Our first stop in NYC was to meet Courtney (our followers will remember her – prior Raiders co-worker with Adam, very close friend of our entire family, we stayed in her Upper West Side apartment last summer, and her parents generously hosted us at the Masters golf tournament last year). Courtney now works for Madison Square Garden and planned our Friday night visit along with Emily. Emily took us on what she called “the 3 park walk”, Madison Square Park, Union Square Park, and Washington Square Park. It was a beautiful Friday evening with lots of people out enjoying their parks.
We were told to meet Courtney at a Five Guys in the West Village. You probably are thinking “Why would we go to NYC to eat at a Five Guys?” We entered the restaurant, walked past all the tables, the condiment stand, the ordering station, and made our way to a back staircase.
At the top of the stairs was this wonderful speakeasy bar called The Garret. Courtney and I had the Spicy Tequila Drink-tequila, strega, chocolate liquor, lime, hellfire habanero bitters, and salt. Emily had the Missus Wheeler-four roses bourbon, giffard banana, ginger drambuie, and lemon. Bob got a scotch. The drinks were delicious and VERY STRONG.
After some good laughs we headed to dinner at an Italian restaurant in Greenwich Village called Palma. We were seated in their lovely outdoor garden at the perfect table with the best waiter.
The food was excellent, antipasto, ravioli, and orecchiette. Bob out ordered all of us with Zuppa di Pesce, mussels, clams, calamari, scallops, and shrimp in a tomato broth with a unique presentation:
With full stomachs we walked around the trendy West Village and came across a huge line waiting for…..ice cream. We quickly joined the line and the rest is belly aches. Big Gay Ice Cream is known throughout NY, and now L.A. and Philly. The story is…. 2 guys, one a concert bassoonist and the other in corporate human resources rehabbed an ice cream truck on a dare. They called it Big Gay Ice Cream until they came up with a better name. The name stuck and the public loved it. We devoured a Salty Pimp, American Globs, Rocky Roadhouse, and a Rue McClanahan. Mmmmm good.
Saturday morning we slept in and Emily picked up bagels & cream cheese and coffee (such a great hostess!)
We spent the day walking throughout the city. We took the Roosevelt Island Tramway to Roosevelt Island located on the East River between Manhattan and Long Island.
We enjoyed a nice riverside walk with views of Manhattan’s Upper East Side and visited FDR’s memorial park.
After a quick-lunch at the River Walk Bar and Grill we headed for Central Park and meandered through the park. At the Alice in Wonderland statue we met Meghan (high school/basketball friend of Emily and daughter of Patti & Jim who we saw in Chicago) along with Courtney who had completed 10 of her 16 miles in training for the NY Marathon in November. Go Courtney!
We dragged our hot and tired bodies back to Em’s apartment , had dinner at her neighborhood Thai restaurant, Vive, and called it a day.
Sunday we walked to the Lower East Side for lunch at Katz’s Deli. Bob and I had been there on Trip 1, but Emily hadn’t been and with only 3 weeks left of her time in NY, we were more than happy to experience it with her. Katz’s is a kosher style deli founded in 1888. Today most people know Katz’s as the site of Meg Ryan’s famous fake orgasm scene in When Harry Met Sally.
As each customer enters Katz’s, a door attendant hands them a printed, numbered ticket. As they receive their food from various stations/areas throughout the deli employees compute a running total of the pre-tax bill. If several people’s orders are combined on a single ticket, a cashier still collects the blank tickets. Katz’s has instituted a “lost ticket fee”. If a customer loses a ticket, an additional $50 surcharge is added to the bill. The fee’s purpose, as stated by the management, is to encourage patrons to go back and find the lost ticket in the hopes of preventing theft (substituting a smaller ticket for a larger one). They seem especially concerned about the younger guests, as they don’t trust them to be responsible for their our tickets, so they ask their age as they enter the restaurant. We walked in with Emily and the host asked her if she was under 18. Sorry Em, we promise you’ll appreciate this some day……
True story: One of the signs on the front of the restaurant reads “Katz’s That’s All.” This sign came about when the sign maker asked what the owner wanted the building sign to say, Harry Katz replied “Katz’s ….. That’s All”, thus the misinterpreted instructions still stand today.
We stuffed ourselves with brisket, corned beef, pastrami, half-sour pickles, chopped liver, and potato latkes.
With full bellies we waddled to the Brooklyn Bridge. We had always wanted to walk across this old bridge built in 1883 and an icon of NYC. We only made it halfway before the heat, humidity, and crowds forced us to turn around. Walking back toward Manhattan provided wonderful views of NYC.
Emily and Bob went back to Em’s air-conditioned apartment and I went for a much needed mani-pedi.
A few hours later we were boarding the East River Ferry to Brooklyn. Emily’s friends/co-workers from San Francisco now live in Brooklyn and work in NYC so we met Liz and Efe for pizza in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Williamsburg is rapidly going through gentrification with a large art community and hipster culture (hopefully SF Mission will look like this in 10 years.) We had a delicious meal at Fornino’s and enjoyed our time visiting with Liz and Efe, but disappointingly forgot to take a picture with them.
Monday was the day we all had been waiting for….. last year we hit many important, big events across the country (The Masters, Kentucky Derby, Mardi Gras, Cubs baseball). But we missed the U.S. Open Tennis in Flushing, NY. This year we were able to schedule our trip to overlap one day at the U.S. Open. We reached out to one of Adam’s many ticket department connections and were lucky enough to obtain tickets to opening day & night at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. It was everything we had hoped for. The first match we saw in our Arthur Ashe stadium court side seats (yes Adam’s contact William settled for nothing but the best seats, and we can’t thank you enough William!) was unseeded Dominika Cibulkova upset of #7 seed Ana Ivanovic.
We also saw Venus Williams win, and #1 seeded Novak Djokovic win during the day.
The King Tennis Center is impressive and massive so we took time to venture out of our seats to watch matches in the Louis Armstrong stadium ( where unseeded American Coco Vandeweghe, niece of Kiki Vandeweghe upset 29th seeded American Sloane Stephens, and unseeded B Paire upset #4 seeded K Nishikori),
and out to the field courts which don’t look much different from a large high school tennis court with several bleachers along side. You can’t get much closer to the action on these courts. We lucked out and watched #21 seed Jelena Jankovic get upset by unseeded Dodin. We believe we were actually sitting next to Jankovic’s mother based on the dialogue between her and Jelena (don’t know what they said since I think it was in Serbian, but neither one seemed happy.) We also checked out the practice courts where we happened upon one of Bob’s favorite players, Martina Hingis. She is currently ranked #2 in doubles. At 34 years old she is in incredible shape.
Emily and Courtney joined us for the evening matches in Arthur Ashe stadium which included a star-studded affair for the opening ceremonies. Billie Jean King was introduced and we were treated to a performance by Josh Groban and Vanessa Williams sang the national anthem.
But what everyone was waiting for was the first match of the evening with Serena Williams. If Serena wins the 2015 U.S. Open she will have completed the Grand Slam which hasn’t been attained since 1988 by Steffi Graf.
Serena’s match was over soon after it started. Turns out her opponent Russian Diatchenko was injured and really should have withdrawn, and after calling for 2 medical timeouts and trailing 6-2, 2-0 she finally retired. BIG DISAPPOINTMENT!
The 2nd match of the evening did not disappoint. It featured #8 seeded Rafael Nadal against future star, Croatian Borna Coric. Turns out Coric, the youngest player in the top 50 has beat both Nadal and Andy Murray in the past year and had he been ranked one spot higher last week, Coric would have been seeded and avoided a first round meeting with a player like Nadal. Coric won the US Open boys’ title two years ago. In the end Nadal was victorious 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 but it was an extremely entertaining match.
In the past, we would watch the U.S. Open prime time matches from home on pacific time. I always felt bad for the fans in NY attending these matches so late in the evening. That night I was one of those fans, taking the subway home past midnight and loving every minute of it.