Thursday, 18 September 2014

New York

Alice in Wonderland sculpture in Central Park
Central Park reservoir looking east to Manhattan
View from the Staten Island Ferry
World Trade Center
Memorial Plaza at the World Trade Center
High Line Apartments
Scaffolding Art
Brooklyn Bridge
UN building from Empire State Building
Chrysler Building
Cezanne cut outs

Bryant Park
Times Square
These two were arrested shortly afterwards
Central Sation
After three weeks on the road, New York was to be our time to relax before the flight home but that is not easily done in New York. Even getting from Newark airport to the hotel took two and half hours on the hotel bus, which was a travesty of integrated transport. Then the perfectly located hotel on Sixth Avenue charged prices that we would have expected to include the internet and a decent breakfast but these were additional items.

There is no sense in describing all our activities in New York, we charged round places we had not visited previously and doubled up on the Museum of Modern Art and the Empire State building. The highlights were the free ferry to Staten Island with its superb views of the Manhattan skyline, the community managed High Line walkway through the former meatpacking district on lower west side,  and the Jeff Koons Retrospective exhibition at the Whitney Museum of Modern Art. Walks and runs around Central Park, breakfast at a local Greek Diner on Sixth Avenue, admiring Central station and visiting the scene of the 9/11 tragedy was overpowering as we spent half a day in lower Manhattan.

We had a long conversation about the pending Scottish Independence referendum with a Italian/Brazilian who was now resident in New York. He couldn't understand the purpose of the vote as Scotland and the UK were perceived as mutually integrated by the rest of the world. He admonished us for defending the right for a ballot and said it would be hugely damaging for Scotland, the UK and the world if there were to be a Yes vote. This opinion was echoed by several other Americans we spoke to during our trip.

Like everyone else who visits New York we found the prices high and relaxation difficult. The magic of the first visit in 1996 was no longer there. We walked miles, the taxis took longer as they were the reason for and the victims of gridlock and they had to do twice the distance owing to the one way systems. New York is a game designed to make everything seem bigger and more expensive than it really is, no wonder Donald Trump has his tower there.

I calculated on the basis of our trip that you could get two weeks in Wyoming, and that included the hire of a car and 1500 miles, for the price of 4 days in New York. The guy in the Apple Store who sold me an iPad agreed but he was waiting for his wife to retire before they decamped to Wyoming. He reckoned that he could get all the entertainment stuff he wanted online or from the memories of a life spent in the city and what he really wanted was the physical and mental stimulation of the great outdoors. We agreed and he saved me $100 on the iPad that I was going to buy. It was 8:30am on a Sunday morning and he said it would buy me a couple of lunches and he was just about right.

Much as I enjoy visiting cities, the numbing effect of New York airports and transport systems, the lack of courtesy in diners and public attractions like the Guggenheim museum together with the high tariffs for everything would not persuade me to rush back to New York. This despite the fact that we never managed to visit the superb Metropolitan Museum or obtain tickets for any of the shows we wanted to see.

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