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As I sit to write about the visit from almost 2 months ago, I’m reminded of the perks of this 101 Challenge ๐Ÿ™‚ You get to relive the moments, the sweltering and scorching, the laughs and wrong turns and the walking back and forth and the quest. You get to experience the friendships and camaraderie months and weeks afterwards, a second time around, when the friends are scattered all over.

Chronologically speaking, Chelsea Market follows after a lazy Sunday brunch at Penelope’s, NYC, sometime in early June, but since that one is still unwritten, and the luck of the draw has picked Chelsea Market as the focus of my current thought meanderings, chronology will have to be ignored for the time being.

I’ll admit that I was originally a little skeptical about the trek to Chelsea Market. Shops along an indoor promenade-style walkway, whether underground or industrial-style, cute or otherwise, still sounded, you know, hum drum. So bucket loads of kudos to the friends who coaxed and cajoled, then threatened and guilt-tripped (with liberal boluses of creative liberties in my interpretation here), and finally just declared and dragged – GREAT job.

The thing about missed experiences is just that – they are missed. You rarely ever realize the full impact of the missed moments because you missed them and don’t know any better. I would have casually strolled along the crazy forks of life – picking, choosing, ambling and choosing some more – never really understanding the charm of the brick walkway and the cool dankness of the tunnels never walked.

Imagine your stroll through the concrete jungle of Manhattan and then almost suddenly you are ensconced into the chilly depths of what feels like tunnels through some happy dungeons. The exposed brick is quaint and fun, and the shops flanking you on both sides are interesting and even quirky. Check out this urban waterfall!

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What really caught my eye were the paper lantern lights strung all along the warehouse ceiling – in happy hues of orange and yellow. A little festive, a little splash of the inner 5-year old in each of us, a little incongruity that just somehow magically fits.

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As you’re ambling along, sampling from the seafood restaurants and lobster-roll stands all along the sides, wrecking havoc on your wallet at the cute jewelry store or (gasp) that enticing gem of a kitchen gadget store … you will almost unexpectedly be thrown into a castle-wall … no, not really. But it will feel like that, a little. Be imaginative with me here – the “blasted” feel of the brick walls definitely feels like the gaping hole left after that ineffective attack on your castle on the moor … doesn’t it?

And check out the relatively less anachronistic clock: almost your mental anchor to prevent any explosive cognitive dissonance. After all, all that cerebral matter splashed on the brick walls would be rather a mess to clean up …

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L’arte del Gelato is located at one end of the Chelsea Market. We spotted it just as we were prepping to leave, to embark on the second leg of our adventures of that afternoon. A quick pitstop at the recharging station never hurt anyone, and the thought of ice cream was refreshing on that sweltering summer day.

What transpired next can only be described as a “frenzy” of ice cream flavor tastings. Point, anticipate eagerly, reach for the plastic sample scoop and consciously control the slight tremor in your outstretched arm, tentatively wrapping the now slightly chilled fingers around the sample scoop and then gingerly touching the frothy frozen favorite to the tip of your tongue. As you close your eyes and let the ice cream slowly melt onto your taste buds in a cascade of flavors, you wait the split second until the line of communication to the sensory parts of your brain is reactivated. Aha!

You wait for the feedback, slightly delayed, and then in a burst of catching up, you realize just how amazing that delectable morsel of frothy frozen favorite is. Yet you suppress the “yes, this is what I want!!” enthusiasm, in a mix of eagerness to try more flavors, and a masochistic delaying of the ultimate indulgence and pleasure of walking away with your fully loaded cone. Or cup, for the wimpy – if you’re going to get ice cream, do the right thing and get the cone.

Finally, after the tasting frenzy and maneuvering our way around the almost hostile service folks (you’d be too, if you were managing the never-ending stream of tasting frenzy throughout your shift), armed with our drippy flavor towers, we marched out of Chelsea Market and headed towards the High Line Park.

High Line Park is an experience. If you are in NYC and have not visited, don’t dilly dally – it will change the way you think about urban living. If you are not in NYC, do visit when you are passing through. I think it’s amazing.

The city and it’s team of creative architects, designers and doers have taken an old, dilapidated and out-of-use train tracks that run along the western edge of Manhattan and “done it up” as an urban garden. Walkways, bike paths, benches, shrubs and bushes in bloom along the sides, all carefully designed to let you meander and weave in and out, zip forward or hang back and amble, and just be. Of course, the entire time, you can almost touch the surrounding skyscraper-wannabes and luxury condos bordering the entire tracks on either side. It really is amazing to be able to look out onto the cityscape from that elevation and perspective, surrounded by the meticulously maintained wilderness.

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Wouldn’t be NYC without the requisite representation of capitalism ๐Ÿ™‚ You want ice cream, a chilled beer, or more exotic munchies? Come on over!

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You want tacos? Why not? In fact, L’arte del Gelato has a stand here as well if I remember correctly …

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Then sit on some steps next to a grassy lawn, arm’s length awe from the hustle and bustle of NYC, and relish the live music! We watched the musicians set up and then just kicked back to listen to them play. Until it was getting late and we had to extricate ourselves from the stupor of contentment and slowly make our way further north to exit the park

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Chelsea Market and the High Line Park were both discoveries, not-quite-so-hidden gems, affording such an amazingly relaxing sunday afternoon in the most unexpected and energizing ambience!

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