It’s finally come to this, our last full day in the City. More lessons have been learnt, like stay out of the subway if you don’t like stairs, and; stay out of Times Square if you don’t like CD touts and tourists, and; if you see a restroom – use it – there may be no other for hours. Useful lessons you’d do well to heed if New York is on your horizon. The coffee drinkers amongst us would also do well to prepare for the ‘station’, which is the little bench you visit after you get your coffee to do sugaring and milking and lidding (if you’re doing ‘take-out’) and often if you’re going to ‘stay’ – I am not a fan of the ‘station’, neither here or at home.
There are a number of cafés in this town (actually in this world) called, Le Pain Quotidien (The Daily Bread, I believe), whether they are operated on a franchise basis or not I don’t know, but they have mightily impressed – good coffee, good food and they’re thing is the communal table which is also good. Enough of the ad – we went there for breakfast and had bowls of coffee and pastries and the like. No station.
Fed and coffee-ed, our plan was to head to Bryant Park and check out the winter village/market thing they’ve just opened around the skating rink, but the weather was nasty and rainy and bleak, so we altered course to Times Square to do that souvenir shopping thing one must do. Times Square was also nasty and rainy and bleak, but the added minus of extremely crowdy and filled with dangerous eye-height umbrellas.
We shopped with great haste and as the skies closed and a blustery, freezing change blew in from the west, we returned to our original course and steered to Bryant Park. BP is a privately managed park with organised activities and a web-site of it’s own and as it’s now winter, the winter village (which is really a collection of tiny shops in quaint huts) around a reasonably sized skating rink. The shops are either cool or folksy or both, with a smattering of food and drink huts amongst them. One of the food and drink huts amongst them bought us our first New York wiener, though I suspect it was of a higher quality than those available in the surrounding streets, which I never felt quite comfortable in investing in. Ours had beautiful sauerkraut and a german sausage and was served on a toasted pretzel bun and was terrifically delicious – not that I’m saying the street dogs might not be filled with their own special charm and flavour, just that ours was.
Our time in New York seems to be petering out precisely as our appetite for further exploration is. Two and a bit weeks was good, but we’re happy to head home tomorrow. We have not purchased any ‘I Heart New York’ paraphernalia, not just because it’s cheesy and lame, but because we don’t ‘Love’ it – we ‘Like’ it and find it fascinating, but Love is a strong word. Venice, we love. Barcelona, we love. New York, we like. Williamsburg, we could love, but none of us could find an I Heart Williamsburg t-shirt.
We packed this evening then chugged off to Bedford Avenue for a cheap final night’s chow down and plonked into Fornino’s, (best brick oven pizza in the City 2006) and had, surprisingly enough, pizza and beers and the pizza came and it was good. Good like italian pizza in Italy good. And the beer came and it was good. And the salted pretzel and caramel sundae came and it was wicked and shared.
We needed the pizza and beers etc to give us extra oomph in getting the lids of our suitcases down and zipped.