"Wait, you've gone past it!" I wailed, as the taxi driver zoomed over 7th Avenue, away from the Sheraton Hotel. I was supposed to be meeting my cousin Em-train early(ish) in the morning and for once, I actually knew where I was going. It was just a shame that the same couldn't be said for my taxi driver. But he screeched to a halt in the middle of 53rd Street traffic. Throwing money into the front seat and hurling myself out of the car, I dashed back across the pedestrian lights. As I did so, splotches of steamy rain fell on my head. Running late, humidity, AND rain? This was tremendous.
But I needn't have worried cause everything ended well. Seeing Em-train again was fantastic, but as always it reminded me how overdue I am for a date with the treadmill. She looks great - skinny as a rake, long and shiny hair. And for someone who alleged to be jet-lagged, you'd never know it. I guess after nearly 5 years as a globe-trotting flight attendant, she's learned to hide it well. If she wasn't family I'd probably have to hate her :)
We jumped in a taxi and drove in bumper-to-bumper traffic through Times Square, down to Chelsea Market. Fortified by coffees from Ninth Street Espresso and a shared lamington from Tuckshop (for old time's sake), we caught up on the gossip and stories over the year since we had last seen each other. It was fascinating to hear the stories of the exotic destinations that Em-train has visited on her travels. Even if she's just on a short layover, she does her best to get out and see the city she's in, and gives a good verbal snapshot of each one. After our chat yesterday, I don't mind admitting that some cities I previously had near the top of my must-see list have slipped down a couple of places.
Catching up is hungry and thirsty work, so we headed into the Meatpacking District for brunch at Macelleria. I'd never been here before, but I liked the sound of the brunch menu online. We were the only ones in the restaurant yesterday morning, but there was something peaceful about sitting in a quiet venue, whose front windows were flung open to let in the sunlight and cool breeze. More celebrated as a steakhouse (with a wine cellar built in the 17th Century), it was perhaps unusual - but lucky for us - that Macelleria also offers a hearty and diverse brunch menu. Em-train chose the baked eggs while I very much enjoyed my Sicilian egg toast - almost like the Aussie version of a toad-in-the-hole, but topped with crunchy, blanched asparagus and a drizzle of truffle oil. Delish.
It was a good thing that we filled up on tasty food, because what followed was a long walk through the West Village, Washington Square Park, Soho (with a stop in Fanelli Cafe), down Broadway, into Chinatown, past the restaurants and vintage stores in Little Italy, a fill-up of fancy hipster pour-over coffee at the bar alongside the Randolph on Broome, and then we continued up Bowery into Union Square. As the grey stormclouds rolled in and plunged the city into premature darkness, we spent way longer than normal waiting for a cab. But just as the sky opened up, our Turkish taxi driver came to the rescue. Now that's what I call perfect timing. PHEW!
I was so grateful to Em-train for getting me out into the fresh air yesterday and even though I had blisters on my heels afterwards, I wouldn't have traded the day for anything. It was so great to see my cousin doing so well and with such positive plans for the coming months in her life and career. I was also grateful to Em-train for allowing me to drag her around the city streets aimlessly - not everyone would be content with such an ambling, pedestrian road trip!
As I collapsed into bed like a nana at 9.15pm (another raging Saturday night in the City!), I had to spare a thought for poor Em-train, who was getting ready for a 13-hour, chock-full flight back to Dubai. I certainly couldn't have managed it - but I have total confidence that she did.