The Big Apple

I have deduced that I possess somewhat of a magical power: the power to avert snow in climates where it is expected. Back in 2011 I went on a university exchange to London. I arrived at the beginning of January, and the snow had miraculously already finished for the winter. Londoners will tell you this is very unusual. But never has this talent of mine been more evident than during this trip in the US. It was forecast to snow in Boston – no go. On arrival in New York, I was assured snow would fall. We had five days there – most of them below zero – and two with a 90% chance of snow according to the weather forecast. These days came and went, no snow to be seen. I woke up one morning and there was a very light blanket of snow on the street. “Please tell me that’s not it, I better not have missed it,” I said to Sabrina. She assured me there would be more. Of course, to my disappointment, there was not. What is the point of it being SO cold if it doesn’t snow? Anyway, I’ll cut my rant off here – there’s so much else for me to say. Perhaps one day I’ll see it snow!

So, New York. We arrived the Thursday afternoon before last (yes I’m a little behind on the blog). After settling in to our accommodation, I set off for a bit of exploring. New York is one of those cities you can simply walk around for hours and not tire of. Every block is buzzing with energy and something new to see. I stopped in to the New York Public Library – an awe-inspiring piece of architecture – but aside from that, just took in the city.

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The New York Public Library

We started the day on Friday with Central Park, which was simply a delight blanketed in snow. It was spectacularly sunny, although a freezing cold -6 degrees. After strolling the park for a while, we decided to thaw out inside The Met. That’s the Metropolitan Museum of Art; perhaps the city’s best known museum. It’s filled with collections so diverse I can’t event begin to list them. Over a couple of hours, we made quite a dint in the place, I think. Among the highlights was a section of Egyptian Art, as well as European paintings.

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A view of the city over Central Park.

That day, we also visited the Museum of Natural History, which was good fun. In the evening, we braved the cold at the top of the Empire State Building. Having been to the top during the day on my first trip to New York, night time was a completely different experience – though equally awe-inspiring. New York is certainly a city like no other.

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New York City lights from the top of the Empire State Building.

Sabrina was fortunate to have spent last summer in New York studying a short course. As such, she had a bunch of favourite places she was keen to take me to. We met up with a good friend of hers from this program, eating at their favourite bagel place and perusing their favourite bookstore. I must tell you about this bookstore; it’s not just any old bookstore. This place has four levels and every book you can imagine. Actually, imagine all the books and triple that. New, used, on any topic. Wall-to-wall, floor-to-cieling. Just so many books.

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Inside the Strand bookstore.

A friend of mine from Melbourne, Taryn, also met up with us that afternoon. We did loads of walking, which took us to Union Square, the Flat Iron Building, Washington Square Park, Times Square… and probably more which escapes my memory right now. Even on my second visit, I felt utterly overwhelmed by New York.

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Sabrina and I at Union Square (with our bags from the Strand bookstore)

The following day, I went to visit family friends in Queens. Allow me to divert from my sightseeing tales to tell the special story of who these people are to me. Upon being liberated after the Holocaust, my grandfather was living in France. As a teenager, he was taken in by a Jewish family in Marseilles. He lived with them for more than a year, and they are to this day very dear to him. They took care of him at a time when he had nobody else. Rosette was the daughter of this family, his ‘sister.’ She very obviously considers my grandfather to be her brother – they are still in regular contact today. I was fortunate to meet her and be able to piece together this part of my grandfather’s history. Rosette’s two sons, her daughter-in-law and granddaughter were also there and it was wonderful to meet them all.

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Myself, Rosette, and her granddaughter Lauren.

Back in the big smoke, I met up with Taryn, and we went to see Matilda on Broadway. It was fabulous! Though perhaps a little too geared towards children for our liking, it was colourful and lots of fun. Taryn is on exchange in New York for the semester, and has sussed out the good Kosher fare. We went to a particular Kosher restaurant near Times Square which was really good. It was fun to catch up, to hear about her exchange adventures and reminisce on my own.

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Times Square at night.

On Monday morning, we headed to check out Rockefeller Center. Highlights included watching the ice skaters, and visiting the Lego store, given Lego constitutes some of my fondest childhood memories. But Monday was largely dedicated to shopping. The day yielded great results in some of my favourite American stores – but also led to an overweight suitcase very much bursting at the seams.

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The ice skating rink at Rockefeller Center.

On Monday evening we met up with Emily, one of our friends from exchange who I had not seen since London. It was brilliant to catch up after so long, and over some wine we talked with much excitement about the wedding.

On Tuesday it was time to head to Washington DC, but with our bus only in the afternoon, we had the time to see a final sight. We decided on the Pierpont Morgan Library and Museum. It’s a collection of rooms which were part of Mr Morgan’s mansion in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and still exhibit their original grandeur. It’s a very impressive place; a sight a little off the tourist track which I would highly recommend. We were especially taken with the library. There are also changing exhibitions which we visited, including one about The Little Prince.

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Inside one of the rooms of the Pierpont Morgan Library and Museum.

And then, to Washington DC we went. Stay tuned.

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7 thoughts on “The Big Apple

  1. I had very much the same issue in regards to snow! I was in Italy 2 years ago and it kept snowing the cities I was going to either before or after I arrived. They even had to close the Colosseum for a couple of days because the snow made it so cold bits were falling off!
    That same year when I lived in Jerusalem I kept saying I really want it to snow but every one told me it hadn’t for like 7 years. After I came back home it snowed. And snowed late last year as well!

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