14 June 2007

New York Countdown

After months (just over seven) of deprivation, I am finally returning to my first love, the Big Apple. My use of love tends to be restricted to things that really merit this weighty word: basically to Google and to New York City (and around the time of my first visit to New York (circa 1995) I was still into Yahoo (shh; don't tell anyone!)). Yes, I really do love New York more than any other place in the world and I am sure that my 12th (ish) visit will be as memorable as every other trip.

So, what's so great about New York? Well, of course there's the shopping and the bagels and the restaurants and the fact that the city is so diverse (take 5th Avenue, for example, that at its northern extreme, is in the heart of Harlem, then moves down through Museum Mile (the Met, the Gug, etc.) bordering Central Park, through the flashy department stores and shops in Midtown (Saks, Abercrombie, big Barnes and Noble), past the New York Public Library and the Empire State Building, right down to Washington Square Park (NYU central), where it ends by a marble arch in midst of lovely Greenwich Village with its brownstone buildings and cobbled streets). Maybe it's the Village itself that wins me over with its independent bookstores (Three Lives and Co. being by far the best for the selection and service) and coffee houses (Jack's Stir Brew, just down the street from Three Lives and Co. and run by a part-time Broadway actor (Jack) is easily my favourite) and pleasant side streets in which one can happily spend hours wandering and wondering.

But then, don't most cities have these things? There seems to be something magical about New York - its very New Yorkiness (conceptually speaking, there no necessary and sufficient conditions, just the very essence of the place) - that wins me over every time. Even the taxi ride into the city from Newark (industrial wasteland) can't detract from the frisson of excitement I feel at the first stolen glimpse of that famous skyline: the Empire State, tallest once again, and, of course, my favourite building: the Chrysler.

On the other hand, maybe I am linking the memories I have with experiences I have had in New York while there with friends and family. My family holidays are always fun and usually result in lots of great meals out and family banter. S and I got together (officially) in New York almost four years ago now, in a little Starbucks near the Empire State. In a very circular fashion, it was also the last holiday we took together (along with my family) before we broke up. Then there was the last trip, the week before my birthday last November. This was a spontaneous visit: my parents were going anyway (Dad on business, Mum for the ride) and once I had got a job, Dad suggested I checked out BA for flights and I ended up going too for three short but full days.

The acquisition of my Moleskine New York City Guide has made planning trips a lot easier and I have already filled in lots of restaurants, shops, coffee houses, bars, museums and assorted other places, all organised by location with my colour-coded system. A few planned activities this trip are:

1. Apple Store, Soho to acquire iPod Nano for the gym (black, naturellement).

2. Three Lives and Co. for the purchasing of new fiction, to be digested at Jack's with coffee.

3. Kate's Paperie to stock up on gorgeous paper for all of my belles lettres (oh for the days of epistolary communication à la Dangerous Liaisons...).

4. Walk over Brooklyn Bridge towards Manhattan, hopefully early enough for sunrise.

5. Grand Central at 5 p.m. on Friday to lose self amidst the commuters.

6. Dean & Deluca at Rockefeller Plaza for passable cappuccino and delicious breakfast while watching Good Morning America being filmed next door at NBC studios or at the Soho branch for the most amazing deli and cake selection (it even makes me want to cook).

7. The American Museum of Natural History - for the amazing space show.

8. Breakfast at Balthazar in Soho (must remember to book on behalf of la famille).

That's plenty to be going on with - I'm sure I won't manage the full list and that I will do plenty of things not on the list. Our hotel - the Shoreham on W.55th between 5th and 6th Avenues - sounds very cool (minimalist chic, awesome bar, 24-hour cappuccini, great location) and my brother and I are sharing a suite. Now I just make sure I'm SFU on Thursday morning.

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