Thursday, February 12, 2009


1133 days ago

So, The Big Apple from the evening of December 19 up to the morning of December 21.

The trip by train was loooooong, late for about 1 and half hours. My doctor cousin works 3 evenings a week as a waiter (being there ilegally since 97), so as I arrived I had to go and pick him up in Queens. The subway is dirty and stinky. The restaurant where he works is close to the river, right across from Manhattan and looks decent.

His place is the same, only he shares a one bedroom apartment with another Romanian guy which proved to be not very social and well behaved. The windows shown a beautiful view of Midtown Manhattan, with all the striking towers like Empire State Building and Chrysler (my favourite).

The day after we found out the public transportation strike has been declared. As it takes one bus and 2 subways to go to Manhattan from his place I wasn't very happy about it. The bridges over Hudson are quite long and Queens is not the best place to walk around, especially in the dark.

After talking to my good friend Michael (jazz bass player and composer, originally from Vancouver, living in New York and married last year), he came to pick me up and we went to Brooklyn. I met his lovely wife: Celena, she's Cuban and a lawyer, with a scenographer past. I liked her from the very first moment, same for their pug dog - Cosmo.

I also liked Brooklyn, they live in Prospect Heights, close to Park Slope (I was to find out another long term friend I have lives there). We had lunch in a Japanese restaurant in Crown Heights, a Jamaican neighbourhood. The guys there looked really cool, some even had dreadlocks. Food was great, no sushi though There's more about Japanese cuisine.

We took Cosmo for a long walk so I can have an idea about the place. I really liked the Tea Lounge (there's more than tea and jazz concerts, a really pretty cozy place) and the Venetian looking building where Michael and Selena celebrated their wedding. Lots of houses looked old, probably turn of the century with stairs at the entrance, painted ceilings and antique furniture. We also stopped by a real estate agency window and I could see prices range from $700 to 1 million. We passed the Public Library, a great park, walked on the 7th Avenue, packed with bars, boutiques and restaurants. All together I liked the feeling around there. We had some wine and cheese home - reminder of our great ones under the stars on the deck of the cruise ships. Then they headed to the Eastern Village in Manhattan for a free jazz concert. As I'm no crazy about this less coherent (to my ears) kind I went for a stroll, as far as teh famous SoHo. Well, it was winter time, even without snow, and no public transportation. Street were empty, all I could see were a few restaurants and closed boutiques, so not so impressive all together.

I came back shivering and we drove home. Wednesday morning Michael dropped me by the Williamsboro bridge which I crossed walking like everyone else. The cars couldn't cross any of the bridges unless they had 4 people inside. So unless you catch ride with somebody needing one more person, you have to use your feet. To hell with it! At the end of the bridge the Red Cross was giving coffee and cookies. Nice of them! The sun was shining and I was heading to the Metropolitan Museum.

I hopped in a taxi (during the strike taxis could be shared, and it costed $5 per zone, no matter how many people were in). As I was in downtown, heading mid-town it was $10. A cheerful black driver, we had a bit of a talk. Then I walked on the world famous 5th Avenue. I was amazed by the decoration and fairy tales in shops' windows. The ones at "Bergdorf Goodman"- the most extensive luxury department store looked like theater stages, with an ostrich, zebra, gondola...all different props from various times and places. Bloomingdales and Saks 5th Avenue displayed well known fairy tales scenes with moving dolls. I never saw that many luxury items on display in such environment - not even in Paris or Milan. I liked a lot of the Art Deco buildings too, sky scrapers, many had top adornments you couldn't see but looking up. As avenues were large I didn't feel crushed by the buildings, as I was expecting.

When I got to the entrance of Central Park (after checking on the lobby of the Trump Building - nothing to see) I started feeling cold. There was a chilly wind and I had no stockings under my jeans. Got there, had a pretzel and ginger ale on the steps (no food allowed inside) and got inside one of the most amazing museums I've ever seen. TO BE CONTINUED

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