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Published: October 3rd 2009
Glorious against the Manhattan city backdrop
Tuesday September 29th 2009
They don’t do small in New York City, they just don’t. For anyone who has not had the opportunity to come here, the pictures really don’t do the city justice in just how grand sized the entire place is. The hustle and bustle is immense and truth be told, rather infuriating but I appreciate as a starry eyed tourist I contribute to that. Unlike the ability to walk around freely in Boston, covering the entire city centre and a few of the nearby neighbourhoods was an achievable proposition - in New York the same principles just don’t apply - it really is too far and the central part of the city stretches for the best part of nearly 13 miles.
We got up this morning with no real plan set in stone, we knew we were heading to watch Baseball at Yankee stadium in the evening but thought the best plan would be just to explore. As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog entry, the hotel is sandwiched between Times Square and Central Park so we headed out of the hotel into the leafy suburb park and walk around in the morning sun just admiring the
Cyril the Squirrel
He was evil - just look at his eyes!!
pretty Manhattan skyline set against the beautiful trees and parkland. There is plenty of wildlife as well that runs around freely, and the plucky fella in the photo next to this was certainly looking for some attention!
The Park is very big and we walked aimlessly (or so I thought) around the park for about an hour until we had arrived at 5th Avenue (Kay had deliberately come this way for some particular shops.) The first place we visited was the world famous F.A Schwartz toy store that has everything a child could possibly want. Being the big kid at heart I have to admit seeing hundreds of various Lego models was cool, though they also have a ‘Design-a-Muppet’ workshop where of course you can create a Jim Henson styled Muppet of your own and take it home. They really do look fantastic, and we have agreed we may purchase one as souvenir at the end of our trip. The best thing though about this toy store is the giant musical piano that everyone will remember from the Tom Hanks film, ‘Big’. Still open to the public today, we waited our turn before attempting our take on the famous
‘Chopsticks’ ditty that is performed in the film, but sadly we both failed miserably!
We headed out of the toy store and continued down 5th Avenue walking directly into what I will describe as ‘Man hell!’ Along this mile long stretch is every designer boutique and jewellery shop that the female of the species can crave for. What strikes me most about this part of New York though is that the majority of people are merely window shopping with no real intention of buying, yet the staff are ever so friendly and tolerable to what amounts to time wasting. We said our farewells to Tiffany’s despite Kay’s objections and headed back into Times Square for something to eat, before slowly heading North as we browsed more shops and tried to avoid the various street merchants and bus tour operators who really pester you to the point you do just want to punch them hard in the ribs. I appreciate its their job, but some of them are just too aggressive and rude - a bit like London then!
After doing some more window shopping, the day had started to fly by and so we headed back to the
Tiffany & Kay
Diamonds may be a girls best friend, but for now Kay will have to do with me.
hotel just to freshen up before heading all the way North to 161st Street - the home of the New York Yankees Baseball team, bang in the heart of the Bronx. Now I’ll be honest, like most folk I could name check some of the areas of New York before visiting the city and some of what it represents (Queens, Harlem, Chinatown etc) but ask most guys and the Bronx is the one that I would hazard a guess is the most synonymous with people. I won’t lie to you, it’s a pretty rough area and a bit of an eye opener from the big lights and corporate side of central Manhattan. We walked about the area for a short while just to have a look, with the impressive new Yankee Stadium dominating the local skyline against the quite worn out high-rises all around. The old stadium that was used until the end of last season still remains next to it, but the new 75,000 seated arena is mightily impressive, albeit at present too modern and fresh that can only make the older worn-down buildings look even worse than they probably are. We headed into the stadium about an hour
before first pitch, and headed to the club shop as to allow Kay to buy her foam finger and then made the long walk up to the third tear, walking up ramp after ramp (we realised on the way out that there are lifts!!).
The game itself was between the New York Yankees v Kansas City Royals and I had managed to secure us front row tickets in the Jim Bean VIP area of the ground with a private bar and padded seating. To be honest with you, these little perks really wouldn’t make that big a difference as every seat inside the ground has a great view and the facilities being brand new are very much up to scratch, but seeing as it was a one-off event we pushed the boat out a little bit and so lapped up the entire ‘corporate’ experience.
Now I have to be honest in that when I have ever watched Baseball on TV in the UK, it has bored me rotten, however I arrived at the game with an open mind as what to expect after to talking to friends who have watched it and hoped to be the recipient of
some sort of live-game baptism that would convert me otherwise - did it happen?? NO. I’m sorry, for me Baseball has to be the slowest and most drawn out game I have ever bear witness too. Yeah sure, when you see a home run it is mightily cool and hearing the popular phrases such as ‘Strike One!’ and nodding your head to the organ music that builds up the crowd is cool the first time, but the atmosphere is unbelievably flat and the game-play is just too slow for my liking. Nine innings of bat and ball which had taken close to three hours had seen us witness just one ball being hit into the stands for a home run.
What cements this concept even further is that the Baseball teams will play nearly 100 regular season games before they even get to the Play-Offs!! During our time in New York the Yankees will have played the same team on three consecutive nights, before travelling to Florida to play another three consecutive nights. It may well be a culture thing that I don’t understand and it humours me when what the baseball teams compete for is the world series
(a championship that comprises of just American teams!) but my trip to the ball park was an enjoyable and enlightening experience but almost certainly my last one! Oh, and for the record the Yankees won 5-4 with the last hit of the ball but even then the 70,000 strong crowd seemed hard to convince this was all worthwhile. We headed out of the stadium and as indicated earlier in this blog that the Bronx is a peculiar place, I still didn’t expect to witness Spiderman playing his saxophone outside the subway entrance at 10.30pm so kindly placed a dollar bill inside his empty Starbucks cup and made the journey back to central Manhattan.
Nic and Kay xx
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