I tagged on to Dave’s work trip to the New York office so we could go to the wedding party celebrations of Quique and Siobhaun. We first met Quique in a cafe in Hoi An in Vietnam in 2008…years later we remain good friends, also becoming friends with his parents George and Brigitte who live in the Catskills, upstate New York. We arrived at JFK, jumped in to a cab with a Rasta driver playing loud hiphop. He’d rigged up back seat aircon by taping a length of silver air-ducting to the aircon vents in the front and passing the ducting through the sliding glass window to the back seat. This is why we love New York; mad, inventive and always loud. Drove to Quique’s Manhattan apartment then upstate with Quique, Siobhaun and their friend Billy for the 2 and a half hour drive to his parent’s place. They were working at their restaurant The Spy, preparing for the celebrations the following day.After a good night’s sleep kicking the jet lag/time difference we drove with Quique and Siobhaun a couple of hours to a farmer’s market for lunch, picked up the party cake then back to get ready. Over to The Spy with Nick and Tim, also staying at Brigitte and George’s in the guest house. We caught up with friends of Quique’s that we’d met on previous visits to the Catskills. It was an eclectic group of people among them Quique’s marathon running friends, Billy, a Winter Olympics gold medalist, a former rodeo rider and Marshall Chess of Chess Records.
Nick, Billy and Tim.The next day we relaxed by the pool at George and Brigitte’s. Tim and Nick still around. Great to have this time to catch up with people we don’t get a chance to see enough. Later in the afternoon we headed back to The Spy restaurant to help tidy up, then driving with Quique and Siobhaun back in to Manhattan. So we checked in to The Ace around 8pm, logged on to the wi-fi and this photo (above) pops up on my whatsapp; Roberto and Shannon were in town from Tulum, Mexico! They’d been trying to reach us all weekend to surprise us on their way back from Canada, not knowing that we were in The Catskills. They were leaving early the next day so we got hold of them, got changed and ran downstairs to The Ace bar to meet them for drinks. HUGE surprise to see these guys, we only had a couple of hours together but so glad we got to catch up and the biggest news of all, Shannon was pregnant! (they now have a gorgeous baby boy called Emilio). My friend Jules died whilst we were in New York. She’d gone in to a hospice the day we flew and my last text to her was about me visiting her when we returned. The cancer she’d been diagnosed with in March had taken her life by August. Friends for over 25 years, Jules was a massive David Bowie fan. As I was walking through Manhattan I saw this Bowie photo in a gallery window…a poignant reminder of her. Dave headed to work at the Sony office and I met up with old friends Dan and Andrea who re-routed their flight back home to Massachusetts to be able to spend some time with us in New York. We had lunch then set off on a long walk through the streets leading down to The Hudson River. We walked along the Highline with views of The Standard Hotel and the Frank Gehry IAC Building, dropping down in to Chelsea market to the shops and food stalls then followed the river to the Freedom Tower.
Freedom Tower is currently the 6th tallest building in the world; officially known as One World Trade Centre, the architect is David Childs. Taller than the Empire State at 94 storeys, its total height is 1,776 feet, a reference to the year the US Declaration of Independence was signed.
The 9/11 memorial is two wells built on the footprints of the destroyed Twin Towers with thousands of names of the dead engraved around its edges. The deep central wells recycle the constant falling water; it falls in to the dark and is pushed back up in to the light in a loop. A local friend commented that he felt it could be more uplifting rather than so entirely focused on death…and I understood his observations
A wander around Central Park in glorious sunshine then Lester left me to head back downtown on the M1 bus.
Next day, Dave went to work and I hit the streets for a 12 mile walk around the city in sunshine…using a pretty useless map saved to my iphone, but it was fun asking directions and finding my way around. The city is a huge grid so it’s pretty straightforward to navigate. My favourite areas of Manhattan are the Lower East Side, Soho West Village; older buildings and tenements, fire escapes and graffiti, these areas still retain a lot of original character.
I visited the Tenement Museum on Orchard Street which is well worth the ticket price for a guided tour and history of New York’s immigrants who built this remarkable city. A variety of guided tours, the only way to visit, offer different experiences of life in a typical tenement building from the mid 1800s onward. I joined the tour ‘Sweatshop Workers’ which recounts the life of people who made a living from the garment trade at the turn of the century. There were two other tours and the set up is so impressive I’d love to come back to take each one. I looked in their great book shop and then took a walk along Orchard Street with its small boutiques and places to eat.
New York is a walking city and 12 miles later I was knackered…but it’s the first time I’ve walked it on my own and I loved it. One last night out with old friends Kat and Jon…a late night visit for cakes at Veniero’s Pastry established in 1894 and with the largest cake menu I’ve ever seen whilst discussing what we would do with the $127 million Lottery jackpot if we win it – hah!