After SXSW I stopped in New York for a short holiday — it seemed a waste to go all the way to the US and only go to one place. I’d been to New York three times in the past but not for long and I couldn’t remember much of it.
This time I only had four days but I was on my own and this seems like a better way to get to know a city: less being sociable, more walking and visiting different places. I liked New York even more than I expected and it’s right up there on the short chart of Foreign Cities I’ve Visited Which I’d Like To Live In If I Ever Live In Another Country. It’s fighting for the top spot with San Francisco, with the next position occupied by Paris (hampered by the need to know a second language).
I stayed at the Incentra Village House which was lovely: reasonably priced for such a handy location, really friendly, comfortable rooms. I’d stay there again. Although I imagine the rooms at the front, directly looking on to Eighth Avenue, can be a bit noisy.
I did a lot of walking and could easily have spent a lot longer doing nothing but wander round. I rarely made it to the east side of Manhattan or south of Houston, never mind anywhere besides Manhattan. One day I walked more than 12 miles, including the length of Central Park (which was utterly stunning in the sun) and on down Fifth Avenue (the least pleasant part of any walking I did; it felt like London’s Oxford Street). I also walked along the High Line which is very nicely done, although rather shorter than Paris’s Promenade Plantée.
I visited the large Strand Book Store, which I hadn’t heard of until a couple of months ago when it appeared in a few things I read in quick succession. I should have done more preparation and worked out more book shop locations, although I did pop in Mercer Street Books & Records which was, of course, smaller, but still good.
That was just round the corner from the Angelika Film Center where I went a couple of times and which I’m fond of solely because I used to go to the Angelika in Houston a lot. Its large café/waiting area is oddly characterless though. I also managed a trip to the Quad Cinema. I love seeing movies on holiday, even if the weather’s as good as it was on this trip.
I could have done better on the eating front — on holiday my eating’s always irregular and, again, I hadn’t researched any places to go in advance. But two of Jason’s recommendations for breakfast were great: La Bonbonniere (which was right next to Incentra Village House) and The Grey Dog (I went to the new Chelsea location a couple of times). The latter’s space, atmosphere and variety of food made me realise how even the best UK coffee shops just can’t match up. I also made the required pilgrimage to a Shake Shack which was OK aside from the soggy bun and huge queue (which, it seems, is apparently part of the charm).