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Last day in NYC!

[New York City, NY]

My last day in NYC! It is hard to believe that I’ve already spent 3 days in this wonderful city. On my last day here, I wanted to hit the last few items on my list.

After a long run in Prospect park in the morning and breakfast and coffee at home, Martha and I headed back to Manhattan to see a few things before our visit to the 9/11 memorial, to which we had reservations at 5:30 pm. We first went back to Martha’s work so we can print our visitors passes to the memorial, then walked to nearby Union Square to check out the farmers’ market upon a friend’s recommendation. Unfortunately, the market didn’t run on Sundays, so we just simply ended up going back on the subway to head uptown towards MOMA – the Museum Of Modern Art. On the way, we strolled up Fifth avenue and some of its iconic stores.

MOMA is much smaller than a Met and its exhibits are much more eclectic. We first checked out the sculpture garden, which many other New Yorkers and tourists were enjoying on this overcast, cooler day. We almost got some gelato and joined them, but decided to check the exhibits inside first before deciding whether to come back out there or not. What stood out most to me in this museum were the Electric Currents exhibit and the geometric art, although there were several other interesting galleries dedicated to movements like social realism and futurism.

By the time we’d walked through the couple of floors we were interested in, we were ready for a light lunch, so we headed to the 5th floor cafe. Our lunch on the outdoor terrace was probably one of the most delightful dining experiences I’ve had. The weather was perfect for dining outside, the French that was being spoken at the table next to us reminded us that we’re in one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, our food was exquisite, the views of the high-rises next to the museum were gorgeous, the music coming from a saxophone in the sculpture garden downstairs was beautiful… It was one of those moments in life that you know will stand out in your memory because of the convergence of all these beautiful aspects into one single experience.

As much as we wanted to stay on the terrace sipping espresso and eating dark chocolate gelato, we needed to get going. We still had a couple of hours to kill, so I suggested we head down to Nolita (a neighborhood named after its location North of Little Italy) to check out the John Fluevog shoe store – a recent discovery of mine that is always dangerous for my wallet. There is a John Fluevog store in LA, too, but the thought of driving to Melrose Ave on a weekend always has me reconsidering.

Made it to the Fluevog store in Nolita

Here in NYC, where anything and everything is just a hop on the subway away, it seemed like a much easier thing to accomplish, and it also would have allowed me to walk through the nearby neighborhoods of SoHo and Little Italy. So we meandered around these neighborhoods on the lower east side of Manhattan, but soon our feet were achy and sore again, so we ducked into a little French bistro nearby for a glass of wine. That’s what makes exploring NYC so much fun! You could walk, or you could hop on the subway, or you could just pick a random coffee shop or restaurant to hang out in. The city is truly your playground. There can be as much or as little planning involved as you want.

It was soon time to head to the 9/11 memorial. We made our way back down to the Financial district and after a gazillion checks of our visitor passes, we finally made it in. The 9/11 memorial was a contentious one, which is why it took more than a decade for it to come to fruition. The 4 buildings that will comprise the new World Trade Center are all still under construction and scheduled to be completed by 2014, but the memorial itself is mostly complete except for the museum in the middle. The memorial consists of a two pools where the old twin towers used to stand, with the names of all who perished that day engraved on the sides. This includes the names of everyone who died here at the WTC and at the Pentagon as well as the names of all 4 flights’ passengers and the first responders who sacrificed their lives trying to help others that day. I was surprised how small the foot print of the old towers was – the pools that stood in their place were not nearly as big as I’d imagined for buildings that stood 1350 ft high. Towering next to us was the almost completed new 1 World Trace Center building – it will be the tallest one in NYC and a good 400 ft taller than the twin towers. It was all very moving, and it left me thinking about how the world changed in the years following this tragic day.

5.1346582888.11-memorial

Since we were already down at the Financial district, we stopped by Dan and Melissa’s apartment, which was just a few blocks up from the WTC site. From their 25th floor apartment, we had views of the new 1 World Trade Center tower to the South, the Empire State Building to the North, and City Hall and the Brooklyn bridge to the East. We also enjoyed views of Beekman Tower, a Frank Gehry building that’s the tallest residential building in NYC and the Western Hemisphere.

We finished off our evening with an amazing Spanish tapas place, Alta, in Greenwich Village. We were both very tired of walking, so we took a cab there – after all, one has to experience all of the transportation options NYC has to offer, and at any rate, that’s what Carrie Bradshaw never took the subway in Sex and the City, right? Alta was not busy at all, which meant that we were able to hear each other – the conversation flowed, and so did the wine. We kept ordering tapas long after we weren’t hungry any more, and it was a good thing that we had to go back to Brooklyn to walk Martha’s dog because getting “The Whole Shebang” (yes, the option to order one of everything on the menu was listed at a $480 price tag) started looking more and more appealing with each dish that arrived at our table.

Alas, all trips come to an end, and even though this was a relatively short visit to NYC, I felt like I got a really good sense of this amazing metropolis, both because I played tourist and because I got Martha’s “New Yawker” perspective. Although I could easily see myself living here for a little while – I told Martha everyone ought to live in NYC for a few years – I suspect I might be a California girl at heart after all. Regardless, there was something very special waiting for me back home, and as much as I enjoyed the Big Apple, I was ready to be back in LA.

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