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08 January 2011

New York, New York

New York, New York, so good I saw it twice. And loved it. If you’ve never been I recommend you give it a whirl. Actually, whirl is a good word to use since while I was there that’s what my days were like.

It was winter, just after Christmas, and by Crikey it was cold. I’d been warned to take plenty of warm clothes and for the first time in my life I accepted the advice. Thank God for boots, gloves, scarves and woolly hats. Wearing a hat was unheard of at that time and there I was, hat in place, scarf on top, and a coat hood covering the lot. After a while I didn’t really notice the cold, maybe that’s because I was so enchanted with the place.

I’ve never before been to a city that could only be described as exciting. It was so alive I reckon I was dead before arriving in the Big Apple. I’ve been to Italy several times and was familiar with the bustle of traffic but it didn’t compare to New York. But then it doesn’t have those glorious yellow cabs racing around.

One of the first things I noticed was the width of the Avenues and the seemingly long distance from one side of the road to the other. There were Stop and Walk crossings, of course, but I felt as if I was taking my life in my hands as I walked … well skipped … no, ran, in front of a dozen or so eager cab drivers waiting for the light to change in their favour so they could run me down.

The hotel was on West 54th Street, just along from the 54th Precinct which made me feel very safe. I don’t remember too much about the hotel except that it only did breakfast and that meant eating out. It had a good bar though and a room key system that never worked which almost prevented me from dropping in for a drink. Three or four times I went down to reception trying to sort it out, each time having wedged the door after praying no-one would venture inside and steal my worldly goods.

All that coming and going meant frequent use of the lift and thank God for it … I’m useless on stairs. That’s how I came to meet the very nice man. He greeted me cordially as he stepped inside the lift and the minute I responded he knew where I was from. Not too difficult, you might think, but he knew exactly were I was from because he came from the same place. What a coincidence!

The next time I saw him, again in the lift, he nodded and went on to describe the weather outside. I can’t remember what I said but he just went on talking … ignoring me and carrying on with his side of the conversation, about weather, traffic, and queues for everything. It wasn’t until we reached the upper floor, when he said goodbye and reached up to switch off his earpiece, that I realised he hadn’t been talking to me at all. Oh what a fool I was!

The hotel was round the corner from the CBS TV Show place, a famous entertainment venue, once home of the Ed Sullivan Show in the 60's, and now (or then) the home of the David Letterman Show. I never went inside… there was no need since you could hear the whole show from the street.
I did a lot of walking, block after block, since I was determined to see everything. I did get a cab a couple of times, once to Maceys when I was told the store didn’t open until 10 or 10.30 so I was taken for a ride round. Guess the driver saw me coming but it was worth it, besides it was much warmer in the cab. I must have been in a good mood to treat myself to a Macey's bag at an extortionate price.

A visit was also made to Bloomingdales, well I had to have something to talk about when I got home. One day I hiked down to the famous 42nd street. It wasn’t a bit like I imagined, although there was an Internet Café the size of a ballroom that I made use of. I’ve never seen so many computers in one place!

Eating out was okay. There was no need to go hungry with so many cafes in Times Square. The one I favoured most was the Playwright Tavern, conveniently located in the heart of the Theatre District, just minutes from Rockefeller Centre and St. Patrick's Cathedral. The Tavern was a regular stop-off for theatre goers before and after a Broadway show. The food was great; reminded me of home. I could also watch the current GAME while I ate. Went there several times and got to know the waitresses quite well. I tried other venues but enjoyed the Playwright the best.


Food on the move was interesting. Sometimes I called in at a local sandwich bar and have them make me a sandwich consisting of a three course meal. Or so it seemed. You name it, they provided it. I like that sort of place. Then there were the self-service-cooked meal-take-away establishments but I only patronised them if I wanted to eat in the hotel. I was a good patron of the hotdog providers, it was so warm there! I got a hotdog with English mustard every time … guess they recognised the accent! Yes there’s a lot of food to be had in New York, one morning a whole street was dedicated to hot food providers and the smell of cooking was wonderful on a freezing cold day. One thing I can brag about, I passed Hershey's every day and didn’t buy one single bar of chocolate.

Fifth Avenue was a favourite haunt, especially Tiffanys. I bought several presents to take home and made friends with a lady assistant who was about to marry an Englishman. She invited me to the wedding (truthfully) but I couldn’t manage to go to New York again that year.

Seeing Carnegie Hall brought back memories, not of New York but of Rod McKuen’s birthday concert held at Carnegie Hall. I’m a great fan of Rod McKuen’s work, his poems and songs, and the recording of the concert was repeatedly played. I simply adore his gravelly voice.




The tour buses provided a lot more sightseeing and I remember vowing to return to see those places in more depth. I only made it once more. Well, that’s my account of my first visit in a nutshell… I hope one day to return to that great big city. Let me finish with a poem written by Rod McKuen... Enjoy.
TAKING THE TIME

Taking time to love
is what it's all about
what makes the clocks turn
and the sunsets come
true and without
complication

That doesn't mean
lying close
in shut up rooms
or staying always
face to face

It's meant to cover walking
being apart and knowing
that coming back together
makes small distances
even smaller

And taking the time
to love
is, most of all,
caring enough
to not hold on too tightly
and yet not run too loose.

15 comments:

faye said...

Great post and photos.
One of these days I will get
to New York for an extended visit.
I've passed through many times and
stayed a night or two due to snow
storms shutting down the airport.

Brian Miller said...

wonderful verse...and great pics...hopefully heading to new york myself next week...been close to 20 years since i was there last cant wait...

Ron said...

*jumping up and down, screaming*

OMG...what a GLORIOUS post, Valerie! And such a wonderful tribute to my favorite city on the east coast!

What faaaaabulous photos too! Love the ones of Time Square! I also popped into Macy's while I was there last week for a visit. Can you believe in the five years I lived there, I never once walked into that store? Shame on me - HA!

"After a while I didn’t really notice the cold, maybe that’s because I was so enchanted with the place."

Meeeeeee too! Last week it was bitter cold, but I never even noticed it until I got on the bus to come back - my body was FROZEN!

Thank you so much for sharing this post, dear lady! I enjoyed every word of it!

Enjoyed the video and poem too!

Have a wonderful weekend!

X

Bernie said...

I love New York and it is time for a trip back there to visit family.
Great post Val, loved the photo's and poem......:-)Hugs

An English Shepherd said...

Lovely photos and memories and poem thanks for sharing.

Wizz :-)

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hi Valerie,

What a wonderful tour although it looked like a whirlwind passing through the great New York city.In a nut shell you provided so much information about the wonderful NY.

I enjoyed reading your interesting narration and lovely photos.

Best wishes,
Joseph

Valerie said...

Faye, NY is a must. I only hope I can get there again.

Brian, have fun while you're there. I just knew you'd like the verse.

Ron, thank you for reminding me about Macey's. I couldn't find my way out of the place; followed the exit signs but after a while they disappeared. I'm sure I toured the whole store looking for a door that led to the street... grins.

Bernie, Wow, family in NY? I would definitely take advantage of their hospitality if it was my family.

Wizz, thanks for visiting.. I'm sure you would love to run around Central Park.

Joseph, I'm so happy that you enjoyed my little tour.

Grandma Nina said...

Val, this post reminds me that we need to get back to visit NY. We are only 4 hours away. Our last trip was planned for Sept. 2001, and then you know what happened! We haven't planned a trip back since. Got scared I guess. We really must get there again. Always love the plays!

Akelamalu said...

What a fabulous trip you had Valerie. I would love to go to NY. Your story about the man in the lift really made me chuckle. :)

A man called Valance said...

Enjoyed. Thanks Val.

Still grinning at this...

'It wasn’t until we reached the upper floor, when he said goodbye and reached up to switch off his earpiece, that I realised he hadn’t been talking to me at all. Oh what a fool I was!'

Valerie said...

Nina, I was there two years after and saw Ground Zero. A terrible thing.

Akelamalu, glad you both had a giggle over my lift companion.

Valance, so happy to have provided you with a laugh. Where have you been, we've missed you.

A man called Valance said...

'Where have you been, we've missed you?'

You wouldn't believe me if I told you, Val. But I'm innocent, and that's the truth.

budh.aaah said...

A wonderful post and almost like talking a walk with you. My best friend lives in New York and want to go there so much as have been invited several times but cant afford the trip so it will have to wait.
But it warmed the heart to read about your post.

Mr. Shife said...

I have never been to New York. As a matter of fact I have never been anywhere east of Illinois. Ooops that is a lie. I did spend a brief amount of time in Florida but other than that I have been mostly in the West. Anyway I might make it to NYC someday because the lovely wife wants to go. I think I would be a little freaked out at first but it would be fun. And I really like the poem at the end of your lovely post. Take care.

septembermom said...

Valerie, if you ever come back to NYC, I'm a short train ride away. I would love to dodge the taxis with you. Broadway is my one of my favorite destinations, and of course, I love the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The poem is wonderful. Thanks for making this city girl remember how she needs to get back on that train again and see her favorite city. Some day, I will get to England...it's on my wish list!!