Tag Archives: United States

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 4.

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Recalled here with great respect and love for those people of Statten Island and America who lost their homes and their lives in the recent Hurricane Sandy.

April 2006.  Yesterday was a brilliantly sunny and very hot day at around 75 degrees.

Me and Patti took the subway to catch the Statten Island Ferry, one of the few things in New York which is still free.  We ferried past the Statue of Liberty which was most impressive and on to the island where we bussed around for a bit to get an idea of what it was like.  Statten Island is a totally different world to New York and in places, it is almost rural.  It is picture postcard pretty with wooden houses and porches and rocking chairs on the verandas.  American flags fly in almost all the front gardens so there is a great sense of patriotism there.  Everywhere was smothered in cherry blossom and the whole place looked absolutely gorgeous, I can well understand why New Yorkers buy there to live for the quiet pace of life and then commute to work on the ferry.  We shopped in a large and airy mall, it was nice to get into a cool place and it really reminded me of the malls in Australia.  We had coffee and caught the ferry back to the Wall Street area of New York.

We found a deli and had hot corned beef sandwiches with mustard and gherkins and went and lay in the sun on the banks of the Hudson River and sunbathed for a while in Battery Park.  I lost my umbrella which I was sad about as it was one I had purchased in America but as it happens, I really didn`t need it that lovely day.

We visited the Jewish Holocaust Museum which is a fantastically imposing piece of architecture and a most engaging and impressive museum.  We were shown round by an old lady called Rose whose picture is up on the wall of the museum, from when she was a little girl.  As an only child her Jewish parents shipped her away from home in Germany when she was 8 so that she would be spared the Holocaust.  She eventually wound up in New York aged 11, where she was raised by wonderful, adoptive parents.  Sadly, she never saw her birth parents again.  Both Patti and I cried whilst going round the museum, these matters always make me cry, just as they should.

Afterwards we dropped into BB King`s Diner in the heart of New York and in fact BB King was there the previous week so we just missed the great man!  They have loads of fabulous musicians making guest appearances there and I really liked the place, it had a great ambience.   Afterwards we got into one of those tricycles that are bike taxis and available for hire all over New York.  We were peddled by a very nice young Croatian geezer who took us to the Empire State Building where we queued for what seemed like an age, in windy  (no – that`s as in winding)  streams of people until we got to the lift which takes you to the 87th floor.  Wow!  You can go still further to Floor 102 but you have to pay a silly amount for the privilege.  The views from Floor 87 were so stunning that we really didn`t mind the wait.  Getting down again however, was a nightmare, it was terribly poorly organised and there was a massive crush of people all trying to get to the bottom floor.  Much of it was by stairs as there is no lift available for the downward journey, it was like being stuck in an Escher painting.  I would recommend visiting at lunch time if you are intending to go there as we were told it is very quiet at lunch time and no queues!

Tomorrow we are visiting the Tenement Museum on East Side and then dine at Katz which famously featured in the movie When Harry Met Sally, a proper Jewish delicatessen where I intend to eat liver and corned beef,