Tag Archives: Greenwich Village

6 days in New York. Our last day. Bwaaaaaaaaah!!!

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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 92yet 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!

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6 days in New York. Day 1.

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After my dad died in 1993 my mum`s general health and spirit diminished quite rapidly, they had been together since they were ten so I guess it was to be expected.  For the last year of her life my mother was looked after by my sister-in-law Patti and some time after mum died, I took Patti to New York for six days to say a big thank you for taking care of my mother so beautifully.  Here is my journal from that time which was April, 2006.

The flight to New York takes seven hours and forty minutes, the flight home takes five hours and forty minutes, can anyone explain that to me?   As usual I ate enough food on the plane to sink a battleship, including my own and that of the bloke sitting next to me.  I watched Capote which was excellent and some crappy movie with Goldie Hawn`s daughter in it impersonating her mother, which was very peculiar.   I was very glad when the plane touched down as it was a Virgin jet and the seat space is extremely small so were were cramped and uncomfortable after the flight, but very excited once we had alighted on to terra firma.

We arrived at JFK airport which if you haven`t been is vast, like a city within a city but very dull and grey and almost empty of life, like an apocolyptic film set.   We had to take a train just to get off the airport campus and then we found a subway train that took us all the way to the centre of New York.  It took forty minutes through lots of districts and eventually got us to 106th street where our hostel was.  Several people came on the train to sell sweets and DVD`s and then someone brought a whole fleet of kids on board and the train became like an an episode of Fame, with the kids performing tricky dance routines and somersaults in the aisles and then taking the hat round, it was really impressive.

We had booked into a hostel on one side of Central Park with Greenwich Village just a hop and a skip away.  The hostel was only twelve dollars a night and was buzzing when we arrived with lots of young hippy types in residence from all over the globe so being in our fifties, Patti and I were treated like OAP royalty.  We were to share our room with ten young women so it was intimate, about eight feet across and maybe fifteen feet long with several bunk beds in it.  Patti commented that it looked remarkably similar to the set for Cell Block H.  The entrance to the hostel was painted blood red, a bit like entering hell; each room was a different colour such as lime green or purple and not really terribly easy on the eye.  We soon discovered that the girls we were sharing with were extremely noisy but as I had some ear plugs and my  “cover your eyes”  thingy I felt adequately prepared.  Later I was to wish that I had poison and tea bags, but that story will come another day.  The room`s radiator, in fact the entire hostel including the water from the showers were set to the temperature of the sun, no wonder there is a global crisis!  Still, it was good for washing out your smalls.

During the first night one of the girls let her boyfriend into the dorm where they commenced making amour to one another. A Japanese girl complained but no-one else seemed to mind so he stayed, quietly until the morning.  At some point in the night that same girl attempted to close the window by our bunk beds and Patti spoke up and said,  “Ere!  You can`t do that – you can`t close our window or I`ll die.”   So she didn`t and fortunately neither did Patti

We decided to rest that first evening and then planned the following day to mooch round China Town, have something yummy to eat and go and gaze at Grand Central Station.  The very best way to see New York is on foot and if you have to travel to another district a long distance away then the subway is very good.  At first we were mildly confused at the difference between Downtown and Uptown but you soon work it out.  Most of the time we walked.    In fact we walked so many miles that week my feet felt like they were independent of my body…….