Parents in the City

My parents came to visit me last weekend. It was their first time back to NYC since moving me in three years ago! Even then we were so busy running around looking at apartments that we didn’t get to be tourists. This time around, especially since I know my way around now, I took my parents around the city. Here’s a brief overview of what we did:

After my parents got into the city and dropped off their luggage at my apartment, we had lunch at Shake Shack in Madison Square Park. Then me and Kevin gave my parents some office tours. First we walked to the newMoPub NY office, then we took a cab to the CBS Broadcast Center where one of my friends/colleagues took us on a studio tour. Since we were close, we walked to Columbus Circle and entered Central Park from there. I took my parents on a nice walkthrough Sheep’s meadow and to the Alice & Wonderland statue and then we had a drink at the boat house.

After a little rest, we went downtown and had pizza at “”NYC’s best pizza parlor,””Lombardi’s. It was pretty good, but I can’t say it was the best I’ve ever had. From there we walked through Little Italy. My dad wanted to do a taste test of who has the best cannoli, and he seriously had five until he couldn’t eat anymore.
After getting coffee at my fav local spot near my apartment, Irving Farm Coffee, we walked through Union Square. It was Summer Streets on Saturday (Summer Streets is when Park Ave is closed from the Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park for a seven mile stretch of open road without any cars) so we walked all the way from Union Square to Grand Central Station. From there we hopped on a train there to Yankee Stadium for the Yankees v. Tigers game. We sat in the legend seats which were the best seats I’ve ever sat in in my life. We got to eat an all you can eat buffet style lunch except with very good quality food. My parents had a giant plate full of crab and shrimp. There were also fresh crepes and cupcakes, ice cream, and sushi. It was anawesome experience.It was extra sweet that the Tigers won.

After a little siesta after the game, I took my parents to The High Line at dusk.The High Line is a public park built on an historic freight rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan‰غھs West Side.I have walked the High Line several times, but never at night, so it was still fun. From there we walked to The Meatball Shop. My dad saw TMS featured on the Food Network, so he wanted to check it out. I think he liked it even more than I do. After dinner we decided to walk toTimes Square. My parents loved it but I was extremely annoyed with all of the tourists walking at a snails pace, so we didn’t stay long.

On Sunday we had brunch at The Smith. I’ve been there a few times but it was still delicious and I finally took pics in the photo booth downstairs.We didn’t have definite plans, so after eating we took the train to Soho to do a little shopping. We went into a few stores and then headed back to our apartment. We stopped at Todd English’s Olives in the W Hotel for a drink and appetizer on our way back. By Sunday I had pretty much worn my parents out, so Sunday was pretty chill. We ended the night at Rosa Mexicano’s for dinner.I introduced my mom to theirpomegranate margaritas which she loved.
Overall, we had a jam-packed weekend. Everyone was exhausted by the end of it, but we did a lot and had a good time. While I had wanted to show my rents as much of NYC as I could cram into a short weekend, it was nice just to spend some time with them since I only get back to MI about twice a year now. And finally, just as importantly, I wanted my parents to finally meet Pants and Boots, my two little “”kids”” who they’ve heard so much about. My parents absolutely adored them which made me happy 🙂Here’s to the next time my parents visit NYC!


Romeo & Juliet and Pippin on Broadway

I was lucky enough to see two Broadway shows recently. First I saw Romeo on Juliet on Broadway. I was only interested in seeing it because Orlando Bloom plays Romeo, but besides that I was a little indifferent because I was already very familiar with the story. Plus, the Romeo and Juliet movie with Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio is one of my favs, so I already figured the Broadway version wouldn’t be as good.

While I do not think Condola Rashad who plays Juliet is a good fit for the role, I do like how they modernized it a bit. They also added a little humor‰غ_mostly sexual humor, but I enjoyed in nonetheless. I thought that Christian Camargo (Dexter‰غھs brother in Dexter) who plays Mercutio does a fantastic job. I thought he made the show actually.

While I probably wouldn’t have seen Romeo and Juliet on Broadway if I had to buy the tickets myself, I can understand why so many people want to see it. Pippinthe musical on the other hand was fantastic. Maybe it‰غھs because I didn‰غھt know the storyline going into it so I didn‰غھt know what to expect, but I was entertained and delighted by Pippin. The acrobatics on stage is amazing. Every cast member on stage is in great physical shape; I felt like I needed to immediately stop eating and run on the treadmill for five hours while simultaneously lifting weights.

To sum it up **SPOILER ALERT**, Pippin is about a boy named Pippin who want to be extraordinary. He is a scholar and after finishing school he decides he wants to be a war hero for his father who is king. Then he decides he wants to be king. After realizing how difficult being a king is, he mopes to the country side where he has a taste of an ordinary life working on a farm and living with a widow, Catherine, and her son. After getting bored of his ordinary life, he “”goes back on the scene”” and tries to come up with another way to become extraordinary. After almost attempting a dangerous stunt, he decides it’s not worth it and he was actually happy with his normal un-extraordinary life in the country with his new widower girlfriend.

I liked the first half of Pippin better than the second. Pippin and Catherine sang a stupid corny love song together, and that’s when they kind of lost me. I also didn‰غھt really care for the ending.It didn’t make sense why Pippin wanted to be with Catherine and leave his pursuit of an extraordinary life because he literally sang two songs about how he was bored and unhappy living and working on the farm with her…

BUT, I want to give a major shout out to Patina Miller, who is the leading player in Pippin, because she is awesome. She was the best in the show by far. She has an amazing body and she knows how to keep your attention throughout the whole show. She is perfect for the role.

All in all, Pippin is pimpin, and I definitely recommend everyone see it.


Oktoberfest in Germany

A few weeks ago I traveled to Germany for Oktoberfest. I flew into Cologne on Friday morning and from there a group of us drove for several hours to Munich. Our hotel wasn’t anything special, but we were hardly in it except to shower and sleep, and we stayed busy partaking in Oktoberfest activities. The first night in Munich a large group of us had a nice sushi dinner. Even though I was really jet lagged, we went to a bar afterward for a few drinks.

The next morning Kevin and I had plans to explore Munich and do some shopping. We had even discussed taking a train to see a castle. Our plans totally changed though when we met back up with the group and the men started shopping for lederhosen and the women started shopping for dirndls. As soon as we left our hotel and got into the heart of Munich it would have been hard not to get into the spirit as the majority of the people walking around were in the traditional Oktoberfest uniforms. I joked with Kevin that the only way I was going to wear a dirndl was if he bought me a designer one (like the Karl Lagerfeld one that was in the window display below), but dirndls actually are not really cheap, so I had to settle for a regular department store one. It became my uniform of the weekend. I seriously didn’t wear anything else after I bought the gear for Oktoberfest.

We already had a few tables reserved for the group on Sunday at one of the Oktoberfest tents, but everyone was so eager to check everything out that we ended up bribing our way into another tent on Saturday afternoon. I had no idea was to expect and it was amazing! The energy in the air was contagious. Everyone was standing on bench tables singing along to live bands (that actually played a lot of American songs), dancing in place, and of course, drinking copious amounts of beer. I’m not a huge beer drinker, but the beer somehow tasted better in that environment. We ended up hanging out and drinking in the tent for hours. For snacks we kept buying giant soft pretzels to munch on. When I needed a little break from regular beer, I would order a Shandy, which is half beer, half lemonade.

Some quick things I want to make note of about the mead halls–1. The mead halls can hold an absurd amount of people. There had to be like 10,000 people in ours (you can get an idea in the picture below with the blue and white streamers). 2. Oktoberfest festivities took place on a kind of camp ground. It was kind of like a carnival with rides, games, food and sweets, except on a larger scale. 3. Even though people were drinking all day, overall, everyone behaved pretty well for being drunk. I didn’t notice many people getting sick or getting into fights like I think would have happened frequently if thousands of young Americans were drinking all day together. Europeans can handle their alcohol (and tempers). I didn’t notice many accidents either. Obviously a bunch of people drinking and spilling beer while balancing on a bench isn’t the safest thing, but people helped each up if they fell and maintained their cool even if they were fallen on.

On Sunday morning I wasn’t exactly looking forward to drinking all day, but since we already had tables reserved in the meadhall, Kevin and I had to at least check it out. The parade was that morning. It was so crowded I couldn’t even see but it’s nice that so many people take part in the Oktoberfest traditions. Luckily since it was still morning, people weren’t drunk and crazy yet. There were mostly families sitting at the tables eating. I was really nervous to try the food because practically everything on the menu was meat, but I wanted to at least try something so I had a few bites of spaetzle (Germany’s version of mac and cheese), a fried potato ball in flavored broth, and creamy mushroom soup. None of it was that bad tasting. After a few hours of picking at food, a band appeared and got the party started. I was too full to start drinking, so Kevin and I left to relax a bit.

After a little siesta we took the subway to another part of the city for dinner. It was a nice little break from the mass of peoplepartying in the town’s center. Germany is quite pretty. We walked down cobblestone streets and window shopped (window shopping was all we could do since most stores are closed on Sundays) until we got to vegan restaurant we chose,Prinz Myshkin. After a civil dinner, we met back up with the group who were somehow still partying at the tent we had left them at that afternoon. We danced and drank Sunday night until they closed down the tent, and we flew home Monday morning.

Everyone had a BLAST on the trip. Even though I didn’t actually get to see much of Germany, I had so much fun and I’mreally glad I got to experience Oktoberfest. I enjoyed joining in some of the Oktoberfest traditions and trying to be as immersed in the culture as possible. I would definitely like to go back again. Prost!

Trip to Milan and Wengen, Switzerland

I packed in a lot of miles the past several days and had an amazing, probably once in a lifetime, trip. First I flew to Milan to meet with Kevin, who was already in Europe for work, and a handful of his coworkers and their significant others. We only spent two days in Milan, so we tried to pack in as much as we could. We stayed at The Westin Palace, Milan which was really nice. When we checked in, the lobby receptionist recognized my Italian last name, which he said means magician, but it apparently means “”the fairy”” in English.

We were all tired and jet lagged, so on Friday we just chilled and ate delicious food. For lunch I had a cheese and mushroom pizza. It was the best pizza I’ve ever had; it was so fresh and the dough was amazing. After a siesta we all regrouped, walked across the street for a cocktail at the bar in Hotel Principe di Savoia, and then went to dinner at La Briciola where I had the best pasta.

On Saturday we spent the whole day exploring Milan. We checked out theSforzesco Castle, walked bythe beautifully gothic Duomo, and we sawLeonardo Da Vinci‰غھs Last Supperin the Church of Santa Maria Delle Grazie. We also went shopping on Via Montenapoleone and stopped in several well-known designers’ shops. I bought a wallet from Coccinelle and a beautiful purse from Valextra, an Italian designer known for it’s quality leather craftsmanship in creating trendy yet timeless pieces Here’s a great article on Valextra). After a full day out and about, we went to a little spot known for their risotto.

The next morning before checking out of the hotel, Kevin and I walked to anadorable local spot,Pavج©, recommended to us by one of Kev’s coworkers because they carry soy milk. Their nutella crepe was also to die for. (Side note, everyone loves Nutella, it seems like a food staple in Europe. No complaints here! I wonder if I’d become a fatty if I started eating it every day.)After breakfast we quickly packed up and started our long journey to Wengen, Switzerland. Five trains and several hours later, we arrived to our cute Chalet. The view of the Alps on the way up had us all super excited to get there. For the next two days we just skied, ate, and enjoyed each other’s company. Unfortunately we had some heating problems in our chalet, so we ended upstaying in Hotel Regina for the remaining two nights, but it didn’t put much of a damper on the trip. The skiing was wonderful. There were so many different trails to try. If we had stayed longer I would have loved to explore more, but after two days of skiing my legs needed a rest anyway.
My trip to Wengen, Switzerland was unlike anything I have ever done or seen before in my life. Iwasn’t looking forward to spending more time in the cold since we had a pretty cold winter in NYC, but I ended up having a blast. It was such an incredible trip, and I’m really really lucky that I was able to go. I would love to go back to Wengen again someday to go skiing again or even in the summertime to enjoy some fresh air and hiking. After all, Wengen was listed in Buzzfeed’s post on the 19 Truly Charming Places to See Before You Die

Independence Day Weekend 2014

I had a really great long holiday weekend for Independence Day this year. On Friday, Kev and I went to his friend’s place in Tarrytown for a BBQ. There were quite a few people there and we had a lot of fun playing games like kan jam, beer pong, and cornhole.

On Saturday we saw a Broadway show, Of Mice and Men, starring James Franco, Chris O’Dowd, and Leighton Meester. It was SO good. I’ve read John Steinbeck’s novel at least twice growing up, so I was already knew thestory, but I still really enjoyed seeing the play. All the actors did a fantastic job.

On Sunday we went to Broadway Bites in Herald Square/Greeley Park where there was a popup of food tents. Stuff like this is why I love living in NYC so much. Of course I had to try a few different things. I had a vegetarian Korean burrito from Seoul Lee Korean BBQ, a vegetarian chorizo taco thing from Palenque Colombian Food, and mushroom dumplings from Graffiti / Me and You. Everything I tried was delicious.

I also saw a few movies over the weekend. I got my scary movie fix with Deliver Us From Evil, I finally got around to watching The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and I ended the weekend at Angelika Theater seeing Snow Piercer.