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Trip Start Apr 15, 2013
Trip End May 29, 2013

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Where I stayed
231 Ocean Ave

Flag of United States  , New York
Friday, May 3, 2013

Sue Start,
As we flew into New York I was somewhat overwhelmed by the size of it.  Big cities are not new to us with travels to London, Asia and then of recent times L.A., but this is seriously mega.
On reflection America does everything "big". I need to remember my own  advice.  Break the whole down into parts and experience what you can!!!
We have now been privy to the large sugar driven meals, twice as  much as anyone could eat, so we just buy half.  Must say I share no love of this food and find solace in the Mexican, Caribbean and any other nationality, avoiding the fried up stuff that seems to pervade the tourist areas. 
 We are staying in Brooklyn in a roomy, funky eclectic apartment on the first floor of a block.  The area is diverse from tree-lined streets with attractive buildings, some art deco, others older to very tired run down areas,  These parts are dirty, have a high black population and we are warned not to walk the streets after midnight!!! The subways are dirty and unkempt unless you are in the middle of Manhattan. Rats are frequently seen.  We realize now that Brooklyn is very big and has many areas,  diverse cultures, and economic status.  It is hard to find the Jewish village environment I had imagined.
We do the tourist thing and start with the  Empire State Building.  I must say for me, who is An Affair to Remember addict, I haven't yet got over the fact that Carey Grant was not  up there to greet me!!!! Still the views of New York from the highest building are pretty spectacular not to mention the Art Deco foyers. Beautiful. I'll just have to see the film again!!!
We visit Time Square day and night and prefer the night time vista.  It certainly is spectacular even though it is really just masses of bill boards.  Still they are bigger and better than any others and the crowd makes it quite eclectic.

Now I have always wanted to hear American gospel singers, so its off to the Tabernacle we head.  OOOOOOOh my god.  Amazing voices, whites and black people who have voices like Stevie Wonder.  I am in heaven until the evangelical brain washing starts and we have to endure 2 hours of it.  I couldn't look at Laz for fear of laughing.  I however left there somewhat troubled and reflective about the influence this type of religion has on mainly poor desperate black people.  It was very emotive and appeared money making.  Not impressed!!!
 We took another trip to the Meat Packers district where Simon and Renae had stayed.  Loved this 
 area of old buildings, markets, beautiful food and classy shopping.  Even enjoyed an outdoor film shoot whilst we ate al fresco Italian in the cobbled streets .
Our daily routine for the week in New York involves many trips on the subway. After I managed to have my weekly ticket scammed, I learnt to be more wary of strangers offering help.  I am glad I have perfected the swipe system, it certainly is open to error.I often enjoyed the buskers who frequent the underground, often people with great singing voices who for one reason or another have not been able to make it in a commercial sense.  I have not been able to get used to the regular rat population!!!!
 We take a trip to Central park abloom with Spring flowers, Roosevalt island on the sky tram, The Statue Of Liberty by cruise vessel, Brooklyn botanical gardens in all its glory and finally Grand Central Station, all add to the calaedescope of experiences.I have to say we did little of the shopping experience that most women delight in.  Being our first trip we concentrated on gaining an overall impression of the city and life of people in this mega city.It seemed to me that Manhattan is very high density, grand, upmarket, touristy and the hive of business activity. It is pricey by American standards.  Take the subways and move a few stations out and things are very different with high ethnic populations and suburbs which are dirty and unkempt.New York is certainly a city of great contrasts!!!
Larry Start
The first New York experience, of course, was our taxi driver. Brooklyn is not a well known destination and they don't GPS. So as with other taxi trips we had to direct. Like we know New York! 
 The first day we decide to remain in Brooklyn. We have a great park opposite and the locals are, walking, running, cycling, pramming around it in great numbers, as it is Saturday. The park has a lake, a large multi-use road divided into lanes for the various activities. The park, while a great open space, it felt underdone. Renovations were underway to add to the facilities, but I felt the rest of the park would remain underdone. A long walk around Brooklyn revealed Park Slope a more up market area than our Prospect Park. The choices for eating were endless.  We also found the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens for a free Tuesday visit.Our area had a Caribbean accent and we found a great place of that ilk for dinner. Our new word for the day was "jerk" - Caribbean for spicy.
 Sunday we did the normal tourist stuff - Empire State Building - great view, amazing that it was built on 1931, but a little expensive and crowded. Times Square, the later evening visit highlighted the glitz of all the huge video billboards better. 
 Not knowing that one of our two lines did not run on weekend, meant we let two trains past before we realised, this extra 20 minutes meant we missed out on entry to jazz club by 3 minutes - damn. The next day the Meat Packers area was our first objective. This a more low rise historic area of lower west Manhattan. The Chelsea Market revealed many gourmet treats, but we could only look and drool - $60 cakes, oysters, fine wine - a little expensive, but very nice. The high line in this area is an old raised railway, saved from demolition and replanted as a great park with eating areas and views of the district and Hudson River - great. 
 Our wanderings happened on an Italian restaurant with al fresco dining on a cobbled, historic street. The great food, service was complimented by several photo shoots - we were obviously in a most photogenic area. One shoot, only metres away, went for all of our relaxed lunch. Most amusing to see how the female producer repeatedly tried to coach the models in the desired movements to show off the clothes. The male dresser was continuously adjusting ties, belts and jackets. The whole entourage was around 10 including 3 photographers.
 Central Park is a good open area, but a little underdone. The free Tuesday for Brooklyn Botanical Gardens was great fun. To start, the garden was in its Spring glory. Great avenues of cherry blossoms, azaleas and much more. Then it was the children, all brought to the gardens, by nannies, teachers, mothers, fathers, even two little trains filled with little tots and pulled by teachers. The cherry blossom lawns were filled with all these groups enjoying the open space and colour missing in apartments
 New York was very wet with heavy rain the morning I was to ride a bike. Though it cleared, the bike rental did not open and a long walk along the Hudson substituted. There were some very nice parts in South Manhattan, but other areas of the nothern dockside later on were not as nice. Probably the highlight of NYC was the harbour, statue cruise. She is a grand old lady and although land access is still closed after cyclone Sandy, the Statue of Liberty and other historic buildings viewed from the water is worth the modest cost. 
 We also see ground zero - touching, almost sacred, Wall St - grand old buildings and Grand Central Station, a wonderful old station who just turned 100. I did a solo trip to Cooney Island. While seeing the ocean was good, there is something a little sad about closed amusement parks on a damp afternoon
 . NYC has been done, from our perspective. My view is that we would need a reason to return, apart from tourism.

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Beth on

am enjoying every little word you write on your travels,keep it coming

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