Monday, September 21, 2009

I love NY!

I promised chickenlittle I would write about my U.S. Open tennis trip to New York. Very late, but here it is!

I love NY! I get excited about this trip months in advance. I may live close to a big city (Detroit), but the truth is that I'm a very small town girl. I grew up on a pretty small island in the Detroit River. I now live in a decent-sized city, but it's more like a sprawling small town. No real "downtown" to it, so NYC is just, well, hugely exciting for me. I feel so alive there. And that's me, New Yorkers, that you see looking like a star-struck tourist on the streets most of the time. Looking up at the beautiful buildings and people watching. Overwhelmed at the choices of cuisine. Smiling big. Barely able to make a selection in the small cafes. I don't care! You can laugh at me or smugly let me know that you're on to me (Mr. Cashier at the cafe), but I assure you that I'm drinking all of that in with appreciation, too!

I'm primarily there for the tennis, but I can't escape the city, and don't want to. This year, my tennis pal Jane and I stayed near the Waldorf at a hotel called "Affina 50". What a beautiful place! Every employee was cheerful and helpful..the room was huge and luxurious (at a disgustingly cheap rate thanks to a friend of Jane's), and the place was immaculate. I had a choice of one of 7 pillows to sleep on! I felt like singing the "Green Acres" tune. Heh. I also enjoyed the eight block walk to the hotel from the subway every single day and night. Oh, and I enjoyed the subway too, how's them apples?

One night when Jane and I decided to head back to the hotel early, we were faced with a little dilemma: no ESPN tennis coverage for the matches that evening. Now, we knew that the Tennis Channel was airing the matches, but we had little hope that we'd find a bar that carried the Tennis Channel. Well, we were wrong. We popped into the Hyatt and the hostess there told us that yes, they did have the Tennis Channel and would have tennis on this evening. We happily continued to the hotel, aiming to freshen up and dress a little nicer for the Hyatt bar. But lo and behold, right on the corner of the block of our hotel was a lovely hotel bar with...the Tennis Channel on! We still got gussied up, but it was a convenient stop with delicious food and a nice crowd. Have I mentioned how much I love New York?

I guess I should get to the meat of my trip - the U.S. Open. If you are a fan of live tennis at all, this is the place to visit. The grounds of the United States Tennis Association's Billie Jean King National Tennis Center (whew!) are clean and beautiful. The crowd is enthusiastic and happy. The food is very decent, too! I had mostly sushi and Indian food, but they have crepes and pasta, salads, Ben and Jerry's ice cream, just to name a few things. Not your run of the mill hot dog stands. And...for refreshments, along with the usual soft drinks and bottled water, you can find Grey Goose (ohhh..oh, yum) stands, a wine bar, and a beer (Heineken) joint.

While attending the matches, my small group of friends from all over the country (and one who came from Israel this year!) would text each other all day and meet up at different matches. I'd watch one match with my lovely friend Jackie from Chicago, the next with my good pal from New Jersey, Sam...and occasionally, a whole mob of us would take in a match together. These are some of the most precious tennis memories I have. Being with friends and enjoying our favorite sport together. Believe me, I feel blessed, no matter what happens on the court. This is what it's about for me.

I've met most of my tennis friends through a blog I discovered - Peter Bodo's TennisWorld. Pete is a senior editor at Tennis Magazine and just a great, friendly, wonderful guy. A bunch of commenters from his blog got together on the Saturday night I was in NY for dinner and cocktails. More than a few who showed had never even met the rest of us. What a perfect, joyful evening we had! We closed the place...mostly because there just wasn't enough time in one evening to say all the things we wanted to say or to get to know the people we'd just met. But the time we spent was clearly enjoyed by all.

This piece is getting long, and I haven't even discussed the actual tennis yet! I should at least mention that I did get to see Juan Martin Del Potro play live, and I knew he was going to be tough to take out. I'm sorry that my fave lost in the final, but not too has a new star and a worthy winner.


chickelit said...

I grew up on a pretty small island in the Detroit River.

Really? That's pretty cool in itself.

My knowledge of NYC is woefully inadequate, having only been near there as an adolescent with my parents. They were rural people and actually loathed cites: "Why would you want to go there there- do you wanna get killed?" was their way of thinking. They imbued me with the same disdain, yet I was always fascinated with childhood visits to Milwaukee and Chicago to visit relatives.

The first American city I got to know was Cleveland. Between college and grad school I took some time off and worked for Standard Oil of Ohio (SOHIO, before BP bought them). I'd spend entire weekend days walking or biking downtown, wandering through the blocks of decay and especially "The Flats."

I didn't really experience or appreciate city life until I moved to Europe. Zurich was oppressively idyllic in many ways, and I thoroughly enjoyed the 2 1/2 years I spent there. It was only then that I had enough time and money to travel and so got to know several European capitals: Rome, Berlin, Paris.

One day, I hope to do NYC right. It sounds like you certainly know how to and I'm glad you had fun. And thanks for sharing your story.

I still think it would be fun to meet up with Trooper and have prosciutto balls and espresso.

blake said...

Adorable ramble, Darce.

I think it would be fun to go with you. (I'd be the same way about NYC, but wouldn't show it.)

Anonymous said...

My big sis lived in NYC for about 30 years, so we visited her from time to time (she lives in France now...I will never visit her there). I know what you mean about the City. The old cliche "It's a nice place to visit, but you wouldn't want to live there" is spot on. I grew up in upstate NY and never visited the City until I was almost 20.

We took my son for his first "train" ride there on the subway when he was 11 months old. He still remembers it. It's been close to ten years since I've been.

I love that place, but just don't get there anymore. Thanks for the reminder of how great that city is.

Darcy said...

cl: Yeah - it's called Grosse Ile.

And I loved your description of your experiences with big cities. Of course I also agree about the Trooper thing! ;-)

blake: Aww. Thanks!

And Windbag: You're welcome. I don't know...I might be able to live there for a stretch. It would be awfully exciting. I would miss what I'm used to, but at times I do think I could live there. Maybe that's just the City luring me foolishly, though. ;-)

chickelit said...

Yeah - it's called Grosse Ile.

Is that where you watched all the ore freighters going by as a kid?

Anonymous said... mouse/city mouse.

Darcy said...

Windbag: :)

And oh yes, chickenlittle. Freighters were constantly cruising by of all types. I lived on the west side of the island, one house from the river, and directly across the river was a steel plant.

I also remember getting out of class to see the Edmund Fitzgerald go by. Loooonnngg ship. Wish I had a photo of that.

Lem said...

Nice to hear you had a good time.

Trooper York said...

I am glad you had a great time I am just sorry I wasn't around for a trip to the store.

I am going to LA and will be so busy that I don't think I could hook up a drink with any of our blog friends out there in the short time I will be around. It sucks but life is so full of obligations and schedules that you can't always get to do the fun things you want to do when you want to do them.

Cause you know I want to meet up with Blake and bump into Leah Remini. Just sayn'

chickelit said...

I also remember getting out of class to see the Edmund Fitzgerald go by. Loooonnngg ship. Wish I had a photo of that.

I know it's just sentimental of me, but I always tear-up when I watch this, especially the part beginning at the 3:55 mark where they show the captain's kids.

birdie bob said...

Great video, El Pollo!

Darcy said...

Thanks, Lem and Trooper.

And I second Bob. Great vid, Bruce! Made me look up the ship and the history. Fascinating. Sad, but fascinating.

chickelit said...

I feel I kinda hijacked the thread. But never forget that great cities like NYC have a lot of American steel in them, steel that came from Minnesota iron ore and Appalachian coal.

I was just saluting the men and machines who wrought and brought good works to the cities.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Oh, and I enjoyed the subway too, how's them apples?

The subway is so much fun! Sometimes when I visited NY I'd get off at random stops and just walk around.

Darcy said...

chickenlittle, never fear that here! I love your comments, and all discussions that grow out of them. Enjoyed the talk of the famous sunken ship. I learned some things, as it compelled me to do some reading on it. Thank you!

And hi, Jason! Isn't it fun? (I can sort of hear Troop chuckling at us. Hee.)

I could do a whole blog post about my subway people watching. Fascinating. And I doubt if it would get old for me.

Bushman of the Kohlrabi said...

Hi Darcy,

Here I thought I knew Detroit pretty well but Grosse Isle is new to me. I was born in Grosse Pointe Farms but moved to Wisconsin at a young age. I used to spend time in Detroit every summer with my Grandparents but the closest I ever came was Bob-lo Island (when it was still an amusement park). I have some great memories of that place. Anyway, Grosse Isle looks pretty nice on Google Earth. I'll bet it was a great place to grow up.

Lem said...

thank you Darcy.

chuck b. said...

I probably would have enjoyed New York more if I'd visited with friends, but it was just me and I wasn't sure what to do. I walked *everywhere*.

Darcy said...

Lem: You're welcome. Hope things are looking up.

chuck: Go back! There is so much to do and see. I go every year during Labor Day weekend.