Day 19: Kiwi and the City

Trip Start Jun 01, 2010
Trip End Jul 29, 2010

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Flag of United States  , New York
Saturday, June 19, 2010

Route – from Downtown to Uptown
Kilometres – measured in blisters today, total 4

All the weather pointed towards a scorcher today in New York, and when we woke up there wasn't a cloud in the sky and looking like it was going to hit that 30C average! After a fantastic brekkie of NY bagels from Linda, we hopped on the subway and headed downtown. Linda recommended the walk along the Hudson, and it was fantastic – especially in the heat, and to see so much green in the city! We strolled south from Canal street-ish, all the way down to Battery Park. There were huge pylons in the water, and we realised the Red Bull Air Races were taking place that afternoon – so we camped out in the shade for a bit and waited for the races to start... alas, what we thought would start at 12 (perhaps the national anthem and crazy red, white & blue skydivers at 12:01 gave us that crazy thought), by 1:30 had still not started so we decided to keep moving (as good as the shade in the heat was!). We walked a couple blocks north to where the World Trade Centre towers once stood, and found the walls of remembrance and many memorials that have been put up around the area. It was humbling to see the actual site where the buildings once were, and to walk the narrow streets that we all saw on the news being blanketed by dust and debris. Good to read about all the projects that are now planned for the area, and the first floors of a new building going up.

So we continued east in downtown Manhattan, and made it to the South Street Seaport. I had never been to this area before, and it was neat to see the older looking market streets and it was all done up for some serious World Cup Celebrations! Puma had booths up, there were table tennis and foosball tables set up, plus a full-size human foosball court! Very cool. We were ultimately searching for Nelson Blue though, a bar set-up by a Kiwi from Nelson – and it was packed! It had some cool Maori designs and silver ferns on the walls, plus some tikis, and we were able to find some seats at the bar. Cam was a bit disappointed that they no longer carried Speight’s on tap, but the cold Steinlager tasted great nonetheless. We topped it off with some lamb skewers and a lamb burger, and it was a fantastic find in NY (thanks for the tip Fred!). Venturing back out into the heat, we found the New York Stock Exchange, and Holy Trinity Cathedral, then hopped back uptown on the subway, heading towards Central Park.

We had to transfer trains at Times Square anyhow, so we decided to pop back up into the madness with the bigger camera this time, to get some more shots. We changed plans and then just kept walking, first to Grand Central Station, then followed 5th Avenue uptown (with a few shopping stops of course!). We wandered into Rockefellar Plaza, and then finally made it to Central Park. It was great to walk through the park, as it seemed a lot of New Yorkers were out and about enjoying a brilliant Saturday of weather. We only made it part way through the park, wanting to see the Strawberry Fields, plus the Dakota Hotel (where John Lennon was shot) and the Imagine memorial plaque. We then made our way back downtown via many subways and took a quick rest back at the apartment before heading out for the evening.

Cam had booked us at the Blue Note Jazz club when he found out who was on the bill (a couple weeks back now) – the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star band, directed by Roy Hargrove, and including the incomparable Jimmy Heath! I had been to this venue before, and it never ceases to amaze. The seating is very intimate (you’re placed at a table with 6 strangers, very closely, and of course the pair next to us were Aussies!), and we were only a couple feet from the stage and players. From the first note, we knew we were in for an amazing evening of jazz. It was just one of those shows where you sit in awe, with a constant smile on your face and realising that you are in the presence of brilliant musicians. Add on some great drinks and food, plus very typical New York cab rides to and fro, and it was a perfect way to cap off a full day of New York.
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