I don't know with which one I made plans first, but I had thought that they were two different shabbasos, but I mixed up the dates. But not one to disappoint, I decided I could do both - it would just be a lot of walking.
They didn't live just anywhere on the UWS, they lived on 66th street, which is over 120 blocks away from my apartment - still undeterred, I went ahead with it. My hosts were pleasant and the food good (thanks), the Boyaner shtiebel which we attended for davening was a different davening than to which I usually go nowadays (and certainly the UWS) (though I've been to similar minyanim before) - it was definitely not the UWS to which I've been used (with the singles scene and such (hat tip: AM)). One thing that I found interesting and refreshing was their not labelling themselves beyond saying Orthodox - not Modern, not this, not that. It's definitely refreshing, as I so often hear of varying labels that people discuss.
Anyways, I walked up to my apartment, taking two and a half hours to do so, and then had an hour before minhah to prepare further my speech and to change my clothes. I made it to shul and gave my speech.
Unfortunately, I had to give up sleeping the whole afternoon, but at least I got in over an hour of napping before walking. Nevertheless, I was exhausted on shabbas due to just having our last day of school for the year and was kind of drained of energy throughout shabbas.
BTW, my speech for בהעלותיך (in your causing to go up - yes, I did say something about my going up Manhattan and this) involved a very beautiful midrash (Bamidbar Rabbah, parshah 15), which I want to share here:
I think the take-away from this is that we should try to light up the world in various ways: morally and many others.אמר להם הקב"ה לא שאני צריך לכם אלא שתאירו לי כדרך שהארתי לכם למה לעלות אתכם בפני האומות שיהיו אומרים ראו היאך ישראל מאירין למי שהוא מאיר לכל העולםThe Holy One Blessed be He said to them (Children of Israel), "It is not that I need you [to light for me (that I have commanded you to light the menorah in the Temple for me)], rather that you should light for me similarly like I have lit up the path for you." Why [does God use the terminology of 'ascending']? To elevate you in the eyes (lit., in the faces) of the nations that they should say, "Look how Israel is lighting for the One who Lights for the whole world."
Tags: Upper West Side, UWS, walking, walk, hike, Manhattan, New York, shabbas, shabbas walk, Boyaner shtiebel, Boyaner shul