Tuesday, 9 February 2010
Snapshots from New York
‘Hey, lady – Chris,’ says the cab driver. ‘Don’t be so polite! Be kind, be nice – but don’t be polite. Ya gotta loosen up! New York ain’t a postcard so don’t just look at it – ya gotta do it!’ Excellent advice, I think, enjoying the banter all the way from the airport. Nevertheless it is hard not to feel that the first things to be done are us as we part with an eye-watering sum of money for the fare.
Reeling and slightly disoriented from the journey we stand in awe outside our hotel, a glittering skyscraper just off Times Square. Inside, it’s just as impressive; a huge atrium with chandeliers, chocolate leather sofas and a small army of uniformed staff smiling as if they’ve been waiting all day just to meet us. We glide up the escalators to another vast room with yet more staff who also beam at us. By the time we reach our room on the 22nd floor, I’m seriously worried that there’s been a misunderstanding with our last-minute deal.
When we open the door to our room, I just know we’re going to have to clean this place for the rest of our lives to cover the bill that must surely be coming. It’s glorious; an enormous modern room dominated by a king-size bed which, judging by depth of the mattress and the pile of duvets, must surely have a very small pea hidden somewhere at the bottom. The bathroom’s pretty amazing too; all mod cons and stacks of fluffy white towels, but what really takes my breath away is the view across the Manhattan skyline and the Hudson River.
Eventually we drag ourselves away and find an Italian restaurant straight out of ‘Moonstruck’. An early night is order, but first we’ll watch President Obama’s State of the Union address. Well, that’s the plan. No sooner do I lie back on the Princess and the Pea bed when I’m out like a light. Not much in the way of blue blood flowing through my veins then.
Wide awake and raring to go at the Crack of Doom, we consult the hotel breakfast menu, blink at the prices and rapidly decide to hit the diner across the road. Bamboozled by a bewildering selection we end up with a very strange combo, but, hey, it hits the spot and we’re good to go. It’s snowing and I’m amused by the number of small dogs in coats and boots but shocked at the women in fur coats.
Our plan today is to explore on foot. Unfortunately for Tom, our walk takes us through the Diamond District. I helpfully point out the ring he should buy me and the assistant watching from inside beckons me in to try it on. Declining quickly I walk away, kicking myself that I have just turned down the chance to try on the biggest diamond of my life. Lady, I remind myself, ya gotta do New York, not look at it!
The photo shows one of the views from our room - alas, I am no photographer so this doesn't begin to do it justice!