Downtown NYC

The trip to NYC wasn’t our first one but it was our second one. I can’t remember precisely when but we visited the city one autumn about 17 years ago.

17 years is a long time and a city like New York (or Tokyo or even London), the period is long enough to transform parts of the city beyond recognition. And that was exactly what happened when I visited Chelsea Market.

I was very lost on W12th Street…

‘Chelsea Market? No, this is West Village!’ Oh dear,  I thought I was walking northward from the subway but I was in fact heading southward. A woman with her dog kindly offered to walk with me so I wouldn’t get lost again. As we strolled down leafy side streets, we talked how the Big Apple had changed over the years.  She was especially weary of all the developments – commercial and residential – around Downtown Manhattan. ‘My mother’s apartment in which I was born and raised, is rent-controlled. Otherwise, I have no idea how we can continue to live in the area’. The story sounded very familiar across the pond.

I wasn’t 100% sure which part of Chelsea we visited 17 years ago but the area appeared to be a lot smarter than the one in my memory. The streets were lined with well known international brands, such as Apple, Kooples and Boss alike, and the sight gave me a sinking feeling. Oh god, another aftermath of gentrification.

A view northward from High Line…

Lush vegetation on the walkway was a welcome change to the otherwise very urban area…

A view around Meatpacking District…

The view from High Line was amazing. I could see warehouses for meat as well as boutiques / headquarters of famous fashion designers. It was a little like my neighbourhood Shoreditch in London.

After leaving High Line, I revisited West Village. The main street, Bleecker Street was pretty. However, the shops which lined the street were not particularly unique. Why do I have to see the same names everywhere nowadays? Burberry, Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors,  Comptoir des Cotonnier, A.P.C, Lulu Guinness, and Sandro and so on. They are so ubiquitous, aren’t they? I sighed.

Let’s find something more original and also some gelato. I headed towards Lower Manhattan…

At NoHo, I came across a car park resembling a bicycle storage…

Also the film “Tarzan” was just released in NYC then so the posters were all over the place.

When I reached to East Village, I became so desparately hot and thirsty. Out of desparation, I walked into a vintage fashion shop and asked the shop owner if she knew any gelato place in the vicinity. Unfortunately, there weren’t nothing alike in the neighbourhood but she googled it for me and found one in Lower East Side.

A poster on the wall in East Village…

Over the car park, I could see the sign of the famous Katz’s Delicatessen glowing in the mid afternoon sunshine…

The gelato bar I was recommended was brilliant. I had black sesami and green tea. It tasted so good after 3 hours of trekking through the Big Apple. I was so dog-tired by then. My calves as well as shins were overworked by the long walk and started to protest with pain and ache.

New York subway was a little grubby…

However, a huge brownie point for me was they were air-conditioned!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Regret in NYC

The AMNH was wonderful except their cafeteria, I reported to Hubbie when I got back to our hotel. ‘What was wrong with them?’ he asked me with his eyes firmly fixed to his MacBook screen. While sipping a cup of tea with much less milk than I normally preferred (the room service never brought us enough milk), I recounted how their tills weren’t well managed so it created confusion and a very long queue with gruntled looking diners, how terrible their coffee and sandwich were, how the fluorescent lighting in their basement cafeteria made the atmosphere clinical and depressing and how tired looking families with trays were circling around the overcrowded dining area like shoals of fish. The only things to save the situation for me were the staff at the cashier being very smiley and pleasant, and being able to find a table (though sharing with others) with relative ease because I was on my own. No disrespect intended to the AMNH, but I found dining experience at the Natural History Museum London far superior with the quality of foods and atmosphere to the transatlantic counterpart. I appreciate that visitors to the museum are more likely to be mainly families with young children and they may not be necessarily looking for anything too fancy or sophisticated. Still, their exciting day out lunch at the AMNH doesn’t have to be drab and slapdash, I thought.

Blue sky above SOHO…

We were blessed with terrific summery weather during our stay in NYC. Even though poor Hubble was confined to air conditioned rooms in Midtown due to his workload and therefore didn’t taste it much, I was set free into the city which was sweltering under the baking sunshine and the heat emitted from the wall mounted air conditioning units.

One major drawback of being on my own in the Big Apple I found with huge regret was having to eat my lunch alone. As I walked through Little Italy, the populace were enjoying alfresco lunch laid out on the tables with red gingham check tablecloths and I genuinely admired the scenery. It is true that the restaurants wouldn’t have minded if I were solo or not but I found the prospect of having to sit at the table alone too much a venture, especially my mood was still unpredictable after Mr.B’s death. So I had to avert my gaze and to move on. It was so sad that I had to give it a miss to all those amazing restaurants which were jam packed in the city because of Hubbie’s murderous work schedule. He was simply too tired to smarten himself up for a proper dinner service and I didn’t have a heart to insist on it. Beside, we were still mentally fragile about Mr.B and knew in our heart that we wouldn’t be a good dinner companion for each other. So most of our meals, alas, were brought to our room by room service and we ate them on our bed. As we munched on, we also channel-surfed the American TV programmes. The talk of the town then was of course about them…

And also about the Fourth of July and Pokémon Go which was about to be released in NYC.

The holiday was meant to be an antidote to mend my broken heart. However, we learnt it was not a very straightforward affair…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

 

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