usa part the fifth and final: new york city – the rest of the week

i grow weary of my own voice prattling on about what we did and when, and i also got kind of busy just doing, so the photo taking wore off a bit after day one. so im going to condense the rest of the week into one post, and then its all done by new year.

so, after the snow on the monday night, tuesday looked like this (through the flyscreen because i wasnt going up on the roof again).

the snow on the ground had melted a lot but it left big slabs of ice in the gutters, and made everything feel very christmassy.

the whole christmas thing makes a lot more sense where it snows, i must say. although apparently teddy bears have a hard time of it too.

tuesday we did more upscale uptown things, including the amazing guggenheim,

where only photos of the foyer were allowed.

again, a great collection and so well displayed. a terrific experience. we had lunch there overlooking central park,

and then we caught a bus that went through the park (that is one hell of a park) to the west side of town. we were scheduled to see the ballet at 6pm and we just wanted somewhere warm to sit but there wasnt a lot other than starbucks, which was completely crowded. i got the feeling this part of town really only livened up once the shows started. it was so bitterly cold though, we got a bit edgy just trying to find somewhere to relax for a while. this particular exercise demonstrated the difference i think between mine and my sisters travelling styles. when i get overwhelmed or tired, i just like to find somewhere where there are people and sit for a while, feel a little less like a tourist, drink coffee, write postcards, just be, rather than rushing around looking to DO. a large part of my joy in travelling is figuring out how other people LIVE in this place, that is so foreign to us. but the theatre district was probably not the place to look for that!

the ballet however was amazing. we saw the new york city ballet do nutcracker, with the wonderful jennifer ringer as the sugarplum fairy. she was in the news while we were there because some arsehole called her fat. FFS, shes the principal ballerina, shes like a tiny slip of a thing, shes a wonderful dancer, and you want to call her fat?! feminisms come a long way hasnt it?! but the ballet, oh it was divine. i loved every second of it, the orchestra, the wonderful score with so many classic favourites, the amazing multi layered set complete with falling snow, rising christmas tree, and flying sleigh, all the fantastic little kids dancing their hearts out, so perfect for christmas in new york. there were lots of kids in the audience too, which was wonderful. we werent allowed to take pictures but i snuck one of the stage in intermission

i got in trouble for it though, but it does nothing to convey the magic of that performance. definitely one of the highlights of my entire life! wednesday it had stopped snowing and wasnt quite as cold, we spent the morning on a long walk from the lower east side

over to greenwich village on a fruitless search for groovy vintage rock tshirts

(we did go to bleecker st records where the most amazing thing was the huge blue russian cat). nardine found some good vintage clothes, and i really enjoyed seeing this really old part of the city, and thinking about all the amazing things that had happened here once. soho was a disappointment, like a scaled down version of uptown, same stores repeated etc, we agreed later we would have been better to spend more time in greenwich village, and off the main roads a bit more, but it was so crazy with crowds, we tried to get into balthazar but there was an hour wait. by now, the sun was setting at 4pm, and we were tired, and the vintage clothes shopping hadnt been as succesful as hoped, so we grabbed a slice of pizza and then went looking for dessert at momofuku.

crack pie obtained. thursday we went our separate ways, nardine to queens to buy roller skates from the derby shop there, me to knitty city to buy, well, lots of yarn. youve seen that already. i had the worlds best onion bagel for lunch,

and nardines skates were TOTALLY cool, not just any old skates but riedell 595s, which are apparently the BOMB of skates!

she rode them around the apartment for a while. i was so pleased that she went over there and met some great people and had her own little adventure with stories to tell. im pretty sure shes a bit of a star in her home league now! we met up mid afternoon back at the big macys on 34th street

and i do mean big. it was crazy in here, but fun too. i finally managed to pick up a watch, a lovely little silver fossil bracelet, plus some good deals on cosmetics etc, then we wandered up to our final destination, the empire state building. after much security checking, winding walkways and elevating, we were on the 86th floor

with all of new york spread out below us.

it was just great to see the enormity of it,

and the density

and how big things really are!

a very fitting way to finish up. friday morning we said a final goodbye to new york city with another coffee from ninth street espresso

followed by a rather entertaining car ride across to JFK courtesy of mohammed who needed to get there and back before 1pm for prayer. im not a religious person, but lets just say i did some praying of my own while we sped along the van wyck (i cant tell you how many hilarious seinfeld moments NYC conjured up for me, and this was just one of them). not so funny was my run in with american airlines staff. a word of warning. do not fly american airlines. ever. self service international check in with ONE support staff for a system that doesnt work. rudeness beyond belief in the security line. just awful. ive never been so glad to get on that flying kangaroo in my life.

which leaves me with just a couple of thoughts to close. america america. what can i say? i had never had the US on my wish list of travel places. for some reason, i just thought it would be too familiar. what would be the point in going somewhere thats just kind of like home? and it is, a lot. the infiltration of american culture continues apace in the citys of east coast australia in particular. if im being my political self, this is not necessarily a good thing. but i remember something U2 said once, in the rattle and hum movie, about america being a land of contrasts, and i really felt that too. great extremes in culture, class, race, economics. we dont have the population to sustain that kind of extreme, or the variety. and we have something to learn in that regard, because i was left in no doubt that you could in fact be anything you wanted in NYC and no one would look twice. there was no norm to conform too, not nearly as much judgementality about appearance or clothing or behaviour. i felt completely free and invisible in NY. for an introvert, this was a wonderful feeling, and there were moments when i felt completely liberated, completely at ease with myself in ways i dont when i am shopping in central sydney for example! but it wasnt always a pleasant experience. the absolutely atrocious retail customer service in NYC left me gobsmacked a number of times, and i am fully cognisant of whats going on there to make it so bad, but oh, my, god. just terrible. and to be honest, the consumer culture is at times completely overwhelming. everything is about money. getting it from you, and giving you as little as possible in return. and taxing you for the pleasure. with a tip on top of that thanks. new yorkers were pretty rude, pushy and surly, until you talked to them (not that sydney siders are any different), and as a city it feels sometimes like its only just hanging on. the strain on the infrastructure from so many people and so little public spending was almost audible. i wouldnt want to be there in summer, with the garbage situation, and i really really missed the open air, the trees, the ocean breeze, the sound of birds.

of course, i loved it too. it really was the most amazing experience, to go from one coast to the other, to see as much as we did in such a short time. to learn so much about myself from travelling with my sister. it wasnt always easy between us, but i think we did pretty well to talk through things and i learnt a lot about her as well. it was SO great to have company, every other of my overseas work trips has been by myself, and it can get lonely and sometimes scary.

and i loved seeing america for myself, seeing that it is kind of like on tv, but its not either, its different but the same, people just live there, like its home, like they live in rome or london or paris. and it made me grateful, yet again, that for me, sydney is home. to fly in over that coastline first thing in the morning, to see the trees and the wildness and the pounding ocean and the shimmering summer light. its worth going away just to come back.

i do miss the snow though. we really should try and get some of that happening here!

thanks for travelling with me. we now return to our usual programming.

kxx

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About DrK

researcher, knitter, dog lover View all posts by DrK

15 responses to “usa part the fifth and final: new york city – the rest of the week

  • Ailsa

    phew. awesome!

    although I don’t share the snow envy.

  • Tam

    You really got in trouble for that pic? lol… Thanks for the tour of NYC. 🙂

  • tds

    Fantastic! the USA is not on my list of places to visit (I’m afraid of americans) but I can certainly appreciate what a contrast of culture that it provides. The wealthiest of the wealthy to the poorest working class in the developed world. To see such great art produced from the pain and desperation of despair in some of the most striking galleries.
    The land sold to many as opportunity is certainly in your photos of New York, I ask “who would not want to visit New York city”, you certainly captured my heart and imagination with your words and images. thank you

  • 2paw

    Oh The Empire State Building, An Affair to Remember…. I can’t quite comprehend the vastness of it all. I saw the ballerina in the news, if she’s fat, then I’m an elephant!!! Next time you go, you’ll know where to spend your time!!

  • bells

    Fabulous round up of it all. Or wrap up I mean. I know what you mean about the familiarity. I did not expect to like America because I felt like it was there on tv all the time – and yes even if you know that tv isn’t a representation of everything, it still means a lot of it is not surprising. And then it is surprising. Blew me away, that did. I thought seeing the Statue of Liberty would be a yawn but it kind of summed it all up for me – seeing things for yourself, as you say, changes everything.

    I didn’t do any of the big shops – I’m jealous that you did!

  • Knitdra

    Reading this just made me want to get to the US again. Like you wrote it’s such a land of extremes and it has such a buzz, yet as a fellow INFJ I’m glad I have Oz to come home to and regroup!

  • Rose Red

    I feel much the same about NY. I could happily live there for a short time (year or two), but I would miss my lovely Sydney. It has been great to see it again through your eyes.

  • kgirlknits

    thanks for sharing your trip with us all – sounds like it was a great time had.

    (and your sister has very cool skates!)

  • donna lee

    NYC is such a huge anonymous place. I used to walk the streets when I was in college and just watch the people who all seemed to be leading more exciting lives than I and who all seemed to have places to be.

    I think there’s a lot to love about any country and usually only an outsider can clearly see the problem areas. The natives tend to take things as they are and not spend too much time wondering why they’re not different.

  • Nat

    wow -thank you for sharing your adventures with us, I’ve enjoyed it immensely. Nat xx

  • fernicle

    loved reading your US blogs Kylie, sounds like a wonderful trip…and as for snow, we got plenty of it here right now, perhaps I can ship you some? 🙂 xxx

  • LynS

    What a great post. Like you, I was initially indifferent to travelling to the USA, but over time as I’ve visited different bits and pieces of it and realised just how diverse it is, my desire to see more has increased. I’d love to drive – or even bus or train with lots of stops – across the USA just to get a sense of the space and variety. Maybe one day…

    Re customer service – or lack thereof: some time ago I visited New York with my elderly but extremely independent mother. She lived in a small NSW country town and had not travelled overseas very much, but was fearless about giving an impassioned lecture to some New York shop assistants about the quality of their service. And they said nothing in reply. I suspect they were just gob-smacked.

  • Lyn

    Thank you so much for sharing your USA travels
    I have really enjoyed your travels and yarn buying
    I can’t wait to get to NY my daughter has promised
    me a trip if I have both knees replaced this year
    more like blackmail I think

  • Emma

    Really really enjoyed your US posts. I’m another one who doesn’t have the US high on the list of travel priorities (the TSA and tipping culture really put me off), but your posts are really making me question my views. Thank you!

  • Susie

    Looks like you covered it all – the good, the bad and the ugly. You came at a time that shows both the best and the worst of the city but it really is what you make of it and you seem to have really hit a lot of great spots.

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