Where in world...?

An old friend phoned the other day. He never phones. But this time he just had to know: "What are you doing living in Florence?"
He thought I was in Florence, Italy. I told him it was Florence, Massachusetts.
Here are some answers -- my occasional wanderings through Florence, MA and the surrounding Pioneer Valley.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Florentina's Christmas Shopping in New York City

**A quick adjustment below for accuracy!**
You've all seen those movies and television shows where you see New York City all decked out in Christmas gear from Thanksgiving to New Year's. This year I cut it a bit close in terms of time, and have just returned from visiting Joey's Dad in Brooklyn, so that shopping might get done in a big way in Manhattan. But things don't always turn out as hoped.

Last Friday I took the train out of Brooklyn to Midtown. The problem was that, unbeknownst to me, I was really under the weather and shouldn't have been traveling at all, not even on the subway. (The MTA does warn you of this, as they ask people not to get on the subway cars if there's a chance of feeling ill.) I discovered this was true of me because I kept getting on the wrong train and getting off at the wrong stops. Luckily I was never in danger of ending up somewhere really far off from where I needed to go, but I found myself going uptown when I wanted to go downtown, or headed to the West Side when I needed to be on the East Side. Some of you will notice this is a real change from the last time I had a subway marathon, when it was Florentina's NY Nosh Week.

Even so, Florentina did her best to do NYC at Christmas. Here's the list of places and things Christmasy that I encountered.
In reality this turned out to be a bust of a shopping day and I gave up at the end when I realized I couldn't find the last address I wanted to hit. That said to me it was time to go home to Brooklyn and Joey's Dad.

We made up for it the next day with Florentina's Spa Day. Admittedly it was a low-key spa day, but it was still a spa day because of:
My face actually looked different when I walked out of the facial. I had no idea such a thing could be possible! Together with the new haircut made up for the previous blah day of shopping.

While Manhattan lights were not happening for Florentina, Brooklyn had plenty of them in store. Here is what greeted us on the way to Grand Szechuan House:

The day was topped by a visit to Grand Szechuan House near 86th Street. For the record, this is a terrific place for Chinese food, and we've had some terrific meals here. Some of us (whose name begins with an "F") need to be better aware of our tolerance for ma-la Szechuan peppercorns. Florentina's no wimp when it comes to food and being adventurous, but let it be known that the Chengdu Spicy and Aromatic Fish in Hot Wok nearly did her in. Sorry, El Señor, that's a first in Chinese food for Florentina. I passed by Hinsch's Confectionery and wished I could have had a burger instead, because I was in pain. I know I'll have better luck next time in NYC!