Tuesday, August 25, 2009

West Side Story

NYC 79th Street Boat Basin is run by the ever helpful Pedro. Located on the Upper West Side it’s a great place from which to explore via bus, subway, or to just hang out locally. Outside the marina a wide tarmac path is in constant use by runners and cyclists. James was just missed by several high speed bikes.

And whilst on the subject of high speed, the current through the mooring field is fast- up to 3.6 knots. see the picture of it running past the mooring buoy.

On a windy day it can make boarding Seraphim with the youngsters, extremely tricky, a rock and roll challenge.

Before hitting the city streets we often took a walk along the river in the wooded park, a gentle introduction to the bustle. Having conducted a survey of the playgrounds in southern Spain and the Balearics, the boys conducted a similar quest in New York covering six in Central Park and all those within a 10 minute radius of the 79th Street Yacht Basin.

Plus the Toys R Us Ferris Wheel at Times Square, the Natural History Museum the Planetarium and finger painting at the Manhattan Children’s Museum.

Exploring mixed in with catching up. A friend, Tim, took us to Central Park Zoo and the old fashioned carousel. We also pick-nicked in Central Park with cousin Alexander and Nick near their Upper Eastside apartment. There is a great rivalry between the Upper East and Upper West sides, both presuming superiority.

And the games continued in the Tribeca district in an ultra Vanity Fair loft conversion owned by Devrin and Jane, parents to Ocean and baby Nico. Jane and I worked together, across the Atlantic, for six years at Pearson Television International, it was a great opportunity to re-connect.

Other NYC treats included tours on open top buses, NYC haircuts, breakfast at New Wave and Zabars, outstanding burgers at Nicks (77th and Broadway) and sushi by the ton. All these feastings were paid for in long walks through the city streets.

Big Apples

For groceries we hit Fairway a supermarket boasting itself “like no other." True. It stocks everything packed tightly- as are the customers squeezing through the aisles, not a place for strollers. The Zabars Deli market is another crushed, eclectic shopping experience.

There’s A Place For Us

Dinghy-ing to the dock or sitting with a glass of wine on the aft deck contemplating our Manhattan skyline I mulled over which of the Riverside Drive penthouses, with patio gardens I would like.

On our first morning I heard “Let There Be Love” on the radio. It was rather charming to return to the streets of NYC with that in my ears. A bit less energetic than the pace set by the Jets and the Sharks.
Walking around New York is about walking in and out of film locations: Annie Hall et al Woody Allen, dozens of Scorsese-De Niros and scores of others. Up another block Lisa Minnelli belts out “New York New York“.

Around another corner is the “When Harry Met Sally café in which Meg Ryan performed “that” scene. The Friends café Central Perk was not there for us. It only existed on a set. But it is set in the south of Central Park, near Columbus Circle.

John had his outing to Wall Street, but, saw no slicked back Michael Douglas.

Whilst there we briefly took in the building site which is Ground Zero. It felt a deeply sad place, what with the eighth Anniversary coming up and listening to the radio reports of the on going in fighting about the site. The relatives have been promised that a Reflecting Pool will be ready by the 9th.

Up on the subway from the Financial District to Saks 5th Avenue for Jo Malone scent and cream, my essential luxuries. A little sprits’ of rather special scent sets a girl up for a day on high and low seas with high and low children.

I Feel Pretty Oh So Pretty

As we were preparing to leave NYC, John “lost” the new weather radio so we made an unexpected dash to downtown West Marine. Passing shop after shop of flashy and floaty evening dresses we eventually found roughty toughty West Marine in the centre of the Garment District.

Our plans to head north to Long Island were postponed as the path of Hurricane Bill turned towards New York. The forecast was for it to curve east and away but our previous experiences in Isabel and Ivan dictated safety, so we set off up the Hudson River. Initially I was livid that the first hurricane of the season, our third, should take this northerly path and blow out our plans, but, the trip turned into an unexpected pleasure. It is a beautiful river along which we passed WestPoint, the US Military Academy and further on the Hudson Highlands and several of the great Estates, palatial homes with acres of woodland cut down to provide grand vistas.

For the worst of the thunderstorms we were tucked up safely at Catskill Marina, and even witnessed the Tri-centenary Parade. Catskill is a mixed blessing of two towns. The Haves and Have Nots. Army recruiting posters are out in force, but it’s pretty and full of cat statues, or "catues" which decorate the village and are auctioned for charity at the end of each year.

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