Wednesday, November 09, 2011

America: The Verdict

So Tuesday morning saw a quick pop around the shops to pick up some gifts for family and friends, a quick pint at a great bar called Bayards Alehouse near to the apartment (where due to us wanting to get rid of coinage, the pleasant bartender ended up being tipped big time) and then back to switch on the dishwasher and drag our cases onto the subway, onto the JFK Airtrack and then onto the long flight home...

After magically time travelling five years into the future care of Aer Lingus, we're all finally back in one piece. It was a long night - I think I managed about 20 minutes of sleep on the flight, but managed to watch "The Trip" with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon (rambling but excellent) and all but the last twenty minutes or so of Cars 2 (passed the time, even though Michael Caine must have phoned his voiceover in).

I didn't catch the end of Cars 2, because much like with the flight in the in-flight entertainment is interrupted by the (now looking very old) Roger Moore begging you to donate money to UNICEF. I'll also guiltily admit that this is probably my own fault because I watched the first ten minutes of Transformers 3 - but hastily stopped when I remembered Michael Bays directorial style and that when the first female character appears you're basically shown everything shy of her vagina. Embarrassed man worrying about people (and suddenly remembering that he is supposed to like good films) looking at his screen changes movie.

Time for a longer post about America now, to close the chapter on this epic adventure. My posts whilst on holiday have been brief because the blog app for my ipad2 simply stopped working (thanks a fucking bunch, Blogger) so I was forced to do it on my Android phone - which isn't the ideal tool to write lengthy blog posts on. And it forces the photographs to be crappy low resolution versions of the originals.

So, for those of you who haven't been reading my relentless blog posts of the last week, my beautiful wife and I and fellow FoldsFivesketeer Tom and his lovely fiancĂ© Fran have been to New York.

It's been a hell of a week - literally, the holiday of a lifetime. Highlights? Too many to speak of. Standing on top of the Empire State Building looking down on the city, seeing Batman being filmed and getting to stand beside the Batplane, standing in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, seeing how much food New Yorkers can stuff down their remarkably slim necks - all incredible experiences which I'm still trying to properly digest.

Other impressions that New York has made on me over the past few days.. New Yorkers? Incredibly polite but short on manners. They'll wish you a nice day but they won't hold a door open for you. The food portions (as predicted) are stupidly large and yet New Yorkers remain trim and beautiful - probably because of all the jogging they do and the fact that none of them seem to smoke. Or at least smoke their own cigarettes at any rate, from the number of times that a New Yorker asked me for one.

The Village is a lovely place, a great little community. We found the best breakfast in the Hudson Diner with the loveliest staff and absolutely fantastic food (complete with a waitress with the most New York accent of all time - it was "cworfee" and "badda-bing" all the way). Free O.J. and free top ups to your coffee as soon as it ran anywhere near empty.

The weather was fantastic. What New Yorkers thought was cold was beautiful for us Brits - not a drop of rain all week, and Tom and I had prepared for a New York Winter with warm jackets. That was a mistake. It's raining in New York tomorrow (Thursday) so we couldn't have timed it better.

Taras cousin Jenny and her wife Lisa were fantastic hosts - they live in DC but were also holidaying in NY - We had a hilarious time on our first night at Boots and Saddle, a gay bar a stone(wall)s throw away from our apartment in which I got to see a disinterested go-go boy with a pubic beard and a shit baseball cap dancing around in his Y fronts. And some guys checked both Tom and I out, which made our nights. WE'VE STILL GOT IT. The Stonewall Tavern was very subdued in comparison.

The apartment was large but we hadn't been warned that it been constructed over a magma pit. The streams of molten lava running under my bed should have warned me, but I didn't take heed. It was absolutely BOILING. Sleep was impossible without constructing a complicated array of curtain and air-conditioning, and said air-conditioning sounded like an growling bear hovering over the bed. Which was okay, because the apartments washing machine sounded like a nest of angry hornets. So the choice appeared to be burn to death in your sleep, or stay awake and be freezing cold.

The New York subway system (which appears to run parallel to the aforementioned Magma Stream in terms of heat) is a brilliant way to get around the city, but also appears to be an open advertising spot for anybody who feels like it. Over the course of the week we've had homeless noisily declaring their skintness, college rap bands trying to send CDs and kids trying to send boxes of sweets. All of which get ignored and then move on to the next subway carriage or the next train.

Tipping culture is odd for a Brit, because we're simply not used to it. But this is a city (in fact, a country) which relies on it. I've been known to tend a landlord to "have one for himself" when buying a pint, but wasn't quite used to the dollar per beer rule - not the paying of it, you understand, but how to actually pay it. "Erm, I've had four beers. Have four dollars for yourself."

My sarcasm is heavy, considering I had an absolutely fantastic time. It truly was the holiday was a lifetime, especially at those prices. Those of you who've whinged at me blogging about nothing else all week can rest assured that it won't happen again for a very, very long time..!

And I got to stand on a manhole cover with steam coming out of the sewers. Cup of cworfee, I'm walking here, sunny side up, etc.

EDIT: But I almost forgot - the final Hot Dog tally. This might look like a poor tally, but you really should have seen the amount of food that my Northern friend shoved down his gob. What he failed in Hotdogs he made up for with food in general.

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