Jetblue doesn't fly in to Ithaca, but they do fly in to Syracuse. Jennifer was nice enough to pick me up from the Syracuse airport. It's only 55 miles, but it feels a lot farther than that. Ithaca is kind of tucked away in the middle of nowhere, but it has like a dozen highways leading into it.
First stop was the Moosewood restaurant! Yes, the Moosewood restaurant, where it all started. If you're not familiar with Moosewood, they publish a lot of cookbooks specializing in vegetarian and vegan food. At the restaurant they have a different menu every night. It sounds like it would be a lot of fun to cook there. I had a banana curry, which sounded so strange that I just had to try it. Banana just isn't one of those things you'd think of to mix with vegetables and rice. It turned out really good, though!
I flew in to New York from Pittsburgh in the middle of the day. The public transportation system was relatively easy to figure out thanks to Google Maps, so I got on the train to Manhattan! I found my way to Al's apartment a few blocks from Columbus Circle.
Rent there is insanely expensive. It is a one-bedroom with a kitchen that was basically stuck along the wall to the living room. There isn't even room for a full fridge, just a mini-fridge under the counter. Note to self: wait until you are rich before moving to NY.
I had some good Thai food at Room Service. I checked out Risotteria Restaurant on Josh's recommendation. They had some pretty tasty gluten-free italian food, and breadsticks that actually tasted like breadsticks.
Cafe Gitane is a cute little French cafe in the NoLita neighborhood. I had a tasty couscous thing with hummus on top. It came in a cute little stack. This was also the first real cup of coffee I'd had in Manhattan!
I was very surprised at the lack of coffee shops and good coffee in Manhattan. I guess coming from the Pacific Northwest, I just assumed coffee was as popular everywhere. Mostly people were drinking "coffee in a Domo cup", 7-11's campaign which launched apparently right as I landed in NY. I was able to find two other places that somewhat resembled west-coast coffee shops, Gizzi's Coffee, and Pecan. There was definitely a lack of good coffee. Or maybe an abundance of bad coffee.
Since I was in New York, I had to find an authentic New York bagel even though I barely eat gluten. I turned to yelp.com to search for the best place to get a bagel. I knew I would have somewhat of a reaction to the massive amount of wheat in the bagel, so I only wanted to do this once. One shot to find the perfect bagel in New York. Absolute Bagels had some pretty great reviews, so I went to check it out. It was not close, it was all the way at the other end of Central Park.
It turned out to be a little Chinese place. I was super skeptical as I walked in, but I had come this far, couldn't turn back now. I asked them if I could have a bagel fresh out of the oven, not one from the display case. The guy tore one right off the hot stack and handed it to me. And yea, it was delicious.
Wall street was impressive. I don't really know what I was expecting, but it was nothing like any idea I may have had about it. There were just so many buildings so close together, and everywhere I turned I'd see a big name like "New York Stock Exchange", "Chase", "Federal Reserve Bank", etc. It also never occurred to me that the reason it's called "Wall Street" is because it's the street named "Wall."
I still have no idea what those red glowing things are for. I can't tell if they're just decorative or if they have some sort of function.
The Subway system, while very old-looking, is pretty great. I was always able to quickly figure out how to get from point A to point B, and the trains run frequently enough that I never had to wait long for one. The subways run to every part of Manhattan (and off Manhattan as well), and it never takes more than one or two to get anywhere. Once you're underground, you don't have to pay or swipe your pass again until you pop up somewhere.
I think this means they don't want me crawling under the gate?
Unfortunately but not surprisingly, my GPS was not able to get a fix while underground. My GPS data looks pretty spotty for Manhattan, with little squiggles popping up just at the points where I went above ground.
I was able to walk around a bunch of neighborhoods, including East Harlem, Morningside Heights, Hell's Kitchen, Little Italy, the Financial District, the Lower East Side, and I even made it to Brooklyn and checked out Williamsburg.
I took the bus from the Pittsburgh airport to downtown, then caught a bus from downtown to Silas' place. Of course since it was the second day of the G20, they had a big chunk of downtown completely blocked off with roadblocks and police. I've never seen so many different kinds of security in one place. City police, military, riot squad, private security, roadblocks, barbed-wire fences.
On our evening tour of the city, we drove by the University of Pittsburgh, apparently while the members of the G20 were getting a tour of campus as well. There was a ridiculous amount of security present, and helicopters flying overhead with giant spotlights shining down. We walked around a bit, staying well away from any groups of people so as not to be mistaken for a protester. You can find videos on Youtube of why we did not want to get involved in the protests.
Here are the GPS logs from my brief tour of Pittsburgh! Silas had rented a Zipcar, so we were able to cover a lot of ground.
On a lighter note, I found a great Italian restaurant in the neighborhood. The cook was standing outside while I walked up, so I asked if he could make something vegetarian with polenta. A couple minutes later he had whipped up a tasty spinach and polenta dish.
This one I just thought was mildly amusing. The screens that are supposed to tell you when the next flights are coming in are apparently Windows computers running Internet Explorer.
At the Starbucks in the Logan airport just outside the JetBlue terminal, I noticed this writing on the deli case:
Just because it has no corn syrup does not make it not unhealthy!
In case you can't read the letters, it says:
Also note the handwriting font, as if this somehow adds to the legitimacy of the statements.