nw3 to nyc

Observations on moving my family across the Atlantic


Leave a comment

Rain? What rain?

Here are my top tips for visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island:

1. Don’t go on the rainiest day of the year. Especially when that rain is really cold and forms slushy puddles everywhere you walk. Go equipped with snow boots and heavy duty rain gear including thick gloves and umbrellas

2. If you do go on the rainiest day of the year you can wave goodbye to crowds and all those who booked to come here but didn’t come because of the rain. You will breeze on to the ferry, find a seat easily and despite the rain and general cold, have a pleasant journey from Battery Park to the Statue of Liberty.

3. Be happy you booked to go inside the Statue of Liberty – the Crown tickets. This is because there are no crowds (see 2. above) and because climbing hundreds of steps inside a copper statue in the cold is actually OK. Imagine it is 30 degrees C + and you are inside said statue, now that’s unpleasant.

4. Rejoice reaching the crown of the lady liberty, be slightly freaked out by being so incredibly close to the eyes inside the statue, staring at you; look outside the tiny windows of the crown and think ‘blimey, her hands are massive’ as you realise quite how large this statue is when you get inside it.

5. Congratulate yourself when you emerge at the bottom for not slipping on the incredibly narrow spiral staircase that goes up and down the inside of the statue. Forget the fact that you slipped on the way up the first, less narrow stairs, missed the bannister and bashed your head on the wall in a spectacular feat of clumsiness.

6. Freeze in the queue for the next ferry that will take you to Ellis Island. Feel smug that you brought lunch in the form of Bob’s Bagels stuffed with lovely cream cheese and other delights; no greasy over priced food for you on this trip.

7. Lament the shortness of the crossing that does not allow your tea to cool down enough that you have to dump it in the bin on the way out as you need both hands to drive the buggy. Buggy very necessary on very wet day to control toddler who is liable to sit down in protest anywhere and anyhow regardless of foul weather conditions.

8. Feel pleased for making the effort to get off the ferry at Ellis Island as it is a poignant reminder of the adversity of New York’s immigrant population. Think warm thoughts of 8 year old daughter who is actually interested in the history and listening with interest to the audio guide, taking us around the building where thousands, maybe millions of immigrants were processed to be allowed to enter America.

9. Smirk at your 3 year old toddler who is wearing headphones and no audio guide but thinks he’s just like his big sister. Chuckle when he picks up a phone in the exhibition where there is oral history on a loop and says ‘it’s Nana on the phone’. Bribe with Smarties smuggled in from England when he starts to get bored.

10. And leave, feeling like this was money well spent and that we really should have done this earlier in our stay in New York.

11. Trudge home from Bowling Green station and emerge at the other end full of thoughts of the past as well as more pressing thoughts about getting that cup of tea and actually drinking it this time.

12. New York tourist spots? Tick done.

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Let’s fry an egg on the sidewalk

Today is the day after Labor Day. It is the unofficial end of summer. This means that the sprinklers are turned off in the parks; that the free open air swimming pools are shut; the open air swimming pool on the top of an apartment building that we can see from our apartment no longer has a bored lifeguard on duty because its 2 September (I bet the residents were mad about that).

The streets are busy again as everyone returns to the city after a summer break and with schools starting back this week, there are kids everywhere.

And today turns out to be the hottest day of the year! Well done New York. It is September and the temperature hit 33 degrees this afternoon. E suggested that we try frying an egg on the sidewalk. Yep, she said sidewalk and not pavement. Tut tut.

 

 


Leave a comment

Not a Ewing in sight

I have recently returned from a 3 day, child free trip to Dallas. I can confirm:

  1. it is phenomenally hot there, with a peak of 38 degrees, it is a searing, dry heat pretty much unbearable;
  2. there is no one on the pavements because of 1 above;
  3. every building is air conditioned so severely that you need to carry a jumper so as not freeze in side, this is bizarre;
  4. some men actually wear Stetsons. Honest. It’s true. No irony. Nothing.
  5. that you will hum the Dallas theme tune when arriving from the airport because you can’t help it;
  6. the buildings do not appear in panels of 3 as per the Dallas opening credits, although they probably should to make them more interesting;
  7. there is the most amazing herd of life size bronze steers (cows with horns) running down a hillside next to City Hall that are being herded by a cowboy. It’s a great piece of public art;
  8. there’s a Henry Moore piece outside City Hall which is huge and so smooth you have to touch it;
  9. the Dallas Museum of Art is lovely, has a wonderful Edward Hopper painting and is open late on a Thursday; and,
  10. that to walk around Downtown Dallas safely, don’t walk around after dark, walk quickly and don’t show your phone or valuables, there’s an edge to it and a lot odd people hanging around.


Leave a comment

The Bronx is Burning

More like I was burning. It was so hot today, nearly 30 degrees on the unofficial first day of summer in New York. We were intrepid and headed up to the far northern end of the 6 line, way up in the Bronx, to visit Orchard Beach. This is a wide arc of sand just off Pelham Bay Park, which is New York’s largest park. It’s nothing like its posh cousin, Central Park. It’s a bit more like Epping Forest than Hyde Park, if you like a London comparison. I think every resident of the Bronx and us decided to visit the beach today, which is Memorial Day.

In the UK you got a bank holiday today too, the usual end of May one that coincides with a week off school. Here, Memorial Day is huge. It’s ostensibly about remembering those who served their country, but in reality it’s a day off with an excuse to go to the beach if it’s hot, or take advantage of the vast amounts of sales going on in the various large department stores.

I’m not sure I’d recommend Pelham Bay Park as a tourist destination. It could do with a bit of TLC, a lot of litter clearance and more taxis. It is a long way out and if you want to get anywhere, you have to use the bus. Most of the time the buses are air conditioned to chill factor minus 100 but today, packed to the gills with mostly nearly naked beach goers, it was sweltering. I was hot. Very hot. Poor J, he ended up in the luggage rack, there was so little room to move. E held on to a pole for dear life and I did wonder if one of us might end up going through the windscreen there were so many people at the front of the bus.

The beach was pretty good and long enough at 1.1 miles to compete with the Brooklyn Bridge in length and volume of people on a busy day. When it was originally conceived in the 1930s it was known as the New York Riviera. It has a once grand pavilion, complete with tall columns and a certain art deco feel. But now, it’s unloved, boarded up and pretty much falling apart. What a shame there’s been no investment in it. Although to be honest, I think the New York Parks Department should spend some money and focus on sorting out the toilets first because they are awful.


Leave a comment

Some observations on summer

Here are my thoughts on how to survive the summer so far:

  1. Don’t wear very much
  2. Wear a colour that doesn’t show up sweat, because you will, a lot
  3. When crossing avenues or streets, lurk in the shadow of the nearest building and don’t boil in the sun waiting for the crossing
  4. Like iced drinks, tea or coffee, everyone is clutching one
  5. Don’t be in a hurry
  6. Carry a lot of water or a lot of dollars in order to top up at the many kiosks and carts selling water – most expensive so  far has been $3
  7. Visit museums, galleries and other tourist attractions for the air conditioning – but be prepared to elbow your way through the crowds of people doing exactly the same thing
  8. Be grateful you don’t live in the UK where a heat wave is greeted with mild panic and with little air conditioning, it will be awful
  9. Be thankful you live in a city that knows that every year for around 4 months it will be very, very hot, so it’s geared up for it
  10. And don’t breathe through your nose: NYC really smells in the heat


Leave a comment

Someone left the heating on

That’s exactly how it feels in New York right now. You are in a nice, cool air conditioned building and then you walk outside and hot air hits you. It’s quite disconcerting to go from the cold inside to the hot outside. And disorientating when you are walking along the hot pavements and you get hit by cool blasts from air conditioning vents. What’s worse is that it doesn’t cool down. It’s late at night and still warm enough just to wear a t shirt.

I was in the Central Park on Friday. Our first experience of sprinklers. When I was a kid, a sprinkler was the small device your dad used to water the lawn on the odd day it seemed a bit warm. I can remember running in and out of the spray of water as it moved from one side to the other. Here sprinklers appear in the playgrounds for the kids to run in and out of and keep cool. J loves his first experience, running into the water and then squealing with slight shock and real delight when the blast of cold water hits his face. He is resplendent in his water gear and enjoys every moment. It will be a theme for the summer.

By lunchtime on Friday I was gratified to see that few people were crazy enough to be running in 30+ degree heat. At 730 on Saturday morning I go for a run in Central Park because I think it will be cooler and I am very wrong. It is hot. The temperature has not dipped below 23 degrees. Too hot for running and I have to keep stopping to prevent myself from over heating. It brings out a lot of early runners and a lot of barely clad people. Men in skimpy shorts and no tops; women in shorts and even shorter tank tops showing rippling bellies and many bosoms that need more control.

By 8am people, mostly men, are playing baseball in regulation coloured t shirts tucked into cream coloured trousers and looking deadly serious in baseball caps. The little leaguers are still asleep but will emerge soon to look like cute versions of these committed sportsmen. The park looks fabulous, lush and green with its canopies of trees giving grateful shelter to mediocre runners like me. Too early for tourists but early enough for random groups of people to be hanging around. Some are getting ready to marshal a race in the park but with others I have no idea what connects them together so early in the park. Maybe it’s just the heat forcing them outside: air conditioning is a luxury in NYC.