Saturday, 11 April 2015

Escape to NYC

For those who drop in to read and are not native Newfoundlanders, I need to explain that St. John's, our capital city, doesn't have spring in the traditional sense. Oh we get March, April & May but the sleet, ice fog, snow and bitingly cold temperatures that characterize January are easily as likely to be quite prevalent in the latter months too. Certainly, it's late May to early June before the last clumps of snow have surrendered to the power of the sun. As for temperatures. The odd 10-12 degree will start coming around in May ( occasionally too in April) but generally spring isn't the spirit lifting season that gives one that sense summer is just around the corner ( I won't start of our version of summer). So with the school's break for Easter holiday Sherry and I decided an escape a bit further south was in order. We could have opted for Florida or Vegas but we like NYC. We'd been watching the temps for the weeks  leading up to our visit and they were consistently in the double digits. Regrettably, we didn't have the good fortune to get that great weather but we did OK. Day one was 14 and sunny and let me tell you  that is spirit lifting compared to five degrees (which feels like minus three with the wind chill). Even the seven to eight degree temps we did have most of the trip were a welcomed respite. In NYC the qualifier "feels like" isn't attached to the temperatures. Eight is, well, eight. A light weigh jacket and hat was quite comfortable.

We did the typical NYC stuff like go to shows (The Carole Kings Story "Beautiful" & "Mama Mia"). We ate at nice restaurants, a couple of which have come to be favourite stops based on our one previous excursion to the Big Apple.The Brooklyn Diner has something on the menu to make any meal of the day a fantastic culinary experience but the Tony Bennett French toast for breakfast has to be the topper. Oh and each time I have eaten there, I see a celebrity; Jerry Seinfeld this time'round.
We discovered new places. I have always found it difficult to find my favourite rum in NYC but the Maitre'd of Joe Allen's, really god Italian place, recommended the Rum House and if one is a rum connoisseur then this is the place for you. I'm partial to El Dorado rum from Guyana(even wrote a song about it) and they had seven different kinds in dark, white and amber, as well as several other varieties. It was a real genuine pub atmosphere with live music (sadly mostly 1920's jazz, but that didn't dampen my "spirits"). The waitress was a bit sullen but everything can't be perfect can it. Still, it was a  treasure of a find and we spent two great nights relaxing there.

We did a great walking tour of downtown with Sandeman tours, a company we discovered last summer in Dublin. They do free tours for tips so you give what you feel the tour guides performance was worth. We had a nice enough guy named Nick. Very knowledgeable, though not as funny as he seems to think he is. Still, we saw and learnt a lot about that particular area of NYC and that was the point. Another of my pass times is to find streets mentioned in my favourite songs, or just famous streets and get my picture taken here's a couple:

Positively 4th Street ( not sure why it's tilted)

Then there's Bleeker Street, home of several famous bars according to Wikipedia and also made famous in an early Simon & Garfunkel song


Again with the tilting??? 

 After the walking tour and since we were in that part of town near the Hudson, we took a stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge. If you look in the background of some of the pics you'll catch a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty. It was cool to see but I didn't have the urge to spend $20.00 for a ferry ride to float past it for a closer look. 

We ate out for all meals and certainly more than we would in a typical day at home, but it was a vacation after all. But we tried to counter it by walking. There were a couple of days we walked over 100 blocks, including a stroll through Central Park West and up to the infamous Strawberry Fields, across from the Dakota, where John Lennon was killed and Yoko Ono still resides.

Yeah I know Sherry is upside down, but this program has some gremlins that I can't figure out.

 The Beacon Theatre is also in this neck of the NYC woods and it was here we saw a great band, the Decemberists (with opening act Avvas) on our first night in town.

Also, on Central Park West at 79th Street is the Museum of Natural History. It passed away a day but there was so much information it was overwhelming. We had a couple of hours and my ADHD kicked in so the rest of that day was spend strolling through Central Park as we made our way south back to Time Square and our hotel with the amazingly tiny homeroom. It was so small it was hilarious. There was room for one bed, a nightstand and a small desk. We put our luggage on the rack on one side of the bed, so both of us had to get into and out of bed on the same size. I know Time Square hotels are not known for being as spacious as their prices would suggest they ought to be but this was on the ridiculous side. Still, it was just a place to sleep and as such it served its purpose just fine and Time Square really was just a 1/2 block away. Speaking of Time Square, I'm sure you've heard of the odd sights one is likely to encounter in that locale but the topper had to be the three young women wearing only thongs and body paint offering to take their picture with you (for a price of course). I know it was sunny and 14 but still, there's gotta be a better (warmer) way to make a buck. A couple of days later when it was just seven or eight we saw that cowboy guy with the guitar who hangs out in his tighty whities. I don't care, he had to be freakin' freezing.

So how was our attempt at escapism? A smashing success from my perspective, and I think Sherry's too. Each time we go we learn a bit more about the city and plan as to how we'd do it a little differently  next time. For example, though we walked all the way down Broadway to Greenwich Village & then on to Soho, I don't think we really truly saw what those districts had to offer. Also, I discovered a walking tour of rock & roll pilgrimage sites where Blondie, The Ramones, Springsteen and the like cut their teeth, which I didn't get to take in.

All it all, it was a welcomed respite from the dreary NL weather and a nice restful four days (can't really count Friday as most of it was spent travelling). We'll be back for sure.

So until next time, see ya Out There! Ride On....