New York

I arrived late in the evening of the 29th and was picked up by Clare’s dad. He had just received word that Alex (Clare’s brother), Mary Ann (his wife) and their new born son wouldn’t be arriving as expected that evening because their flight was cancelled due to bad weather. The worst part of it all was that the next available flight that they could get on wasn’t until three days later: New Years Day!!! So it came to no surprise, that when the girls came home later that night and heard the news they were completely distraught! Emotions ran high, voices were raised in frustration and many tears were shed… Felt like an Escario Christmas back in Cebu circa 1999.

We had already planned on having a make-believe-it’s-still-Christmas Xmas lunch the next day with the whole family and decided to carry on despite the current situation. With the turkey already defrosted, most of the food already prepped and the gifts under the tree ready to be opened, Christmas simply could not be canceled. So the next morning, we had the ceremonial opening of gifts (I got a healthy mix of Star Wars items as well as wine accessories) and then engaged in a marathon Christmas lunch preparation session. Somewhere in between 4pm and me eating the legs of the table, it was time to eat! Lots of delicious food was had and a healthy amount of Mellow Merlot was drunk! However, tears were still shed as the McAndrews were feeling the pain of not being together on this day… Not to worry though, things would soon pick up when the Golden Child arrived. =)

The next day, I headed into Manhattan early in the morning to do a little bit of exploring before Clare and I had our New Years Eve date. I must have arrived around 10 in the morning and, believe it or not, there were already people queueing in Times Square for the midnight ball drop! How absolutely crazy… I was so glad we opted to watch it from the top of the Rockefeller Center building – in the warmth and with glasses of champagne in hand!

On New Years Day, Alex arrived with his family and peace was restored in the galaxy! We decided to celebrate this by basically reenacting our make-believe-it’s-still-Christmas Xmas lunch we had two days earlier, minus the slaving away in the kitchen and replacing it with reheating turkey leftovers (thus marking our third Christmas celebration in the span of a week; I was started to feel a bit Jewish)!

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The next few days were spent enjoying all that New York had to offer: Clare and I went to the Tony-Award winning musical: An American in Paris, joined a Gospel Sunday service at Harlem, saw the Celtics play against Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Centre, had a probably the best (wholemeal) bagels at NYC’s most famous Cafe (Cafe Lalo, where You’ve Got Mail was filmed), ate Pizza at Lombardi’s (the first Pizzeria in America), watched Chris Botti play at the Blue Note and had dinner at Aria Wine Bar in West Village (memorable both for its delicious Italian food and the cold stares we got when we didn’t didn’t have enough money for a tip as they didn’t accepts cards and we exhausted all our money on the bill ?).

I also walked, and walked… and walked! I walked all around Manhattan – around West Village, Soho, Little Italy, China Town – from Times Square all the way down to the One World Trade Center (and went up it to see the BEST views of New York), around West Village and even the Highline (despite the sub-zero winter weather and killer wind that day).

Even though it was my third time in New York, I never seem to get enough of the place and always leave wanting to come back again. So much so that I made a crazy promise to return to New York every year until I’ve satisfied my craving for all that the big Apple has to offer. ?

In New York
Concrete jungle where dreams are made of
There’s nothing you can’t do
Now you’re in New York
These streets will make you feel brand new
Big lights will inspire you
Hear it from New York!

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