My last whole day in New York. I've had sunshine, and I've had rain - today it's misty, drizzle and wonderfully atmospheric. I'm told this is a typical New York kind of day so thanks Big Apple - I appreciate your attention to detail.
Busing and subwaying it into Manhattan - I'm not an expert but I don't feel lost. Streets mark up the Island, Avenues stretch down longways. It gives a sense of direction - cities built on grids are the best! well, for those of us who have a nose for direction.
The first subway I took didn't have any indication of which station was which - and the signs on subway walls aren't as clear as in, say, London. So my first experience was of great concentration and that was annoying. Taking the F train was much easier - they have ann electronic map with next stops and that made life very easy.
The subways are grimey-looking while you're in them - clean and litter-free, but a grime covers the walls and stairs and it's really nice to get out of them. Some of the points of entry/exit are really quite nice - and generally they all have a green ball on a black pole so you can spot them from a distance.
Today I walked. I walked and walked. When I looked at the map I understood why it had felt like I had walked for the entire day - because I actually had. Manhattan is a large island - don't be fooled, people.
But it was lovely. The misty day made the light soft, and the sheen from the wet streets and low hanging mist over bare trees made for a romantic last day wondering the city. My wanderings started at Park Avenue. According to Monopoly, this is an expensive part of town. It's pretty subtle, with all the old money tucked away inside apartments climbing up off the sidewalk. Concierges guarding entrances but with a smile for everyone. I walked past a couple of schools with a few buses and a few more limousines waiting for their occupants to be discharged from the hallowed halls of learning.
Yes, it was a late start to my day.
I expected the Guggenhiem to be larger. Why, I can not tell you - but it seemed almost like a model of itself. Today was a day of new exhibits, so some of the floors weren't available to the pubic. This was good for two reasons: firstly, because of my lazy start to the day, I didn't have lot of time, so the restriction served me well and secondly because the price of entry was slashed to $8!
Look, you can call me old fashioned - I don't mind. I wanted to see the Paris and the Avant Garde exhibition. It was delightful. I enjoyed the audio-tour commentary, which whispered information about the artwork as I meandered through this wonderous building. I have loved Chagall forever and today was the first time I got to see a one, up close and for reals. And a large Miró. And Toulouse-Lautrec. And the wonderful and sometimes overshadowed, Georges Braque.
I spent some time contemplating the void but my heart was happy with the paintings I was fortunate to see.
The world was still misty when I returned to it. Strolling down 5th Avenue, learning to jay-walk properly and enjoying the world, I found myself outside the huge cube that is 5th Avenue's Apple Store.
If you called me old fashioned earlier, you might like to add "simple soul" to that. While the building of the Apple Store is impressive, it really is just an Apple store. It was teeming with people with their grubby fingers all over the merchandise. I found a place to sit (which wasn't easy - to find or to sit on concrete for long) and joined the wi-fi with my iPhone and coordinated the rest of my evening. I took a couple of photos then I felt I needed to leave. The very best thing (and I don't mean this in a bad way) about the store was the magical umbrella wrapping device at the door to stop rain from dropping all over the floor.
I really should have taken the subway to Union Square - but Google maps assured me it was only a 35 minute walk and I had an hour to get there. Please note people, if you not nothing else: Google maps likes quite a lot. I know I stopped at a store on the way but for only 15-20 minutes - I was still 30 minutes late meeting Kiki at the statue of Ghandi in Union Square.
We started our evening by beering and fries'ing at a local diner. Kiki's daughter Kat met us there between appointments. I've heard about this accomplished young woman since meeting Kiki a decade ago and she me (does that make sense) and this was the first time we met. Unfortunately, she couldn't stay for dinner - so Kiki and I made our way to a Japanese restaurant for tea.
Dinner was lovely, and afterwards Kiki wanted to take me to her favourite (gay) bar over in Chelsea, but first: Staples and a stationery stop.
I'm a bit nuts for stationery - so much so that going to Staples in New York was a highlight. I bought a quad pad and some batteries - and touched everything else. Kiki is very much the same, buying coloured pens and folders. We both had a ball.
Then it was off to Cubbyhole - which proved problematic as neither of the first two cab drivers believed the address Kiki supplied. As mentioned earlier, streets mark up the island, and avenues streak down the island - therefore, you might think, avenues don't meet as corners, but due to some quirky streets in Chelsea, this bar is on the corner of two avenues (or was it 2 streets?) anyway - two argumentative cab drivers later we find a third who knew exactly where he was going.
Cubbyhole was full of people - FULL of people. It's a small joint but it was packed to capacity. And, I am surprised to report: full of men. According to the few guys I spoke to, they weren't that fussy on who or what they took home - and they enjoyed the bar. As with every night we went out in New York, we met a guy. Tonight that guy's name was Warren - and he only told us that by accident. He didn't want to talk about anything personal or identifying. We met him because he accused Kiki of stealing his white bag of electronic equipment he had left on the floor while he went to the toilet. She, of course, hadn't taken it but it took some convincing. He ended up buying us drinks and spending some time chatting. It was a great bar for a small bar - the staff worked their asses off and we had a few too many beers before calling it quits.