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24.06.2016 - 29.06.2016
At one end of the La Guardia airport is a circular complex that was once New York's flying boat / seaplane port. This little art-deco relic decorated with modernist wall murals was virtually empty and unused. I'm sure the airport authorities are dying to tear it down and replace it with some shitty concrete and glass concourse. It's the modern way.
We grabbed a cab and headed to Manhattan. We'd booked a hotel in China Town as it was the only place we could find cheap accommodation in New York. Last time we were there (6 years ago) we had stayed at a wonderful new hotel complex just off Times Square. The place had obviously just opened and prices were discounted. Unfortunately there was nothing like that available this time. The taxi driver drove us around and around the bottom of the Brooklyn Bridge trying to find our hotel but we just couldn't see it. We decided to just get out and walk. It was only when we were right on top of it did we see the little sign above the door. The hotel directly faced the bridge, maybe only 10 metres away. As we gazed up at the bridge a train roared passed - the noise was deafening. Oh shit we thought, no wonder this place was cheap. As we checked in I said the guy at the desk, "I hope we are not facing the bridge." The guy said not to worry, "the windows are soundproofed." I was unconvinced. Our room WAS facing the bridge but to our surprise (and relief) the double glazing very effectively cut out the noise.
Chinatown was very Chinese. It really didn't feel like we were in New York at all, except that we could see World Trade Centre One. It was a long walk from there to anywhere, but at least there was a subway line nearby - and a Popeye's Fried Chicken! Mmmm, Popeyes! We walked the long walk from Chinatown to Little Italy and then on to Greenwich Village It was the end of our holiday and we were pretty aimless., although we did visit a Star Wars exhibition in Times Square.
In the late afternoon we returned to the hotel to change for the Mad Men Walking Tour. We were the only people who dressed up, Shelly getting the opportunity to wear a beautiful 50s style dress she'd picked up in New Orleans. At least this time we weren't the only people on the tour. We drank era appropriate cocktails and visited a couple of nice bars before stumbling home.
The next we made our way to the Chelsea Market for lunch. The place was absolutely jam packed with people but there was a lot of interesting food vendors and shops. From there we wandered over to the Skyline, an aerial parkway constructed on a disused trainline. The Skyline was a fantastic example of urban renewal. Rather than tear down the disused aerial trainline, the track was turned into a park and pedestrian zone. As it was a beautiful day it was crammed with people.
We walked the High-Line to the Meatpacking District and got off near the Frying Pan, a former lightship that has been turned into a bar and restaurant. There was an enormous queue of young things waiting to go aboard, but it didn't take us too long to get in.
After a drink we headed back to the Skyline and visited a couple of the fancy rooftop bars. That night we did a bit of pub crawl through the East Village.
The next day we set out looking for antique shops but were thwarted at almost every step by a gay pride parade that effectively split the city in two. Disappointed in our search we ended up the Guggenheim Museum of Modern Art. The building itself is as much a work of art as the collection, very little of which was actually on show at the time.
Almost the whole museum was given over to the work of Czech modernist painter, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy. I really liked his work.
Although we were quite exhausted after so much walking, we decided to head downtown to visit a couple more rooftop bars (I don't want to say Shelly was obsessed with New York's rooftop bars, but she was). To our great frustration four of the six bars we'd identified were either closed or reserved for a private party. One that we did get into had such bad service that we walked out after taking a couple of photos.
We gave up and headed to Greenwich and a couple of speak-easys, which proved to be as elusive to find as you'd have expected in the 1920s. By this time the gay pride parade was over and the drinking streets of New York had become a gay love fest so we slipped into 'Employees Only' bar and restaurant and were lucky enough to get a table. We enjoyed a lovely last dinner in New York before an extremely long walk back to the hotel (as New York's subway system runs north-south and not east-west).
The next morning we packed up our stuff and headed out to the World Trade Centre memorial. It was a actually a relatively short walk due west from Chinatown. There is still a lot of building going on at the site, but the memorials are quite impressive. The footprint of each of the towers is now an inverse space with water cascading into the void. The 911 museum is under the ground, within the enormous sub basements of the buildings. It is a great use of the space. I wonder if the sight of the building's structural supports, the enormous steel beams and the thickness of the concrete walls makes visitors question the preposterous claims of the official story that all this death and destruction was caused by a few thousand litres of burning kerosene? It's physically impossible, but what was it Hitler said about the bigger the lie? Nevertheless, the museum IS a impressive monument to the murder of 3,500 people in whose name so many greater crimes have been waged.
And then we were done. Back on the plane flying New York, to Los Angeles, to Sydney to Perth. It was a pleasant series of flights. I felt a small sense of relief to be home; to be able to rest for a couple of days without needing to plan the next step or book accommodation. And I would sleep in my own bed.