Sunday, November 30, 2008

luxurious weekend

For us it started on Wednesday, when b and I took the ferry to Ellis Island. The boats leave from Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan, and stop at both Liberty and Ellis Islands. We didn't leave early enough in the day to get off at both, but enjoyed the visit nonetheless. Ellis Esland closed operation as an immigration center in the mid 50's and laid vacant for thirty years. Since its restoration in the mid 80's the main building has been turned into a museum. Most people probably think of looking up their ancestors while visiting, but the same service is offered online. We used our time to see the various rooms and exhibits that have been set up, as the site is run by the National Park Service. On the main floor is a set of large 3-d displays, including graphical representations of immigration data, a tree which gives the ethnic origin of many common American expressions, ("jazz" and "tote" are African, while "gungo ho" is Chinese) and a large American flag which changes into a grid of portraits of Americans of various ethnicities as you walk by it.

On the second floor is the huge registration room, commonly seen in photographs showing large numbers of immigrants waiting to be processed. Off the main room are several large galleries containing things such as possessions people brought with them from their home countries, scale models and maps of the island throughout the years, and displays on the immigrants' experience as they spread out and set up homes and business in various parts of the country.

Probably the most interesting part of the museum is the third floor, contained in rooms off a balcony that overlooks the second floor, running the perimeter of the room below. On it are the various offices the immigrants had to visit, such as rooms where they were tested for physical and mental health, a court where hearings occurred, a food concession, and a money exchange.

Hungry and cold after spending several hours outside and on the boat (but nothing compared to those who traveled from Europe around the turn of the century!) we headed up to Chinatown for Korean food. We've come to love Li Hua, whose food is as good as (if not better than) our former favorite Kun Jip on 32nd street. I've been eating at Kun Jip for almost five years, and I'm afraid the place is becoming a victim of its own success. Meaning that it's so crowded most of the time, it's hard to relax and enjoy your food. Li Hua is light and airy, plays mellow dance-mix music, and is seldom crowded. After comparing bills I also realized that Li Hua is less expensive. And they serve the best green tea ice cream, which is extremely dark and dense.

We woke up early Thursday and went to the Macy's Thanksgiving parade. Not something I'd think of doing, but b thought it might be fun. And it was. But again, the getting up early thing. You won't get a sidewalk view unless you're there at maybe 5:30 am. So we watched from atop playground equipment in Central Park. b really wanted to see giant balloon Underdog, but all we got was Hello Kitty and Shrek. The marching bands were fantastic, and some of the floats pretty cool. A sidewalk view would have been way better. After standing in the same place for over two hours, we got pretty cold and headed to midtown- to Kun Jip! We were seated before 11:30 am, and a line formed as we were eating. After lunch we went home and crashed, showered, then headed back! to Columbus Circle to have Thanksgiving dinner at the home of my friend Bobbi's sister. Six of us had a cozy dinner in their tiny one-bedroom apartment. They are moving soon, and I tried my best Brooklyn sell. Their four brokers be damned! They've only been in nyc a year, and think that Manhattan is IT. So not it, unless you're a gajillionaire.

Finally hitting the sack at 4:00 am, we slept late on Friday. b had mentioned checking out the Black Friday scene, to get an idea of how people are shopping or not. Upon t's (bobbi's brother in law) suggestion, we had lunch at Shake Shack on an "off" day. Located in Madison Square Park, the place is known for its two hour-long lines. No lines for us, although a little bit chilly eating in the park. The place lived up to its reputation for yummy gourmet fast food. I had the "shroom burger," which was a deep-fried mass of oozing cheeses with a portobello mushroom in there somewhere. Their crinkle cut fries are nice and crispy and the thick ice cream shake thingy b got (a "concrete") was super yum. Then I had the song "Love Shack" in my head the rest of the day.

We walked over to Kiehls to pick up some moisturizer and shampoo, then took the train to 59th (again!) to hang out in the warmth of the upscale mall inside the Time Warner towers. Sufficiently warm and having our fill of "crap you don't need stores," we walked east on 57th Street. We found Lee's Art Supply, and I was able to pick up some of the magnets I've been looking for. Then over to Bergdorf Goodman, (it's all research) exploring all seven floors of designer goodness. Finally, we made out way to FAO Schwartz. I wanted to buy a Rubik's Cube, but b explained that there's something cooler out on the market. as if! Okay, so I held off on getting one. They were playing on the giant piano, but it was too crowded to see. this why I usually avoid the typical tourist destinations?

Yesterday was my assistant f's wedding reception, an afternoon event at Antarctica in the West Village. What a great party. Great food, great jazz band, and I got to see all my peeps. f and I used to work together at a dance center, and she's a lot more social than I am, so I got to catch up with a lot of old friends. Come to think of it I caught them up on her a bit too!

So that's it, our long, leisurely weekend. Today we stayed in and I got to play with magnets. It's going to be a busy few weeks ahead!

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