New York, New York, it’s a wonderful town…

I’ve been to New York a few times now, and each time it feels like I’m coming home.  The first visit was one of awe at the size and scope, and in all of the things, a visitor could do.

The Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, and so much more.  Each time it has been in the dead of winter, and usually after very heavy snowfalls that have shut off a lot of the city.

I’m a strange sort of person because I like snow, especially when it falls in cities.  I know it causes havoc, but what’s a little havoc for the week I’m there.  I’m sure New Yorkers, of course, hate it with a passion because they have to endure it for a lot longer.

This time, at the end of last year, there was no snow, and I would not exactly call it cold.  Days had sunshine, the walks in Central Park were invigorating, the squirrels were out in force, and the skaters of the rink were no less in number.

Every morning I went for a walk, either uptown, or downtown, soaking up the early morning of people going to and from work, visitors emerging from their hotels, unsure of what to expect, or purposefully as if they knew where they were going.  On the way back I’d call into a coffee shop, a cafe, or a deli, I could never really tell the difference between them, and order a coffee in a language that none of the baristas seemed to understand.

Double shot decaf skinny latte.

OK, decaf I think they understood, and the latte, but skinny.  Apparently, they have a different name for their milk.

Also, their coffee seems to come from a push-button behemoth, and there’s no human interaction in putting the coffee into a shot and running water through it.  Strength is always determined by how hard the tamp is pressed down on the grinds.  I doubt a machine could ever determine that.

It explained why over the course of a week, it was a different interpretation of what I wanted and seven completely different cups of coffee.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining.  It’s part and parcel with what I expect as the New York vibe.  Along with the variety of food you can get at a deli.  Those places are amazing, and you can buy a complete meal, which is very handy if you don’t want expensive hotel food, and you want to sample the local cuisine.

It was a week filling the mental notebooks with sights, sounds, and atmosphere in a city that never stops.  We visited more restaurants, went over the Hudson to New Jersey and went to a hockey game, and pre-dinner at an establishment that was filled with expectant hockey fans of both sides.

We were there to see the Toronto Maple Leafs, and it didn’t matter.

This is the material I want, to fill pages with locational atmosphere, to breathe life into my chartacters, to feel it the way I had.

This time we stayed in the middle of everything.  One way is Broadway, and down the road, Times Square.  Go the other way, and we’re in Fifth Avenue, looking in shops that I can’t possibly afford to buy anything.

Yet it feels good to think one day I might.

And to magnify the stress level through the roof, we hired a car from Avis whose office was in West 54th Street and then went ‘joy riding’ through the streets of New York on our way to the Lincoln Tunnel and further south to Philadelphia.

There’s something about being out in the minus 1 temperatures, dodging the rain, looking at the low mist, or clouds, hiding the high rise buildings.

It took us two days to find the Empire State Building.

We haven’t been to any museums yet, nor have I found a good bookshop, which is practically sacrilegious for me, but it’s now very high on the list of things to do.  There was a Barnes and Noble in 5th Avenue, which is not far away, but in all of the excitement, I didn’t get there in the end.

But we dined at Ruby Tuesday where I had the best hamburger, simplicity in itself, and Cassidy’s Irish pub where I had some strange meat burger thing and vegetables which was delicious, and a slice of apple pie that would take three people to finish off.

And a bucket of beer.

I can’t wait to come back.

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