Showing posts from May, 2007

Up, up and oy vey!

There remains very little still to tell which is probably why I waited until I was sitting jetlagged back at work in the UK before writing it up. I didn’t have much difficulty getting up at 5.30am – in fact I’d lain awake for a little time before that in anticipation of the alarm on my phone and in the event turned the damned thing off before it sounded. Downstairs to checkout, I asked the guy behind the desk where the best place to get a cab would be at this time in the morning. “ Eighth Avenue ,” he said pointing up the street, “You don’t get one in thirty seconds there, you ain’t got no arms!” He wasn’t wrong – I got a cab about ten seconds after arriving at the corner of 20 th and 8 th . So there then followed the journey back through and away from the city that - as it can be on many holidays - was somewhat melancholy. I got to JFK in plenty of time; check-in and the security checks so very fast and efficient that I obviously hadn’t needed to get there two hours in advance (unli

Day Three

Three days is too short for this trip really. I haven’t really gone out a huge amount or done anything specific. Just been soaking up the atmosphere. Which is enjoyable in itself. Last night just sat out in the courtyard and chatted to the other patrons, before going off to bed when they shut it down. This morning I caught the subway uptown to meet Cathy’s other cousin Olivia, her husband James, their two kids and Susan again. We ate breakfast and then went out into Central Park. Weather grey and sticky although the centre of the park seemed to be in scorching sunlight. Headed down to Times Square which isn’t a square really. It has that strangely scary thing of big tall buildings behind which are even bigger, even taller buildings. It gives you vertigo even when you’re standing at ground level. Like seeing something behind the sun. Went to the cinema, then headed back downtown and got the Staten Island Ferry in both directions for the views. Then subway back to the hostel where I now


After another breakfast which was in no way, shape or form in line with my dietary regime back in the UK, I set off for another day’s wandering about. I hadn’t gone out the previous night, but I figure I’m on holiday. I don’t have to do anything. In some ways this trip is just reconnaissance. I’m sure I’ll be back. Being Sunday morning the streets were deserted, which was interesting. I headed across to the Flatiron Building and then down Fifth Avenue to Washington Square . Then it was east, north and east again for a while until I found myself in East Village in general and St Mark’s Place in particular. What was interesting about this walk was that even though the geography of the streets is fairly scientific, the character of these areas varies wildly. These changes continued as my route into Lower East Side , Greenwich Village , SoHo and finally the edges of The Meatpacking District (I kid you not). Here I visited Cathy’s cousin Susan who lives on the top floor of a small block

Manhattan transfer

The annoying thing - one of the annoying things for there are several – about travelling alone is that you don’t get to appear in any of your pictures, and as a result, they look like just anyone’s pictures, with nothing unique about them save your perspective. Anyway, spent most of yesterday evening in the hostel’s courtyard talking to some of the other occupants. Quite a few Brits, some Europeans and some Koreans. Was too tired to do anything about going out last night and got a relatively early night. This meant a relatively early morning. Had breakfast at a nearby cafĂ© and then walked uptown towards the Empire State Building. Luckily it was still early enough for ridiculous queues not to be an issue – and in fact within half an hour of arrival I was at the top. There was a strange quiet calm up there as if people were afraid to raise their voices in case the laws of nature suddenly noticed what they were doing so far from the ground. Rather hazy, sadly. Back down and after a visit

Hot in the city

Some considerable time later although strangely around two and seven hours at the same time. I can’t access the wireless here so will have to upload later. Driving from airports into city centres seems to be the same the world over. Aside from the driving-on-the-wrong-side-of-the-road and Duel type lorries, the route the airport bus took from JFK to Manhattan was more than a little similar to the A40/M40 and A4/M4 routes into London. Until skyscrapers loomed on the horizon and the bus dived into the Queens Midtown tunnel and emerged into Manhattan itself. Somewhere hauntingly familiar from TV and yet – despite having visited it as a child – somewhere that on some level I’d always had doubts about being real. I’ve been dreaming about visiting here for ten years or more and spookily there were one or two street corners and buildings that I remembered from those dreams. Back in the real world the traffic was heavy. Just like London really! It took ages and a change of bus to get to Penn

Laptop at 34000 feet

Halfway across the Atlantic and that roar is beginning to get to me for some reason. It’s somehow more than just the noise of the engines, it’s a symptom of sudden change, I’m passing though a transition between states, not just from one country to another but from regular life to holiday life. Even if this is only going to be a short one. Of course this doesn’t just happen with planes. I experience a similar phase shift if I catch a train up to London after work – the change from work being to play being. But on planes it lasts much longer and that’s why it’s more noticeable. Miles up in a metal tube. The person in front of me is one of those – you know the type, they recline their seat back as far as it will go and then some at the first opportunity. I wonder how he’d react if I suddenly whacked him on the top of the head? Best not to I think. Newfoundland has appeared on the left hand side of the animated flight path just as Ireland’s disappeared off the right. ETA 3 hours 28 minute