO football game. Over beers, my friends Patty and Grant started asking me if I wanted to go with them to the New York Giants game the next morning. They had asked me previously, but I absolutely could not afford it. But, it was getting down to crunch time, and no one had bought the tickets, so they offered to give them to me, so that they wouldn’t go to waste. It was too good a deal to turn down. So we drank through the crushing defeat of the Huskies and headed to the UCLA bar to meet up with our other Pac-12 friends and watch UCLA get crushed as well. All in all, we drunkenly stumbled out of the bar at 2AM. As I headed into the subway station, Grant called after me to remind me that we were all meeting at Penn Station at 9:30AM the next morning. Awesome.

I got home around three, and my alarm went off at 8AM. I head to Penn Station so that we can all catch the train to New Jersey together. This is when I learned that both New York football teams play in the same stadium, and that stadium is in New Jersey. Confusing, right? The train is full of Giants fans, so we know we’re headed in the right direction. Patty and I are sipping coffee, trying to numb the hangover, while everyone else on the train is doing jello shots and chugging beer…at 10AM.

Part of the package we had signed up for was a pre-game tailgating extravaganza. I was told there would be unlimited food and alcohol, but I was convinced that there was no way I’d be drinking that day. I definitely needed a burger or two for energy, but I had every intention of passing on the booze. Once we arrived at the stadium, we began the journey through the parking lot of MetLife Stadium toward section L8, where our tailgating party was. It was a world of which I have never seen before. People had campers, barbeques, Giants canopies, DJ booths, portable grills, seats, buffets. What?!?! How have I never partaken in this sort of thing before? People do this every week? Football fans are pretty legit.

We arrive at our section, and it’s incredible. I think I might have muttered the word “magical” a couple of times. There was a full bar, with coolers and coolers of beer, fifths of every alcohol imaginable. And food, oh God, so much food. Cheeseburgers, breakfast sandwiches, Buffalo chicken, pulled pork, meatballs, sauerkraut, hot dogs, perogies, steak sandwiches. The grills were running constantly. And there were waitresses walking around with trays of everything. You didn’t even have to leave your canopy if you didn’t want to.

Needless to say, I ate…and drank. I still can’t believe I was capable of imbibing even more beer, but it was just there, and Grant and Patty don’t let you say no to more drinks. It was cloudy and about 50 degrees and that parking lot. I had worn layers, but not nearly enough and was rather cold. When it started to rain, Patty and I were able to secure two large trash bags. We ripped holes in the top and wore them as make-shift ponchos. I felt a little silly, but oh so much warmer. A couple of people in our tailgating group reassured me that I was football-chic and a garbage bag is a sign of honor. A guy selling Giants hats was walking around, offering 2 for $15. Patty and I each bought a royal blue one to make our football outfits complete.

Giants Chic

We finally headed into the stadium to watch the game. The rain came and went, and Patty was very diligent about scolding me about when to take my bag off and put it on. I know the basics of football, and our seats weren’t too bad. I got really into the game, and lo and behold we won, by a lot. The Giants have a rookie punt returner (look at me with my football knowledge!) named David Wilson. Before this game, the only Giants player I knew of was Eli Manning. I only know who Eli Manning is because his name comes up a lot in the New York Times crossword and the Dunkin Donuts I frequent has a cardboard cutout of him holding a delicious breakfast sandwich. So I enter the stadium, hearing rows of people behind me screaming, “Wilsoooooooon!” a la “Castaway” with Tom Hanks. As I am fond of other Wilsons, he became my guy, and I cheered him on as much as I could.

“So, is it official? Are you a Giants fan now?” Patty asked me.
“Oh, definitely!” I easily responded.
“You know, ” my friend Gian piped in. “The Jets are really the New York underdog.”
I pondered this for a moment. I’ve followed underdogs my whole life. I’ve never experienced a winning rally with a winning team. I love me an underdog, and my long-standing love of the Seattle Mariners is my biggest defense against ever being called a bandwagon fan.
“No, I’ve put my time in. Nothing against the Jets, but I’m a Giants fan.”
“After all,” Patty added pointing to my new Giants hat. “You have made the financial investment.”

So, let’s go Giants…let’s go.