And In the End (part 2)

7 01 2010

So here we are again, back in New York City. It was late on a Tuesday night when I flew in to JFK and this time it was going to be a much cheaper living experience, until the last weekend at least. I’d booked the Hudson hotel for my last two days in the city, but before that it would be the HI Hostel on Amsterdam and 103rd. Cheap, cheerful, a bit scary in a big-city type of way.

But I was back in New York!

I had time to spare and the sight-seeing checklist to complete. And I really wanted to have time to try to take it all in. I’d enjoyed walking the city when I was first here and that was the plan this time as well.

Luckily the hostel put on a few tours and events, so Wednesday morning I met about ten other hostellers and our amiable tour guide Ed. Off we went to the historic sites of Harlem. I expected the regular stuff of the Apollo Theatre and 125th Street, but that wasn’t what this was about. We were headed for 145th Street.

Our Tour Guide: Ed

Ed is a gem of a guy who loves his city and really enjoys showing a different side of it to people from all over the world. We went up to Washington Heights, an area many tourists wouldn’t think of getting the subway to, but it was fine and there were a couple of really interesting spots.

The Dutch built these apparently

New and Old Yankee Stadiums. Boo them. Go them.

House owned by Bailey from Barnum and Bailey's Circus

See? Interesting stuff. No, it’s not Ripley’s Believe It Or Not but Ed made the whole trip very enjoyable. When he left, a couple of us decided to carry on to the main part of Harlem. So after some good old-fashioned soul food Nikki, Alex and I decided to walk back down towards home. We didn’t know at the time exactly what this walk would entail. We’d already walked for about two hours and little did we know what was ahead of us (Nikki knew of places we hadn’t thought of going to). I, Nikki – from Bristol (I think – sorry Nikki!) and Alexandra – who’s from Germany but lives in…Stockport*…started walking south:

[*Alex has asked me to edit this bit. She works in Stockport but doesn’t live there. It’s not that she’s ashamed of living in Stockport. But she would be if she lived there. Happy to clear that up.]

The Harlem YMCA, which I was convinced was the one in the original video for the camp-as-a-row-of-tents disco hit. It wasn’t. I’ve checked. It was the one in the East Village (which makes sense when you think about it, doesn’t it?) Why I got so excited about it, I don’t…really…know.

Harlem's Apollo Theatre

My New Suit

The Cathedral of St.John The Divine

Which is lovely, as you can see

It got a bit out of hand now, but just as I was overly excited to see The Fresh Prince’s house in LA…

Can you hear the bass guitar solo?

…so I was excited to get to Tom’s Diner from Seinfeld. And yes, it’s also THAT Tom’s Diner from the Suzanne Vega song. It says so outside, so it must be true!

We walked on (we’ve already gone 30 blocks)

We walked on another 30 blocks so Nicky could see Strawberry Fields and The Dakota Building. She paid us back with this: 55 central Park West.

It’s the building where Dana and Louis live in Ghostbusters. They later became Zuul and Vinz Clortho. Who later became big satanic dogs. It’s one of the best 5 films of all time. I promise.

(Ginger Rogers lived here in the 1930s, while Donna Karen also lived here, fact fans)

We’d walked 60 blocks and quite frankly, we were knackered.

We got home to the hostel with about an hour to change… to go for another walk. It was Christmas tree light switch-on at The Rockefeller.

The hostel organised another group to get to the Rockefeller but as the rain fell and we trudged round Central Park and down 5th Avenue we realised what a task it would be to get to see the show (it’s organised and televised by NBC). By this time there were 4 of us with my roommate Holger – he’s a German too – tagging along.

The show was star-studded. Michael Buble, Rod Stewart and some people from NBC shows they’re desperate to promote. Rod Stewart continues to murder old songs. Why? Someone stop him. I’m not advocating assassination but, y’know…*taps nose*…

The problem with the show for us was that:

a. It was pouring down, and

b. We couldn’t actually see the show. It was behind a big building. There’s a lot of them in New York.

Plus by this time the shambles we were in had lost Alex in the crowd. There was no way this was going to be any good, whatever the sodding Christmas tree looked like. It was time for a pint.

It was time to go to Greenwich Village!

Holger and Nikki enjoy Bleecker Street

Yes, I dragged them across town and after a quite a meal of chicken wings (20 cents each! what sort of recession is this?!) and a hefty amount of beer we were dry and warm and having a great time.

We moved down the street, saw some live music, had a couple to finish in the Blind Tiger. Suffice to say I had a lovely time.

I got a taxi home with a woman called Hannah, who never called me again.




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