June 7th, 2018––
Andy Spector and I sit across from each other at the Hudson River Coffeehouse, a cozy shop on the corner of Hudson and Quail in Albany. We’ve spent our mornings and afternoons here to recharge and refresh with a cup of coffee, or for me, a freshly brewed iced tea (my favorite was the Strawberry Rumba). The first full day together we spent about two hours at Hudson River, then walked to Washington Square Park and explored Lark street in Albany. What I came to notice, was that Albany is very old and “hipster-esque.” There’s an aesthetic about the city that felt liberating. Everyone was young, too. So many young people here, and compared to Rochester, it is way more urban.
Andy hadn’t warned me that there wasn’t anything to do or that I would be bored after the first day, which he wasn’t wrong about, but the highlight was exploring downtown Albany and visiting the New York State Museum. I described myself as a “closeted history nerd”, and that museums were something I wanted to check out while I was here. The restaurants in Albany were locally owned and operated, much different than the larger companies around Long Island. The food was good; I had a small but filling breakfast at Madison Cafe down the street from Andy’s apartment. Last night, we went to a place called the Madison Pourhouse for a beer, and boy do they have beer. I know nothing about beer; I’m a Wine Mom at heart, but I am always down to try new things. I chose a lemon wheat ale, a light beer with a citrus kick. We had arrived an hour before the Pourhouse closed, so we were only able to have one drink, but we headed down the street to Junior’s for another, and of course some wings and mozzarella sticks.
I think the most memorable experience in Albany was going to Stewart's for the first time. Andy was really excited to take me there, later mentioning that Stewart's is a "generic gas station convenience store that happens to have really good ice cream and coffee." I assumed it was an old fashioned ice cream place, but I wasn't disappointed. (I recommend the Fireworks flavor if you get the chance to go).
In honor of Pride Month, I was really pleased to see many businesses, homes, and even churches sporting the Pride flag around Albany. What really excited me was seeing the Transgender Pride flag and Bisexual Pride flag adorned on a building in the Capital Plaza. So often, we forget about these groups in the LGBT+ community, and it really warmed my heart to see them represented in this city.
Will I be back to Albany? I hope so. I really did enjoy myself, and Andy was an excellent host, making sure I had what I needed every night before I went to bed. His apartment was small, but homey and clean. As I sit in Hudson River with Andy, enjoying their coffee for the first and last time (for a while), I am ready to go home and prepare for my next upcoming trip. Stay tuned for more “Greetings From…” this summer. I’m so excited to see what’s in store.