There is little worse than the creepy feeling you get when something drips on you from above while you’re walking down a sidewalk in New York. It may be just condensation from a window mounted air conditioner. We always assume these drips are either an experimental virus carelessly spilled from an unlicensed medical laboratory or some hideous comic book style mutagen. It’s bad enough that no one in New York cleans up after their dog, leaving the entire city littered with landmines. Some days, navigating the three blocks from our Chelsea apartment to the subway was like walking from South Korea into North Korea through the DMZ. The minute we focused our attention on the ground, the assault began from above.
There’s no doubt that walking down a sidewalk in New York is an adventure. On top of the landmines and random dribbles, the sidewalks are piled thick with trash bags, scaffolding, deliverymen pushing dollies with boxes piled high, tourists scanning maps and people in suits shouting obscenities into cellular phones. All these obstacles came together on the day we dropped in on Crossfit NYC for a noon workout. The warm-up included an 800-meter run around the block. We now fully understand how salmon feel as they swim up river to spawn. It has been a long time since either of us has felt such a strong sense of accomplishment from running such a short distance.
Crossfit NYC has a brand new 12,000 square foot facility. That’s not the location where we dropped in. We visited their 3rd floor location in the Flatiron District. The space would’ve made a perfect live/work loft. It had high ceilings and great light streaming in through large windows. As a gym, however, a three story walk-up is difficult because you can’t drop weights without risking the lives of the people in the suite below. As far as we could tell, they manage this by not doing a lot of Olympic lifting at this location. This restriction, however, didn’t stop them from kicking our asses. Our workout included handstand push-ups, pull-ups and burpees. Andrea finished in the middle of the pack. Steven came in dead last.
Running around the block was not the only time we risked our lives for a good story for the blog. At the hyper-expensive, mind-blowingly delicious, West Village Japanese restaurant, Nara, we ordered a course of tempura-fried blowfish. Battered and fried food is definitely not on DYC Food List, but we ordered it anyway just to see if blowfish would kill us.
For those not interested in sampling blowfish for themselves, we’ll describe it. Blowfish is tasty. It’s a light flaky white fish. If we’d been told it was cod, we would’ve said it was the best piece of cod we’ve ever tasted. Our lips didn’t tingle. Nor did we experience hallucinations. Our speech remained clear, at least through the first bottle and a half of sake. In spite of the fact that blowfish commands drug-like pricing, it turns out that it has no drug-like effects.
The final risk we took in pursuit of a noteworthy vacation was to shun hotels and instead book an apartment through the Internet start-up Airbnb. If you’re not familiar with Airbnb, it’s a website with the power to turn every single person in America into an innkeeper. Have a moldy tent in your garage? Set it up in the back yard and, with the help of Airbnb, you’re now the proprietor of the worst bed and breakfast in America. They also list whole houses and apartments. Since we’re too old and grouchy to go back to having roommates. We opted for a full, empty apartment in Chelsea.
Airbnb is the anti-Four Seasons. We picked up the key at a corner laundromat and let ourselves in to the first floor, studio apartment. The place did not disappoint. It was light and clean. This was a huge relief as the biggest complaint people have using Aribnb is cleanliness.
The apartment had a small kitchen and a private garden. It was well stocked. We had no problem making eggs and bacon for breakfast. It even had wine glasses for an early evening drink in the garden. It was also filled with the owner’s stuff. His diploma hung on the wall. Framed pictures of his girlfriend were placed strategically throughout. It was far less like staying in a hotel than it was borrowing a apartment from a friend. On the plus side, the owner left us coffee and told us to “feel free to raid the liquor cabinet.” The Four Seasons can’t compete with that level of hospitality.
We had a fantastic trip, but we admit that it was not our most successful DYC vacation. We came back from the Middle East without gaining a single pound. We actually lost a little weight while touring through Asia. Even Hawaii, with all of its tropical drinks and fried pupu platters couldn’t knock us off our DYC pedestal. New York, however, defeated our attempts to stick to our diet. This is odd because New York is relatively easy on DYC. In New York restaurants, it’s clearly completely normal to modify an entrée to reduce the carbs and calories. When we ordered according to the DYC Food List, no one reacted negatively. In fact, they offered suggestions for making items even healthier. Our cheating was never out of necessity. We simply got into a bad pattern of permissiveness. We could’ve just as easily stayed strict throughout.
Before we arrived in New York, we stopped to visit friends in New London, New Hampshire. We aren’t exaggerating when we say that our friends’ diets have little overlap with our own. We all agree that chicken breasts are delicious. We also see eye-to-eye on deli turkey, asparagus and broccoli. This is where the similarities end.
In their house, brown rice crackers are less popular than blood sausage at a PETA gathering. Yet they made a special trip to the store to stock their kitchen with rice crackers and hummus and other foods for our visit. In our minds, this is the very definition of love. It’s not their fault we also dug into the chips and salsa. For that, we have only ourselves to blame.
That is the pattern we fell into. For every perfect DYC meal, we would break down and order some kind of starchy carb with the next. At Rare in New York, we ate amazing burger salads, but halfway through our meal broke down an ordered fries to share. At Ellie’s Café & Deli in New London, Steven ordered a breakfast sandwich on a poppy seed bagel two mornings in a row, while Andrea paired her scrambled eggs with homefries. This wouldn’t have been a problem if we’d exercised or cut back on our drinking, but this isn’t what happened. Our wine intake spiked to Roman bacchanal levels as we spent our evenings drinking with friends and, during the trip, we worked out exactly twice.
This is not to say that the entire trip was a DYC disaster. The balance between our DYC meals and our cheats likely explains why neither of us came back five pounds heavier. For every meal that contained potatoes or lunch that contained French fries, we had at least one carb free banquet. Averaging our meals, our trip probably earned a solid C on Major Morgan’s Grading Scale. It could’ve have been far worse. But it also could’ve been far better.
There is no point in beating ourselves up over our dietary failures. Guilt and self-loathing burns surprisingly few calories. Instead, we’ve begun ten days in Austerity Mode. We are paying for our dietary transgressions by cleaning up our diet for the same number of days as we were travelling. It’s a small price to pay for a fantastic vacation.
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New York City mystery water, whatever you do do not look up, sometimes its just better not knowing where it came from