So long pals

Trip Start Oct 18, 2006
Trip End Nov 13, 2006

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Flag of United States  , California
Saturday, November 11, 2006

Okay, so now I'm in L.A. but I feel the need to bang on about New York for quite a while longer. I'm always a few days behind on this thing anyway, and not much of interest has happened yet in L.A. Well, a few things, and a few I can embellish, but you'll have to wait.

Brooklyn, in the rain, the sodding wet rain, the consistent solid rain, the rain that fell all day long, rain, rain, rain. Okay, you get the point. After I changed into dry clothes and made the subway to the other bus pickup spot, and walked to the appropriate place I was soaked again. Wet jeans, and wet socks through my heavy boots, there was water creeping down my front despite 2 jackets, and about 5 layers. Yuck!
2 1/2 hours later after the Brookyn tour I was a happy man. - with a wet bum. Why, the man with the mic that's why. We had a bus guide like none other. This man radiated Brookyn, he was born there, lived there, worked there, tried to move to Florida once, but gave it away as a folly and returned to his only love, Brooklyn! He was such a comic, a real wise guy. His accent was nasal twang to the full. He'd punctuate his sentences with 'who am I' or 'what do I know'. Just like every gangster film you seen, but he really speaks like that. He was huge too, with a big walrus mustache.

Good thing we had him as there was sod all to see out the windows. Being on the lower level of a bus in the rain it just fogs up and we had to do our best job of imagining the wonder of Brooklyn out there. I kept opening my window a few inches to peek out, so not to get soaked any further. No matter though, we learned everything you could possibly wish to know about the Borough, once city of Brookyln. If it was a city in it's own right it would be America's 4th biggest. It's part of greater New York now, along with Manhatten, The Bronx, Queens and good old Staten Island. It used to be a rough neighborhood, but no more, now it's condominiums everywhere and the price to live there is skyrocketing. It was the running joke of the tour, everytime we;d pass something that used to be a fire station, a funeral parlor, a hospital, a warehouse... guess what it is know folks.. Chorus.. condos! For those unaware, a condo it an apartment which you buy, not lease. Average price for a lower floor starts around 300k US, and top floor, 1 to 3 million.
So what more about Brookyln. It's a great place by all accounts. Every time we went by a famous actors old house, or place of a film set he's give us the lowdown.. here is the bride on the French Connection where they did the car chase, here is the bank Al Pacino held up in Dog Day Afterboon, here's Barbara Streisands old house. She was a good Brookyln girl. I know her well. He seemed to know it all this guy. He radiated Brookyn and had a noticeable downturn in happiness once we hit the Manhatten side again.

Straight after getting of the bus we went into Roxy's deli for a hot coffee and a mountainous cheesecake to get us feeling a bit human again. One the way out we heard the call 'anyone want tickets for the Letterman show tomorrow night' We answered that call and scored ourselves some free tickets. More on that later.

Next day and strangely sunny again, as if the rain had never happened. Out last one in NYC so we had to try and squeeze the 10 million things on our list not covered yet before going to the Ed Sullivan theatre at 2 - 3pm to get our tickets for Letterman. Since it was sunny we went for the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. It was a tough call as we also wanted to spend time in Grenwich village and Soho. I guess there is always next time. So off we went to the McDonalds of tourist attractions as Clare called it. It was so crowded all passes to go inside the statue were allocated for the day. As we approached we got nice and close. We docked and looking across to see the massive queue waiting to re-join we decided to skip getting off and continue to Ellis Is as it looked more interesting. Really there is only the statue to look at on Liberty Is and we's already seen that. It's a sight and a half so. The delicate carving on such scale really is something. It really must have blown the immigrants away as their first site of the new world on route to processing at Ellis Island.

Same topic, but new chapter, what the heck. About 5000 people per day went through Ellis island for the immigration checks before onward to freedom and new lives. Freedom for the most part of working in overcrowded factories and servants for the most part as they didn't speak English or have any skills to speak off, but hey lets keep it positive. There were of course those with trades and so on, but many were from Eastern Europe and just peasants. If they didn't have any disease or mental issues they were probably al right though and got though the crude tests to become Americans. A massive number of residents today can trace their ancestry back to the Ellis Island immigrants between 1880 off and 1924 I think, when they finished using it. There was plenty lot atmosphere to the place. It been restored to how it would have been, and is a free museum. I'd recommend it. You just need to pay $11.50 for the boat trip.

Back on dry land, and back to 57th and Broadway for the taping of Letterman late show. This was the cream for us. A little extra something for our last night in NYC. We both watch the show on and off so it was a blast to be behind the scenes. I've been inside TVNZ so see tapings before of NZ funniest home vids etc. But this was on a much bigger scale. The Letterman show is well, a genre all or it's own now I guess. If you like it, you'll like to got to a taping. You won't like standing in line for an hour to get in, but it's worth it. The house band entertain you before and during the add breaks and they are darn good. They played Green day and Lep Zep and Chicago covers. The guests on the show were Keifer Sutherland and ?? Jessica Fisher?? from the American version of the office. Keifer came across and a calm, cool, well mannered family man and the other girl was sweet and not short on confidence. Dave was slick and funny as always as was the running of the show. They have it down pat to the second which was impressive and we both rolled out of the theatre with big grins on our faces.

For our last night we went to do some final shopping in Bloomingdales and were fleeced of plenty of money swanky New York style then went for dinner at an Orgainc Vege place and met up with Clare's friend again in the super trendy in a grunge/high fashion way East Village. I had a good chat with Wenn's American boyfriend who actually happens to know a bit about NYC so I had a chance to recall all my experiences and get his insights on what it's really like to be live here. I certainly wouldn't live in the West Village where we stayed as it is Gay Central. I couldn't help noticing men holding hangs walking down the street and the gay sex shops on every block. David confirmed the this is the catwalk of gaydom and almost everyone in this area in gay. I've nothing again it, it just isn't my scene. It was intensely gay. Every restaurant look into had 2 overly well dressed man staring adoringly into each other eyes, big burly shaven headed body builders would be holding hands and I'm sure if me & Clare were to join hands, not that were are that type, but I got the feeling the whole street would turn and stare at us, traffic would stop.. you get the picture.

So my wrap up, well overall I loved it. I'd go back in a minute. There is far to much to do, far to much to eat and far to little time to do any of it. You could eat out every night of the year and keep finding new places. I'll be back, but like silly old Arnie. I think it's a great city. We did our best to see what we could. Poor Clare was poorly with a bad cold the whole time, but as you've seen she didn't let it stop her. The only thing was we didn't get out that much at night, but as we did so much in the day we were stuffed anyway. We did try to go to a gig, but we didn't realise that 9.30pm means 9.30pm here so we missed it. If I think of more to say I will later. Also there will be photo's added. You'll notice some from London and Czech already. The welcome image is Cesky Krumlov. It was my first impression on the town as we waling in with out heavy packs but I had to stop and take it leaving the group behind. It seems a long time ago now.

Next reports will be from Auckland.
Ian & Clare
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