New York – The City of People.
This was my second time in New York. As I didn’t want to do the conventional touristy thing this time, I decided to only go to touristy places that are truly unique, instead of just blindingly following the “Top 10 Things to Do in New York.”
I actually missed my flight for the first time in my life on the day I was travelling! If you live in the Toronto area, you probably heard notorious rumors about the 401 traffic. Well, even though we left at a good/early time, the road had a surprise ready for me: a traffic accident hectic enough to make dents on the highway. What the? Yeah, that was my reaction, too.
I gave myself a pat on the back for not panicking when I realized I was going to miss my flight. The American Airlines agent handled my emergency nonchalantly , which calmed my pounding heart. I only had to stand by for the next flight to New York, and luckily, there were seats, so I was on my way once again, free of charge 😀
Oh, forgot to mention, I was travelling by myself.
I’ve always enjoyed short flights. There is so much in the sky to see, and it rarely bores me. Long flights, on the other hand, makes me cringe and twitch my face. Back pain is the worst if you know what I mean. Your entire weight on your poor butt for 17 hours. Sounds like fun, eh?
But clouds are a fun sight. They are such a remarkable work of art. The child in me still tries to find beautiful aerial creatures living in the clouds every time I get a full view on the plane. That part of me still wants to believe in the existence of fantastical beings (I read fiction for a reason).
La Guardia Airport was an old grey cauldron that frequently produced exhausted and irked travellers who smelled of mothballs and dried sweat. Narrow passageways and low-rise ceilings pressured me to quicken my pace. There wasn’t much to see other than the people and the stalls, so I hurried myself to leave the dismal airport.
While waiting for my shuttle bus to arrive, I saw a patrolling airport staff who noticed a suspicious backpack in the smoking area. His composed and laid-back pace to the nearby policeman demonstrated how well-trained and impassive he was towards the situation, as if a suspicious backpack that could contain explosives was as common as eggs and bacon for breakfast. The policeman, after a short examination of the backpack, immediately called for back up. By back up, I mean a trained detection dog. The officer with the black dog (couldn’t quite figure out the breed), had the dog sniff the bag thoroughly before the owner of the bag came back to find himself in trouble. As the owner seemingly explained himself, the officer pulled out what looked like a pile of tickets, and I suppressed a hearty laugh with much effort. Within the hour of landing in New York, I’ve experienced something very American: where leaving a backpack in the smoking area will probably cost you more than your backpack and its contents.
After what seemed like an endless drive through a whole bunch of tunnels, I finally arrived at Grand Central Station. The station has that adjective for a reason; it sure was ridiculously grand.
The first thought that occurred to me was how lively and animated the place was. The not-so-friendly ticket masters, impatient commuters, and of course, the swarms of tourists and their clamorous conversations. New York certainly is the city of people. And the city is very American, too, judging from the disposition of the flag, almost as if it’s bellowing “HEYY! I’M ‘MURICA!”
Being in a completely new environment took a lot of energy from me, and before I knew it, I was urging my friend to GIVE ME FOOOOD. Well, I didn’t demand it with such poor manners, but my stomach was a wild beast that made long, primal growls. Because of the untamed beast, the walk to the restaurant felt like someone raised the difficulty to Torment II, and I was struggling to stay alive. Finally, we arrived at our destination: Katsu Hana, a Japanese restaurant specializing in fried pork cutlets.
The miso soup wasn’t like those cheap powdered soups you get at chain AYCE places; they were actually made from miso, with green onions and tofu in them. I also got a small bowl of sauce and some Japanese pickles, but they were not to my liking. Both of them were too salty for my sensitive palate.
Their menu was divided into black pork and regular pork. Black pork is one of the highly praised meats in Japan, renowned for its texture and taste, so of course we decided to try the uncommon and tempting meat. The pork itself was enjoyable and appetizing; however, as I prefer meat with a bit of oil slick in them, the cutlet appeared somewhat dry and less juicy to me. There were also not many slices of meat, so I would have had to eat a lot of rice to be satiated.
The beast living in my stomach once again growled in discontent as I was down to the last two pieces. I tried to soothe its dissatisfaction with an excuse: “It’s late, you shouldn’t eat so much.” Even though she eventually settled down, a part of me still felt the urge to rant about the small portion Katsu-Hana offered, hence this part of the review.
Despite the letdown of the portions, the restaurant had great service and the food was brought in a timely manner. The earth-tone interior design was warm and traditional, which made up for the mismatch of price and quantity of food. If I had more money to spend, I really wouldn’t mind paying for appetizers and dessert to fill me up!
Ah, the first day slowly ended as we walked back to my friend’s place. Even at ten o’clock, New York was still chatting away. The city continued to speak in monologues as I fell asleep, quite uncomfortably on the blown-up mattress.