Tuesday, 22 November 2016

NYC Diaries: Day 5

Another day, another entry in the seemingly interminable NYC Diaries, otherwise known as that thing where I blog my travel journal from the trip I took to New York City with the Man in October half term.  We had an excellent time and I wrote a lot of it down at length, and now I am editing it slightly and posting it here. I know it's long, but I wrote it for me, and it's going to be lovely to look back on this and scrapbook it one day! Links to other days are at the end, but for now, here goes Day 5.
Radish fact of the day: The seeds of radishes can be pressed to produce oil and while this is not suitable for human consumption it is a possible source of biofuel.
 I woke at eight with the alarm but dozed for a bit. I got up to make tea when the need finally became overwhelming and we had a cuppa in bed. Sunlight was streaming in through the windows (yay!) and so I volunteered to do the bakery run so that I could enjoy the sunshine and get some neighbourhood pictures. The Man offered to make more tea while I did this before I got the chance to insist that he make more tea while I was gone.

The neighbourhood was lovely on a Sunday morning; people out in their Sunday best, I suppose going to church, and I cheerfully good-morninged people in a way that you just can't in London.  I enjoyed looking at the beautiful Brownstone houses with their picturesque stoops: so many are decked out with flowers and autumnal decorations or wreaths, and quite a few pumpkins are making an appearance in anticipation of Halloween. Add in a few golden fallen leaves and you have the epitome of a New York morning in the fall.

Plus the bakery had fresh banana and walnut bread which for me trumped cinnamon rolls and was absolutely delicious.

After breakfast we set off to see a bit more of Brooklyn. The air had a nip but with a scarf and a pair of shades the sunshine was wonderful.  After a slight subway blip courtesy of yours truly, we emerged on the Manhattan side of Brooklyn bridge, with the structure in question towering above us. We, along with basically every other pedestrian and cyclist in the city, began our amble over to the other side.

As I said, the weather was glorious and treading the wooden boards of the walkway was just wonderful. Manhattan arrayed itself in gleaming towers behind us, framed in the mathematical regularity of the bridge's wires, and Brooklyn beckoned in front of us. We navigated other tourists, stray bicycles, street sellers and selfies (ours and other people's) on our way and watched Manhattan give way to water, and water give way to the park on the Brooklyn side. I think these panoramas from the bridge are my favourite of all the ones in New York.


Once we had crossed the bridge, we skirted back to the shore into the area known as Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass (or, somewhat unfortunately in my opinion, DUMBO). I'd never been down here before but the views were spectacular and we strolled the little waterside park, taking in the Manhattan skyline and the soaring structures of the Brooklyn bridge to the south and the Manhattan bridge to the North. Lots of people were out making the most of the autumn sunshine.


We headed along the shore to Jane's Carousel, an old fairground ride, almost one hundred years old, that has been restored and housed in a glass box by the side of the river. It too had tremendous views of the skyscrapers. At $2 a go, there was no way I was passing up a ride and the Man fancied it too, so we paid at the booth and were given little tickets each with a different carousel horse on. Crazy grey horse (him) and poncy brown horse (me, as the Man let me pick and poncy brown was funny).

The ride whirled and the music played and the horses went up and down and pictures happened. Amused. It was fun!

Sadly all things carousel must come to an end, and so we left the horses to find our next adventure. We were heading for Prospect Park but on the way passed the Brooklyn Roasting Company so we stopped inside for a hot chocolate and a coffee; no prizes for guessing which drink belongs to whom. It was basically hipster heaven with tons of artisan coffees, a bare, industrial, shabby chic vibe, upcycled, refurbed furnishings and beards. We conquered a sofa and enjoyed a sit down.

We took the subway to Prospect Park, after my second subway-reading malfunction of the day (two for two, good going Smith) and emerged into sunshine with a sweeping expanse of leafy green before us.

It was beautiful with lots of the leaves taking on a tint of yellow or orange, and wide sweeping paths laid out for cyclists and pedestrians with plenty of room for everyone. We wandered along taking in the views, coming across huge spreading trees and a lake smothered in green, and after a bit, we could smell the scent of hot food drifting on the breeze.
We followed it because, y'know, lunch.

Also because our vague wanderings were not actually vague, and the food market Smorgasburg was our destination. Smorgasburg is a bit of a Brooklyn institution and is made up of around a hundred street food vendors who set up stalls in the park on the weekend to feed hungry park wanderers and anyone in the general vicinity who fancies it. My research had told me it was usually busy, and this was the last one of the year before winter sets in.

There were long lines but a lovely atmosphere and if you could imagine a street food, you could probably find it. We did a lap of all the stalls to whet our appetites and then while the man opted for Japanese and chicken wings, I queued for tacos and tortilla chips at the Japanese-Mexican fusion taco place we had spotted at Chelsea food market. Yum!
The queue (or line in NYC) moved quickly and before long we were perched at the side of the path, picnicking along with everyone else and I was happily tucking into fabulous adobo chicken tacos. YUM. They disintegrated everywhere which made them taste better. In the interests of a full review, I don't really get where the Japanese part came in but I couldn't bring myself to care while stuffing my face with tacos and ultimately it sounds good to say Japanese-Mexican fusion so it works for me.
After lunch we peered at more food stalls before Craig pointed at a sign on the one opposite our picnic spot. It took me a couple of seconds to catch his gist, but when I see a sign that says hot-apple-and-ginger-cider, I don't need telling twice. So we had a lovely steamy cup of appley goodness each, warming on the inside and out. I had thought that particular stall, which was peddling Asian salad rolls, just wasn't very popular but when I got there it turns out that the reason there was no queue was because they were sold out of everything. They were having a good day!
We ended the afternoon strolling hand in hand round Prospect Park. It was lovely weather and I enjoyed just watching life, being there with the Man, and spotting curious pets.
It seems that New Yorkers are absolutely nuts for their dogs and even more so for dressing up said dogs. I have seen a dog in little red shoes (four of them, obvs), numerous dogs in knitted jumpers, a dog being pulled along in a little basket while the owner did the actual walking, and even someone taking their cat for a walk. Or even a climb as this particular cat was in Prospect Park scaling a statue and the owner was stood underneath holding the end of the lead.
We went home for a cuppa, necessary after a long day's rambling, but we were glad we had saved these outings for today as the weather had been pitch perfect.
After a bit of a chill we set out for some cocktails and our reservation at The Mulberry Project. We wondered through Chinatown and Little Italy, enjoying the atmosphere, the lights and the people dining at tables which flowed right out into the street. So we walked right past it and had to double back. The Mulberry Project is in an unmarked basement and it was only by hopping down the stairs and peering through the doorway that we realised where it was. We didn't need to worry about reserving a table! We were pretty much the only people there and opted to sit out in the garden, as the weather was mild enough. It was fun to sit and natter and we put away a couple of cocktails each and I dealt with most of a plateful of calamari. The cocktails were tasty: I had one with rum, pear, lime and ginger, and a second with tequila and orange and chilli. Other things too but I can't recall. Yum!
To round off the night we climbed the Top of the Rock. After a mishap involving us wondering around the network of arcades that make up just the lobby of the Rockefeller centre, we eventually asked and were told we could get tickets down in the basement. Which seemed counter-intuitive when what you want to do is get to the top of a tall building.
The observation decks on the 68th, 69th and 70th floors are open until midnight every day of the week, and it was surprisingly busy! NYC clearly loves its airport-style security so we queued up, avoided the souvenir photo opportunity and were guided by the extremely cheerful staff to the lift.
As we rode up the sixty-odd floors, we looked through the ceiling of the lift which was clear and we could see the lift shaft rising above us, illuminated with columns of blue lights and as we shot upwards, it seemed that the roof came down to meet us.

It was chilly up at the top and my skirt had a Marilyn moment or two, but my goodness what a view! Everything twinkling below us in a starry carpet of lights stretching away in all directions. It was wonderful to see: the skyscrapers dominated, filling in little squares of light in the darkness. It was hard to see the streets at all at the shadowy depths of the buildings' canyons, and Manhattan no longer looks like an island as the inky night time waters are lost amid the twinkling highways and buildings. The Man later said that this was one of his favourite things on the whole trip. We both agreed that the view is better than from Empire State Building. However, the Empire State Building is the one you have to go up. Because history.
Anyway, it was beautiful and we circulated the three levels enjoying the outdoor top floor for uninterrupted views, and the inside lower floor (a mere 68 stories) for warmth. Selfies were duly taken. And we got a particularly good view of the Empire State Building.
We descended the tower again just before eleven, pausing in the lobby for a quick selfie with a picture of Trump for purposes of comedy.
Then we rode the A train all the way home for a cup of tea!
Kisses xxx
P.S. If you are fascinated by this saga, or really want to know more about radishes, you can find Day One here, Day Two here, Day Three here and Day Four here.

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