Friday, January 18, 2008

Washington DC: Where I got some peace and where I got a bitchin' (and not in a good way) cold!: Part 1

After about 10 days of non-stop touring in New York, I was going bonkers. Huge crowds and lots of noise is OK in small increments, but New York around the holiday season is completely and totally insane. Even walking across the Brooklyn Bridge turned out to be crowded!

Rafa had time off after New Year's and we all went to Washington DC for a few days. I wasn't really looking forward to it that much, to tell the truth, because at that point, all I wanted was to just relax at home, even for a little while. But, I don't really get many opportunities to see 'our nation's capital' - I've obviously seen too much of Forrest Gump. And most importantly, Paki and Kike have never been to DC, so it would really have been a waste if we couldn't use this extra time to explore another city.

Being in DC was surreal. It was actually quiet. And it wasn't all about sell sell sell and commercialism. Just a lot of historical buildings and a lot of walking. It felt nice to be able to actually hear my own footsteps. But somehow the silence was eerie too. I am so used to having to shove my way down the street, it felt odd to walk and not have people bumping into me.

And DC felt soul-less. Maybe it was because there weren't many people around, or maybe because we weren't in an area where there would be a lot of people walking around. But something about the city felt empty. Which goes to show that not all big cities are the same. I could feel totally at home in crazy New York, and totally not-at-home in quiet DC.

But the only real downfall of the trip is that it was SO FUCKING COLD! We were there a couple of days after New Year's Day when the temperature took a major dip on the Eastern seaboard. I am not exaggerating when I say it was cold. Oh My God! Even with many layers and so many hats, hoods, gloves, and scarves on, so much so that I looked like a yeti for most of our trip, I still managed to get really sick, and the last 36 hours of our trip were just a muffled, drugged, fuzzy blur. It really REALLY sucks to be on vacation and visiting a new city while being sick. Maybe that is why DC didn't make a big impression on me. I didn't feel like myself at all - I felt like my body was completely disconnected from my head. And toward the end of the trip, it was pure adrenaline that was seeing me through.

Quite surprisingly, though, I found the energy to actually go ice skating. There was a small rink in the sculpture garden just opposite the National Archives.
And maybe it was because I was completely drugged and delusional, but I totally rocked the ice skates. Of course, at first, I was scared shitless because the ice was just cleaned and it was super slippery. But then, as I got my groove on, I was really gliding down the ice. For the first time in my life, I was actually elegant. LOL. But of course, I could only keep it up for an hour or so. It was SO FUCKING COLD, and I was so tired and worn out... but it was fun. And skating was definitely on our 'to do' list while our guests were visiting. So that was good.

So my DC wrap-up is that it was quiet. I get that the buildings were beautiful and historical, but politics and government is really boring! No wonder it was my worst subject in high school. And we went to an assembly of the House of Representatives, and they literally stood around for 10 minutes talking to each other in private conversations, then we all had to stand up and do the Pledge of Allegiance and then a chaplain spoke (how inappropriate??!, whatever happened to separation of Church and State??!), and then they asked the person in charge if they could be adjourned, and then they adjourned. I rocked the ice skating. I ate pretty well (in my next post). I got a massive cold I haven't even gotten over yet and it's been over two weeks. I realized that NYC is my real home and yes, it's all that. Despite the crowds and the crazy tourists. NYC is my home. DC could only be a place I visit every so often.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The happiest little brunch place on Earth...

{Image taken from Penelope's website:}

Penelope, a little brunch place in Murray Hill (often called Curry Hill because of the Indian restaurants in that 'hood), is my little piece of heaven. The food is not that cheap breakfast-wise, but then again, I don't think $3 eggs at our local diner is that common in the rest of the city, or the rest of the world, for that matter. But, the eggs aren't that great either. Penelope is yummy brunch food -- fresh eggs, fresh bakery bread, tea or coffee in mugs that don't match each other. It feels like home, there is no other way to describe it. And it's not only my little piece of heaven, judging by the long line to get a table most Saturday and Sunday mid-mornings.

But it is a place I wanted to take our guests to while they were here because it is not a place you would ever find in Spain. We actually made it there on a weekday, and it was closer to afternoon than morning, so we missed breakfast by a hair. We had to 'settle' for lunch; and I was pleasantly surprised lunch at Penelope wasn't half bad at all.

Kike and Paki both got chicken clubs -- I had wanted them to be a bit more daring, but they seemed to order chicken wherever we went. I don't really get it, considering how diverse the food in Spain is... but I figured since they couldn't really imagine what the different kinds of things America had to offer would taste like, I suppose they thought chicken would be the safe bet... And these chicken clubs happened to look, and as I understood with my limited Spanish, taste fantastic as well. I got the chicken pot pie. Oh, how I love chicken pot pie. I think currently it is my number one of top five things I love to eat... And this one did not disappoint. The chicken was lovely in tender, in a creamy and flavorful filling, with loads of veggies too -- butternut squash, asparagus, peas, mmmmm.

Kike couldn't really find the word in English to describe the feeling he got from Penelope, but I think after a few giggles and perplexed looks at each other, we agreed 'cozy' would be the most appropriate word. So the happiest little brunch place on Earth is cozy too, or at least that is what I think he said. LOL.