A Travellerspoint blog

Big Bus

overcast 8 °C

We took a double decker sightseeing bus to see other parts of manhattan. For a short and cold while. And not the part that brought shocking pictures or alien sensations. The bull and the fearless girl of Wall Street. Tick. A beggar. Tick. Men at work. Tick. Old buildings, new buildings. Tick. Done. We stepped out at Battery Park to take the ferry to Liberty and Ellis Islands. Added a squirrel. Tick.

Posted by jefvincent 13:51 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Tribeca Down

sunny 22 °C

As we went down the stairs at the end of the High Line, in Tribeca (“Triangle Below Canal Street”) we faced cruel choices, which we made swiftly. We had a Mediterranean lunch and then desert and then coffee till Shin, who had skipped the first part, found us. We then headed for ground Zero through neighbourhoods that displayed a bit more creativity than the skyscrapers uptown. Eventually we ended at grond Zero, with the two giant fountains as footprints of the former Twin Towers and the giant and very expensive white bird that hosts the train and underground stations (for more details about the animal, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Trade_Center_station_(PATH). As Vishakha and Raj returned to New Jersey, Shin and I walked our way up through the Hudson River Park (or something like that) and the High Line and enjoyed the sunset of the only beautiful day we had in New York.

Posted by jefvincent 11:09 Archived in USA Comments (0)

The High Line

sunny 22 °C

The high line was a railway once, that was built in 1930 above the street to connect the factories in midtown with the port downtown, on the west side of Manhattan. It was decommissioned in 1984. For many years developers and conservationists fought over the fate of the obsolete track and in the end the conservationists and local communities got the permission to renovate the track and turn it into a park. The project starte din 2001 and was completed in 2014. The result is a track of several kilometers parallel to the Hudson river.
Sunday was the most beautiful day of the whole stay in New York. The sun shone most of the day, temperatures rose to 20+ degrees. On Saturday Vishakha and I agreed to walk the line.

In 2001 Vishakha was a young university graduate desperate to find a job in Singapore. She had finished her studies in Bangkok, where her father worked as an FAO (United Nations) expert. I was looking for a Thai speaking underwriter. She failed miserably in the Thai test but eventually I recruited her a few months later and she grew to become a leading seanior underwriter. Eventually she left Euler Hermes and now she moved with her 2 sons to New Jersey as trailing spouse of Raj, who works for an international bank. We kept in touch after I left Euler Hermes, but the last time I saw her was in Singapore more than 3 years ago.

I met the whole family in a Starbucks near the Line, climbed the stairs up to the track and tried to divide our attention over the sights and the conversation. Vishakha on top helped Raj to monitor the two boys who displayed a high velocity and a lively social interaction.
The track is never boring. The track itself is straight but the designers have, well, designed multiple diversions, viewpoints, seating arrangements, gardens,…that change the feel every 30 meters. The track is built between buildings that also have their own personality, and every 100 or so meters there are views on the streets and the Hudson. It was the first sunny Sunday of the spring and it was crowded – but the traffic was still fluid enough to be friendly.

We went down at the end of the track and continued to the next blog entry, but in the evening Shin, who joined us later, and I walked the Line at dusk in the reverse direction, and there was much less activity by then. Johnny Cash should have seen this in his lifetime. Sadly he couldn’t make it.

Posted by jefvincent 19:05 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Top of the Rock

overcast 12 °C

Walking down from the concert hall to Rockefeller centre we crossed Time square, which is an overhyped non-event but scored high on Shin’s todo list, as she tries to see for real what she has been seeing in American movies and shows for the last 20 years. There we go, Times Square. Also high on her list: Shake Shack, the East Coast hamburger chain that is now spreading over the Middle East. Had a burger and curled fries, faced unfriendly staff, an overcrowded restaurant and a ridiculous price tag and we both decided that this was the last Shake Shack in our hopefully long lives.

The final destination of the evening was Top-of-the-rock, the viewing point on the 76th floor of Rockefeller Center. It is competing for that with the Empire State Building, and the main advantage is that you can see the Empire State Building from the “Rock”. The weather was grey but at least there was no mist. We arrived at dusk and survived long enough in the cold wind to see the city lighten up, including the Empire State Building.
I had a similar experience in the eighties, when I stayed in the Twin Towers, at the bottom of Manhattan, more than 10 years before they were flown down. There was a posh restaurant on top of one of the towers from where Manhattan lit up as a long cigar.

New York hasn’t changed much since then – except that the Twin Towers are now Ground Zero of course -, but many other cities have developed impressive skylines and when we compare the high night views we had during this trip, Singapore was more spectacular. From above it is even more obvious that New York is just a stack of boxes, with –literally- no room or desire for architectural creativity.

Posted by jefvincent 17:13 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Michael and Craig

rain 9 °C

Michael was my colleague when I worked at JP Morgan, from 1986 till 1990. He was based in New York and I was desperate to move but stuck in Brussels. We both were in Human Resources at that time, and we got to know each other better when we together developed and delivered a management training course for non-English speakers. I left the bank to start my glorious career in credit and political risk insurance, Michael left a bit later but we stayed in touch all along. Almost 70 years old he is still working full time, since that is what you have to do to have a health insurance. Over the years we managed to meet from time to time , the last time at his place in New Rochelle, Rhode Island.
Michael is married to Craig, who is history professor in a New York college. Both like classical music and this time we joined for a concert of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. 20th century brass, Elgar and Berlioz, slightly outside my comfort zone but wholly tolerable. After that we went for drinks, there was a lot to catch up from both sides. We promised to see each other again soon, somewhere in the world. This usually sounds hollow but with Michael, I’m sure we will.

Posted by jefvincent 07:28 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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