Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Bye- Bye Brooklyn

I recall that my last post in Berlin was pretty easy to write. The year had far exceeded all of my expect- ations. I met some incredible people and was immensely grateful for all of the opportunities provided to me. I wanted to stay but was looking forward to seeing family and friends and starting a new job.

The exact same can be said about this New York Adventure. That said, this, my final New York Adventures blog post, seems more complicated. I arrived in New York not sure that I wanted to be there. Somewhat as I thought, New York proved to be noisy, smelly, driven by ridiculous wealth, packed with people (with an attitude) and teaming with skyscrapers.

But more accurately, New York is a city of extremes because it is also filled with quite spots (Governors Island), phenomenally smelling and tasting food (see most previous posts:-)), sparked by creativity and passion, loaded with genuinely kind people and full of small little brownstone apartments and hidden gems. As the end drew near, I didn't actually want to leave. As my fantastically NY neighbor said, "New York is like an old whore, she draws you in and you keep coming back for more." Oh my!

The last weekend was perfect. I couldn't resist one more visit to the Union Square Market on Saturday, where I enjoyed a chai latte from MUD and bought a Bucks County heirloom tomato. Why would I leave?? I met my dad for lunch and a sandwich in Times Square cost $20! Why would I stay? I couldn't resist planting one last round of impatiens in my flower boxes and that evening we ate dinner at one of my favorite restaurants. Am I nuts to go?

On Sunday, Matt and I went to my beloved Iris Cafe and visited Governor's Island, where we spent the afternoon under the shade of a tree looking out on the Statue of Liberty. What could be better?

On Monday, we met in Washington Square Park for another chai and a strung out druggie asked if he could give me a hug. Time to head for the hills? I met Daniel and Sabrina at a fab French bistro on Atlantic Ave that I had never tried before (stay) and then saw a kid peeing on the street (go).

On Tuesday, after the move, it was bittersweet to see my oldest friend Drew for lunch at Nicky's Vietnamese Sandwiches and Christina and Heather for dinner (stay). But was woken that night by unruly college students and no fewer than five garbage trucks throughout the night (buh-bye). Please pardon the ramble, like I said, it's complicated.

So in closing, I feel blessed to have spent as much time as I did in the city. I am better for it and hope I left just a little midwest friendly for NY to enjoy:-) The results of 4.5 years-- a super boyfriend, more notable sightings/meetings than I could have ever imagined (still can't name drop), helping in Haiti and Japan, a few extra pounds, and a perspective that will forever be enhanced.

Adventures will continue! Check out Capital City Adventures as I reconnect with all my old friends, embark on lots of new adventures, try some new restaurants and see if I can cause just a few international incidents.

And until we meet again...

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Hip in the Heights

Men in Black 3 is filming in the Heights and Cobble Hill today, but the real star was on Clark Street. This hip hound would pop out of the sun roof every few minutes this afternoon creating minor paparazzi frenzies.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The End is Near but not before some food

Well the world didn't end last week but the end of another kind is getting near.

I have accepted a new job in DC, finished my truly wonderful and memorable job here in New York City and today's the move to our nation's capital.

Unsurprisingly, my last weeks in the city have mostly involved food.

Colleagues took me to Maze by Gordon Ramsey, Cafe D'Alsace for delightful Alsatian and Maz Mexcal Mexican to say goodbye.

Then Jennie and Anuradha came to town for one last blow out NY weekend, which included DInosaur BBQ, MUD coffee/chai, Indian wraps at the Kati Roll Company (impressed), and Japanese Okonomiyaki at Yakitori Taisho (less impressed) and the Tea Spot/Wine Spot in the West Village all in one day. (Thankfully Anuradha gave up on her idea of dim sum for breakfast the next day!)

Matt and I have also had "last" visits to DiFara pizza (first tried in Dec 2007), Graziella's Italian and Dumont for the city's BEST mac and cheese and burgers (first tried in Sept. 2009.)

Over the weekend, after not being able to get into Studio Square Beer Garden for some awesome Sangria (boooo!), Matt took me to Court Pastry Shop for some water ice. WOW! Matt's lemon was delish and my big discovery was custard flavored water ice, which tasted a bit like cake batter, with nutmeg and pieces of nuts in it. Men in Black 3 was filming nearby so the streets were lined with 1950's and 60's cars and the street signs had been changed. Don't know that I'd normally go see pt 3 of a movie but it will be fun to see the old neighborhood.

One more post before I head off...

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Springtime here and there

Spring in DC means Cherry Blossom Festival time! I ran the festival's 10-miler race a number of years ago and did not enjoy it because it poured rain, was cold, windy and long. Fast forward to last fall, Katie, Noelle, Katy and I "won" the lottery to participate in the this year's race. Noelle was very dedicated to the training schedule, Katie Squared did their share of training too and I was doing okay until I missed 2 weeks of training because of Japan. The added pressure of this race is that you really can't walk because the roads have to reopen asap-- anyone not maintaining a 14 minute mile pace is picked up by the sweep bus. But come heck or high water, I was going to give it a try.

Here's the pre-race photo. Katie Squared ran together and Noelle and I brought up the rear. This year's race was infinitely better than the first time I ran it. We maintained our estimated pace and finished strong!

Spring has also sprung in Brooklyn. Flower Box Challenge 2011 has begun! I was not the first out of the gate but I've got corkscrew willow and ranuncula in my boxes! Take that neighbors!

Friday, April 01, 2011

And then there are those times...

The Tokyo subway was clean, quiet, heck there was even a women only car that is used during rush hour.

Frankly I was horrified to return to the stinky, dirty, packed NYC subway and some of its riders with questionable manners. I even returned to a debate about whether food should be banned from the subway after 2 riders got into a fight over one eating spaghetti on board.

But just about the time I get ready to swear off the subway forever, I have cool subway moments.

Last night, the steal drum guy was at Fulton Street playing "What a Friend We Have in Jesus", while one person sold churros nearby and another sold light-up balls.

Last week, I heard the best subway performer ever! Violinist David Jonathan and his partner on a guitar played an acoustic version of the Train song "Hey Soul Sister." I bet that would be awesome as background music at a party or to dance to! Best of luck David!!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Tokyo pt. 3

In the latest edition of "The World According to Erin," here are my top cultural observations from Tokyo...

Cultural experience #1- toilets. Not 10 minutes off the plane and I had my first cultural experience. There were two choices in the airport restrooms-- a hole or a toilet with buttons on it. My favorite was the music note button, which played the sound of a flushing toilet in case you didn't want others to hear you while you were doing your business. Fast forward to the hotel, my toilet had a heated seat and every time you sat down, the standby button lit up. Still unclear to me what I was "standing by" for but it made me nervous. On the way home, I read that these toilet seats are celebrating their 30th anniversary this month!

Cultural experience #2- runners. I stayed across the street from the Imperial Palace and Garden. The 5k loop around the moat was loaded with runners at all hours.

I was super jealous that I could not join them, especially considering that the loop is lined with cherry trees and I will soon (hopefully) be running the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler in DC where the trees were donated by the people of Japan. I also loved Japanese running gear, which was much more colorful than you find here.

Cultural experience #3- cafes. Yes there was Starbucks and a chain called Excelsior Cafe, but there were also lots of cafes tucked into multi-story buildings, each with unique decor and menus. The great one near my hotel was Kojimachi cafe, whose food was international with a Japanese flare. Importantly, vegetarian options were noted on the menu! My sense (Japan experts correct me if I'm wrong) was that many meals in Japan were multi-course. I managed to order my rice with black-eye peas and salad but was pleasantly surprised when a root vegetable soup and bagel shaped sesame roll arrived before my meal and a little pumpkin cake arrived for dessert. I went into a bookstore and even found a book all about cafes in the Shibuya. Too bad I saw that 30 minutes before I had to leave.

Cultural experience #4-- masks. All over Tokyo I was struck by people wearing masks. You see this on tv, but it was surprising to see so many people using them-- 50% I would guess. What did they know that I don't!? I noticed lots of young couples where only one person was wearing a mask. Not the most romantic of looks! I was also surprised that no one was wearing designer masks. If this has become part of the culture, I would think that you could add a bit of style to the look. Matt was disappointed I didn't bring him one back as a souvenir.

Lots of vending machines... everywhere

Also orange cones everywhere... but these 5-footers were blog-worthy. What on earth!?

Breakfast during one of my 6am, 12-hour shifts. Japanese buns taste like sugary hamburger buns. Add to that a cup of green tea and you have a lovely Japanese breakfast

No idea what the story is here but I thought this was a sweet little statue. Seems like he is dressed in different attire depending on the week/month. I wonder if this is in tribute to the rescue workers in Sendai.

I guess this is a good note to end the Tokyo posts on. I really do keep all those effected by the disaster in my thoughts and prayers.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tokyo pt.2

A few good friends have lived in Japan but frankly I had never given much thought to visiting and Lost in Translation was, well completely lost on me.

But simply put, I am now a convert. I LOVE Tokyo!

There is nowhere I've been that has felt more foreign (mostly bec. of an inability to read signs) and yet safe, interesting and comfortable at the same time. And I was fascinated by many parts of the culture.

From a touristy point of view, I got to see the Yasukuni Shrine and the Shibuya part of town.

I was fascinated by the shrine because I've just never seen something like that before. (Okay, well maybe it reminded me of Japan at Epcot Center but I knew this was the real deal;-)) As I think about it, I am more used to touring churches and I guess this is the first country I've been to that isn't predominantly Christian.

The Shinto shrine is dedicated to the spirits of soldiers who died fighting on behalf of the Emperor of Japan. I visited because I happened upon it while on a walk. But visits by others have been much more controversial. I later read that there are war criminals enshrined there and "many in the international and Asian community see visits by politicians as support for or complicity with Japanese nationalism, and denial of the events of World War II."

Statue of Ōmura Masujirō, which is Japan's first Western-style bronze statue. It honors Ōmura Masujirō, the "Father of the Modern Japanese Army."

Mr. Fish's GIANT Japanese cousin

The Shibuya crossing area is sometimes called Times Square Tokyo because of all of the lights, but only about 1/2 of them were on to conserve power as a result of the disaster.

The crossing is famous because vehicles stop in all directions, which means that pedestrians can cross in all directions. Ready, Set...

GO!!!! I walked diagonally across the inter- section just because I could.

I was psyched to be more adventurous with sushi but decided against it after convincing myself that while winds carrying anything from the Fukashima nuclear reactor out to sea was good news for people, it probably wasn't so great for the fish (my unscientific but firmly held belief:-)) I did, however, get adventuresome when I stopped for lunch at a little noodle shop and the waitress took me outside and had me point to the very realistic plastic model of which dish I wanted. (The only other thing she was able to communicate was her happiness when she saw the Yasukuni shrine brochure.) And did I go a whole week without pizza? OF COURSE NOT! We went to Pizza Mia and it was a very decent wood fired, Italian style pizza. Just what I needed!

In many ways this trip reminded me of going to Ulm, Germany for the first time-- quite an adventure but I realize that I've just scratched the surface... and I can't wait to go back!

Super Moon as seen from Tokyo. Do you see the Tokyo TV Tower in the background?

Important cultural observations tomorrow...