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26 January 2008

New York State of Mind

So, it's official: the flights are booked and my bags are all but packed and my NYC Moleskine is raring to go. As as added bonus, I discovered that my brother and I are flying out World Traveller Plus and returning club class, which means we don't even have to haggle over an upgrade.

We are staying at aka near Central Park, which is a sort of apartotel consisting of luxury suites. The main reason we are staying there is because it used to be a hotel called The Wyndham, which was our regular haunt for about five years and which was wonderfully characterful. The Wyndham was part hotel and part long-term apartments for actors and with its red carpets, cheesy paintings on the walls and oh-so-slow lifts operated by the doormen (which always made me think of Brave New World), it was chintz-central - not the usual style of ma famille. However, the rooms were huge, especially for Manhattan, and at West 58th Street and 5th Avenue, you could hardly beat it for location (I prefer SoHo and the Village myself but my dad likes to go for his morning jog in Central Park).

Then, one sad day, we heard that like its near-neighbour, the Plaza, it had closed down and was being sold off as apartments and since then, we have been staying in a variety of hotels of the more minimalist bent when I was too young to appreciate it). I wanted to post a photo of the original Wyndham for comparison with its slick successor but all of my Wyndham trips were pre-digital and the only one on my computer, complete with flowery sofas, is also complete with a none-too-flattering sighting of me. Suffice to say that the change is remarkable.

Looking back at some of the hundreds (probably closer to 1,000 now) of photos of my various trips to New York since I went digital in 2003 makes me realise how I have, in my mind, amassed the visits into one big trip and I often find it hard to remember on which trip a particular photo was taken (poor Bex, eh?). So, for example, there's a photo of me posing in the Love Sculpture on 6th Avenue wearing a dress that suggests it probably wasn't taken at the end of October when the weather was only mild and not warm enough for a dress at night. Then again, I thought I had only bought the particular dress in San Francisco in August, which means it has to be my end-of-September trip. Except, I didn't go there with Subway Dude and so who would have taken it? My memories have definitely got mixed up somewhere along the way.

In any case, I have now been in all four seasons, although only once in the middle of summer, when it was so hot and smoggy, we were relieved to escape to a resort in the middle of the Blue Ridge Mountains; I've seen Manhattan blanketed in a foot of snow, drenched in rain, hot and humid, cold and crisp. I've been with friends, SOs, family and alone and I still can't imagine ever growing bored.

Dedicated reportage in the Village, December 2003 (she was expressing concerns about more than half of the city's annual snow budget being used up by the first week of December):









Stopping the traffic: Easter Parade, Fifth Avenue, 2006:



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