The Jumbo lands, and I walk onto the gangway of Newark Liberty International Airport to see the Manhattan skyline in the distance. I watch the CNN coverage of Iran riots in the line to border control, where an impressively muscular gentleman with an accent straight out of a bad stereotype grills me on the finer points of my last visit to the States. Reluctantly, he admits me.
I make my way to Penn Station and onto the subway, trundling all the way out to Brooklyn to the hostel I'd booked; when I finally find it, there is nobody home. I call the number on the reservation to hear that the booking had supposedly been cancelled, and that HostelWorld fucked up by not telling me (to the extent that I got a confirmation SMS earlier in the day, reminding me of the hostel's address). With some dismay, I return to Manhattan to find my friends at a cafe; fortunately it has free WiFi and I use my laptop to find a hotel at ultra-short notice. It's three times as expensive, but still semi-reasonably priced for an excellent location, and I cease to care. I drop off my bags and we go out, to see the throngs in Times Square and ride the elevator to Top of the Rock. While the Empire State building is taller, the observation platform on the last floors of the Rockefeller Center is supposed to provide a better view; unfortunately I happen to arrive in New York in the midst of wildly unseasonal rain, and the city is fogged up.
We take the subway to Chinatown and go into Joe's Shanghai, a very NYC sort of place in that it is highly rated and delicious, but not outwardly ostentatious. Our party of four is seated at a large table with a couple of other gangs. On recommendation, I order the soup dumplings, the restaurant's specialty. These are large dumplings, similar to Georgian hinkali, that contain not just a piece of meat but also a very thick broth, and they are excellent. Dana and Dave confer to decide they want something that doesn't come with a face, and immediately order the sea bass. I think they expected it to come in steak form, but in the event it was prepared and served whole, including an outstandingly creepy face. We get back to the East Village for a standup comedy show at the Comedy Cellar, after which I return to my hotel. The room is windowless, but large and quiet, and I immediately crash.