Our dear friend Joyce came to visit this past week. We had some great times together and invited her to write an entry for this blog. Here are her observations. Enjoy.
I arrived on July 3 and met up with Tip and Jerry after getting settled into my hotel, about 6 blocks from their home. We started out pretty fast, grabbing tapas at Kashkaval Garden, a wonderful Mediterranean restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen. One thing about NYC, there are so many tastes, smells, sights and sounds which awaken our senses. Love that.
After eating, we started walking the City, up and down the Streets and Avenues, hitting Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, a few art galleries, seeing the Helmsley. And that was just the first day. Tip and Jerry have step counters and before we knew it, we were into the thousands. We averaged 16,000 steps on each of our outings. All good, All fun.
In the next few days we made memories to last a lifetime – fireworks along the East River, going to Amateur Night at the Apollo, walking the historic district of Harlem, meeting shopkeepers and sandwich artists working in the delis, and eating Black and Whites (NYC’s beloved cookies with vanilla frosting on half and chocolate on the other).
Amateur Night at the Apollo was great. The MC, Capone, was great and justly named. He was so funny and connected with the audience and performers. Most of the performers were awesome; a couple were not so great and got “booed” off the stage. We learned quickly how brutal or appreciative the audience could be.
Central Park, the Met, MOMA, the Staten Island Ferry, the UN, sailing on the Pioneer, seeing the Statue of Liberty, and walking the street fair along 8th Avenue. It is mind boggling, thinking of all that we did together, and individually.
Of the things I noticed, one is the subtle changes in the City. I have always told my friends who visit NYC that there are delis on every street corner in the Time Square/Theater District. Now, there are a lot of Halal food stands with beautiful kebabs and Middle Eastern offerings, but my yummy pastrami sandwiches and “bagels with a shmear” to eat on the run are now few and far between.
Central Park remains beautiful, peaceful and unchanged. So much character with such a variety of people – a group of older guys singing be-bop tunes a Capella, a young couple dressed in their gown and tux posing for wedding pictures in the same area, almost as though the session was planned, to be serenaded during their photo shoot. I love and appreciate the familiarity of the Park.
I was describing a scene to Tip and Jerry, asking them if they had seen the ABC Studios at 5th Avenue and Central Park – well, no, they hadn’t. It is now a flagship Apple Store. So the bottom line is, the old and familiar with the new; change is inevitable, and not a bad thing. Chain stores are mixed with the Mom and Pop shops. Sad to note, that the Mom and Pops may be fading into the past. Still yet, NYC has an identity of its own.
Just like Frank Sinatra’s, “New York, New York” it is a city that never sleeps. We had just finished our day and walked to Tip and Jerry’s to enjoy the view from their deck. Amazing. Pictures really don’t do it justice. One thing led to another and we ended up at Times Square, walking until after 1 a.m. It was fun and so typical of our time together. One walk running into another, meandering from place to place, seeing different things that interest each of us, following ourselves in different directions and staying out until the wee hours of the morning. The people watching was great.
Among the highlights was going to Columbus Circle, enjoying the warm summer evening, and then walking to the Cascade Diner for a cup of coffee and a shared slice of beautiful raspberry cheesecake. It was easily the best cheesecake I have ever had. That, and the conversation, made for another perfect evening.
Lastly, the Subway system is amazing. Navigating it was quite the challenge, but Tip and Jerry met it head on. We went everywhere with our passes. Riding was an adventure. No question, the steps, from the Subway platforms to the streets got to be tiring, but you can’t beat the experience. We rode midday, evening and late night.
On July 4 after the fireworks the place was jammed with 2-3 million people. The task was to find a less crowded way home. We found an out-of-the-way subway station and made it back to my hotel in no time at all. It was a great night. With so many people gathered in one place, I was thankful to make it through the night without incident.
On all of our walks the NYPD was a constant, welcome, presence. Always friendly, always professional. The one sad thing about that night was the NYPD lost a wonderful officer, Miosotis Familia. Crazy deal – It was just so senseless and sad.
Well I’m rambling, so I am stopping here. Thank you again Tip and Jerry, for such a wonderful week in NYC. Appreciate you both. – Joyce