My travels around the East Coast continued last week with an all-too-brief sojourn in New York. Having once lived in the city, I have many friends there and try to go back as often as I can. I usually take the bus from DC, relaxing with free WiFi until the famous skyline first comes into view along the Jersey Turnpike, when my excitement starts to build. Even after making the trip countless times, I still feel a thrill when we pass the New Jersey / New York demarcation line inside the Lincoln Tunnel and emerge into Hell’s Kitchen, the west-side neighborhood I called home my first year in Manhattan.
My returns to the Big Apple usually take place on weekends, when my pals are off work and able to spend time with me. But with preparations for our move well underway and time pressing in, the only days I had available were during the week. I took the opportunity to see one friend in New Jersey, rather than ask her to make the trek into the city like I usually do. She has two lovely children, whom I met for the first time, and it broke my heart to leave, not knowing when I might see them again.
A bit melancholy after that visit, I went for a long walk around Midtown Manhattan, where my friend and I used to work. It was hard to stay sad for long with the stunning displays of tulips erupting all over the city. A perimeter of vivid orange surrounded the New York Public Library while small fields of red brightened up Park Avenue. I paused to photograph an abundance of pink tulips on the Upper East Side and shared a smile with several passers-by who seemed to notice the flowers only after seeing me with my camera. It was one of those rare moments between strangers which lifts everyone’s spirits.
I had planned to take a Circle Line cruise of the island the next day, but the weather didn’t cooperate; instead, I treated myself to some beautiful art at the Frick Collection. Once the home of steel tycoon Henry Clay Frick, the mansion now showcases his impressive collection of Old Master paintings and antique French furnishings. It also offers a tantalizing glimpse into the lives of America’s 19th century elite.
Later that evening, another friend met me at Chelsea Market where we joined a Great New York Chocolate Tour. I found a super deal on Groupon and thought it would be a fun way to explore our old stomping grounds. We ambled from the Meatpacking District to SoHo, tasting decadent sweets at some of Manhattan’s best shops, all while a quirky guide shared interesting tidbits about the city. My favorite stops included Magnolia Bakery, Chocolate Bar and Bisous Ciao Macarons. We purchased additional treats at about half the stops and had quite a chocolate bounty by the end!
Once the tour ended, we were hungry for something more substantial and walked along West Broadway until Sanctuary T enticed us with its charming facade. I gobbled up a bowl of sweet corn ravioli with bacon and tomatoes while my friend went for the spicy beef meatballs and the surprisingly tasty cauliflower steak. The service here was really exceptional, with a genial and attentive waitress who even gave us plates and extra cutlery so we could gracefully enjoy the chocolates we’d purchased on the tour!
Leaving the next day was bittersweet. Even though I’ll miss my friends and the city dearly, every “goodbye, for now!” takes me one step closer to a brand new adventure. And hopefully my friends will come visit!
How do you stay connected to loved ones while you’re abroad? Is there a place you miss more than any other?