24 hours in New York City

As much as I love the history and cuisine of Rome, the familiarity and ease of Bologna, and the busyness and warmth of Madrid, there really is no place in the world like New York City. It has a certain energy and life that I've never encountered in any other city and I try and make an effort to go as often as possible when we're back in the States. My sister and I were lucky enough to be able to take a quick trip to NYC last week (combined with a trip home to Rhode Island) to see a performance by the New York City Ballet, do a bit of eating (as always) and enjoy a little vacation within our vacation. The details below!
Our trip to the Big Apple got off to a bit of a rocky start. To get to NYC, we opted for the Greyhound bus, which charges only $20 per ticket. The ride however end up being 6.5 hours long due to traffic and other issues that arose along the way (including difficult passengers). In this moment we greatly missed the efficient, budget friendly trains of Italy -- 6.5 hours in a hot crowded bus is a very long time!
We finally arrived in NYC at about 3:30, and were quite hungry (a granola bar for breakfast at 7am does not go a very long way). We had done our homework before the trip and decided to have lunch at Añejo, a Mexican restaurant on 10th Avenue, not far from our hotel. We opted for the guacamole and homemade tortilla chips to start, followed by short rib tacos and shrimp tacos. Everything was absolutely delicious and the service was excellent -- highly recommended!

After lunch we went back to the hotel to rest up for the highlight of our trip: an evening performance by the New York City Ballet at Lincoln Center. Much how some people follow the New England Patriots or the Boston Celtics, my sister and I follow the New York City Ballet (far more interesting than any sport team in our opinion). A little background for those of you who aren't familiar -- New York City Ballet was founded in 1948 by George Balanchine and Lincoln Kerstein. It is known for its neoclassical style, embodied in the many innovative pieces choreographed by Balanchine himself, many of which were considered radical at the time (Agon and Stravinsky Violin Concerto for example). It has the largest repertoire of any American ballet company and a roster of incredibly talented dancers, who are known for their musicality, athleticism, and ability to dance to incredibly quick tempos. 

This evening, the company was performing 3 pieces choreographed by the company's founder, George Balanchine. Ballo della Regina (1978) Kammermusik No. 2 (1978), and Vienna Waltzes (1977). Ballo is a classical, fast paced piece that depends on lots of jumping and quick foot work, while Kammermusik is a very modern ballet, with decidedly un-balletic steps (lots of turned in legs and feet) an all male corps, and two ballerinas with ponytails. Vienna Waltzes is elegant, impressive, and large scale with many dancers on the stage at once, all wearing long ball gowns and tuxedos (only one of the ballerinas in the piece dances on pointe). Each piece was different from the last in terms of music and style, and interestingly enough, were among the last pieces Balanchine choreographed in his career. The show was fantastic and it was super exciting to finally see the company dance live at Lincoln Center. To top the night off? We ran into Brandon Stanton, the founder of Humans of New York, on the way home! He didn't interview us for the site or anything -- he was walking his dog and happened to be stopped with us at a crosswalk -- but he was incredibly gracious and nice and chatted for us for a minute. If you don't know the site, click on the link above -- Brandon does great work and has thus far transformed what was originally a small photographic project into a way to raise awareness and money for various causes. 

The next day we checked out of the hotel early and went into the city with plans to visit Magnolia Bakery and reunite with our friend Anna from college (who you may remember from this guest post on pizza). But first, we were in need of caffeine, always hard to come by in the U.S after being spoiled by the coffee in Italy. We stumbled upon a cafe' called La Masseria, as well as a group of Italians (!!!) who work there. It's always exciting to meet Italians when I'm in the U.S, and I was ecstatic to know that Italians would be making my cappuccino (at this point it had been six whole days since my last Italian cappuccino). Despite the very New York style price tag -- about $4.50 -- it was the best one I've ever had in the U.S and I felt like I was back in Rome (thanks Enrico!!!)

Done with our coffees, we headed for our next stop, Magnolia Bakery. Every time we come to NYC we make a point to visit this famed bakery, frequented by New Yorkers and celebrities a like. Magnolia is famous for its cupcakes, but also sells exceptional cheesecakes, cookies, bars, and banana pudding. My sister opted for a chocolate cupcake with vanilla buttercream, while I opted for the chocolate banana pudding, which has been mentioned on The Today Show, in In Style Magazine, and the Huffington Post, to name just a few. The chocolate banana pudding consisted of chocolate custard mixed with fresh sliced bananas and chocolate cookie crumb swirl (swoon) and was fantastic. I'd like to try and replicate this recipe at home...stay tuned!

Our last stop on our trip before heading to the train station (no bus this time) was lunch with Anna, who is lucky enough to work in NYC! We reunited over bagel sandwiches -- you after all can't go to NYC without having a bagel and I do miss bagels while in Rome -- which were divine. I opted for a toasted bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon. And of course catching up with Anna was wonderful.

And just like that our trip to New York City was over! We boarded the 3:30pm train (not bus) back to Providence and slept most of the way. Looking forward to another trip in December, to New York City Ballet's the Nutcracker and repeat it all over again. See you soon, NYC!!!

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