From Central Park to Brooklyn: Final NYC Explorations. June/July weekend 2023.


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And now, per tradition, my final trip update is being typed up a month after I’ve returned home. And I’m now humming Fiddler on the Roof to myself, which happens almost every time I say the word Tradition! And it’s even a little related this time, as we had dinner at the delightful (and delightfully named) Lazer Wolf Restaurant. But let’s go in order, shall we?

Sunday morning sees us getting up early and getting dressed up, as we’re off to mass. It’s important to Laurena to go to weekly mass. She was very sweet and emphatic that this was not being required of me; just something she needed to do either Sat night or Sun morning. But I was kind of looking forward to it, too. First time just doing a regular Sunday mass (not a holiday, wedding, or funeral) in a few years. I did a bit of internet board sleuthing earlier, trying to find who gave a really great homily or had a fantastic choir or beautiful church. But majority of people just said to go to St Patrick’s Cathedral. It’s gorgeous, used to lots of drop-ins for every service, and it’s big! So we took the bus and went to the Cathedral. It was lovely. And the giant floral sways surrounding the carved doors were gorgeous (I’d seen them in autumnal colors last October. Fun to see the lovely spring pinks this time).

The 9am service was very nice. The main pews each had memorial plaques on them (donate x dollars to the church, and you get your name on a plaque). And while this is the seat of the Archbishop in NYC, it’s also named after an Irish saint. And over 90% of the names on the pews were VERY Irish, which entertained me. I was a bit surprised when the Junior Priest (those 12 years of Catholic schooling are failing me here, as I’m pretty sure that’s not his official title) started singing the responsorials in LATIN!! Now, growing up Catholic in Seattle, we’d often heard “the farther from Rome…” to mean that the west coast of the US had a much more lax attitude than east coast masses. But still using Latin in 2023?!? At a church service also attended by lots of tourists and non Catholics? Color me very surprised. So I appreciated when the Head Priest (Again, totally 100% accurate title) gave the homily and mentioned his surprise at the Latin as well. He gave a brief explanation of the Catholic calendar and how each mass has a set theme and responses etc. And he was pleasantly surprised to hear that today’s involved a Latin response. I was just glad to learn that’s not the standard. But it was fun to listen to. This big ole Gothic style building was full of gorgeous windows and arches and flourishes.

Now it’s 10am on a Sunday, we’re Hungry, and Rena wants a bagel. Which means we are standing in a long and kind of chaotic line, as the options for mid-town bagel shop with a decent rating is just this one place. It was tasty and we were fine waiting, but boy do I have some operational notes for the ownership. (Which I did not volunteer. My experiences in other places has always seemed chaotic at first glance, but then it actually works great. This time, that first glance impression of chaos was maintained throughout. Only having one cashier, and having that “waiting to pay” line weaving backwards and throughout the “waiting for your ordered bagel to be prepared and handed to you” line, led to lots of confusion). Still, yummy stuff.

We wandered up to the Plaza to check out the sites and think fondly of Eloise. We’d briefly considered doing the VERY EXPENSIVE afternoon tea service. But on 4th of July weekend, it’s an even more expensive and non-traditional selection of foods (fancy BBQ sliders, etc) that just didn’t have the vibes we were seeking. Super pretty, though.

Then it was a lovely but hot and MUGGY wander through Central Park. AT least the air quality was only moderately bad today. And we found a booth selling slushies. Woohoo.

Partway through the park and Laurena says she’d maybe like to see The Met Museum. We’re wilting in the heat. Sure thing, although afternoon on a Sunday might be busy. That turned out to be the understatement of the year for this most famous of museums! The line went ALL THE WAY down the multi-block long museum entrance and around the corner. She decided she didn’t want to see it that badly. Ha. We walked a few more blocks and checked out the Guggenheim instead. Fun to finally make it inside the building to explore their rounded ramp gallery spaces. I quite enjoyed the exuberant Sarah Sze installations and collages.

But most of the ramp space was dedicated to an artist called Gego. And these simple looking wire grids and squares and sculptures were just Not For Me. And that’s okay. I’m sure there is history or knowledge or context that made this art important or popular or whatever. But to me it felt bland and uninspiring. Like Laurena in the Noguchi Museum, I was the one sort of non-plussed by the offerings. Ah well. The building space was still neat. Some of the permanent exhibit was fun. And we really appreciated the climate control and seltzer water in the café. Priorities!

We came across and Episcopal Church performing “Jazz Vespers” and that was fun for about 5 minutes, then we snuck back out again.

The decision is made to spend a little time reading and relaxing back in our climate controlled hotel room before dinner. Genius! And our timing was perfect, as it started POURING down rain 5 minutes after we got into our room.

Later, it’s off to Brooklyn for our 8pm dinner reservations at Laserwolf! So delicious. Still dreaming about the harissa chicken wings. And this giant platter of different rotating things to try.

The lamb skewers were good, and the tuna was a surprise star. Fresh baked pita. Lovely view (even if the rains meant there wasn’t much of a sunset). Totally cute spot. Then it was a lovely late night wander through Williamsburg and back to our hotel.

Final morning, and we’re off to The Strand bookstore for a shopping spree! A pal had given me a gift certificate as a Thank You gift (as she knew about my impending trip). What a fun excuse to spend an hour in a bookstore! Looking online for a quick lunch option nearby, and forgot that I’ve been warned over the years that the Southeast Asian food scene in NYC isn’t great. So when we saw a well reviewed thai spot, that seemed perfect. And it was just mediocre. Perfectly serviceable and food was made fresh and fast. But very underwhelming. The space was super cute, though, with gorgeous painted murals on the brick walls.

(I think I’d been lulled into a false sense of “Their SE Asian food is good” because of my beloved past experiences at Khe-yo (for trendy Laotian) and at the wonderful Malaysian street food place Kopitiam). But that’s okay.

Then a brisk-ish 1.5 mile walk back to the hotel to grab our luggage and head to the airport. Continued the tradition of crying at movies on airplanes, by watching “Women Talking.” And then I spent a good hour staring metaphorical daggers towards the woman violently open-mouth uncovered coughing two rows ahead. For over an hour. Sheesh. You don’t have access to a mask to put on when you’re actively coughing? Rude. I don’t expect gen pop to mask up anymore (dramatic sigh) but didn’t we learn to be more conscientious when we’re actively sick?!?!? Even if it’s not covid, I still don’t want your cold! Nor do I want to bring your germs back to my housemate who is a caregiver for family in cancer treatment. Rude!

During the flight, Laurena brings up a map of New York City, and we discuss the geography and places we visited, etc. I’m amused that she’s doing this a post mortem, rather than before or even during the trip. Turns out, we are different people with different ways of doing things. After looking at the map for a bit, she says, “NOW I finally understand Billy Joel’s ‘Uptown Girl’ song” and I about die laughing. God I love my friend! Landing in Seatac, we are greeted by an aggressive amount of T-Mobile Pink. They’ve got all the “Welcome to the All Star Game” signage and wraps up, decorating the luggage carousels. So that was kind of fun surprise. And it’s good to be home, with air blessedly free of smoke, and getting to see my dog again.

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