Monday, 15 February 2010

New York Snapshots, Edges of Darkness



30 January
The weather forecasters have promised us the coldest day of the year and they’re not joking. With a wind chill well into the minus figures, New Yorkers have been warned that thirty minutes is the maximum safe period for any exposed flesh. Tom and I are well wrapped up, but the extreme cold is still a shock. In no time at all, my eyeballs feel glazed with ice and my nasal passages burn as if I’m breathing caustic air. A thin scarf I’ve wrapped round my lower face becomes wet and clingy as my breath condenses and chafes my sore lips.

We’re heading for MoMA, the Museum of Modern Art, but this is Saturday and everyone else has the same idea. It’s far too cold to queue. We decide to head back to the hotel to regroup, stopping along the way to browse in Barnes & Noble, the bookshop, and, after another icy blast, at a cafe to warm up with hot chocolate.

Since we’re based just off Times Square, we decide to visit the cinema – something we never do at home because Tom hates going – but, hey! – this is America, so it has to be done. ‘Edge of Darkness’ has just been released here and I’m interested to see how it compares with Troy Kennedy Martin’s original story. To add to our cinema experience, Tom and I opt for the ‘two soft drinks and popcorn’ special that’s on offer, but neglect to check the sizes. Consequently, we end up staggering to our seats with more food and drink than we can comfortably carry, let alone consume. After the hurly-burly of some UK audiences, I am truly impressed by how obedient this group proves. Cell phones are switched off and everyone’s so quiet that, except for a few reactions to the film, you can hear a pin drop most of the time. And the film? Well, let’s just say turning a six hour drama into a two hour film means that anything that requires much thought has been omitted.

31 January
Some sunshine today makes the cold bearable. We take the ‘Downtown Loop’ bus and get off at the World Trade Centre site. On this still, quiet Sunday morning the atmosphere at Ground Zero is palpably sombre and sad. Neither of us feels like hopping straight back on the bus so we walk beside the Hudson which is impressive and beautiful in the morning light and my spirits lift again. Lured by the sunshine, people are venturing out hoping to feel some warmth on their faces. There’s an outbreak of joggers in Battery Park and spoiled little dogs are trotted out by their indulgent owners. A Japanese lady has kitted her pooch out in a pink snowsuit , but, having fought with two pairs of gloves, I’m not quick enough to take a photo.

I’m also entirely unprepared for the sight of the Statue of Liberty. It’s such a familiar image and yet it’s breathtakingly magnificent rising from the water. For me, it’s one of the many sights that will linger in my mind’s eye and make this holiday so memorable.

In the next post... we meet Frances.

The first photo is St Paul’s Church, where George Washington once worshipped. It’s the oldest public building in continuous use in New York City and served as a place of refuge and rest after the attack on the twin towers of the World Trade Centre.

The second photo is the diner providing a different sort of rest and refuge, where we stopped for lunch during our Downtown Loop tour.

18 comments:

Leigh Russell said...

This brings back memories. We visited New York in October 2001 - it was a very sombre atmosphere then, as you can imagine. Ground Zero still smoking. The only queues we saw were people waiting in line as they were searched going into work. We still had an amazing trip. People were so pleased to see visitors, showing solidarity. We were very glad we hadn't cancelled our trip.

Elizabethd said...

I'm loving your trip. It's somewhere I am unlikely to go, but it sounds fascinating. I can imagine that Grd Zero was an emotive place to be.

Pondside said...

I know what you mean about the Statue of Liberty - it's not my symbol, but seeing it made me realize its significance worldwide.
I hope you had a real diner lunch!

her at home said...

It is a strange feeling when you meet face to face for the first time a landmark you know well from photographs and television. Oh course when it comes to the statue of liberty Mr Eiffel made several of of the ruddy things we even have a smaller version in Paris!

Frances said...

Well Chris, I do wish we could have heated up that brisk air a bit for you and Tom. It truly was brutally cold on that particular day. (Maybe you will some day include all those sensations in a novel? Hope so!)

You've made me laugh with your tale of juggling those giant movie theatre snacks. The portions really are over the top.

I'm still marvelling that you all were able to see so much of the city during your trip.

xo

Debs said...

Thanks for all these memories. I wish we were going back again there this year.

Rob went to St Paul's Church whilst I was shopping with my youngsters. Ground Zero definately has a heavy sadness about it.

Preseli Mags said...

I'm loving the tales from your trip! How utterly fabulous. (Had a good laugh at the brontosaurus steak in the previous post - made me think of the Flintstones).

Jude said...

Once again Chris...brilliant!
I'm there with you juggling popcorn!!
Can't wait for next post when you meet Frances...fancy that!
Take care
Jude

bradan said...

I love how you describe seeing the Statue of Liberty, potent symbol for so many. I must say I hadn't realised it could be so cold in NY. Can't wait for next instalment!

lampworkbeader said...

Hi Chris, I've got out of the habit of reading blogs, but am enjoying yours. New York sounds like such an incredible place and how lovely to meet Francis. Brillaint news about the book by the way. I look forward to reading it soon.

ChrisH said...

Leigh, I can't imagine what it must have been like at that time with everything so raw. I was unprepared for how potent the atmosphere is even now.

Elizabeth, thank you - I didn't think I would ever visit either and feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity.

Pondside, interesting isn't it, that that statue is so evocative? And you need't have any worries about the diner lunch - mind you I spent most of time watching the customers; it was fascinating!

HAH, yes,and I really didn't expect to be so impressed, yet I was. Do you know, I've never been to Paris? I really, really should!

Frances, the cold didn't spoil our enjoyment of your marvellous city one bit; it just opened the way to different activities... like being dwarfed by our drinks and popcorn. I wouldn't have swapped any of our experiences!

Debs, I can seem why you would want to return. I keep thinking we only scratched the surface.

Mags - it made me think of the Flinstones too! You had to hand it to the guy - I've never seen anyone tuck into to such a dramatic meal with such gusto!

Jude, thank you! It was amazing to meet Frances, what was so lovely was that it truly was like meeting an old friend.

Bradan, it was a really exciting moment - even though I knew the statue would be there, I still had that, 'Oh, wow!' feeling. And it was bitterly, bitterly cold!!

Oh, Lampie - thank you very much on both points. How very kind of you to say so.

Fennie said...

New York has such odd weather. Did you travel out to Staten Island on the ferry? Strange something so American should be so French. Almost as if Big Ben had been cast in Paris.

Lane said...

Loving your trip. You describe it so vividly.

And a real diner. Oh my ...

Cottage Garden said...

I'm loving your trip - but not so sure I could cope with those COLD temperatures. Brrrrr!!

How was your meal in the Diner?

Jeanne x

LittleBrownDog said...

Just belatedly catching up, Chris. NY sounds fabulous - if just a tad chilly - and I've really been enjoying my vicarious trip through your words. And I love the cover of TTT, which I'm sure will sell in the godzillions. Just about to pop over to Amazon to put my order in now...

...and looking forward to hearing all about your meeting with Frances next time.

xox

Leigh Russell said...

I'd quite like to return and see New York in more 'normal' times. It was certainly an exciting place, even when we were there. Your trip sounds wonderful.

Flowerpot said...

Great to hear about your trip - I'm guessing there were no boats involved?!!!

ChrisH said...

Fennie, we would have liked to, but it was just too cold that day!

Lane, thanks - it was a good diner.

Jeanne, than you. The food was great but the people-watching was ever better!

LBD, more than a tad, but the upside was that it wasn't raining! Phew, glad you like the cover and a big thanks!

Leigh, I think it's a place that gets under your skin. I'd like to return one day but it's taken us a long time (not to mention a fair old chunk of cash) to go once!

Fp, No boats!!!!!