Spontaneous Manhattan Adventure
Travel Blog by Deborah S. Nelson, Author/Publisher VRTG
Have you ever taken an unexpected travel adventure? If so, then you know what I mean, when I say I had no thought of flying to New York City in winter. I avoid cold like the plague, which is why I stay in the Caribbean in my warm, cozy condo during winter months. Even Santa Barbara, California, as much as I cherish my friends there, is too cold to me in wintertime.
Special Friends and Special Places
I am honored to know a few special people for whom I would do almost anything, including changing my plans at the last minute! And through years of living and loving (with a pinch of suffering sprinkled in between), I have grown to welcome life’s spicy surprises. Recently, one of my best friends (and travel buddy), had purchased plane tickets and was days away from visiting me in the Caribbean. I was looking forward to spending time with her and soaking up some sun at our favorite local beaches and pools.
Unexpectedly, she called from New York City with some sad news. My friend and her boyfriend had made the heartbreaking decision to end their relationship. She was feeling blue and decided to cancel her trip to the Caribbean. So instead, I bought a plane ticket, and within 72 hours found myself on an air-conditioned plane heading to New York City in winter! (Ugh.)
Our luxurious accommodations in Manhattan were provided by the Lauren Berger Collection, which made our stay absolutely unforgettable.
The Unexpected Unfolding
My flight to Miami encountered tornado-like weather. After three roller coaster-type drops, followed by the passengers’ involuntary screams (in unison), the pilot announced that the plane was being rerouted. After the delayed flight, and re-scheduled connections, I arrived eight hours later than expected. My friend had arranged a meeting for the purpose of helping a business associate. The second I stepped out of the taxi to touch NYC land, my friend appeared and helped me drop my bags at our accommodations. Immediately, we hopped into another cab to meet our business associate at the Essex House near Central Park. We started to brainstorm ideas for our mutual colleague, who was to join us later.
My best friend is a positive, happy, authentic person temporarily wrapped up in a moment of sadness. By the time I arrived, much of my friend’s sorrow had subsided. We found ourselves experiencing yet another one of our travel adventures. Suspended in a rare moment of stillness between one life event and another, we continued with our strategic plans for our latest business venture. While making progress, we met and enlisted a local person to work with us in Manhattan. We achieved leaps in the implementation of our business model. Later, it dawned on us that this business venture was the greater purpose for us meeting in NYC instead of the Caribbean.
Sky High Drama
Have you ever wanted to live in the sky? I can only say that staying with the Lauren Berger Collection on the 42nd floor in Manhattan, was living in the sky at its best. The floor to ceiling windows in the corner of the building afforded a 200 degree vista. The view of the financial district of downtown Manhattan and Jersey City from the living room took my breath away every day. So did the Hudson River and the Hoboken skyline from the master bedroom. In the middle of my friend’s heartbreak we found nuggets of joy…after all, we were on top of the world! Airplanes, helicopters, boats, tugboats, ferries and cruise ships made their appearance through the sky and water daily.
Imagine seeing the sunset over the Hudson every day. It became my ritual to say goodbye to the day from our “sky-high dwelling.” As if to take a bow in the sky, the bright, orangery sun sank below the Jersey horizon to usher in the second act of nature’s daily show. As the sun departed, second by second, the rainbow sky of soft subtle colors morphed into a deep navy blue. For Act III, the night stage featured the twinkle and glitter of lights which highlighted the magic of buildings below.
Each dawn brought the dreamy feeling of being cuddled in clean white linens, fluffy pillows, and the billowy softness of a floating bed riding high in the clouds. Daily, I opened my eyes to view the skyline and take in its massive expanse. No camera could capture this view! From this sky-high perch, the New York City skyline offers an unending array of color, shapes and contrast. Each morning, this enchanting scene of city life beckoned me. With a symphony of horns honking—I postulated, this is the city’s proud way of announcing each day’s most enticing foods, and boasting of its multi-cultural peoples and high-paced energy.
The Food Passion–Peruvian, Turkish and Columbian
NYC Cuisine is to die for. I believe there are more restaurants per square inch here than any other place in the world. On the whole, I tend to frequent spots within walking distance. We discovered the warm and artistic Green Nature Coffee House on 10th Avenue and 42nd Street. Now this place took the Starbucks concept to a whole new level. Typically we worked from our flat in the sky and on many days took a light lunch break at the coffee house. We became acquainted with the friendly staff and owners who were originally from Columbia.
One day, as we were enjoying our favorite empanada dish with light salad, it dawned on me that the background music sounded live. Curiously, I sought out where the music was coming from. I spotted a young, picturesque trumpet player performing next to a high-tech piece of equipment. With digital finesse’ and incredible musicianship, he had staged an orchestral background with himself as the soloist. I said to my friend “Look, its live music!” We were delighted with the music and tipped him on the way out.
Another night we were invited to dinner by Lauren Berger, CEO of The Lauren Berger Collection. Five of us dined family style, at a Turkish restaurant called A B A. Located at 325 W 57th Street, this bistro and its food were unforgettable. I was served grilled fish plus grilled chicken ordered a la carte. Other interesting taste treats were delivered from appetizers to salads, most of which I had never tasted. Lauren ordered all of us a large almond flavored custard dish for dessert. I simply must taste this again! My friend proclaimed that she was feeling better, so we all celebrated by laughing, joking and eating, a-la-Turkish family style. After dinner, it rained. Lauren insisted on driving us back, well-knowing no empty cabs would be found.
For the next few nights, we frequented a new dinner spot, a bit of a trek away–a Peruvian restaurant named Pio at 604 Tenth Avenue. With authentic South American ambiance, we were greeted by a warm, lively crowd each time we visited. Imported rich Peruvian woods surrounded us which complemented the warmth of the clientele. My friend ordered an avocado and shrimp dish that was artfully presented and tasted even better than it looked. I ordered avocado slices which included a killer citrus sauce. The smells and flavors in this restaurant were a unique combo of spicy, floral and beefy.
One night I discovered a rice and red bean dish on the menu. The dish was hot, fresh, spicy, and delivered with the words, “Bon Appetite”— the perfect fuel for the chilly walk back to our accommodations. My friend ordered an exotic dessert—hot fudge cake garnished with an orange sherbet made with an “unheard of” Peruvian fruit that tasted like pistachio. This Peruvian restaurant was brimming with lively South Americans. We overheard the familiar romantic rhythmic bits of Spanish, only slightly different from the dialect we were used to hearing in the Caribbean.
Although my aversion to cold weather keeps me away from many of Earth’s stunning cold spots, I found my emotional furnace warmed to its core in Manhattan. With the presence of two best friends and my daughter (who lives 5.8 miles away) we created a memorable and spontaneous Manhattan slumber party one Friday.
I will forever fondly recall the family-style Turkish dinner with Lauren Berger, who always melts my heart with mountains of hospitality. Seeing one of my travel writers en training, Sonya Blackmon, was also touching. The people I briefly met—from the Dominican cab driver to whom I gave one of my books, and the Columbian coffee house owners to the Italian set designer (who helped with a creative project) and the bartender at the Peruvian restaurant—all dished out generous portions of heart-warming kindness.
I did not “freeze to death” in New York City! Although no sun-bathing on the beach as originally planned, the time spent with my friend and travel buddy, will forever be linked to this experience of Manhattan warmth.
Unexpected Journey–Sky High Warmth
Have you ever embarked on a journey with the idea it was for one purpose and it turned out to be for another? On this journey, the original purpose was to nurture my friend’s heartbreak. To our surprise, we also launched our new business. Moreover, during this visit, I unexpectedly fell in love with New York City.
Suddenly, it was time to go. As my friend was jumping into the cab, I’m pretty sure she heard me sigh heavily as I heaved one of her bags into the taxi. With gratitude, she turned to give me the warmest hug I have received in a long time. Now it was my turn to feel sad, and she knew it. She cheered me by smiling and saying, “See you in Croatia!” My sadness instantly melted, and I giggled with joy imagining our next travel adventure. My good friend had known exactly what to say.
For availability and reservations at the Lauren Berger Collection you may call her at (888) 522-1099, (239) 671-2920 or (646) 629-9669.
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