Monday, November 2, 2015

New York City Week 1

With our last conference finishing in New York mid October, and the next one beginning in New York just before Christmas, we decided that rather than return to Australia, we would take the opportunity to stay and enjoy magnificent NYC for 2 months. Whilst we are still working, and with Australia's having a 13 or 14 hour time difference, means the working day is totally out of kilter, that is a small price to pay to be able to wander the streets in New York for the next 2 months!

So as the Fall weather slowly gathers pace, I intend to post weekly reports on our sojourn in NYC. My list is long, and 2 months is short...... so there is definitely no time to lose.

When our ship sailed into New York Harbour, we were the first passengers to alight - happy to carry our own gear so we could beat the crowds and ensconce ourselves in our Midtown apartment where we are staying for the next 2 months. On the 24th floor we have awesome views over the Manhattan skyline, including a balcony to enjoy a wine while the sun sets over the Hudson. Furthermore we even have a gym & glass roofed heated pool & spa on the 44th floor that has an incredible views over Central Park and will be fun to swim in as the serious winter weather sets in. This is my kind of NYC!

So, an essential start was our stay was a trip to Union Square farmers market where the product was so fresh it was almost jumping off the tables! We also delighted in watching an expert "pumpkin artist" carve a portrait of a man into pumpkin - he was incredibly good and I am surprised how seriously they take the whole pumpkin carving (ie, Halloween) artistry! 

Fabulous arrival timing, as I was thrilled to be in town for a very exciting visit from my Godson George and his Mum Steph, who were visiting from San Francisco to celebrate George's 8th birthday. My gift was a surprise helicopter ride over NYC - the absolutely best way to see NYC (why fight the crowds at Liberty island when you can see it from the air?) and a huge hit with George! It takes alot to impress an 8 year old but I think I managed it with this gift. Cupcakes from Magnolia bakery were a pretty good follow up (though I admit I think it was more for the adults than George... we LOVE that frosting!) and then a lovely wander around Greenwich village which was Steph's old 'hood' when she lived here years ago. I can't remember the last time I enjoyed an 8th birthday as much as this! 

The rest of the week was very busy indeed - a visit to the new Renzo Piano designed Whitney Museum of American Art, with a interesting guided tour of some of their special pieces. A fabulous walk on one of landscape architecture's world masterpieces (my opinion, but trust me I am correct) - the Highline - the re-purposed elevated cargo train track. The clever thing about this space is the very well considered textural planting that responds to seasonal change, the integration of public seating and extensive artworks that surprise & delight. I love the vision & passion that turned this into such a loved space in NYC - without doubt I will visit at least once a week over the next 2 months as there is no better space to soak in the change of season than this elevated 2.33km public walkway - it will definitely make you smile!

NYC also has seemingly unlimited entertainment variety  - so in the past week we have enjoyed 2 very high quality jazz shows that kept us tapping our toes for hours after the shows finished and a very good off Broadway play called "Barbeque". We have also been cycling in Central Park, visited Ellis Island (despite many previous visits to NYC we had not been to see USA's immigration entry point - just a tip, I think it is better seen from the helicopter - many exhibits have been removed since Hurricane Sandy 3 yrs ago as they wait to build the climate controlled spaces they require, so wait till they do!) 

We have also eaten at the iconic Oyster Bar in Grand Central station, with its original 1920's architecture, visited the very groovy Gansevoort food market in the eclectic meatpacking district and eaten at one of Frank Sinartra's favourite Italian restaurants, Patsy's, (plus booked to attend one of his 100 year birthday celebrations in December). A week in NYC would not be complete without several hours in our favourite bookstore, The Strand, (& a purchase of a dozen+ books... this time, more to follow I am sure, books here are very well priced and the options seemingly endless) and somewhere in the midst of this week I have even managed to squeeze in some retail therapy (limited so far, but the days are young.....).

I am always surprised how quickly one settles into a routine wherever you are in the world, and ours begins with opening our apartment door to collect the delivery of our New York Times. I know we probably appear 'old school' but not much beats opening the NYTimes first thing in the morning as the cafeteria begins to percolate. This is shortly followed by a visit to our favourite Italian coffee shop 1.5 blocks away, then the day can truly get underway.

Across the past week we have walked hours and hours each and every day and yet only covered a fraction of the boroughs which constitute NYC, so..... lots done but way more to go..............


Initial nerves, then absolute delight!

Ellis Island Processing room - one could almost feel the equal measure of relief & fear
A view from the balcony of the Whitney museum onto the Highline
Ganesvoort Food Market - cool fitouts, equally cool food

Art is a every turn along the Highline

Iconic 1920's architecture still exists in the very busy Oyster bar in Grand Central Station