NYC and me

Barely back from France, I spent a quick weekend in New York City to see friends. I’m not a great fan of The City. I wish I were. People looooove NYC, but I’m “eh” about it.

Maybe I hold a grudge. When I was in my 20s and living near New York, visiting on the weekends, it was kind of scuzzy and dangerous. A friend of mine was mugged standing in line for movie tickets on a Saturday afternoon on the Upper East Side. People around her were kind afterwards, but no one was going to step in when that guy brandished a gun. Hipster haven Brooklyn? A few parts were being gentrified, but much of it was still scary. A friend living there had her cat killed by a pack of wild dogs, and a few weeks later a guy high on crack busted down her door with a sledge hammer. New York was, of course and as always, a multi-cultural and creative place. But it was far from the playground of hip restaurants and trendy shops that it is today.

Every time I’ve visited in recent years, the city seems crowded, dirty, loud, and not very pretty, even though it is slicked up and safe. Give me a European city any day. Nevertheless, three days of wandering the city with friends was a blast. And maybe I succumbed to its charms just a bit.
I liked the neighborhood vibe and low-scale of Notlita.
A stroll through Chinatown markets was a visual adventure.
The Ginger Mojitos and the views of a fast-moving thunderstorm from the lobby lounge of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel were a great way to spend a late Sunday afternoon.
Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, I felt like I was on stage, or in a movie — that I was supposed to be belting out a song about the Bronx and the Battery, or concrete jungle and the Empire State. Now you’re in New York!
My friend visiting from Vienna insisted that we take a helicopter ride over Manhattan. A helicopter ride? Really? Who does that? Well, for one, the doorman at our building said he’d been twice. And from the long line of European tourists at the heliport, I concluded it must be a bucket-list item for many. The twenty minute ride around the harbor and up and down the Hudson River — magical.

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