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New York

Early spring we were off to New York City following a brief spell in Philadelphia for work. Once work was over it was time for some serious play.

Feeling adventurous from the start, decided to hire some bikes and cycle round some of the Big Apple.

Once we'd picked up the bikes, we headed straight for Battery Park to pick up the NYC Greenway cycle route.

After hanging round the park for a short while we headed off the short distance to the Battery Park City Waterfront Promenade looking back on great views of New York's financial district.

We cycled along happily 'til our bellies started to rumble and we decided to get of the cycle path and head back into town for some nosh and a bit of time in central park.

At various points on our cycle ride the Empire State building was clearly visible standing proud amongst the other tall buildings in the city.

On our way back to the bike shop we passed the beautiful Flatiron building (my second favourite building in New York ).

The next day was kind of grey but unlike the rest of the week the forecast was for dry weather so we decided to take advantage of this, get on the Staten Island Ferry and, for a change, actually get off the other end and take a look around Staten Island.

Day three was the sort of day to do stuff indoors coz it was kind of damp. We headed up to Times Square after breakfast, mooched around the shops for a while, then headed for the International Center of Photography.

The exhibition, War in Iraq: The Coordinates of Conflict, Photographs by VII coincided with the the first anniversary of the war in Iraq. The photographs were extremely moving and disturbing in their depiction of the war and the effects of the war on ordinary Iraqi people, and the soldiers involved. Should be compulsory viewing for anyone thinking of joining the military or starting a war.

In the evening we had a table booked for a complete dining experience at Babbo in Greenwich Village.

Much of the following day, also kinda cold and grey was taken up with the obligatory shopping (a bit of retail therapy to cheer ourselves up after the photography exhibition?). In the evening we went to La Nueva Escuelita for a night of mostly watching other people dance which was fun and we did manage to get up and shake a leg ourselves every now and again.

On our penultimate day we headed back up to the mid town area and hung around Bryant Park for a while taking in more of New York's impressive architecture including, the New York Public Library, and Chrysler Building (my favourite).

Next on the agenda was to go take a look at the Scots Parade that was happening in town that day. Loads of Scottish marching bands from all over the States, proudly showing of their pipes and tartan. Very impressive and entertaining.

After all that tartan we jumped on the subway downtown to spend the rest of the afternoon and evening in Brooklyn starting at Brooklyn Heights Promenade.

We spent our last day in Harlem. Starting with brunch at Miss Maude's Spoonbread Too -- a very popular spot up on Lenox Avenue between 137th and 138th St.

Once suitably refreshed we started towards the Studio Museum but stopped off at the Schomberg Center (part of the New York Public Library) where there was an exhibition on called Lest We Forget -- The Triumph Over Slavery-- put on by the UNESCO Slave Route Project. We'd struck lucky with another excellent exhibition, this time a very positive, interesting, informative and inspiring view of of how Africans forcibly brought to America, and treated so brutally, triumphed against the odds.

A little further down the road at the Studio Museum in Harlem, harlemworld:Metropolis as Metaphor and Hirschfield's Harlem were showing.

The former provided a fascinating insight into the history of Harlem, the changes that are taking place there (mainly "gentrification" of the area) and the effects of these changes on the local people. Really well put together, including work from eighteen emerging architects.

For me the most interesting part was the footage of interviews with local people who's views on the changes ranged from the: "it's good cuz we'll have better stores and fewer abandoned buildings" variety, to the "it's bad because they (evil [white] property developers who don't give a shit about the neighbourhood and the people) will rip the heart and soul out of Harlem" variety.

The latter was an exhibition of some of Al Hirschfield's distinctive full colour drawings depicting "the characters and personalities that populated his Harlem experience".

New York will probably remain one of my firm favourite city break destinations. It seems you can keep going back and always find something new to do.



Click on a picture to enlarge it and get a short description of the place

Battery Park New York
Battery Park




Flatiron building New York
Flatiron Building


Manhattan from Staten Island Ferry
Staten Island


Bryant Park New York
Bryant Park


Empire State Building
Empire State


Scots Parade New York
Scots Parade


Manhattan from Brooklyn Heights Promenade
Brooklyn Heights

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