Friday, August 31, 2012

Gulfpost 7

Aug 29 - 31, 2012

Aug 29
I'm writing this three days later and cannot remember what I did this day.  It may have been a less active day.  :-) 

But at night, I went swing dancing for the second time at the Gulfport Casino.  I learned more steps and danced for about 3.5 hours nonstop.  Like when I go Latin dancing at Viejillo's.  My feet hurt afterwards, and I think I need to wear different shoes when I swing dance.  Like sneakers.

Aug 30
This was a busy day.  First, I had my hair cut and colored by Nancy at Sea Breeze.  She did a  I kept giving her instructions because of my many cowlicks and fussy way I like my hair cut.  She did a fantastic job!

I had lunch at O'Maddy's, across from the water, with a guy named Nigel who is thinking about moving to Costa Rica.  He found me on Couchsurfing and wanted to pick my brain.

Thinking about how I'm going to get from my condo in St Pete (where I move on Friday) to/from Gulfport, I went to see Bill, the bicycle guy.  Karen Love bought a bike from him.  He finds them at yard sales, etc., and sells them for $20.  Some are very expensive bikes, but he's not in it for the money.  He equips each bike with a water bottle holder, and changes the seat for whichever one you want.  Plus he gives you a bike helmet.  All for $20!  I picked out a 21-speed mountain bike, the only want that was low enough for me, but told me I had to check to be sure I could lock it up downstairs at the place I'm moving to, because there's no way I can carry it up the stairs to my second floor apartment.  I'll get back to him as soon as I know.

Then a nice lady, Marsha, originally from Massachusetts, whom I met at the beauty salon, picked me up and showed me a one-bedroom condo for rent at Town Shores.  This is a huge 55+ community with lots of swimming pools, and just a five minute walk to town.  I don't know how I would feel staying in a place like that.  Even though I'm 62, I'm a young 62.  While I get along with everyone, I think I'd feel more comfortable staying in a small apartment in the center of Gulfport.

Thursday night is Social Night at the Peninsula Inn, where the Gecko Ball was held.  My landlords Daniel (the DJ) and Mike (the bartender) run it.  I met Karen and her friend Carol (Pittsburgh Steelers fan) there for cocktails.  Yuengling beer is my drink here.  Daniel put on some great music and we were all dancing outside.

Aug 31
Moving day.  I had to vacate this adorable guest cottage in Gulfport and move about 4 miles away to South St. Pete.  It's too far to walk in the heat or at night, but it's doable on a bicycle.  Or I could beg a ride from someone.

It's lovely in this condo complex.  There are two pools, one overlooking the bay, and right across there is Gulfport.  If I were a fish, I could swim the distance in a couple of minutes.  I'll be staying here two months.  It's within walking distance to shopping, restaurants, banks, and bus stops.

After I unpacked, I took the bull by the horns, along with an empty backpack and carryall bag, and walked in the sweltering heat to Walmart.  It was cool inside, and for the first ten minutes, that's all I cared about.  I had to shop judiciously, because I didn't want to carry back any more th  an was absolutely necessary.  So I did my selective shopping, then I ran into Marsha, another Marsha, a woman from Gulfport I had met the night before.  She so graciously offered to drive me back to the new condo, so I quickly stocked up on more groceries.  Have I mentioned how wonderful the people in Gulfport are?  The little problem was that I couldn't remember where the condo was.  We left Walmart on a street that did not look familiar to me, but Marsha was patient and drove us around until I saw a rotary that looked familiar.  Duh.

After unpacking the groceries, I headed for the pool.  Ahhhh.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Gulfport 6

Aug 28, 2012

I spent a couple of hours downtown Gulfport, going into shops and meeting people.  I cannot say enough how friendly people are here.  I went into the beauty salon because I had heard there were used books for sale and the proceeds benefit a no-kill animal shelter.  There wasn't anything I really wanted to read, but I bought a book just to contribute something.  The hairdresser and her client were very friendly, and the client mentioned that she might know of some furnished rentals for the future in her complex, Town Shores.

I asked if there was a nail technician there, but she had left.  I wondered if there was any nail polish remover that I could use to remove the stubborn sparkles on my fingernails from the polish I put on for the Gecko Ball.  I had tried the nail polish in my bag, and even some paint thinner, but nothing worked.  A woman came from the back room and handed me a bottle of pure acetone.  No charge.  I just about bent over backwards thanking her.  When I got it home, sure enough, it removed the sparkles.  I think the polish must have had shellac in it.

I went back to the beauty salon again, to ask the price for a cut and color.  Nancy quoted me $60, a pretty good price for the US, so I made appointment for Thursday morning.  Meanwhile, the client, a woman named Marsha, took my number and said she'd call me with rental information.  She did, and said she'd be happy to show me a one-bedroom unit tomorrow after the card game fundraiser at the Senior Center, which she invited me to.  Oh boy!  I get to play canasta and maybe a little Rummy.

In the afternoon I went for a walk to the marina.  The wind was blowing hard so no one was out sailing.  There were some beautiful sailboats tied up, and I was nostalgic about my sailing days.  The manager came out and we talked for a while.  He took my picture.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Gulfport 5

Aug 26 - 27, 2012

Aug 26

Chock up another "I never thought I would go here" events.  I went to an American Legion bar on one of the barrier islands.  It was a misty day, waiting to see if Hurricane Isaac would hit or pass us by.  I went out for my second and last date with the baseball fan.  He's a nice enough guy, but he didn't stop talking, and didn't need me in his conversations.

Sitting on the deck overlooking a bay, sipping a brewski, was pleasant enough.  The people were friendly, as long as we didn't talk politics.  When people find out that I live in Costa Rica, they want to tell me who among their friends and family members have been there.  So I, myself, am a conversation piece.

I have found a beer that I like: Yuengling.  It sounds Chinese, but it's from Pennsylvania.  Everything was calm and copacetic, when a guy pointed to the water and said, "Dolphins!"  There they were, swimming and surfacing and being adorable the way dolphins are.  I was delighted to see them, and reminded of my sailing days when dolphins would swim alongside the sailboat.  Sweet.

Aug 27

I walked downtown but was met with closed doors.  There is nothing happening in Gulfport on Mondays.  Restaurants are closed, shops are closed.  There were little sandbags resting against the closed doors - just in case.  Thankfully for us, but not so for New Orleans, the weather is only bringing wind and a little rain.  I got wet, but I didn't mind.  The rest of the day I spent sorting through my notes to see what I came to Florida to do and see.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Gulfport 4

Aug 25, 2012

Public transportation here isn't as all-encompassing as it is in Costa Rica.  And rental cars are very expensive.  But I was determined to do a little shopping (I desperately need a bathing suit), so I walked around the block and waited for the bus to take me to the Tyrone Square Mall.  The bus arrived within five minutes - oh joy!  I bought a day pass and I was set for my return trip back.  (I was fortunate to be within just one block of this particular bus.  I still don't know how I'm going to get back to Gulfport from the next place I'll be staying.)

I bought a lot of little things (belts, the uncoordinated top and bottom of bathing suits that will go with other tops and bottoms I have, sparkly nail polish (I'm feeling wild and free), a flash drive for on-the-go backups, slippers (I can't buy open-toe Dearfoams in Costa Rica), thongs at Victoria's Secret (hmm, too much information?)).  I am so used to buying my year's supply of clothes when Susan and I go shopping in Sept/Oct every year; I'm at a loss for picking out clothes on my own.  It could be that  there are only dregs available at the end of this season.

After a little nappypoo, I was ready for the Gecko Ball. This is an annual costume-optional party extraordinaire to raise money to buy public art in Gulfport.  This is the most fun and friendly town I have ever been in!

Daniel and Mike are the owners of my guest cottage, and help coordinate the Gecko Ball (and other events in this lively town).  In the photo, Daniel is in the middle.  I'm not sure who the third person is.

When I arrived at the Ball, I introduced myself to a woman, Karen Love, who had moved to Gulfport a year earlier from Puerto Rico.    She introduced me to some people in the Chamber of Commerce.  They introduced me to more people, including Biff who used to be a cop in Boston.  Plus I saw a couple from Swing Dance night.  Then I danced with a guy, Stone, who was playing a washboard tie with metal thimbles on his fingers, who introduced me to a couple in real estate who handle short-term rentals.  It was a crazy, fun, friendly group, and I felt like I fit right in.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Gulfport 3

Aug 24, 2012

What a blast I am having!

I spent the morning gathering information about what it might be like to spend more time in Gulfport.  I'm not convinced that this town fits me, but so far I'm enjoying it a lot.

At the library I learned that I can be a literacy volunteer, not in Gulfport itself, but just down the street in St Pete.  I was interested in this program when I lived in Massachusetts, but never got around to going to the training.

At the Gulfport Senior Center, I had a stimulating conversation with the coordinator, Cynthia, about volunteer opportunities, classes I could take (including advanced Spanish) and lead, where I could find a furnished rental for three months at a time, and agencies that might hire me as a home health aide (just a thought I had as a way of helping people).  She is a wealth of information and was willing to spend quite a bit of time with me.

I walked about five miles in the midday sun.  A kind young woman had a table with information about health care services in front of a store, and when I walked by she said I looked as though I could use some water.  So she pulled out a bottle from her cooler and gave it to me.  I wonder what I have written across my forehead that makes people want to do things for me.

That night I went to a Tampa Bay Rays (baseball) game.  OMG - what fun!  I'd been communicating with a guy, Dave, from, a dating site, and he invited me to go with him.  He's a season ticketholder and knew just where to park and how to find his way into Tropicana Field.  This stadium is IMMENSE, totally enclosed, and air conditioned at a constant 72 degrees.  We got free Rays t-shirts, free sodas, and he bought me a Kayem hot dog (my fave - the last thing on my Must Eat List).

The sights and sounds were larger than life.  I was reminded of the year I lived on the Fenway in Boston while getting my MBA.  Fenway Park was directly behind my apartment, and I could hear the announcer's calls, the organ music, the cheers, everything.  Only this night I was part of the action.  It hardly seemed to matter (to me) that the Rays lost because there was so much going on around me, e.g., Dave and other season ticketholders talking about baseball and stats and trades; recorded sounds to get people to cheer, electronic signs (I saw that the Red Sox beat Kansas City).

After the game, we stayed for the concert by O.A.R., right in the stadium.  The acoustics were poor, though, and we left after three songs to go to Ferg's, a huge sports bar.  I found a beer that I like, Yuengling.  It's different from Imperial, but it has a nice flavor.  On the way home, Dave put the hood down on his 1989 red Mustang and we enjoyed a beautiful ride.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Gulfport 2

Aug 22, 2012

My first full day in Gulfport.  This is a quaint town of 13,000, with a vibrant arts community, located on a bay off the Gulf of Mexico.  I think.  I'm staying in a nice guest cottage, about a 3/4 of a mile from the center of town.  It's an easy walk, except that the humidity is a killer, much worse than in Costa Rica.  But I'll acclimate.

From sleeping on so many different pillows over the last few weeks, my neck, which is always prone to pain,  was really acting up, so I found a chiropractor about two miles away.  No problem, I thought.  I walk two miles every morning.  So I went, the chiro adjusted me, and then it started to rain.  Pour.  Gallons were dropping at a time.  My measly little umbrella kept my head wet, but nothing more.  So I stopped at a thrift store, and don't you know, the first item at the front of a store was a yellow poncho, but big enough for the entire town of Gulfport.  I paid $1, put it on and did a little shopping along the way home.  The woman behind me at the supermarket took pity on me and offered me a ride home.  Two rides in two days!  What friendly people here.

The Gulfport Casino is a huge building on the water that offers different types of dance classes and public dances.  Wednesday night was Swing Dance night.  I had had a brief lesson last December when I was in St Pete, and knew I liked it, so I went.  It was fun - not as fun as salsa - but the best part was I met a woman from Salem, Massachusetts, the town next to where I grew up.  She's my age and we had so much in common.  Holly brought her daughter down to college in Tampa and will be here for three weeks.  She has a rental car and we are going to have some fun together!

Aug 23

My Internet connection has been problematic at the guest house, and Holly has none where she is staying, so we brought our laptops to T and Me, a cute little restaurant with wifi.  Then she suggested we go to the beach.  I never go to the beach, but I was ready for some R&R.  So we headed over to St Pete Beach and stayed from 3-5pm.  It was a little cloudy with a gentle sea breeze, and the water was warm and inviting.  Ahh.

Thursday night is salsa night at the Gulfport Casino.  I'd been looking forward to this night because I was sorely missing my Sunday afternoon exercise.

There was a dance class for an hour before the public dance, and I learned some new turns.  But overall, salsa here is very different from the salsa I have been taught in Costa Rica, and not as much fun.  Here, they count 1-2-3, 5-6-7.  I was taught 1-2-3-and, 5-6-7-and.  The difference may sound picayune, but the foot movement is plainer here.  Plus they don't do the basic steps the same way.  And there was hardly anyone to dance with.  I don't know how I'm going to feed my salsa jones here.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Gulfport, Florida

Aug 21, 2012

I flew into Tampa today, and took a shuttle down to Gulfport, a small, artsy town on the Gulf of Mexico, just south of St. Petersburg.

I am staying in Gulfport for ten days in a guest cottage about 3/4 mile from the beach. I would be happy if this were an apartment; it's very nicely furnished. I took a walk into town to get some groceries and to grab a bite to eat just as it started to rain. Wowee - it poured and caused above-the-ankle rivers. Good thing I have experience walking in the rain in Costa Rica.

I stopped at a little corner store and chatted with Mike, the owner. He's Greek and told me he had homemade dolmadas (stuffed grape leaves), so I bought some. Then I stopped at a little restaurant and got some homemade minestrone soup, and met a woman, Stacy, who sells real estate and does appraisals.  She gave me a ride back to the cottage and saved me from getting soaked.  People are very friendly here. 

Boston, Massachusetts (2)

Aug 19 - 20, 2012

Aug 19

Jasmine and I drove over to Salem Willows, the kiddie amusement park where my parents used to take me.  The carousel was still there, but the dodgems, whip and skeeball were gone. 

I put two quarters in the Fortune Teller machine.  I expected her to say, "All will be revealed,"which is what I've been saying about the outcome of this three-month trip.  What she said was pretty close and encouraging.  "Don't let opportunity knock on your door in vain.  Grasp it and the course of your life will be different."

The Willows was crowded with people who came for the jazz and soul music fest.  Jasmine and I both like to look at handcrafted jewelry, so we stopped at the artisan booths, and said hello to Pat and George, who were running the Tico Arts booth.

Then we headed over to Susan and Mel's for a delicious BBQ dinner.  Susan always feeds me well, and she knows my favorite foods.  She made an incredible blueberry salad that I had to finish by pouring the salad dressing into my mouth - straight from the bowl.  I have morphed into a shameless, stuffed oinker.

Aug 20

The YMCA is around the corner from Jasmine's house.  She babysits there two nights a week and gets a free membership.  I accompanied her to an exercise class, and was reminded that I could stand to go to a stretching class on a regular basis.

I love doing Sudoku puzzles, and usually do one with breakfast and sometimes with lunch.  Jasmine wanted to learn how to do them, so I sat with her and taught her.  She was excited to learn. 

For the last supper, we were enticed by the Himalayan Bistro and the Red-Eyed Pig southern BBQ restaurants, both close by.  We opted for the BBQ, and had smoky fried chicken, which was just so-so.  The beans were good, though.

August 21 is a flying day.  I leave Boston early, fly to Miami then to Tampa, and take a shuttle to Gulfport.  Florida, here I come!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Boston, Massachusetts

Aug 17 - 18, 2012

Friday morning, Fred, Elaine and I went into Boston to set up their booth to sell the Tico Arts wooden products.  I got to sell for a while and it was fun! 

My longtime friend, Jasmine, came into town to get me.  First, we walked around parts of the city that I hadn't seen for a long time.  We went to the Sheraton Boston Hotel, where I worked in the mid-70s in an in-house management training program.  The concierge let us into the exclusive Towers Club on the 29th floor (I had been the Towers Manager), and we saw a breathtaking view of Boston and Cambridge.

For lunch we stopped at a unique restaurant called Fire and Ice.  We each took a bowl and filled it with food to be cooked.  I had fresh tuna with vegetables and an Asian sauce, all for just $10.

Jasmine lives in a suburb of Boston called West Roxbury.  She has a huge Victorian house that she has decorated beautifully.  We thought the train ran into Boston on Saturdays, but surprise!, it didn't.  So on Saturday she dropped me at a subway stop and I made my way in on my own, while Jasmine went to her grandsons' birthday party in western Massachusetts.

When I worked in Boston's financial district (Fidelity Investments, Brown Brothers Harriman, Blue Cross/Blue Shield), I used to walk on Washington Street during my lunch hour.  I befriended a guy in a wheelchair named Charlie, who used to live off the money people put in his can.  Charlie is severely incapacitated physically (I don't remember what he has, but it may be muscular dystrophy) but there is nothing wrong with his mind or his wit.  We used to have stimulating conversations, and he had a wicked sense of humor.  This Saturday morning as I walked along Washington Street, I wondered if Charlie would still be there.  He was!  He recognized me (it must have been 18 years since we last saw each other), and we had a good ol' reunion.  I bought him an iced coffee and a muffin from Dunkin' Donuts, fed it to him, and we caught up as though we had just seen each other the week before.

At Faneuil Hall, I met my two cousins on my mother's side, Ina and Stacy.  It was so great to see them, and it was the first time that the three of us got together as a group.  We walked over to the North End and had lunch at one of the Italian restaurants.  Stacy ordered a bottle of Prosecco for the table.  It was my first drink of Prosecco, and now that's something else that I like.  I had been on a quest to have delicious eggplant parmigiana with a yummy red sauce, and Carolina's did not disappoint.  Then we went to a different restaurant for cappuccino and gelato.  It was so great to catch up with my cousins. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Newton, NH

Aug 15 - 16, 2012

I'm visiting more US friends whom I met in Costa Rica.  Fred and Elaine Drew, who winter in Grecia, invited me to their home just over the Massachusetts border in a town I'd never heard of before, Newton.  It's a typical and lovely New England town.

On Wednesday Fred took me into Boston, my old stomping ground.  His business is importing small wooden puzzle boxes, trivets, etc., from Costa Rica and selling them  at craft fairs in Massachusetts and Florida.  I met his partner, Pat, and some other fun-loving vendors that sell at Downtown Crossing, right in front of where Filene's used to be.

We walked around the financial district, where I worked for a time, then along the new Rose Kennedy Greenway, a series of parks with interesting sculpture and beautiful flowers.  We enjoyed lobster salad rolls at Durgin Park in Faneuil Hall, then walked some more through  Boston Commons and the Boston Public Garden.  I saw the swan boats where my mother and aunt used to take me, and Marlboro Street, where I had my first solo apartment.  We stopped to listen to an entertaining musician, and sang along with him.  The weather was perfect - sunny and warm with a light breeze.

Thursday is a lazy day, with breakfast at 10:30, and then I jumped in the pool.  We watched movies at night that I got to pick (Mirror, Mirror and A Bronx Tale).  Fred and Elaine are salt of the earth, nice people, and generous hosts.

Ooh!  Pat just came over and brought a cooler full of lobsters!  Woo hoo!  Boiled lobster with drawn butter for lunch.  Heaven, I'm in heaven...

Fred and I took an afternoon ride on his motorcycle along beautiful country roads.  We finished the day with fried clams, scallops and onion rings.  Burp.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Lake Ossipee, New Hampshire

Aug 12 - 14, 2012

My oldest friend, Sandy, picked me up at the Logan Airport in Boston, and we drove up to Kathie's lake house on Lake Ossipee.  We all went to Swampscott High School together many moons ago.  Usually we meet for just lunch every year when I come to visit, so to spend 2+ days together has been a deeply satisfying bonding experience.

What a fun and relaxing time we have had!  Sitting around and talking, talking, talking, lying in the sun, swimming in the lake, walking in the pine and oak tree neighborhood.  Kathie's well-behaved, almost human yellow lab, Caleb, kept us company.  This is New England at its best.

I am such a bad influence.  For dinner Monday night we went to Bobby Sue's Ice Cream for ice cream sundaes.  I like to have a sundae for dinner every once in a while, just to eat outside the box.

New York City #4 (last)

August 12 2012

I had to go to New York City to spend time with my friend Lisa from Costa Rica.  We met at her mom's apartment with a gorgeous view, then set off for Central Park.  With Li's broken toe, we opted for a pedal taxi, and enjoyed the scenery while our bicyclist driver Ahmou gave a running commentary.  What a huge, lovely park in the middle of a bustling city!  Most moving was the round tile remembrance of John Lennon with "Imagine" in the middle, located across the street from his apartment where he was killed.

We happened by the Paris movie theatre and stopped in to see a wonderful movie, The Intouchables.  We were both hungry for a great foreign film with English subtitles, and this film did not disappoint.  It is about a wealthy invalid and his improbably, brash but refreshing caregiver.

I rushed to get to the subway stop to make it back to Long Island in time for dinner, but it was clear I would have to take a taxi.  A quick goodbye to Lisa and I was off - until a few blocks before Times Square, which was closed due to a triathlon finish line.  Just like in the movies, I threw some money at the cab driver and jumped out of the cab to hike on foot down to the train station at 34th Street.  I realized I was not going to make the train, and I would have to wait an hour for the next one, so I slowed down and did some window shopping.  When I finally got to Penn Central, I was surprised to find another train that was leaving in six minutes so I hopped on.

I did make it to dinner - the last one for Cynthia, Arnie and me - at Chez Noelle, a lovely French relic with an entertaining waiter, Rene.  I learned that I like Pinot Noir wine.  And the duck was delicious.

The next morning I flew standby for the first time on my friend's US Airways buddy pass to Boston.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

New York City #3

Aug 10, 2012

I'm not usually a big museum fan unless the work is contemporary, so off we headed to MoMA (the Museum of Modern Art).  Cynthia and I spent the entire day there, taking a break for lunch and coffee.  There were enjoyable pieces and pieces that I would not call art.  But that's just me.

For lunch, Cynthia wanted me to experience a real hot pastrami sandwich, so we went to the Stage Deli.  Ooh, was that great!  With a cream soda to top it off.

We met Arnie at Petrossian for dinner, a very fine restaurant.  When will I learn not to fill up on the delicious bread and wait for the main course?!  After the bread, I did eat all of my appetizer, which was caviar and sour cream on a blini.  Then came a deliciously prepared skirt steak, and an apple tartlet with cardamom ice cream.  Burp.

Aug 9

Arnie, Cynthia's guy, is a trooper.  Walking around is a little problematic for him, but he drove us into the city and waited in his air conditioned car for us all day.

First we went to the Lower East Side Tenement Museum and took the Sweatshop Workers tour.  I tried to imagine my grandmother, fresh off the boat from Lithuania, working her fingers to the bone, along with 12 million other refugees who entered New York.

We walked around Chinatown, which is huge, then had an early dinner at Pellegrino's, voted the Best Italian Restaurant of 2012 in Little Italy.  For dessert we walked around the corner to Ferrera.  I was oh so full, and satisfied.  What an eating trip this has been.

Aug 8

Cynthia's friend, Cathi, and I took the LIRR (train) into the city to have lunch at a Mexican restaurant and to see the Broadway play, War Horse.  What I really wanted to see was The Book of Mormon, but tickets, which weren't even available, cost $300, and that was over the top for me.  So I settled for this less expensive play.  OMG!  From our fourth row seats, we saw the exact and exquisite way that three puppeteers directed every movement, every nuance of the star horse, Joey.  I loved everything about the play: the puppets (which were life-size), the story, the acting, the choreography, the ensemble.  Wowee.

My friend Alan was waiting for me after the play.  Alan is the brother of one of my old friends, Howard, from UMass.  Howard died a few years ago, and his legacy to me was his wonderful brother, who has become my friend.  I was still on an ethnic restaurant kick, so we stopped at an Indian restaurant that had great food.  Here we are walking through Rockefeller Center.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

New York City #2

August 7, 2012

Cynthia drove us into the city.  She went to work and I went to Grand Central Station to take the tour.  This is a massive building with interesting architecture where trains arrive and leave. 

I couldn't figure out how to buy a train ticket using the machine.  A kind man helped me, but we didn't know if the machine would give me change for a $20 bill.  I put in my US debit card, but hadn't used it in a year and couldn't remember the pin number.  Geez, what kind of prepared traveler am I?  So the guy said, give me $2 and I'll swipe my Metro card for you.  And he did.

I found my way on the S Shuttle and then the #1 Uptown train to W 107th St, where I visited my cousins Marty and Jill in their beautiful new apartment.  We had lunch on the rooftop with a great view of the city.  Jill had bought foods that she thought I would appreciate, and we had a great time talking about family and personal stuff.  I wish we lived closer so we could spend more time together.

New York City #1

August 5, 2012

I arrived at Penn Station shlepping a very heavy backpack and a 53-pound suitcase.  My friends Cynthia R and Arnie were waiting for me at Lindy's Restaurant.  I found the sign for Lindy's and attempted to enter through the revolving door.  I got stuck with the suitcase jamming the door!  Arnie came and rescued me.  What a grand entrance I made.

After a comforting vodka tonic at Lindy's, we drove over to a Korean restaurant and had unrecognizable but delicious food.  I think I became a foodie when I moved to Costa Rica and had to give up exotic tastes, so when I travel, ethnic food is at the top of my list of attractions to experience.

Cynthia lives in Port Washington in a beautiful home that she decorated herself.  I feel like I am staying in a five-star hotel. 

August 6

We rode the hop-on/hop-off New York Water Taxi to get around the city.  My first stop was the 9/11 Memorial, where there are two reflection pools in the same footprints of the Twin Towers.  What struck me the most was a pear tree that survived the disaster and came back to life.

I left my friends at a restaurant overlooking the Brooklyn Bridge at South Street Seaport while I took off in search of the New York Stock Exchange's observation deck.  I wanted to see where I've lost so much money.  I stopped at a corner to ask a guy for directions and he asked me directions to The Bull, the big bronze statue that represents capitalism.  Since we were on the same wavelength, we went searching together.  Ash is from Melbourne, Australia, and came to NYC for a couple of weeks to sightsee.  We found The Bull and took pictures of each other in the two poses that everyone else was taking.

The Water Taxi passed by the Statue of Liberty, where all of my grandparents passed on their way to Ellis Island from Russia. 

Rhode Island with my sister

August 3, 2012 - Rhode Island
I'm in the US! Even after all these years of traveling, it's still sort of mind-boggling to be able to get on a giant metal structure and land in a different country.
Oh, what food! I'm staying with my sister, Cynthia, not too far from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. There are so many types of ethnic restaurants near Brown. Last night we went to one with my favorite cuisine: Vietnamese. OMG - the best, freshest food with flavors that made my taste buds cry with joy. This morning I went for a walk and got a cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee. Heavenly.
Five years ago my sister started tutoring a refugee family from Rwanda (via Cameroon).  Her French helped them learn English and life skills.  Cynthia has been adopted into the smart and lovely family of four: Appolinarie (mother) and kids Merci, Emmanuella, and GoGo.  I met them and had fell in love with them, too.
My sister and I went to see a movie yesterday, To Rome, with Love. Geez, I am glad I do not live inside Woody Allen's head. The movie theatre was air conditioned - it is so very hot and humid here, more so than in Grecia and the price was right ($8 compared to $12 at a mall theatre). This morning I'm going to take pictures of her so she can upload a good one to Yup, we're both single and looking. :-)
This afternoon I get on an Amtrak train to Penn Station in New York City. I'll be staying for six days on Long Island with my friend (another) Cynthia for six days.