We recently returned from a couple of days in New York city accompanying visiting friends visiting from the UK – we had never been before and this kicked us into action. I’ll keep the comments short so as not to be too tedious …

The city :

Glad we went, probably won’t go again though without a good reason. Why? – crowded (expected) but also just too loud, everyone shouts and it became really tiring. Fascinating place.

Highlights :

The Metropolitan Art Museum’s Chinese and Egyptian collections and, of course, Central Park. The view from the top of the Empire State Building were spectacular and the “trip around the bay” to see Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty was a lot of fun. At least one Restaurant (Henry’s on Broadway in the upper west side are) was of a very high quality and rose admirably to the whisky challenge I inadvertently set them – I have now discovered “single cask” Bourbons.

Low points :

The noise (vide supra) of course and the five – count them, five – sequential queues needed to get up the Empire State Building.

Surprises :

Wall Street is really, really narrow when I expected a wide and impressive boulevard to house the HQ of the capitalist system but the end-of-day walk along it was most illuminating. The subway was clean, fast and efficient – not at all living down to its image. On the whole, and with the exception of one subway ticket seller, we never met the famed “New York Mode” rudeness and in fact found everyone helpful and relaxed and eager to answer questions and help us when necessary … pretty nice folk. As for the lady in the subway, I’d like to think she was having a bad day but suspect it was inherent bitchiness. Clean subways and friendly inhabitants – come on, New York, you have a reputation to live up to you know!

Bonus points to :

We flew down but returned with Amtrak on the train. Beautiful, if lengthy, ride up the Hudson river and alongside Lake Champlain through the Adirondaks was a calm and civilised way to travel … and cheap too … but a decent rest-car would have been a big plus instead of the snack-bar we suffered. The 12 hour journey cost, at a mere $68, a couple of dollars less than the taxi home from the Montreal rail terminus. No sense, but there you are.

Birds :

Nothing exciting, nothing surprising but the high House Sparrow population did my heart good to see. Cheery little fellows made us welcome.

Pictures :

A few images to set the tone …

Statue of Liberty (heavily back-lit as the sun went down)

The NY stock exchange which is busying itself these days reducing the value of my pension fund

Black-crowned Night Heron in Central Park

NY skyline from the roof of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

J and J on top of the Empire State Building looking south

An inner courtyard of the Metropolitan Museum of Art as seen from the restaurant line