Thursday, May 15, 2008


Blimey, its 10 days since I got back home, I'd better get on with posting about my travels before its all too distantly past.

[I'm not checking the dictionary at all for "blimey", its a word I use quite a lot and I refuse to be intimidated or dictated to by a dictionary. (still wondering about that bunny though...)]

A few of my favourite things (about New York):

Fire escapes. I couldn't stop taking photos of them, especially in the sharp sunshine with their clear and complicated shadows etching stripes and angles on the buildings.

Colours and reflections. Red brick and painted brick and fire hydrants and blue blue sky and stone and steel and glass and yellow cabs, graffiti, adverts, almost-luminous spring greens, cherry blossom and redbud against brickwork, clear white dogwood brightening shade and all again reflected again... and cross-hatched by the shadows of the fire-escapes.

Buildings. Yes. Of course. Eclectic, elegant, ultra-modern and medieval-looking and encased in scaffolding, sophisticated quirky, sleek, grand and mundane, pristine and decaying. Peeling paint, I love peeling paint. And - especially all the little twiddly extra decorative fantasy embellishments, unexpected balconies,friezes, turrets, blank blank expanses of glass full of reflections.
Many of the most interesting "bits" are way way up high. Is that to make one look up? or to ensure that the penthouse gets the best view?
And then, theres the Chrysler Building. Sublime.

Water-towers. I love them! And there are so many of them! They look so incongruous and rural homespun and yet so perfectly at home in the cityscape, sticking out of near and far horizons and nestling in the tumbling blocks of roofs and towers and the corners between. This is a picture of our hotel, with water tower in the distance.

. I walked and sat and talked for a while in Central Park with dear Lynne, my first blog-date of the week - so lovely to meet face to face and talk, and like my other U.S. blog dates this felt like meeting an existing friend rather than meeting someone new. But not long enough.

Also Madison Square Park, Union Square, some fabulous community gardens... There is something very special about green spaces in a city.

Taking photos in the museums. I couldn't quite believe photography is allowed. Not so in London. I loved it not so much for taking pictures of the art, though I took a few - but watching other people taking photos of, posing for photos in front of famous art. "... and here's me and a Starry Starry Night..."
Photo on lost camera: the back of a tall young man taking a photo, very high arms stretched, very close up (macro) in front of a Rothko.
I love seeing art but also watching people interacting with art and the cameras added a new dimension to this.
Second telling off: in MOMA, not for taking photos (as I kept expecting) but for walking around in bare feet.

All seen from:

street level, walking and walking and walking. My third blog-date of the week, our personal walking-graffiti tour of the lower East side and Alphabet city with Steve & Bob. Couldn't have been more fun or more relaxed or more cool. Some of Steve's photos from that afternoon are here, uploaded about May 11th and ff.

top of the Empire state building, gobsmacking even though we've all seen it on film: I loved seeing the roof gardens and building sites and water towers (even a few chimneys!) and streets and traffic amidst all the above and stretching out all the way to the river (and on the very topmost edge a felt-penned "eeek! don't fall!";

the river - boat trip around Manhattan at dusk, breathtaking and beautiful;

Metropolitan Museum of Art's roof garden. The spring tips of the trees stretching out and away in waves and lapping at the feet of the skyscrapers, whilst behind us Jeff Koon's giant balloon dog glared outrageously fabulous gold and bright reflecting back people, faces, feet. "Us" being myself and the lovely Chedwick (date no.2) to whom lots of big thanks for all the photos in this post. And (even more) for a great few hours.

cable car across the 59th Street Bridge; (definately groovy) (also with Ched, who is also groovy)

Brooklyn Bridge. Spectacular - and different - views of the city. Loved Brooklyn. Could have spent more time there. Excellent lunch. Missed the Brooklyn museum, closed on Tuesdays. Big disappointment. Poo.

But - we went instead into the Botanical gardens next to the museum and that was more than compensation. The gardens were awash with cherry blossoms, masses of luxurious pink and white pom poms, delicate wisteria-like weeping cherries, blue skies, green grass, little heaps of blissful turtles sunning themselves in the Japanese garden. The gardens were also full of families enjoying the blossom, families with little heaps of children - siblings dressed in matching outfits - running, playing, laughing, climbing trees - orthodox Jewish families dressed so beautifully for the holidays mainly in black and white amidst the pink and white frothiness; truly wonderful atmosphere and visually stunning. Judy Chicago and Georgia will still be in the museum next time, and I'm quite sure, I will be back.


Barbara said...

Sounds like you experienced the best of NYC with great Blogger friends. I'm happy to now know Steve and have yet to meet Ched (or Dennis or Squirrel or Bob Dylan or Hairdryer Girl or I'm sure there's someone I've left out).

I'm still so sad about your camera. I had hoped it might turn up.

tut-tut said...

Oh, lovely lovely tour. So glad you had a wonderful time there. Looking forward to hearing about the rest of your trip . . .

Anonymous said...

You paint a beautiful picture of the botanical gardens, and that cable car ride across a bridge, unique or what.

Vintage to Victorian said...

What amazing photos - you obviously had a brilliant time. Meeting up with such lovely fellow bloggers surely added to the experience.

mouse (aka kimy) said...

great post!! thanks for carrying me back to the streets of nyc! yes, I heart ny!

Akelamalu said...

You did so much! The photos are great.

Ex-Shammickite said...

YoungerSon and his lovely Bride are in NYC this weekend... as I type this in fact.... I wonder if they will come hime with the same impressions as you have!

Gary said...

I have a watertower story... Somehow I had been living in NYC for a while before I ever noticed them. Once I finally did discover them I became obsessed with locating them. How could I have missed this? Well, I went with a friend to have dinner at his friend's apartment one night. The guy had the top floor and we ate dinner on the roof (which was amazing - I can't believe people live like that in NYC) and there was the water tower. Fueled by a few drinks I decided it would be a good idea to climb it. Which I did. Rather fast. All the while my friend was calling me back and I was laughing. But when I reaching the top and looked down they all appeared so small and I froze. I sobered up quickly as I s-l-o-w-l-y went back down. A great view of the city but I don't think I'll do that again.

Lynne said...

dear Letty, I enjoyed meeting you so much. And, yes, it was like meeting someone I already knew. Now I can put a face with the words. I wish we had a bit more time together. Next time ...

and thank you for pointing out the water towers to me on our walk to Central Park. If not for you I would never had noticed them! Now, like Gary, I am going to have an obsession of trying to find them and photograph whenever I find myself in the city!

but then again, you always seem to be looking up when taking photos, just as Reya always looks down.

I loved your travelogue and seeing NYC through your eyes. Who needs all those photos anyway? You've created their images with your words.

Lynne said...

You chose the perfect space of time for your visit. That was the warmest weather we've had all year. Since then it's been much cooler with lots of rainy days.

Absolute Vanilla (& Atyllah) said...

A kaleidoscope of memories, Lettuce, colours, sights and a sense of place evoked so wonderfully by your words!

Lee's River/Zlatovyek said...

"little heaps of blissful turtles" - how lovely is that?


Lynne said...

letty, here is an interesting link to info about the towers:

Squirrel said...

Hi Barbara! I know we'll meet one day!

I'm exhausted from running around nonstop for days on end--all twelve of me!

Dan Wayne Sims said...

Hi Barbara!

Hi Letty!

Professor Montblanc said...

nyc --no place like it... it is like london, paris and dublin that way--all very special with their energies

lettuce said...

barbara, it was the best in all sorts of ways (as was washington :o) )

tut tut, i'll try to get on with it soon! and hope to meet you on one of my visits?

lusks, it was unique!

V2V, i heart blogging too

mouse i'd love to see what you'd photograph there

ta lamalu

ex-shammie,a first visit? yes, will be interesting

gary! what are you like! great story

lynne, thanks for the link. (i LOVE the towers) And it was a perfect time of year, perfect weather

vanilla, kaleidoscopic - thats just the word for it

lee, twas lovely. hope you are well

squirrel i recommend finding a nice substantial branch and resting awhile

dan! hi!

professor i've never visited paris properly and have never been to Ireland (north or republic). Shame on me, being so close, i know...

Steve said...

Your photos are terrific, as usual. I recognized 30th Street right away, but it's funny I'd never noticed that water tower before! Strange how you can be blind to your own neighborhood, eh?

Aileen said...

I love reading your "word pictures"! How awesome to hear about a city close to my heart as described by a first time visitor!

lettuce said...

they are great pics, aren't they? they are Chedwick's, not mine.

call me betty said...

Happy, happy memories. And, yes, your word pictures are spell-binding! :D