Lordy we have walked so many miles this week, my feet don`t feel like they belong to my body any more.
Today we began by visiting the Tenement Museum on Lower East Side by Delancey Street. Patti explained to me about crossing Delancey which I knew nothing about and which was absolutely fascinating. It relates to before, during and after World War 2 and many Jewish immigrants were arriving to begin a new life in America. Crossing Delancey Street was a huge cultural issue because it meant that you had become an American. A Jewish lady who was 92, yet looked about 72 took us around and brought the whole experience alive. Up to twelve people lived in two rooms in these tiny tenement flats. A chimney down the centre of the blocks was where everyone`s waste, including toilet waste was tipped every day. If you lifted up a table top up in the small living room – come kitchen, underneath you find a bath, the table became a makeshift bed at night. It was fantastic and one of my (many) favourite bits of the week. We walked on afterwards through more of China Town which I adore and then ate at Katz, where Harry met Sally. The sandwiches are so enormous you have to pace yourself to eat one. (I`ll have what she`s having!)
We walked on to the synagogue which was open today. It`s being renovated and will be gorgeous when it`s completed. There are so many buildings in New York which are fascinating and need an awful lot of work doing to preserve them and keep them going. After that we went to the Mahayana Temple which was (hurrah) open! It`s close to Manhatten Bridge which is pretty spectacular all by itself but the temple was truly beautiful and bathed in red and gold with a gigantic gold Buddha sitting in the centre of the far hall. I loved it.
We strolled along Bowery and stopped for some coffee and some people watching. You don`t half see some interesting bodies in New York and some extremely individual and eclectic ways of dressing, it`s incredibly cosmopolitan. We went back to the hostel to sort our things out and get packed for home. Patti didn`t want to go, she`d like to stay a lot longer but me, I`m all New Yorked out and I am longing for my bed and my bath. It has been absolutely wonderful though and I really hope to return one day, what a fabulous city! The subway has been the most confusing bit since, in the wake of terrorism, the trains are renumbered and rerouted on a daily basis but the best way to get around New York anyway, is on foot, that way you don`t miss out. For example, where once there was derelict wasteland, the community has come together and turned lots of derelict bits of land into incredibly pretty urban gardens, with hanging baskets and explosions of flowers everywhere. It is unexpected and quite lovely amongst the skyscrapers. You wouldn`t appreciate this if you weren`t on foot. Times Square by the way, isn`t square at all! That was a bit of a shock, it`s a long, long street.
In the evening we went to eat at a cool little cafe in Greenwich Village, very lovely and very Amsterdam Patti tells me. Full of bookshops and arty places, Greenwich is so attractive and clean and offers a bit of serenity away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre. We both had to buy another wheelie bag to take all our stuff home, it`s a wonder they will let us on the plane with all our gear.
At 10:30 we fell in to our bunks for the last time, to sleep for a couple of hours before getting the flight back home.
Good night and goodbye New York. It was a blast!