NYC Patriot's Day Weekend

MIT always has a 4 day weekend for Patriot’s day - there’s usually a lot of things going on around MIT and Boston as a whole - Marathon Monday is a pretty big deal, and Campus Preview Weekend for incoming prefrosh pretty frequently falls on this weekend. Straight To Taiwan, a pretty huge ATS event, also occasionally falls on this weekend. For the past 4 years, I’ve been scrambling around helping out with one event or another, but this year with no club responsibilities remaining, I had the whole weekend free, so I took the opportunity to visit NYC for a few days.

My typical NYC visit is to arrive Friday night, rush a Broadway show Saturday morning, grab ramen from Ippudo, see whatever show we rushed, and try someplace new for dinner. Sunday I usually bop from one food destination to another, maybe meeting up with some other friends, and maybe go do an escape room. I would typically head back to Boston Monday morning. This trip was surprisingly different - no Broadway show, no Ippudo, and no escape rooms.

I still arrived Friday night, and made my way over to Stuy Town to crash at Lisa’s apartment. The exciting challenge of this is that my phone died a week and a half ago, so I didn’t have any GPS capability. Luckily, NYC is a grid, and is pretty easy to navigate.

Saturday, I headed to the Bronx Botanical Gardens with Lisa and her roommate to see the Orchid Show, along with the rest of the gardens.

It was a beautiful day, so approximately half of NYC seemed to have the same idea as us. The gardens were pretty crowded, but they were large enough that we didn’t feel too crowded in until we went to actually see the Orchid Show. The line was about an hour long and snaked probably a quarter mile around a section of the gardens. To make matters worse, by the time we got in line, the temperature had started dropping, from the perfect high-60s day we’d had down towards the mid-50s.

The orchids themselves were really pretty, but inside the greenhouse it was shoulder-to-shoulder of slow-moving crowds. I was not a fan. This section of the trip made me question my decision to move to NYC for work after graduation - lines and crowds are not my cup of tea. Meh.

Saturday evening, we got hot pot at 99 Favor Taste in Chinatown, which was pretty good. Sunday, I didn’t have any plans til 1pm, so I spent the morning cafe-hopping - most of that in the Five Stuy Cafe, which was super cute, not too crowded, and had lots of good food options. If I ever live in or near Stuy Town, I could see myself hanging out there a lot. I wrote some code for my 6.863 final project and had a dulce de leche donut.

Around noon, I made my way up to 47th and 9th to meet up with Maryann and Harrison and check out Sullivan Street Bakery. I arrived a bit early to meet up at 1pm, so I stepped in to a Starbucks to kill another half hour. The bakery turned out to just be a pop-up, which wasn’t quite what any of us expected - their other location, which Maryann had seen before, was more of a traditional bakery/cafe, while the location on 47th street was just a tiny pop-up, so they had seating for exactly 3, and a single small table. I got a salami and mozzarella sandwich, which was quite tasty, and we chatted about NYC, jobs, and “tech stuff” - when a startup should start hiring specialist engineers, what testing and deployment schemes work well, the role of QA engineers, etc. It was cool to hear some more permutations of all of these things, since I’ve only seen the 3 permutations at Formlabs, Google, and Palantir. Harrison’s perspective as a startup founder was also an interesting one that I hadn’t really heard before.

We wrapped up around 2:30 and I headed back downtown towards Union Square / Washington Square Park, and met up with Walter at Boba Guys. Walter and I basically walked laps around Washington Square Park for an hour, chatting about photography, tech companies, NYC apartments, and how Walter is uniquely identifiable as “MIT + Buzzfeed”. After that, Walter toured me around SoHo and we stopped by Momofuku Milk Bar, and then dropped by Walter’s studio. The area definitely seems very “hip” - a bit more shopping/retail than the areas of Manhattan I frequent, which skew more heavily towards food.

After saying goodbye to Walter, I walked up to Union Square again and met up with a bunch of friends for dinner at Dunhuang, a hand-pulled noodle shop based out of Flushing, but that had just opened up a new location. I was again about a half hour early, so I stopped in a coffee shop across the street to wait. At Dunhuang, I got Zha Jiang Mian, and it was quite tasty - probably the best Zha Jiang Mian I’ve had. Most of the time, I feel like the ground pork winds up a bit gritty, but Dunhuang’s was soft/chewy and delicious - their noodles were also great, thick and fresh.

At that point, it was raining heavily, so I walked back to Lisa’s apartment in Stuy Town, soaked. Sunday reminded me of all the things I like about NYC - friends, food, and easy transit, in that order. Definitely reaffirmed my decision to move to NYC - had I tried to do a similar day in the Bay Area, I would have spent half the day on the Caltrain or BART trying to get around, and if I’d arrived early or had interstitial time like I did, I wouldn’t have had such ready access to coffee shops or bakeries to pop in for a half hour unplanned. Aside from getting soaked walking home, it was an excellent day.

Now, it’s Monday and I’m writing this on the bus home. I’m reminded strongly why I prefer taking the train - the bus ride is bumpy, cramped, and required waiting in the rain to board. Next time, I’ll try to plan things farther in advance so I can buy cheap train tickets. Anyway, thanks for reading :)

Tags: #thoughts #travel