New York never fails to enchant. And with so much to see and do, it’s hard to choose. Every trip yields new attractions. Now there’s the reborn cool Harlem, with it’s super trendy restaurant, the Red Rooster, where Bill Clinton is a regular customer and Beyonce has been seen.
Strolling along the High Line, the elevated walkway that goes from Gansevoort Street to West 30th Street, you never know what you’ll find. Landscaping with wild flowers, a gelato stand, espresso, extended beach-like chairs. This is what a city comes up with when it dreams. We ended up at Frying Pan, a bar on a boat, with $6 beer, great fries and a feeling of being on the harbour. We dashed out when the rains came – a portent of what was to come.
One evening in the East Village, I had dinner with friends, and we walked around the Bowery, the former skid row, today a low-rise restaurant row. Shopping? Century 21 offered its usual bargains, and Lord and Taylor was having its super summer sale. French seemed to be the city’s second language, with French tourists everywhere in stores and in Museums. And while the Museum of Modern Art and Metropolitan is on everyone’s list, don’t miss the Lionel Feininger exhibit at the Whitney, which showed the range of this amazing German American artist who lived from l871-1956 and worked in high/low styles, from comics to cubism.
One day there was an earthquake, although walking down 5th Avenue, I didn’t feel it; I did see people pouring out of buildings. And cell phone circuits were all busy for awhile. But a real serious earthquake? San Franciscans were laughing in their lattes.
Then came the Hurricane Irene warnings. It was coming, it was sure to come but would it hit Manhattan and the boroughs? There was no telling. On Friday afternoon, I had a pleasant drink outside in Bryant park, once a sinister druggie place and now one of New York’s reclaimed urban oases.
I took the train from Grand Central back to Pelham, less than 30 minutes away, in Westchester County, where I was staying with family. It’s less than two miles from the Long Island Sound. Could there be flooding? No one knew. All we did know was the subways were going to shut down the following day, Saturday. Not only subways, but all public transportation, including the Metro North trains into Manhattan. This was serious. On the radio, Mayor Bloomberg intoned that people in low-lying areas should evacuate. Go to friends or family, he said. If you don’t have a car, get a ride. It sounded a bit noblesse oblige from a billionaire. But there were buses and shelters. Still, how could 370,000 people ordered to evacuate find shelter; and what about the 400,000 people in Long Island and the 1 million in New Jersey? One 80-something man in Coney Island seemed to be quoted everywhere, saying that he wasn’t going anywhere.
But every place was different, and the legions of experts interviewed on radio and TV dared not predict the storm’s path. Here in Pelham, we were on a hill. Still, who knew how the storm would affect the house or the trees outside? We went to Target to get batteries and other provisions. Everyone had the same ideas, and their huge red carts were brimming with necessities.
We got to work taking down screens, filling the bathtubs with water, and lugging heavy potted plants indoors. We had dinner…..and waited. There was a Weeds marathon on TV, a good distraction.
During the night, in my upstairs bedroom, the pounding wind and rain sounded ferocious. What would the damage be? Outside my window the tall, sturdy trees stood up to the battering. By morning, it seemed, it was over for us. No damage, at least so far. By Sunday afternoon, and the winds are blowing hard again.
My Sunday flight was cancelled so I called Porter Air, known for the civilized way it treats its customers, and found that I rebook on Monday. By Monday, I still did not know if I would be able to get to Newark Airport. The train from Pelham to Grand Central wasn’t running, so I called Porter and rebooked on Tuesday. Fortunately, I had no pricey hotel to pay. Compared to those people in New Jersey who were flooded or who will not have power for a week, a little inconvenience was a lucky break.