Maybe don’t go to Albany in winter (but do go because it’s lovely)

It’s really cold in Albany in January. And snow.

My friends Heather and Nate moved to Albany. What a great excuse to see a new city and hang with one of my favorite couples.

I think a lot of Long Islanders think of the state of New York in 4 parts:

  1. Long Island
  2. The City
  3. Westchester
  4. And everything else is upstate

Yes, “upstate” refers to a ginormous piece of land. Yes, there’s a lot going on up there. But the general view from down here is that everything north of Westchester is just upstate.

New York City is where the stuff is, where the money is made, and where the people are, (really, so many people). But Albany is where the governing happens. I realize many people already know that, but I’ve met people who don’t know they’re going under water to get from Brooklyn to Manhattan, so I take nothing for granted.

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Albany isn’t as far north as I thought. I am from Long Island and I don’t know much about upstate. It was about 50 when I left the city (as a Long Islander, NYC is just the city). We woke up to snow and temperatures below 30 on Saturday. To be fair, 50 degrees was a fluke and everyone woke up to cold.

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How do you see a city and stay warm at the same time? Drink! I saw quite a bit of the city as we walked from place to place. There’s some beautiful architecture. The state capital and the department of education buildings are beautiful. And then you turn around and find a few buildings that look like they belong in the Soviet Union.

 

The Albany Distilling Company runs tours. If you find yourself in Albany go. The whiskey distilling process is really interesting, and the owner gives a great tour. I feel like I know enough now to start making my own. The distillery’s cats pull double duty as mice catchers and welcome party. And the liquor is really good too!

I don’t like beer. Finding a cidery, (Is that a word? It should be!) is very exciting. Nine Pine Cider Works is so so good. All they serve is hard cider. We had cider flights. 5 tastes of 5 different flavors. Early grey was my favorite, but I also always love lavender.

 

On Sunday Nate and I went to the New York State Museum. So in addition to drinking I learned stuff too. The building is…..kinda awful. It’s a concrete cube-shaped building. Not pretty and classical like the capital and some other buildings. It’s hard to look away though. So ugly it’s cool? There was an exhibit all about women’s suffrage because 2017 is the 100th anniversary of New York giving women the vote. Equality and representation: we’re still fighting for the same things 100 years later.

Albany seems like a cool little city. I’m planning to go back when the weather is nicer to take advantage of all of the beautiful nature up there. Hey Heather and Nate, let’s go hiking and camping!

Coming Home

I’ve been home for about a month now. It feels like longer. Maybe that’s because home is familiar. A lack of jet lag helped too.

Top things (besides people) I missed about home:

Bagels: good New York bagels
I think New York should be referred to as the Big Bagel instead of the Big Apple. No one eats an apple and says, “ah good ‘ol New York apples.” Do they? Obviously bagels in New York are better than everywhere else. I’ve heard of bagel shops in Florida and other places that ship water from New York because that is one of the theories of why New York bagels are so good. My first meal when I got home was a bagel and cream cheese. It was totally as good as I remembered.

Tap water
New York tap water is pretty great. True, it’s different depending on where in New York you live, but as far as I can tell it’s all good. In Delaware it was…meh. In Florida it tasted like pool water. In Thailand no one drinks water from the tap, not even the locals. Bottled water is everywhere. You don’t realize how convenient and part of everyday life good tap water is until you don’t have it.

The indifference of people I pass on the street
I will never blend in and be mistaken for a local in Southeast Asia. I am a farang, the Thai term for non-Asian foreigners.

The fact that I was able to hop on a plane and travel to the other side of the world makes me extremely privileged compared to so many other people around the world. However, that doesn’t mean I need or want to buy everything put in front of me.

Just because I’m a farang, does not mean I want to buy something from you. I just need to walk past your shop to get to where I’m going. Asking me 6 times is not going to change my mind.

Just because I’m a farang, does not mean I need a ride from your taxi; no matter how many times you honk at me.

People seem to love saying hi as I pass them in the street. People (especially kids) seem to get a particular joy from talking to the farangs they meet. They break out into huge grins when I respond with a smile and a wave. I’ve made whole busloads of kids smile with 1 wave.

Everyone wants to say hi and know where I’m from. I love meeting new people in new places. Sometimes it’s exhausting though. Sometimes I want to browse silently, without an endless barrage of people trying to sell me things. I want to walk down the street, allowed to blur out my surroundings in favor of a day dream.

In New York no one cares about me walking down the street, unless I’m in their way. I missed that. I missed not standing out. People I pass in the street, in shops, cab drivers, everyone is indifferent to my existence. I like it. In New York no one stands out, because EVERYONE is different.

Not quite homesick but missing it a bit

This weekend marks three months in Thailand. I left at the end of May and now August is coming to a close. The summer is actually over, although it seems like Thailand hangs on to hot and humid for a long time.

I miss having my own room, not living out of a backpack, and a life without a daily dose of bug spray. I miss sailing with my parents. I didn’t go sailing the whole summer! When was the last time that happened.

I love my family and friends and I miss you all dearly. However, here are the two things I miss more than anything else:
1. A good New York bagel with vegetable cream cheese.
2. Public transportation. I just want to hop on the subway to get from one end of the city to the other.