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A New York City Concert

16 Jun

I’ve never been a big fan of New York City. It’s too noisy. There are always too many people. It’s way too expensive. I have many reasons to not love the city. But there’s one thing that makes me can’t not to take New York City seriously–the serendipity that you can’t find anywhere else. I had never felt about this so strongly until last Saturday after I went to Nate Fetinger‘s classical music concert Not Dead Yet, Nate’s NYC debut as a classical composer and pianist.

The music is so refreshing and breathtaking. I was truly amazed by Nate, a 23-year-old young musician who however doesn’t event work in the music industry at all. I don’t know if I should hate the city for not (yet) let him afford to be a musician as profession or if I should appreciate the city for honoring me the opportunity to become a good friend with Nate, who might otherwise be already too famous as a composer if he never came to the city.

Perhaps this is why people love New York City so much–you just constantly find something amazing that you would never expect. Like a coworker of mine, who so inspired me as she runs 7 miles almost everyday. Or like another friend of mine who backpacked in Central Africa for a month. Or like Nate, who lives a simple 9-5 life while pursuing his music dream on the side (which is definitely what he should be doing for the entire time).

Congrats, Nate! Looking forward to your next concert!

Jonathan Estabrooks (Baritone) sings Goethe Songs. Nate (Piano) wrote the piece in 2010

THREE, a piece Nate wrote this year. Mioi Takeda (Violin), Wanda Glowacka (Cello), Nate (Piano)

Congratulations Nate!

He got some fans already


Falling in love with Seattle in 24 hours

28 Dec

It’s been a very relaxing holiday season for me this year. No travel at all. Well, guess it’s a great thing given the nasty blizzard we’ve been dealing with in the last two days.

Christmas is gone but the New Year of 2011 is something that keeps the holiday spirit still up. I wish all my readers are enjoying the holiday season as I am.

Before we say goodbye to the year 2010, I suddenly realize there is one trip I haven’t gotten a chance to blog about. An unforgettable weekend trip to Seattle a few weeks ago. You may call me crazy because I got on a 6-hour long flight to the west coast just like hopping on a cab in the city. I flew out Saturday morning and got back Sunday night, managing to spend a little bit over 24 hours in the raining Seattle and realizing how much I have fallen in love with her.

The typical Seattle weather

The rain started before I land and that was how the city welcomed me, which I did not mind at all. Growing up in Chengdu, a major city in southwest of China, I have pretty much gotten used to raining and cloudy days. Actually I love the weather a lot. It reminds me of home.

The warm and comfortable light rail from the airport to downtown cost $2.5. Is there a better way for a city to showcase its hospitality by offering almost-free but pretty decent public transit from the airport?

My first stop, the Pike Place, a local farmers market where you can find fresh seafood, vegetables, fruits, handcrafted decorations, homemade sweets and the very first Starbucks shop.

Pike Market

A latte from the first Starbucks shop. It didn't taste any better though.

Seafood at Pike

Fruits at Pike

The most fascinating thing about Seattle is that you can find so many local stores–coffee shops, bakeries and restaurants, which do not have franchises in other cities. This also means you need to come back here often if you truly love the seafood, the people and the rain here, which is exactly what I will do in the future.

Latte from Starbucks' neighbor, a local coffee shop. So much better.

To best use my 24 hours, I did a highlight trip on Saturday: Pike Place–Space Needle–Waterfront–Elliott Oyster House. The highlight of this highlight trip was no doubt Elliott Oyster House. The super fresh and fat oysters from the Pacific Ocean were phenomenal. The champagne ice sauce only added the excitement of the oysters. Every flavor worked so harmoniously, like an orgy in my mouth.

Oyster plate from Elliott

My main course clam linguini

The second day, I came back to the Pike Place again. While I was taking some photos of golden smoked salmon in one of the many seafood stands, a middle-aged guy who appeared to work there asked me “hungry?” I laughed “always!” He grab a big piece of smoked salmon with a plastic bag and handed it to me. I was totally shocked and excited about this quarter pound free smoked salmon.

Smoked salmon. I just couldn't resist.

And it tasted like heaven. His strategy obviously has been proved to be very effective–I ended up getting over two pounds of the salmon.

Then it was about time to leave. I paid another $2.5 and got to the airport very smoothly. The rain stopped as my flight was about to take off. I knew I was already looking forward to see the next rain in Seattle.

One word for Seattle--fabulous!

24 hours in Rochester

3 Sep

Is a 24-hour visit to Rochester in the upstate of New York too long? Not necessarily.

Got up at 5am, took 5:20am Path train to 33rd street, walked up to Penn Station and got on the 7:15am Amtrak train. 7 hours later, I was at the train station of Rochester, a station that only has 2 tracks and one platform.

Visitors who just got off the train at Rochester quickly got picked up by families and friends. The train station suddenly became strangely quiet, in the afternoon of a Saturday. Gustav, the friend I was visiting was running late and I had to spend another 20 minutes in the station by myself, imagining what he could possibly propose to make the next 24 hours a bit less boring in this little town, or the third-largest town of New York State.

Gustav was a long-time friend of mine. He was the other major character in the famous story I often tell my new friends. A story about hiding in a tiny bathroom on a night train from Rome to Paris for 10 hours.

For many people who live in New York City, Rochester may be far from interesting. You basically could count the number of cars on the main street. And only a few restaurants in the downtown area were open during weekends. Gustav apparently did some nice homework and we ended up having dinner at a very popular local BBQ place–Dinosaur BBQ, a Food Network’s triple-D-style restaurant. The place was packed and smelled like happiness wrapped with butter, cheese, charcoal and hot sauce.

Gustav always had big apatite and after 7 hours of train-ride, I was also hungry. We ordered 6 honey mustered wins and a whole pack of BBQ ribs with four home-made sides. Any description of the food would be powerless, so I decided to just throw the pictures here.

Following the feast that might already have put 5 more pounds on me, came the wine/beer and Smirnoff drinking and some long chat. Pursuing his Ph.D. in marketing , Gustav was so excited about his future life (which is at least 5 years away) as a professor and feeling bad for me, who needed to get up everyday in the early morning to join other commuters and inhale the dirty air of Manhattan. “A sad life,” as he said. He was partially correct, partially, about the air part.

Escaping away from the chaos of the city for 24 hours and spending some nice 15 hours on the train reading from my iPad turned out not too long at all. Don’t mind to do this again. So what’s the next destination?

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