Monday, 15 February 2010
New York Snapshots, Edges of Darkness
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.
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.