New York City, Philadelphia, Alexandria and The Hamptons – September 2013

Manhattan from Brooklyn

Manhattan from Brooklyn

Photo’s are at: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/2ql0foaylvve9w1/aenF6gjky1

After  a quick trip to Alexandria, Virginia in glorious autumnal weather we headed off for a fleeting 12 days or so taking in the sights (in between work and art shows) in 2 of our favorite US cities – NYC and Philadelphia :-). Philly was the usual cocktail and food fest (if it weren’t so cold here AND so far from the nearest decent beach (ie. the Gulf of Florida 😉 ) we could almost live here for the restaurants alone 😉

I spent some time wandering the streets and found myself in Chinatown and “Love Park” for the first time – the latter famous for its LOVE sculpture in the JFK Plaza – I am sure JFK would have approved of the sculpture but he might not have been so keen on the hobos living in the park along with it – or some of the more interesting transactions taking place in it 😉

Anyway, it was fun to see some parts other than the more snooty and exclusive Rittenhouse Square area where we usually spend all of our time and where we set up shop for the art show. Having said that, the park in the centre of RS is also known affectionately as “Hobo Park” and there have been many engaging interactions with some of the local inhabitants over the years – thankfully outweighed by the number of interactions with baseball players wives, lawyers who own their own block (never mind their own buildings) and other miscellaneous wealthy glitterati. We love Philly for lots of reasons 🙂

However, we love NYC even more 🙂 !!   Poor Geoff spent most of the trip (minus one lunch) glued to his phone and laptop whilst I enjoyed the city sights…  he did however, manage to make the most of the array of cocktail bars and restaurants in the evenings … what a surprise …  🙂

One block from Central Park is not a bad place to park oneself for a few days. Despite the horrendous heat in the bowels of the NY subway (I think it is nicely heated to a boiling 120F regardless of the season) I am now more familiar with it than the London underground – and – frankly – it is cleaner – so zipping about from one end of NY to the other is a breeze (albeit warm) 🙂 We did see some more unusual sights this trip – a couple of teenagers with a boom box break-dancing their way  through the carriages for tips – anyone who can maneuver about the handrails with their legs spinning in the air while they hang upside down from the ceiling AND manage not to inadvertently kick anyone in the head at the same time gets our vote 🙂  On the same journey, we also shared a subway bench with the largest most disheveled man I have even seen who sat down next to us , curled up on the seat and slept in fits and starts punctuated with intervals of loud and violent mutterings to himself  with his trouser flies unzipped, his belt hanging off and liberally coated in some really nasty stains. We also got to experience NYC at its most chaotic as our trip coincided with a UN convention. As our illustrious president was, obviously, in town – almost the entire area around the Sheraton, 57th and 6th Ave… for endless numbers of blocks … was in traffic shut-down and crawling in NYC cops (probably 1000’s) and Secret Service agents – as always subtly blending into the crowds by virtue of their identical black suits, regulation ear-pieces and bulging muscles 😉

In addition, of course, we enjoyed the more usual NYC favorites – a boat trip, the Green Market at Union Square, the Brooklyn Bridge (not sure why, but whenever I see it I am reminded of the 80’s movie Arthur and find myself humming ” If you get caught between the moon and New York City….. ” 😉

Also took a jaunt into Brooklyn itself which was a whole lot quieter than I had imagined – I kept thinking I was missing something but couldn’t really work it out … the views of NYC are, obviously, to die for so it is always worth the trip over the river just for those 🙂

I zigzagged back through the Financial District to take a glimpse at the new Freedom Tower  …stunning … but mixed emotions as it wouldn’t have been there at all in a more peaceful world 😦    …couldn’t face the huge crowds to see the WTC Memorial and wove my way back through Chinatown – always a colorful favorite filled with unidentifiable exotic fruit and vegetables and rows of purveyors of plastic junk nobody could ever need in their lives 🙂  … by which stage a brief but brutal Chinese foot massage was in order to recover from pounding the warm sidewalks for days. With barely a word of decipherable english to elicit what might be aching, my masseuse decided to go straight for the jugular and I was relieved to discover I could still walk at all once she’d finished with me – the Chinese certainly know what they are doing – no messing about with a gentle warm up 😉

And so on to Long Island about which I knew absolutely nothing but discovered quite quickly that the southern end (Long Island City) is a lot rougher around the edges than the northern end (the exclusive Hamptons)!  Having said that the street art around “5 Pointz” in the south was almost up there with Buenos Aires (albeit on a much smaller scale) and all that The Hamptons had to offer was some of the worst (and overpriced) food we have ever eaten, some interestingly designed multi-million (who knows? – maybe billion) dollar residences along the coast, wide yellow sand beaches reminiscent of most other standard beaches in the northeast (but the latter without the $40 daily parking charge) and some very expensive and seriously pretentious clothes stores reminiscent of upmarket outlet malls – designer towns with designer shops (how many $5000 handbags does a girl need?).

Not sure quite what all the fuss about The Hamptons is – although there were some bucolic farmland/vineyard type scenes crossing the island which were attractive. Sag Harbor was pretty and more “real” than The Hamptons themselves but overall , 2 days up at the north end of Long Island with the outrageously wealthy was quite enough 😉 ….

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