"an elegant tapestry of quotations, musings, aphorisms, and autobiographical reflections" (James Atlas)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

NYC - a love-hate relationship renewed

Although I'm back home in Oz, I thought I'd finish up the travel blog with some reflections on our time in NYC. I was here back in 1976, with two friends, and was not impressed with New York at the time. We did the usual things, saw the sights, but only stayed for three days and then took the bus to New Orleans. This time, we had booked 6 nights, and I was not sure what to expect; everybody I had spoken to was in love with NYC, so there must have been something to recommend it and I was happy to give it another go. It was Wayne's first time in NYC, and he was just stunned by the sheer size of it. We ended up staying at the New York Manhattan Hotel (nyma), a great little place in Little Korea. For NYC, it was relatively cheap and the location was excellent, steps from Macy's and the Empire State Building, and right next to the metro. Nyma had everything you would need, and although the rooms were a little small, we felt quite cosy there. I had planned to see so many things while in the 'Big Apple', but we ended up in the middle of a heatwave, so our energies were sapped and we concentrated our sightseeing in the mornings. We 'did' all the major sights - the ESB at night - glorious vistas of light, with the stars overhead. Times Square, as amazing at night as during the day, and wonders to behold every minute! Even the advertising is riveting! Every few seconds someone or something comes by and makes you go all goggle-eyed. One of the best things was a horse-and-coach ride in Central Park. As soon as you enter, the bustling city falls behind and you're in a beautiful treed oasis. New Yorkers love their park! It's a great space, the scene of many movies, and home to adorable squirrels. The Staten Island Ferry past the Statue of Liberty - the old girl still looks great. I saw Ellis Island, where my mother arrived in 1952, a young war bride. Wall Street, the centre of business both small and big, and the 'bull' a few blocks down. Got a giggle from the supersized 'Burger King' sign obscuring the venerable old Stock Exchange building, with George Washington looking down his nose at it all. Fancy 5th Avenue with the top retailers, and Rockefeller Centre, a hub of Art Deco art. Wayne explored the 'Intrepid' aircraft carrier, while I took in some of the amazing exhibits of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. If I start takling about the MMA, I won't stop, it's simply the best. I saw the riches of so many civilisations, it made me think that if humankind can produce such wonders, it might even end up producing a beautiful version of itself. (ok, I was feeling whimsical). We met some of Wayne's cousins in Little Italy. This area was fun  to explore, because it is just a short couple of blocks, full of Italian restaurants. You turn a corner from Chinatown, and there it is. And then you turn a corner, and you're in little Vietnam! With everything for sale on the streets, things you know (fish, vegies), and things you don't know (?fungi, ?dried something), and things weird (buckets full of live toads; cryovac'd marinated duck egg yolks - now what would you need that for??). Talking about food (one of my favourite topics - yes, really, Nancy!), I must say that the quality of the food in the US (and Canada) is excellent. I haven't had a really bad meal anywhere. The ingredients are fresh and tasty, and often prepared very nicely. On the flip side, the size of the meals simply put me off most of the time. What a waste! The USA could feed three nations with the leftovers alone! And everybody eats donuts! I don't even dare look at one and gain 3lb., and I saw people having several for breakfast! Diabetes must be rampant. And burgers are on the menu even in the top restaurants. There is not much imagination involved in American food, Australia is way ahead in that respect. But I've had some excellent meals on our trip. Well, back to NYC. Ok, I liked it much more than the first time, but being me, I hate the crowds, the heat, the traffic, the smells, the begging, the sheer claustrophobia of the place - six days was quite enough, thank you!
Would I go back? Well, maybe on the way to somewhere else, if only to visit the MMA again, and the Guggenheim, and the American Museum of Folk Art, and the Museum of the American Indian, and the Plaza hotel for high tea, and walk the Brooklyn Bridge, and take in a show on Broadway, and........

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