Saturday July 14th
Breakfast today was taken in a diner that Ken knew which was a short walk from the hotel named Bagel & Bean.
It was one of those places where you didn`t simply stand in line to place your order, it was more a case of “He who shouts the loudest grabs the attention of the order taker!”
Being a fairly soft spoken type of guy, it goes almost without saying that my order was taken the last!
Nevertheless it was a generous fry up and a fraction of what we paid yesterday and it set me up for today`s adventures.
A visit to Central Park was on the agenda for today and en route we passed through a street market which cost me a “must have” straw hat for my DW!
Both Doug & Ken knew Central Park very well which was a good thing in view of the huge area that it covers.
Having side stepped the myriad of hawkers trying to get us to hire a bike, take a rickshaw or ride in a horse drawn carriage, we walked through the park which was already a busy place with loads of cyclists, joggers, roller skaters, skate boarders and some other weird motive contraptions such as skis attached to wheels, an amazing spectacle.
I had to visit the Dakota Building where sadly John Lennon was killed,
and after this we walked through a section of the park in his honour and given the name of “Strawberry Fields”. This was an opportunity to reflect on his life although it did not affect me any way as much as yesterday`s visit to the 9/11 Memorial.
We carried on through the park with our American friends pointing out the location of several movies that had been filmed there over the years.
We rested for a while by a large bronze statue in honour of the Alice in Wonderland characters and dedicated by the husband of a certain Margarita Delacorte who “loved all children”. There were loads of young kids climbing all over the statue which I assume was the intention of the doner.
After passing by the fountains and lake areas, taking in the atmosphere of the place
and listening to some very talented street musicians, sadly it was time to say our goodbyes to Ken as he jumped into a cab to take him back to the hotel as he had a plane to catch.
Doug then suggested that we visit one of his company’s stores that is located on 5th Avenue, in a “posh” part of the town.
“Chrome Hearts” is an amazing company that has numerous stores throughout the World and sells exclusive silver jewellery and hand carved furniture, all of which are made in house at their workshops in LA.
No expense is spared in their shop fittings and even the hinges and handles on the display cabinets are cast in silver by the company, hence the need for a security guard to be on duty, unlocking the door whenever a customer enters the store!
Their clients tend to be recording artists, film actors or anyone with money to burn and Doug has told me many tales of some of the “rich and famous” who have had their noses burnt when demanding discounts because of “Who I am”!
Although the store on 5th Ave. is tiny, it contains a wealth of fabulous wares including a huge chandelier and other items of glassware specially made for the company by Baccarat.
After keeping my cc safely stowed in my wallet and having some refreshments in the store while chatting to the staff, we hailed a cab who’s driver was willing to take all 5 of us to South Pier where we had hoped to get a ferry to Staten Island.
On arrival the line was extremely long so instead of the ferry, we decided to take lunch at a really nice restaurant [UNO Seaport] on the waterfront overlooking the river.
After a short wait we were given a great outside table and below us was a stage where several heavy rock groups were playing.
Although there wasn`t a huge crowd, it had the atmosphere of a small arena gig with large balls being tossed to and fro among the audience and we saw two guys in particular, with shoulder length hair , who were really getting into the swing of things head banging extremely violently.
In front of us was a large old sailing vessel which apparently is a floating museum of sorts.
All in all, a perfect place to take lunch on a Saturday even if the music was a tad loud at times.
Following lunch we took a stroll around the old buildings in the area near to Fulton Market
before taking a cab [2 cabs actually as not many drivers will accept 5 passengers] to Soho for a spot of shopping.
Dani bought a pair of shoes, but surprisingly my DW avoided the temptation to wipe out our bank account on this occasion as we still had the cruise [and a few days in New York after the cruise] yet to experience.
Instead it was myself who did a bit of splashing out.
For some time now I had admired the small point and shoot camera that Doug had taken with him on the Baltic Cruise that we all did a few years ago and I decided to get the same model to avoid having to lug my Nikon SLR around with me all of the time.
We saw a newer model of Doug`s camera on offer so I went ahead and bought it as the price seemed very reasonable…it also should take good shots, being 16 m/pixel which is far in excess of my Nikon.
Hands up Keith, I`ve gone over to the “other side”….it`s a Canon PowerShot A4000 IS !
After trawling through several other stores, mainly in browsing mode, we caught a second batch of cabs to take us back to our hotel which took ages due to the heavy congested traffic.
Dinner for this evening was at a Greek restaurant called the Park Café on 7th Ave. which Doug knew and it was only a few blocks away from our hotel.
Here again, we had a very nice dinner….one thing`s for sure, you won`t go hungry in New York….arriving back at the hotel at around 10.00pm.
It was then that Dani and Michelle asked Doug how far away Times Square was, and on being told that it was about 10 minutes away on foot, thought it a good idea to have a peek tonight in case we didn`t get chance later.
My DW declined the offer though as she had done more than enough walking for the day, and her back was giving her some discomfort.
Not wanting to miss out on another sight, and with my DW`s blessing, I went with our 3 friends to see for myself.
Times Square was absolutely heaving with people, and it was almost like daylight due to the quantity of neon signs around the place.
We noticed a huge tv screen that was filming the crowd on and off, and so naturally we had to give it a go.
We are on the photo if you look hard enough!
Despite the crowds, we didn`t feel intimidated at all and there seemed to be a party atmosphere going on.
At one stage some free entertainment arrived when a couple of guys cruised down the street in a large old American car that had air operated suspension making the car dance up and down in time with the music blaring out from the car radio….unfortunately a couple of cops shortened their “show” by ordering them to move on!
Another great day in the Big Apple….. tomorrow we go cruisin`.