Like most people, my travel has been severely limited this past month and for the foreseeable future. I was scheduled to have already been to Beaujolais in France, I would have been heading to California this week, and then South America at the end of the month. Perhaps the most disappointing? I was due to attend the Giro d’Italia (Italy’s version of the Tour de France) in May.
Instead, in the past few months, the furthest I have been from our home in Houston has been about 10 miles when I went on a bike ride out to the Western edge of the city. If you take the bike out of the equation, the furthest I have “traveled” is 3.1 miles to our local grocery store, the H.E.B. (Update: this last week we did drive to Arkansas for a few days)
Thus, this lull is causing me to become a bit stir crazy and my wanderlust is in full bloom. Pretty much since the beginning of the pandemic, I have wondered where I would go if I could. Where would be the first place I would visit once it made sense to travel again?
So far, I have “visited” Palermo, Sicily; Dubrovnik, Croatia; Lisbon, Portugal; Bruges, Belgium; Philadelphia; and in France: Paris, Burgundy, Champagne, and Provence.
I love New York. I know that is cliché and since I never lived there (at least in the city–I lived in Dutchess County for three years, but that is another story altogether), but it’s true. It was not always the case, however, there was a time that I hated New York: too dirty, too noisy, too crowded.
That all changed when Bolt Bus started running between Philadelphia and New York City, which meant that I could head up to the city for $20 round-trip and not have to worry about driving, parking, or crazy New Jersey drivers. While the Bolt Bus was far from perfect (the oft-touted “free internet” rarely worked), the accessibility to New York it provided is one of the elements of living in Philadelphia I miss.
The premise for going up I-95 to New York? On just about every day, one could find a tasting to attend.
Many of the tastings would be held in some rather fancy places.
Going up to New York also meant meeting up with friends. Here, my buddy Ted from Philly joined my on a cruise through New York Harbor sipping on rosés from around the world.
While no one ever believes me, tastings are “work.” There are a ton of people and a ton of bottles to taste. Here, another buddy, Jim (jvbuncorked.com) is working through numerous bottles from the Jura.
The city itself started to grow on me. Downtown, of course, One World Trade looms over the city.
Although I do not miss snow even a little bit, New York is charming under a fresh dusting.
Every so often I would stay over in the city, and it was always nice to have a view.
Tastings on rooftops were particularly enticing.
Of course, there’s the Empire State Building, where I proposed to my wife.
There are many spots in the city that are studies in contrast.
Perhaps obviously, my favorite way to get around Manhattan was the ubiquitous City Bike. I loved riding in the city.
There were also several events, such as the premiere of the latest James Bond film, hosted by Champagne Bollinger.
Or an Academy Award viewing party hosted by Piper-Heidsieck (and giving me a reason to break out my tuxedo).
You don’t know who you will run into in New York….
At one tasting, the pourer for Château d’Esclans (producer of Whispering Angel) was a no-show, so I decided to step in.
Without a doubt, the best part about my trips to New York–meeting great people, like Lisa Anselmi and Silvia Franco…
…Régis Camus of Piper-Heidsieck…
…Georges and Franck Dubœuf…
…and Christophe Bristiel of Château la Nerthe, who has become a good friend.
Once it makes sense to travel again, I am sure that New York City will be one of my first destinations.