It s Wednesday 28th October and a light drizzle greets me outside on my first full day in New York.
Breakfast at Starbucks – of course- there is practically one on every street corner. I buy a turkey salad sandwich and cup of green tea. It’s 9am and the workers rush has subsided somewhat and there isn’t much of my anticipated “have to” energy on the street. Everyone has a job to do but there isn’t much adrenalin – very casual and laid back. Every line in every Robert De Niro movie I’ve ever watched is yelled up and down the street as I saunter past unhurried and unsure where to go first. I’m looking forward to my opportunity to yell “Hey I’m walkin’ here!” – and am somewhat disappointed with the polite calm of the pedestrians, taxis, buses and cars. They’re all just going along with their business of the day. I purchase a bright pink umbrella from the nearest drug store, button up Manny’s oversized leather jacket and head off towards Macys.
Forgetting to pack a handbag would be the silliest thing I have ever done on an overseas trip – I think – until I walk into Macy’s bag sale and marvel at my intelligence in simply having to buy one here today. It could be Harrods in London – very similar hustle and bustle about it – as I navigate my way through the delicious smells of the leather bags. Avoiding eye contact with the Louis Vuitton range at the end of the store, I stay in the middle and take a good hour to decide. Those who know me will be surprised with this comment. I’m an IN/OUT in five minutes kinda girl yet today in New York I feel as if I have all the time in the world. Knowing I am here for one month, reduces the tension and there is no real need to do anything at all today. This is a new feeling for me – a rainy wet day, lingering jet lag haze washing over me with no particular goal that MUST be achieved – I could get used to this!
I purchase the bag that met the bag benchmark – hey I didn’t say I wasn’t pedantic – just unhurried - - and got the latest swine flu gossip from the shop girls as they made the sale. 80% of the floor was away with flu, they told me – it was rife in Texas and working its way up to New York. The temperature inside the store was boiling hot – the girls said it was like this every day and they attributed this to the high rate of illness amongst the staff. They were noting which items were contaminated – telephone, benchtops, cash register – and by the time we were done, I was totally freaked out about touching any door knobs, escalator railings or public items of any kind. (geez doesn’t take much does it?)
I found another store and bought myself a lighter jacket, socks, PJs and a couple of shirts and spent $40.00. Really lovely stuff and incredibly cheap. Making a mental note of the address so I can return later, I made my way up to 38th street checking out stores along the way. My focus today was to purchase the hand bag – check! – and the thanksgiving decorations. Halloween everywhere – nothing for Thanksgiving. Apparently they wait until after Halloween before they put them out. Pumpkins line most streets in pseudo city rustic displays - they look great next to the copious bags of rubbish on the streets. Actually I’m surprised – New York city is very clean and tidy. Smoke billows up from the grids on the street corners on a regular basis. I’m assuming this is from the subways below.
After walking for 4 hours, I find my way back to the room to drop of my booty, Google thanksgiving decorations and then go back out again. Jetlag catches up and I sleep for three hours – ah delicious. Comfortable, divine bed – window open to the city, dry and warm away from the rain – it was a really great sleep – speaking from experience of not sleeping well for a very long time now.
Waking up and fuelled, I go to Penn Station across the road and take my first subway trip to Times Square. It was only one stop – I could have easily walked it. Ah well, Subway conquered at least! Disembarking at 42nd Street, I saw Bubba Gump to my left and nothing of consequence to my right. Did I make a mistake? Surely THIS can’t be Time Square? Not willing to look like a tourist and ask anyone, I walk up the street and spy a street chock a block with theatres - ooh I think I’ve found Broadway! Walked up and along until I reached the Times Square I knew from TV. Buzzing with people seeking cheap theatre tickets, neon lit advertising signs, it rained down hard on me while I negotiated my way through the umbrella-ed throng and visited the M and M store and then Toys R Us. How much do I miss having little kids right now? Marie Rose – don’t ever take Hamish to M & M store – he will have a coronary with all the chocolate. Toys R Us – I searched the Boardgames floor but didn’t find the Christmas games I was looking for. Apparently they don’t come out until late November. Still Twilight and New Moon games – yes Alex I bought one for you – and seriously gave myself a talking to about consumerism and the benefits of NOT spending $$$. The talk won and I walked free from both stores with only one tiny purchase.
I decided to walk home instead of taking the subway again. Searched through all the souvenir shops – Alex – once you email me a complete list, I will make your purchases and post it all to you. (The US Post Office is the next corner from the hotel – very convenient and open 24 hours) Still no luck with Thanksgiving supplies however one local New Yorker recommended that I visit 14th street tomorrow – some party supply store near Empire State building. I had lunch at 5pm at another Starbucks – Ginger Tea – ham and salad sandwich – and was introduced to the delights of NY theatre by another local I chatted with. This lady lived in jersey and was in town for the evening to see Steady Rain – an off broadway show starring Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig. There are some great shows playing at the moment. I have decided to simply purchase the tickets each afternoon at the discounted rates. I don’t care what I see when and eventually over one month will surely get to see everything.
Walking back from 45street – it took me no more than 15 minutes to reach 34th – home – this city has an incredible system – so easy to get around on foot. My temperature has been high all day – rain – jetlag –and every store is incredibly hot inside – so I found an Asian massage place down a dodgy looking alley. Cheap, safe, comfortable and perfect – just what I needed.
Tonight is the first Yankees game at the Bronx. I was offered tickets for $100.00 this afternoon and I turned them down as I wanted to watch GLEE on TV at 7pm. The joke is on me – GLEE has been replaced for the next 3 weeks with the Yankees games on FOX – so next time I will take the tickets and just go. This city seems to be a little nuts over their sport.
Looking back over the day, I did nothing of significance but had a great first day. I can see that it will take me a good week of daily 8 hours of walking to become orientated with just a few of the city areas that I am interested in.
I feel quite at home here already.