Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Checking off the list

It's not quite a bucket list, but after years of reading the New York Times and seeing the city itself in the popular culture I have been consuming most of my life, there were things I wanted to do and yesterday was a day of ticking off the list and also making new discoveries.First stop was breakfast at the diner around the corner from my hotel "Hotel 31" not a spectaularly good one, so it won't be my local wihle I'm here. I then walked across town -about 4kms - a meandering route with lots of snow and an icy wind. It continues to be very cold - I don't mind the cold and am well rugged up, but find it impossible to find a way to keep my face warm!! And its one of those things about being a stranger to this kind of weather - the sun is shining and I expected I'd get warmer as I walked, but instead I just got colder and colder, even in the sun! I saw the Empire State again, walked down Broadway (wow this is Broadway - it's a bit tatty down this end) My destination was the flea markets the Lonely Planet had recommended in Chelsea. I had planned a couple of hours there but was out in 10 minutes - must be too cold for lots of stall holders.
The Chelsea food markets were a different story, lots of 'artisanal' food shops in a gorgeous old re-purposed warehouse space.
There was even an Aussie pie stall call Tuck Shop, he wasn't open when I was there, but I can tell you that every Australian food cliche you've ever thought of was there. Lamingtons ($2) Pie Floaters, beef Pies, etc etc.
I had a warming latte and an

almond french toast (a little like Phillipa's Pain Perdu) and enjoyed window shopping the soup kitchen, seafood stores and more.
Following the interlude at the markets, I headed for the High Line, an abandoned elevated railway line which has been turned into a fantastic park and open space, with great views of the Hudson River and the old meatpacking district, which is a muddled combination of the original meat processing factories and alamai makers one one side and the upmarket brands like Stella McCartney and flash restaurants like Collichio and Sons. I think its a bit sad, but some people eould probably call it progress. There was also a cute littel ice-skating rink about the size of a loungeroom with little kids spinning around with flair.
I ticked off another item on the list - catching a subway- to get to the Staten Island Ferry ( another on the list) and took the one hour ferry to Staten Island and back for an amazing view of the Statue of Liberty. I braved the cold on the outside deck to take photos (will post later). Another long walk, this time from Union Square subway station back up to my hotel, via the popular Shake Shack in Madison Square Park for a piddly little hot dog eaten with an accompaniment of cheeky squirrels underneath the heaters.

The highlight of my first full day in New York was my visit to Bonnie Slotnick Coobooks. Bonnie has kindly been emailing me with advice about my visit and I stopped by to check out the shop (gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous) and ended up spending three hours there, with a couple of great customers and a tiny dog called Abraham Lincoln whom Bonnie is babysitting. Like most dogs, Abraham Lincoln took a dislike to me, growling anytime I came within a few feet of him. Anyway the shop is filled with treasures and Bonnie is a charming and very knowledgeable bookseller. I'm looking forward to a trip to New Jersey with her later this week to check out some bookshops, and she's promised me an eating tour of the East Village as well. I can't wait.

Today I'm off to Grand Central markets and the station itself to tick off another thing on the list. Also will heading up to Central Park and the Times Square area for a wander.. It is going to be the coldest day so far of winter, so it should be fun(!) I'm squeezing these things in now because forecasts are for sleet and snow for the three subsequent days, when I'll do all the indoor things on the list.

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