Wednesday, January 26, 2011

18 miles of books (& almost as many of tunnels)

This has been one of those days where, despite checking some of the things on that list, I don't feel like I achieved much. After a very ordinary breakfast at the chain health food restaurant Natureworks across from my hotel, I paid a visit to the famous Strand Books. Snow was falling and around every corner there seemed to be a bakery tempting me to abandon my journey (Why I thought scrambled eggs made only of egg whites would taste of anything I have no idea, but I feel I should get points for trying to eat healthy right?)

Strand Books bills itself as having 18 miles of books on it's four levels. I only made it to the 1/4 mile of cookbooks, and didn't go too mad, picking up a couple of copies of My Life in France by Julia Child which are on the wants list for customers, and a nice paperback on molecular gastronomy.

I had planned a trip to MOMA for their kitchen exhibition, but wouldn't you know it they're closed on a Tuesday. It's actually quite hard to be an early-rising tourist in New York. As I have discovered, most museums and shops don't open until 10.30/11. This turned out not to be a problem when I decided to go the American Natural History Museum, as I spent close to 30 mins on various subways to get there. The thing about New York ( well Manhattan more specifically) public transport is that there are lots of intersecting lines going across and up & down and sometimes to get to where you need to you have to catch, in my case today, three different trains. And swapping between the two is no easy matter, with tunnels leading you what feels like miles up stairs down ramps, around corners. It gets so that by the time you get out of there you barely know which way is up, let alone North South East or West- the absolute essentials if you want to get around!! Aaaanyway my convoluted subway journey eventually brought me back to Central Park, with a fresh dusting of snow:

The Museum was full of excited kids and after a cursory look around, I decided that I couldn't be bothered and got BACK on the subway to head over to Bryant Park and the New York Public Library.

The Bryant Park Iceskating rink is overlooked by a row of lovely early 20th century buildings:

The library is a real treat, very traditional, and even better, free wifi!

So a couple of things ticked off, it was off next to queue for half-price theatre tickets on Times Square. When you step away from the glitz and neon,on a few of the streets you can still get a feeling for what the district used to look like, with lots of theatres still maintaining their old facades:

I got what I came for: tickets to see La Cage aux Folles, and then headed to the Roxy Diner on Times Square for a late lunch. In the interests of research and trying local foods I ordered Matzo Ball Soup:

and a huge slice of New York Cheesecake ( Jonathan & Hayley's is better). The best thing about the soup was it was warm!

On the way back to the hotel (via Madison Ave for some shopping) I walked through the Diamond District. What a sight! Every shop in the street was jewellery related and in front of EVERY one was one or two guys shouting 'We buy gold and diamonds' or variations thereof. Ocasionally one would say as I walked past 'You buying today ma'am?' - I wish! They reminded me of nothing so much as the touts in Las Vegas who line the thoroughfares shoving handbills in your face for strippers and 'escorts'.

The best part of my day came at the end of it. Having freshened up, put my gladrags on & caught my first New York taxi, I headed back to Times Square, now all lit up as required:

The show was amazing- packed house in an intimate space with incredible performances by most of the cast. This is one of the things on my list I'll be checking off twice!

Off to the East Village for a tour of bookshops and food with Bonnie today- should be fun!

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