Tuesday, 18 August 2009

New York Day Two

Our second day in the Big Apple had us flocking towards the tourist beacon that is the Empire State building - I have a theory that the only reason it
is so tall is to house the rows of meandering people inside that are queuing just to get to the top and come back down again. But, clever things that we are, we got a sneaky queue jump ticket from our friends at the hotel concierge that meant we could smugly walk past all the bored ticketless citizens. Still took bloody ages though! But, after two escalator trips that swelled your ear drums, and a couple of queues that even our nifty tickets couldn't get us out of, we were there, level 86, with a complete 360 view of the city that had been towering over us. You wouldn't have thought it possible about a concentrated pile of concrete, but it's pretty breathtaking. Much to my surprise, we even met a pigeon who felt the same way!

After a spot of shopping (in which I found that the internationally renown Macy's store is, actually, a bit rubbish!) we power-walked a few blocks to catch the final bus before our tickets ran out, and headed - a bit sweaty and out of breath - uptown. This, like Brooklyn, did not feed the New York preconceptions of being filled with famous landmarks, but was no less interesting. I liked seeing where the 'real' people lived. The streets became gradually cleaner as we moved up the streets, with the additions of small preened trees, bushes and balconies - these are the things you can get around to buying when you have enough money to live uptown I suppose! Then, it all morphed again as we reached Harlem. The litter and graffiti returned, but so did the atmosphere, a bustling atmosphere that was different to how it was downtown - it had a togetherness, a sense of community. As the bus drove past residential streets I saw something I thought only happened years ago, or in films - an actual block party. All of the residents were sprawled in the road and on the pavement, one house had its stereo propped up to the window so it could fill the street outside. People stood around chatting and dancing, and all I wanted to do was go and join in! So much now people don't know who lives down their own street, don't speak to their neighbours or make any effort to involve themselves in their community. There would not be half the amount of crime and loneliness if there was more of a connection between people and those that live around them.

When we eventually returned, we decided it was about time to conquer the jet lag and sample a bit of night life in the city. As advised by Carlos - a man who spent his day dressed as a toy soldier, having pictures taken and giving directions outside the FAO Schwarz toyshop - Greenwich Village was the place to go. So there we went! And what interesting places we found! Firstly, a pub endearingly named 'The Slaughtered Lamb', where you could sit accompanied by spider-webbed skeletons - some of which were embroiled in what must have been a very long game of chess. I loved it, but after watching Sex and the City, it wasn't exactly what we were expecting! We were offered some shots, which came not in a shot glass, but a plastic syringe. There's nothing like nearly choking on some strange vodka mixer after nearly spurting it down your wind pipe! And to continue with the macabre theme, not on purpose, we then ended up in the Jekyll and Hyde bar. This was brilliant - there were picture frames and figures that would suddenly erupt and begin talking and mechanically moving around, like a Disney nightmare. However, after being made some more shots and cocktails, this was where our night ended as my fellow explorers were nearly asleep on the bar.

No comments:

Post a Comment