Travel Light in 3-D
I love New York. I love the East Side, West Side, Bronx, and Battery. I want to stuff the Big Apple in my suitcase and take it home. My travel-savvy friend Julia recommends a model or kit instead. “They’re flat, light, and a creative, meditative way to spend an afternoon with a glass of wine,” she says. Hmmm.
I arrive via yellow cab at the Hotel Empire at 63rd and Broadway. My cabdriver, Harry, warns, “Beware the Eurotrash,” and squiggles his eyebrows like Vincent Price. The cavernous Empire lobby’s leopard-print chairs suggest Sunset Boulevard by way of Vegas. Dim, mile-high chandeliers twinkle like mid-century Miro satellites.
I check in and cross Columbus Circle to the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD), and the Richard Estes exhibition. It’s a little freaky looking at Estes' photographic paintings of Columbus Circle reflected in the windows of MAD while inside MAD looking at a painting of Columbus Circle reflected in the windows of the MAD.
In the MAD shop I find a yellow cab model, “ages 3 and up.” As Julia says, it’s cute, flat, and a nice way to remember cabdriver Harry and my day at MAD.
The evening brings me to Esca, "lure" in Italian, for Carciofo Negroni cocktails adorned with a trademark flourish of orange. Recreating recipes is another great way to recall a treasured travel experience, DIY-style.
Carciofo Negroni al’Esca
1 oz. Plymouth gin
1 oz. sweet vermouth
1 oz. Cynar
Pour the gin, vermouth, and Cynar into a chilled glass over ice.
Garnish with a serious twist of orange peel.
I'm lounging high on the vertiginous Hotel Empire pool deck enjoying the view. The pool is a single turquoise lane in which no one is swimming, and the piped-in 1980s music is torture. AC/DC yells, "You. Shook me all night long!" The international rooftop crowd seems to love it. A nifty model of New York City’s iconic water towers (skill level intermediate, a little more of a challenge) will definitely help recall my noisy and convivial rooftop experience.
I make my way to the once-gritty, now-stylish Meatpacking District to the Circle Line. On a sunny day, there is no better way to see the island of Manhattan than by boat. We chug by the Statue of Liberty, Gracie Mansion, Brooklyn Bridge, Yankee Stadium, The Cloisters, and Grant's Tomb.
Our Manhattan odyssey ends with soaring panoramic views from the new Whitney Museum. I flip through my lightweight, packable postcards and souvenirs and enjoy the sunset. I find a postcard-model of the Statue of Liberty — way beyond my level of skill — but vow to give it my best effort. I buy two, just in case.
Elizabeth Margolis-Pineo is a travel writer who created EpicuriousTravelers to feature her published work and ongoing trips throughout Maine and abroad.