New York: Day Eight

An hours metro ride to go and see some Russians? That sounds reasonable. Unfortunately I was a little sick so the hours metro ride was followed by an hour of walking round, and then an hour of metro ride home. Both journeys punctuated by coughing fits.
It was worth it though. I love being by the seaside, and this was just wonderful. We had hotdogs from Nathan’s while watching a film being made, then we walked along the front to Brighton Beach.
This place combined my two great loves – Russia and Brighton. Sort of. The Russians were there in force, and there was beach, but where were the pebbles? Where were the hippies? Still, it was a great experience, walking round an all American looking place while hearing snatches of Russian phone conversations, watching elderly folk sitting around shooting the breeze in their swimsuits.


New York: Day Seven

After a busy week it was a real treat to take it easy today, staying in the flat and chatting with my friend while she went about her work (she’s an artist). For lunch, we got Philly cheese steak wraps from the local posh supermarket, because we’re fancy like that. 

In the evening we had a couple of drinks in the coffee shop/cocktail bar on the ground floor of their building before heading to Skinny’s for some mexican food. Both lovely. 
Ben finally found the time to arrange his camera equipment in such a way as to take this amazing night shot of the Manhattan skyline, seen from the balcony. 

New York: Day Six

The weather did not look promising this morning, so we decided to head over to MoMA for some arty tourism. We got a little lost on the way there, because apparently I am incapable of understanding the seemingly simple road layout of Manhattan. I had great difficulty in remembering which streets and avenues I was meant to be heading for – strange how it became such an issue when numbers were involved. Anyway, with the help of a businessman, we found the museum. Did I mention how friendly New Yorkers seem when you’re used to Brussels and South East England?
The museum itself was pretty interesting, and the trip passed very quickly, but by the time we got into the most modern sections I was a bit sick of it all. One room contained a piece of steel you could walk on (also known as a floor?), and another contained something which looked liked the innards of my hoover.
I was left feeling a bit confused and scared, and also a bit sad that these things were so successful, when talented artists who are actually making interesting things, which require some skill, are not recognised. But, well, each to their own. It probably took a lot of work to hoover up that amount of yuck.
I sound like my mum (actually worse, she quite likes modern art).
There was an exhibition on called A Trip from Here to There, which featured various pieces of work based on travel, including some inked in maps which I was quite taken with. The photography exhibition was also good, although I can’t for the life of me remember who the photographer was (English, portraits, some celebrity, some normal people, some nudes). Bad blogger didn’t take notes.
As we left the museum it started spitting. About five minutes along our walk to the secret Japanese restaurant where we were going for lunch, the heavens truly opened and we were left huddled under a small umbrella between us. Deciding that it would probably be quicker to continue walking than to find a subway station, we powered on, getting more and more wet with each passing second.
Eventually, soaked to the skin, we reached Sakagura. To enter, you go through what I think is an office building, past a doorman and down some stairs into a little slice of Japan. There are buddhist prayer flags lining the archways, and old sake bottles along the walls. The waitresses are friendly and the service is quick. We thawed out with a cup of green tea while perusing the menu. Ben and I both went for the Kamo Namban, a soba noodle soup with slices of roast duck and shiitake mushrooms. It was an excellent choice, and just spicy enough to ward off the chill.

New York: Day Five

We had waited long enough. The time had come to head down to Brooklyn and behave like the vintage shopping, retro camera toting hipsters we were born to be. 
We hopped off the subway in Williamsburg and walked down toward the Brooklyn Brewery to Beacon’s Closet. A very nicely arranged, if somewhat hectic vintage store. After browsing for a while, I came out with a breton striped gap dress, which is going to look super chic with some ballet pumps and a little blazer. 
After wandering round a little more, Ben picked up a few tops in American Apparel, where he was, of course, complimented on his camera – people are very vocal about complimenting you, which is a lovely change. 
We met friends for lunch in Shake Shack, hopped over to the Gap outlet, and then made our way through Brooklyn Heights to the ferry terminal in Dumbo, where we paused for ice cream. 
Next on the list: an exhilarating ferry ride back to Long Island City. 

New York: Day Four

I don’t really like looking like a tourist. Something of a problem when you’re standing outside the Empire State Building feeling cornered into paying for additional extras on your trip, when you just wanted to slink off to the normal queue and not have to deal with Michael, the most enthusiastic man alive, and a boyfriend rendered partially deaf by the flu. As it was, Michael took our money and ushered us off to the secret entrance, bellowing in our ears and seeming very disappointed when we didn’t whoop and holler when asked if we were having a good time. We were not. 
It turned out that we’d paid for the NY Skyride, which is described on its website as a one of a kind tourist attraction. This is very true. 
First up came some standing around watching a video where a woman showed us her favourite spots in New York. These were the classic tourist locations, obviously. One of the highlights for her was a spot on the high line which she described as ‘street theatre’ – it was a window overlooking a street. 
Afterwards we were taken into a helicopter simulator, which hadn’t been updated since 9/11 (as Michael referred to it, ‘what we call 9/11’). They claimed this was because they wanted to show the terrorists they hadn’t won, or something similar, but I think it might have come down to cost cutting measures. For some reason, our simucopter ride was narrated by Kevin Bacon. We booted it around New York, before wasting about ten minutes going underwater, then going into space, before just kind of dicking it around on our journey back down to earth. It was all deeply confusing and disturbing. Most people on board were laughing in that hysterical way that soon becomes crying.
Next up was the obligatory tourist photo opportunity. Wow, I can pay twenty dollars for a photo taken before Ben and I even got into position in front of the screen, where we both look clinically insane. It was an amazing photo, to be fair. 
‘Eye of the tiger, baby. It’s observation deck time!’ cried the lift guy, as we were ushered inside. Indeed it was. Soon we were up on the top, checking out the view. It was impressive, but if I’m honest, I was more interested in people watching. 
‘He got Shaniqua runnin’ round like a chicken. Wit’ she head cut off’ said a woman into her phone, like it’s ok to have a perfectly normal conversation when you’re up there, blocking everyones view. 
To confirm, Michael. We didn’t have a very good time. Whoop. Holler. 
The only way to cheer myself up after that was to do some shopping. Macy’s was just round the corner, and my, what a big shop that is. Ben managed to snap up a selection of Levis in various shades, and I got my hands on a beautiful paisley print Tommy Hilfiger shirt dress. 
Shopping over, we retired to the balcony of our friends apartment, to drink wine and eat gallons of hummus. Something of a theme for our trip.