Sunday, 6 July 2014

The Nearly Big Apple

Manhattan was on our itinerary to provide several things:
- a convenient stop off to get a flight back to London
- a way for me to visit and remember a city I knew fairly well 15 years ago
- a way for Gayle to make judgement on another overbuilt and overblown US city

I would say we were very successful on all accounts!

Our accommodation was quite far north in the city and not in the most salubrious of areas - we had continued with our approach of conserving cash - making the most of the resistance we've built up against general discomfort etc.  We were staying in an AirBNB apartment which was mostly nice comfortable - along with our Washington trip we were already getting used to a 'normal' level of comfort...

There were a couple of wrinkles of course - our host smoked like a chimney when she was in (luckily she had a very busy career as a chef - however this challenged her cleaning schedule), and she had two huge fluffy mancoon cats.  They were roughly twice as big and fluffy as any other normal cat - and even put me to shame with the amount of fur they could leave around the place.  House cats can be a little pongy, so an infrequently cleaned apartment with two huge indoor cats and full 70's style pedastal ashtray made a less than ideal 'atmosphere'.   

Gayle had a full-on 'must clean everything' itch - but we managed to stay busy enough so that she only took on some sweeping even though we had a good few days to explore with.  It was relatively easy to get onto the Underground Trains - so we covered quite a lot of ground.  Some of our highlights were:

Central Park:
We spent quite a while wondering and sitting in the park - it's very much the city's antidote to it's very built up and busy ways.  Although there has been a slight sense of shame sitting over us while we watch the locals keeping themselves in trim - we were just going to restaurants and buying M&Ms as usual.

Liberty & Ellis Island
Fantastic views of Manhattan, the statue and area - along with much factual museum fare to drink - albeit a bit wordy.  One US visitor summed up the whole problem with the Immigration Museum... "there's just too much reading!".  Inspired, I often hope they will take a museum and  summarise it into cartoon form, or maybe a comic book. 

The Guggenheim & Musuem of Modern Art:
Even though I can appreciate different types of art and I definitely don't subscribe to 'I know what I likes...' or 'a 3 year old could have done that...' - believe me it's still really bizarre that I write this instead of Gayle.  Art musuems and clothes shops have the same effect on me - I yawn like a walrus every 43 seconds and my feet feel like someone is trying to nail them to the floor from underneath.  There is fun to be had though - I was particularly amused by a man who walked off in audible disgust after seeing ITALIAN THING which was effectively six very incorrect and very large simple addition sums - I just hope he didn't go upstairs to see the random ten empty slide carousels projecting nothing repeatedly onto several parts of a room...  ("Grrrrrrrrr").

The Village & Around
This consisted of walking around the streets, 'High Line' park and achingly worthy / fashionable / expensive artisan food and trinkets in Chelsea Market.  

Ground Zero
During 9/11 I was only 70 miles away on Long Island with a few friends who met as colleagues - we were just as safe as anyone not even in the New York State or the US area - but our proximity to the area made us feel vulnerable to further attacks, closer to people who were directly impacted and also closer to some of the stories about the fallout from the horrific event.  As a result I knew my visit to the 9/11 Museum would be a difficult day - but was really worried that the whole thing would be over blown and a bit 'Team America' (@£$# - yeah!) in it's reaction.  I need not have worried about that, it was incredibly well positioned and although it was always going to provoke a lot of negative feelings in it's audience, it did a good job of avoiding divisive, subjective or sensational content.  Overall I was very impressed and very glad I went back to see this.

Little Italy
A way to spend a magnificent amount of money on good Italian meal

As we set off for our convenient flight at 5am - I was certainly glad that I had a catch up with New York, and Gayle agreed that the city has loads to offer - however the whole place is a 'bit small'.  A frequent made criticism of New York.   Onto the airport then....

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