New York, New York (I’d have named it twice too!)

I absolutely totally utterly love New York.  Ooh a bold statement indeed.  I love the buzz of the City.  I love that you are side-stepping your way on the sidewalk and that your feet hurt from walking soo far!  I love the noise and the sound of the fire engines as they blast their way through the traffic.  I love the gush of cold air through the subway tunnels.  I love seeing the steam rising from the manhole covers.  I love that everyone is busy and sometimes a little brash.  I love the New Yorkers and the way they truly want to show you the best things in their City and will talk at speed to get all the information into one sentence!  I love the height of the City, the skyline that often looks more like a music equalisers as it spikes.  I love the brownstones and townhouses that look as if from a movie and where I imagine the ‘neighbourhood’ hanging out with cold beers on the steps in the Summer months.

Hey, what can I say?  I love New York.

This trip I was fortunate enough to be able to stay in a friend’s apartment in W16th Street.  They’ve moved out of New York and are trying to sell the apartment.  The apartment looked like something more suited to a scene in Sex in the City… big rooms, double doors, stunning wooden parquet floors and fireplaces throughout.  Well it would, but there’s no furniture and just a healthy amount of New York dust settled on the floors and fireplaces.  Luckily enough for me friends had put an inflatable mattress and sleeping bag in there for me.  What a hoot.

Every morning I got ready and sashayed down the steps at the front of the beautiful brownstone building.  I must have looked as if I belonged and was ‘living it up’ in New York.  In reality I was peeling myself from the inflatable mattress and dressing out of my open suitcase – I’m guessing I couldn’t have invited anyone back!

I love it.

I’ve been to New York many times before and didn’t feel the need to go and revisit any of the tourist landmarks with the exception of one.  The World Trade Centre or Ground Zero.  I remember being in Sydney and coming in from a late night bar when I switched on the TV to see the second plane hit the second tower.  I remember scrambling for the computer to email my friends in New York and make sure they were OK.  I remember that night so clearly.  Sitting in the dark in Sydney watching and rewatching the news.  Worrying about friends in New York and waiting to receive news of them.

It was also the catalyst that led Mike to leave New York (he lost colleagues in the blast but fortunately hadn’t gone to work that day).  He came to Sydney where we met.  He needed to work it all through.  After sometime there, he had decided to take a job as a tourguide in Vietnam (his family had left as refugees when he was a child and hence ended up in New York).  In Vietnam he met the girl of his dreams and moved back to London.  I never got a chance to meet up with him in London and share a beer – he was on the tube that fateful day of the 7/7 bombings in London.

So for me the 9/11 Memorial is quite special.  I’ve been to the site since 9/11, when it was but dust, rubble and shards of metal.  Now it’s nearing completion and is a wonderful tribute.

9/11 Memorial – You need to arrange a visitor pass and despite the numbers of people visiting and the construction work going on around you, there is a sombre silence whilst visitors take in the memorials and remember.

I truly treated myself too on Thursday evening.  I knew Jen wouldn’t arrive until late into town so took the plunge and had booked up to see Aida at the Metropolitan.  I love opera and more to the point I love seeing operas in different opera houses and cities.  The Met though has already been one of those that I panic about the high ticket cost.  But to hell with it, I was going to do it… and I did!  Even better when I went to collect my ticket from the ticket office the delicious man behind the counter asked if I’d like a better seat?  “Of course” I said adding quickly that the seat I had was all I could afford.  He winked at me and momentarily left the desk.  On returning he passed me my ticket – dead centre and perfectly positioned, way better than I could have afforded.  What a treat.  The performance was incredible.  The stage was outstanding.  I think apart from the short intermissions where I felt compelled to have a glass of bubbles, I was transfixed by the performance with my eyes wide open and only the occasional gasp as I was captured by the music.  Incredible and so very worth the ‘investment’.    But even if you don’t like Opera, I would recommend a visit to the Opera house.  Utterly breathtaking.

Home to our lovely apartment in time to meet up with Jen and have a quick gossip before crashing out.

Jen had spotted an exhibition on whilst we were in town and we made our way up to Central Park.  Once again my relishing in the busy sidewalks and many people.

The Museum of the City of New York. An amazing exhibition “The Greatest Grid: The Master Plan of Manhattan” and ‘The Unfinished Grid: Design Speculations for Manhattan” which displays maps, plans, documents, and photographs before during and after Manhattan was created. Even as a visitor, it was thrilling to see how it was planned and created.

An added bonus was another exhibition currently on “Cecil Beaton: The New York Years”. Love his work so a huge bonus for me.

AND, as if the excitement wasn’t enough – there’s also the bestest ever dolls house… so intricate and even has some ‘original’ artwork (minature, of course) in the hallway.

Our feet were tired after all that walking and there really is only one place you must go when your feet feel like this.  Angel Feet in Greenwich Village for some reflexology.  Honestly I’m not a huge fan of reflexology as my feet are quick ticklish and at times painful but Oh My Word they’re incredible.  You’ll probably need to book but you won’t regret going.  (In fact between you and I, I managed to visit again before I left New York!)

After a quick shower and change we were introduced to an extraordinarily fabulous restaurant by our friend, Patricia.  OMG, if you’re in town, I heartily recommend Gradisca restaurant which you really have absolutely no excuse not to try – totally awesome and yes we did meet Mama.  What a wonderful evening of gossip, inspiration and incredible food.

At the end of my trip I took another friend Antonella to Gradisca.  Antonella is from an Italian family so I felt a little awkward suggesting this restaurant.  However Antonella and I not only got to have our photo taken with Mama but she was able to converse with Mama about the food.  Antonella was looking forward to introducing the restaurant to her own Mama – high praise indeed!

Patricia’s amazing.  She is responsible for Veronica Brett swimwear for breast cancer survivors.  Honestly they really are awesome and actually you don’t need to have had surgery to be able to wear them either – they’re stunning and I always get asked where my bikini is from when I’m wearing mine!  I’ve also seen how a bikini from this range can change someone’s confidence and outlook about themselves following surgery.  Incredible.  Read Jen’s article in Harpers Bazaar about Veronica Brett.

I also took a long walk along the Hudson River Greenway. You can access the waterfront walkway from all cross points along Chelsea/Greenwich. There’s heaps to see and do along the walk with much more in development and of course the views over the Hudson and back to the City and Financial district are well worth a walk (or a run).  Well worth a walk before or after that all important brunch.

If you’re looking to try the best New York bagel in town, check out Murray’s Bagels in Greenwich Village.  A very daunting prospect for us Brits though is the ordering.  There are a squillion different types of bagels and more fillings.  You’ve also got to order it quickly and I felt slightly under pressure… but the end result was abso-icking-lutely fantabulous.

I met up with an ex-London colleague for a drink and dinner at the Coffee Shop on Union Square, NYC.  Really buzzing and open 23 hours a day for that late night/early morning drink/coffee/meal!  Ooh and the mohitos are quite something… as is their seared rare peppered yellowfish tuna salad which is quite frankly utterly fantabulous.

The High Line walk in New York was (apparently) a must. Unfortunately I ran out of time but will definitely be doing this next visit…

In the middle of my New York trip I went with Jen to Ithaca where she now lives with her family.  Some great family time and always a joy to see her hubby and kids.  I got to see their schools and hang out with them.  Ithaca is usually known for just Cornell University.  But we discovered more…  We did a gorge walk in Robert H Treman State Park (or most of it as we had to turn back due to rocks falling and icy pathways – hehehe that’d be why we had to jump the ‘closed – out of season’ signs!) Stunning scenery and I can totally understand why many summer days could be lost in the Park and swimming in the waterfalls and pools.
Oh and we found the best coffees in Ithaca in the tattoo parlour… a tattoochino or a lattattoo?

I caught the Cornell bus back to the New York City.  What an easy way to travel to the City.  Last few days in New York, I wandered more of the City that I’d not seen or noticed in previous visits.  I caught up on the shopping list that I’d been asked to buy for friends and family.  Gradisca, Coffee Shop on Union, various art galleries, 5th Avenue, Macys, mani/pedi and of course Angel Feet.

Ran out of time, as usual, but so pleased I was able to catch up with the very wonderful Patricia Jenny Spencer A.j. Antonella Jake Jamie Ruby Ali…

Thank you all for making time for seeing me and having such an awesome time with you all. x

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