New York diary: Day 3

Monday, 13 June, 2016. 19:56

We are sitting in the Caliente Cab Company, which is a Mexican cafe and bar. We’ve just finished dinner, and will head back to our hotel soon on the subway.

Our day started with breakfast in the hotel again. This time I stuck to the raisin bran and fresh fruit, having a banana and an apple. M. had another bagel, toasted, with cream cheese. We weren’t in a hurry, as we wanted to wait until after the morning rush hour had passed before catching a train down to the Staten Island Ferry terminal. We left a bit after 09:00, and walked south to Bryant Park where we found Le Pain Quotidien, where M. got a coffee and I typed up some of yesterday’s diary while we watched workers scurrying to and fro on the street outside.

Manhattan from ferry
Manhattan viewed from the Staten Island Ferry.

After coffee, we walked over to the subway station near Times Square to catch a 1 train to the Staten Island Ferry terminal. Here we boarded a ferry that was just about to depart, which was good timing as they only leave every half hour. The ferry took us across the Hudson River to Staten Island, passing Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty along the way, giving us a good look at the latter. The weather was cool and a strong wind was blowing on the water, which made it very cold standing on the open deck.

At Staten Island, we got off the ferry and re-entered the terminal immediately to catch the return ferry scheduled to leave just a few minutes after. This was a different boat and, having seen that the deck below the one we had ridden over on had been virtually empty, we stayed a deck lower and got better unobstructed views this time. However the ferry route has marker buoys separating inbound and outbound ferries, and we were further away from the Statue of Liberty this time.

Statue of Liberty
Manhattan viewed from the Staten Island Ferry.

Back at the ferry terminal on Manhattan, we walked through Battery Park, then up to the World Trade Centre and the 9/11 Memorial. This is two square pits marking the footprints of the two original towers, with sheets of water gushing down the inside walls to a pool several metres below the pavement. In the centre of the pool is another large square hole, where the water disappears into what appears from the vantage point at the edge of the large pit to be a bottomless chasm. It’s a striking and poignant design, and feels very appropriate. The safety railing surrounding the pit is inscribed with the names of the victims, and there are so many of them.

9/11 Memorial
9/11 Memorial.

We continued walking north through Tribeca, to find The Laughing Man, a coffee shop opened by Hugh Jackman. It turned out to be a tiny hole in the wall which just sold take aways, as there was no room to sit inside, but there were some benches and seats placed outside on the street. Literally on the street, not the footpath next to it. M. got a flat white, which was proudly proclaimed on the menu, together with an explanation of what it was for Americans.

By now it was approaching noon, and I had told David that we’d be back at our hotel around this time, to send him a message about meeting up for the afternoon. I used a free WiFi spot on the street to check my mail and discovered that he was already at our hotel waiting for us! I tried to send a message saying we’d be there within about half an hour, but the WiFi spot didn’t let me send mail. So we hopped on a train right away and raced back, getting there about 12:20.

2 Davids & a Monkey
Having lunch at the Indian Road Cafe, Inwood.

After quickly using the toilet in our room, we set out, with David leading us to a subway station where we caught an A train north to Inwood at the northern tip of Manhattan Island. Here we walked up to the northern end of Indian Road – the only “road” on Manhattan David informed us – where we had lunch at the Indian Road Cafe. This was a funky little place where I had a sandwich with both ham and roast pork on it, while M had a grilled cheese baguette. Hers came with some sweet potato also on it, which was interesting. Both sandwiches come with a tiny bowl of freshly made thin sliced potato crisps, still hot from the frying oil. My sandwich was very nice, and M. liked hers too, except she said it would have been better without the sweet potato. I also had a ginger ale, after David ordered one and I was intrigued by the bottle, which said it had herbal extracts in it. It was nice, being very gingery and spicy, with quite a kick of ginger to it,

After lunch we walked through Inwood Hill Park, up the steep ridge of rock that is blanketed by trees, to a view point from where we could see a long stretch of the Hudson River and the tree lined shore opposite. It looked almost like wilderness, except for the boats moored on the opposite bank of the river. Quite an unexpected view to get from a place still within Manhattan!

This is in Manhattan, New York City, believe it or not
View from Inwood Hill Park. Can you believe this is in Manhattan?

Walking back down through the park we passed a group of baseball fields, where some kids were practising, and a diamond where some middle aged men were playing softball. We saw a man hit a high ball deep into the outfield, where there was nearly a fielder collision as one dived to make a spectacular catch. But he didn’t get up and was slightly injured, but managed to sit up and signal that he was mostly okay as everyone ran out to help him.

We returned on the A train to 42nd Street, where David led us to the New York Mets store. M. and I bought Mets T-shirts, after some browsing and deliberating about which designs to get. David then took us across the street to Bryant Park, where the large Romanesque building on the eastern side of the park is the New York Public Library. It’s am impressively bulky stone building from the outside, and has equally impressive huge halls inside. We had to have our bags inspected by security staff before we could get in, which was a bit weird for a library. David wanted to show us the Rose Reading Room, which has intricate decorations and a ceiling painted with a pink sunset sky with fluffy clouds, but unfortunately the room was closed for renovations.

Browsing the library
Inside the New York Public Library.

Written next day

From the library, we went back to a subway station and caught an F train south. David told us the stop to get off to explore Greenwich Village, while he stayed on the train to head home. We walked down Bleecker Street, exploring the shops and food places as far as Greenwich Street.

Movement on Bleecker St
Bleecker Street, Greenwich Village.

There were a couple of Mexican places, and we decided to stop in at Caliente Cab Company for dinner. This place had a decorated yellow taxi parked outside and a funky dining room with a colourful bar. We got margaritas, a prickly pear one for me and a raspberry for M. She ordered the veggie bowl for dinner, while I got blue corn enchiladas. The veggie bowl contained black beans, roasted zucchini, fried potato, and a bunch of salad. When she ordered it the waiter asked if she wanted any chicken or other meat with it, but she said no. The enchiladas had chicken in them and came with rice and black beans. M. gave me the sour cream off her veggie bowl. Everything was good.

Caliente Cab Company, Greenwich Village
Caliente Cab Company.

After dinner, we walked back to Cones to get some ice cream. They had a couple of odd flavours, including corn, and sweet potato with brie. But I had a cup with honey and cinnamon, and banana, which were both delicious. We sat at one of the tables inside as I ate it, and a steady procession of customers came through to get cones or cups of ice cream.

On the way back to the subway station, we stopped in at an Italian bakery called Pasticceria Rocco, which had lots of biscotti, cannoli, Italian shortbread, cakes, and also giant cookies. M. bought a chocolate cookie, but after one bite she decided it wasn’t anywhere near as good as the one from the other night. It was dry and crumbly and porous, rather than soft and chewy inside.

Rocco's Pasticceria
Pasticceria Rocco.

We took an M train back to 42nd Street and walked back to our hotel for the night. I had a shower and then typed up some of this diary before falling asleep.

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