Pre- Day 1
Right, let’s get one thing straight. It should not take well over an hour to go through passport control when you arrive at one of the most famous airports in the world. We landed at about 7pm and got to the baggage carousel at around 8:45. Keeping in mind the 5 hour time difference I think it’s easy to see how we were asleep by the time our heads hit the pillow at 11pm.
Still this is what we do to get to one of the best cities on Earth.
Right so for a first day the weather was pretty crap. Hurricane Matthew was making its way from the U.S. mainland to the wider ocean and causing rainstorms all along the eastern seaboard. It was constant (and sometimes horizontal) rain until 3pm.
It was enough time to for the rain to claim a hugely inconvenient victim: my passport. As I write this up in our hotel room, my passport is sat open with plastic bag shreds separating out the pages. There is water damage and some of the ink has run… so there is a part of me that wonders if this will be a problem at the airport. Hey ho, nothing I can do really.
So we set out on this sodden morning and, on the way to Central Park, stop into a diner to have breakfast. Literally just picked the first diner we walked across that looked half decent. We were not disappointed by our experience.
We were sat right at the counter, which meant a lot of fun interaction, and ordered ourselves a pair of pastrami Rueban sandwiches. They were massive, greasy and incredibly delicious. I promised the hub a pastrami sandwich and by glob that’s what he got. You really don’t get things like this back in London.
After a very filling sandwich we whiz through the Wholefoods on Columbus Circle (more on those purchases later) and enter a rather deserted Central Park.
I have never seen Central Park so empty. I guess that is what happens when it is absolutely tipping it down. You can’t visit New York without a stroll or seven through Central Park. It’s just not done.
Even in the strange rainy twilight I know that hub could see why this was such a fantastic park to visit. I mean, there are reasons that it has been featured in so many TV shows and movies. You could easily just lose yourself in the park for hours if you had the time, but time isn’t your friend on holiday.
So after showing hub the Bethseda Terrace and the beautiful statue of Alice in Wonderland we made a beeline for our first attraction: the Guggenheim museum. Of course, being a rainy Sunday we were not the only people who figured that a museum was a good way to get out of the rain.
Luckily for us we did a build your own NY Pass before flying over which meant that we could skip the queue and head on in. Lucky, because otherwise the Guggenheim would have been more disappointing.
Architecturally you can not fault the Guggenheim. On the outside it looks interesting, but on the inside it is truly something else. The alabaster white spiralling ramp makes for a unique and impressive way to display art. I know this from many years ago when I had the privilege to see a Kandinsky retrospective. This time the artist was Agnes Martin and that was nowhere near the same.
For one thing all her paintings are white and with lines. Some are slightly different, but for the most part they are pretty homogeneous. It doesn’t help that most of the paintings are untitled.
The best part of the visit was the small section devoted to the permanent collection. There was a Picasso and some Kandinsky work to be seen… but on the whole this visit wasn’t the best.
After this we set out for the Museum of Natural History. We never made it in, however, as the line was horrendous. Instead we made our first trip on the subway (where a machine swallowed $20 and now we have to phone up for a refund) to get to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).
Before entering we tried out the bialy that I bought in Wholefoods. At first glance it looks a lot like a bagel where the hole didn’t get made all the way through. At first bite that’s pretty much what you have. Nice enough, just a bit doughy and could do with a bit of a topping to go with the hint of onion.
Thanks to our pass we managed to dodge another hour of queuing and were immediately being taken up into the world of MoMA. As much as I enjoy the Tate Modern, I really think MoMA is head and shoulders above it. Why? Because it has some truly top name paintings – including two of my favourite modern art pieces.
We must have spent 2-3 hours walking around taking in both the famous and the unusual pieces. One such unusual piece being a rather evocative 1994 piece called Lovers which involved a tower of projectors putting moving images on the way of naked people walking, standing and not quite embracing. Hard to describe, but weirdly compelling.
The first artwork we saw in MoMA, a series of videos showing refugees drawing their routes on a map of Europe, was infinitely more interesting than a few coloured in lines. When you consider you have pieces by Van Gogh, Picasso, Mondrian, Lictenstein and Monet on show then it’s obvious which is the better afternoon out.
Needless to say we were all modern arted out and got ourselves a good old slice of New York pizza at a place I have been to every time I have been to New York. Man, how I love the thin crisp crust of a New York pizza. I know I need to try a Chicago pizza one day. For that, I’ll need to visit Chicago.
Back at the hotel (we were tired and probably a bit jet lagged) we tried the other item I bought from Wholefoods: red bananas. Now, what can I say about red bananas other than a quote from Red Dwarf’s own Kryten, “it’s a banana”. Aside from the red skin, the taste that is less bananery and the slightly softer texture this is still a banana. That’s not to say that I didn’t like it, but I just expected something less obvious with the taste.
After this quick pit stop we were back on out to visit THE New York department store – Macy’s. This is another of my regular places to visit because of their awesome Christmas section on Floor 9.
Since I have only been to New York in the autumn, I have never been to Macy’s when their Christmas section was not up and running. It just made me so gleeful to romp around the Christmas decorations and listen to Christmas music. I could never work in a Christmas store as the sheer force of repetition would make me want to tear my skin off, but it makes for a nice half hour to spend on holiday when it’s about 7:30 in the evening.
Rather than eat out we opted for takeaway. More delicious New York pizza and… the first slice of New York cheesecake of the trip. It’s proof that you don’t need any toppings or extra gubbins if you just have the basics of a good cheesecake. New York I salute you and your delicious down to earth cheesecake.
Today probably wasn’t the best day to show hub the wonders of New York due to the bad weather and the missing $20, but I know that tomorrow will be different. It’s our wedding anniversary after all and we are going to be seeing some great sights.