Perfect morning in New York
It has been over 5 years since I first visited New York, and in that time I have managed to visit a further 3 times, totalling around 3 weeks in the Big Apple, and it never grows old.
I was really pumped about going to New York this time, not only because I had tickets to see The Knife at Terminal 5 which I had been waiting in anticipation for (even longer than the first time I ever went to New York), but also because I had so much fun 18 months ago and I knew I had more to explore.
There are lots of cities and destination which may or may not deserve their hype. But New York does - every song, every book, every film. It never disappoints, and upon visiting again this time I realised it truly is one of my favourite cities in the world, and I don’t even care how cliché that is. It completely deserves that title.
First of all, New York welcomed me with the worst rain even New Yorkers had seen in a long time and a temperature around 45f/7c (aka cold). I’d walked no less than 2 blocks and I was absolutely soaked, and continued to be even after investing in a horribly un-waterproof umbrella for $7.
To still be excited, to still walk 10 blocks in the driving rain just so I can be in amongst it, is testimony to how much you love a place. What I couldn’t believe was all the other poorly dressed New Yorkers were doing the same around me, everyone had soggy shoes and soaking wet jeans to their knees, yet here we all were, tromping around. Not on the subway, or in a taxi.
I stopped for a pre-gig dinner at VYNL which had apparently only been refurbished on Tuesday. Dining alone in New York is fabulous, like most places in America it isn’t considered at all unusual, and more often than not I end up meeting others who are dining alone. However, this night was reserved for my second favourite dining-alone-experience; people watching and earwigging on conversations.
From my earwigging, I gleaned that the two fascinating older ladies dining next to me were involved in the theatre. One was regaling tales to the other of a function she attended the previous day, where she was hanging out with Victor Garber, amongst others. Mid-way through my cobb salad and fries, what can only be described as Amazonian goddess walked in, easily 6ft tall without her killer heels and so immaculate in the driving rain, it surely deserved an award.
After I had dried off best I could, over dinner, I continued my trek to Terminal 5 and found that disturbingly people had already begun queuing despite the horrible weather and it only being 6:30pm - doors were not due to open for another hour. I decided that there was nothing else for it; regardless of my severely leaking umbrella, I must also join the queue, in the torrential rain and stick it out. I don’t wait 6 years to see a band, not to be near the front.
At 7pm, Mary met me.
Now, lets just take a little interlude to talk about Mary. Mary and I met as we both disembarked a boat bound from the Togean Islands to Ampana, in Indonesia. We began talking in the back of the taxi and in a beautiful twist of fate we found out that not only did she like The Knife and would be in New York to take advantage of the spare ticket that I just so happened to have, she also graciously offered me somewhere to stay and in Brooklyn no less - a place I have been dying to visit and explore (especially with a local!) for a long time. And so it was such that within 30 minutes of knowing each other I had offered her the ticket and she had offered me a couch, as two perfect strangers!
We met again, further on in my Indonesia trip, but not for long, so I was excited to get to know Mary more. We chatted in the queue, trying to stave off freezing to death and finally got let in. We secured a perfect second row spot and giggled our way through the ‘warm up act’ DEEP Aerobics: Death, Electronic, Emo, Protest Aerobics. It was just as strange as it sounds, and even more brilliant than you could imagine.
The only information I could find on it was this: http://www.miguelgutierrez.org/deepaerobics/groove/
Which does a pretty good job of summing up the ridiculous fun that we had as a crowd. The yes/no/maybe part was perhaps my favourite.
Before long, we were a little more dry and ready for The Knife. The show of dancers burst out in an almighty fashion of colour and vibrancy. During the second song Mary pointed out that Björk was standing on the balcony above us in an beautiful neon outfit. Her stunning cheekbones and features easily visible from the pit below - radiating on the precipice of the balcony.
The show was utterly superb, worth the 6 year wait, and just the sort of craziness I expected of The Knife. An inspiring, creative, mish mash of dance, music, spoken word and cultural comment - a true eclectic mix.
Mary and I tromped home on the subway, where I met their beautiful cat who goes to the toilet just like the cat in Meet The Parents, which excited me no end.
The next morning, Mary’s adorable and ludicrously hospitable boyfriend made me breakfast, despite me appearing on his couch being our first ever meeting - what a host!
I then got lost on the subway. Lets face it, no trip in New York would be complete without this happening. Eventually I found my way to The Metropolitan. Once I was inside and had paid my $25 “suggested” donation fee (or rather the pay-$25-or-we-make-you-feel-guilty-fee), one thing I could not find were the bathrooms.
We all know I love me a gallery, but this place was too big for its own good. You know your layout is wrong when you can’t even find a toilet upon arrival! Who can view art when your urge to pee is overwhelming. Anyway, after 20 minutes of wandering around the entire Egyptology section at speed, looking for the toilet, I finally found bathrooms in the basement.
And FINALLY I was ready to try and look around. It was still far too big, and the way the galleries intertwined with each other meant that I missed great chunks of different sections. My sense of direction is terrible, granted, but art galleries should not be this hard!
I topped off my visit, literally and metaphorically, with a visit to the roof top. It was a scorching day outside, so I took a few photos then headed down to start pavement pounding.
I walked over 30 blocks, mostly down Madison and Park Avenue. I love the luxury of Madison Ave. All of the ridiculous people, ladies with their neatly groomed poodles, plastic surgery everywhere and beautiful shops. I bought a Tiramisu from a bakery, which was delicious, to eat as I walked.
I also did a little shopping along the way and popped in to Bloomingdales in the hope they had my favourite brand of leggings (Hue) to purchase. They did, and I enjoyed their luxurious changing rooms and helpful sales assistances immensely.
It was nearing the time I had arranged to meet Mary in Brooklyn and since I am a terrible subway navigator, and I wasn’t even sure where I was supposed to go, I figured I better leave myself plenty of time.
Just as well I did, so I could enjoy the fabulous buskers at Union Square along the way and then wait on the platform whilst they fixed the L train that was broken. I made it to Williamsburg an hour early and enjoyed wandering around for a while (half lost, half not).
Brooklyn has a great feel to it, especially what I saw of Williamsburg. Trendy cafes and cute bars litter rough-around-the-edges neighbourhoods. None of them feel (or are) particularly unsafe these days but they do not feel as polished as Manhattan does and that’s only a good thing. It feels more cultural, more diverse; not ethically but economically.
Mary chose Traif for us to eat at for dinner. We were spoilt with options but she said this was the best, so we plumped for that. I was still early so ordered a delicious cocktail at the bar, whilst the enthusiastic bar woman chatted away to me. Mary seems to have an excellent knack for also being early, so before long we were seated and perused the menu of small plates.
We found some delicious things to order; pork cheeks, green tomatoes, tuna tartare and gnocchi, accompanied by the most unusual sounding wine we could find on the menu. It was all very good, and we enthusiastically shared and polished off all of it.
Next we moved to a lovely cosy bar, which reminded me of a classy English pub, where we enjoyed yet more superb cocktails and great conversation! It was such a fab evening, and so lovely to see some of the Brooklyn sights with a local.
Mary and I took a cab home, and the cute kitty curled up on my feet for the night.
The next day it was nearly time to leave. I woke up early to say goodbye to Mary and her boyfriend, who were off to work, and left me the keys so I could pop out and back before I had to leave for my bus.
I decided to grab lunch from the local deli, as deli’s are one of my favourite features of New York. Rather amusingly it turned out that the deli I chose was quite the place to people watch, as they prepared my food. There was a stream of varying ethnicities and cultures passing through the doors of the deli, ordering food, buying snacks and buying their lottery tickets. It was a great way to watch the world go by for 15 minutes.
I ate my lunch, with kitty, and then caught the subway into Manhattan. I got off at Penn Station and ended up doing some last minute shopping, picking up some naughty doughnuts and purchasing a few things. It was a beautiful day and New York looked gorgeous (see the 1st photo for evidence)!
It was finally time to catch my bus back to Baltimore, but this trip compounded it for me; I’ve got to come back in November! There’s still more pavements to pound, galleries to visit and shops to browse. And I hear there’s lots more restaurants in Brooklyn that I haven’t tried yet..