A Different New York City II by Chrissie Robb

Half-way across the borough for breakfast in The Bronx version of Little Italy and hardly an Italian in sight but definitely the best coffee I’ve had since I’ve been here. Plenty of Hispanics, African Americans and a table of very loud and raucous older Jewish ladies just behind us who were bemoaning their plumbing, their empty Sundays, tilapia and life in general but with a great deal of humour. I half expected Harvey Feinstein to emerge from the washroom. A sign directly across the street alerted me to the fact that I could get a divorce for just $399.00 and a sport store window further up the street featured at least a dozen statues of the Virgin Mary cosying up to Nike and various other brands of sneakers.

Then off to see Le Corbusier at MOMA. What a visionary architect! However, too much to ponder here to also take in the Claes Oldenburg exhibit. We’ll go back another day for that one or maybe take in punk fashion at The Met.

Harlem is vast and I think we’ve now covered all of it. The character of the neighbourhood changes radically and rapidly, from minor decay on the upper reaches of Amsterdam Ave., to the classy urban vibe surrounding Columbia University and Morningside Heights.

If the term ‘urban hiking’ doesn’t already exist, I’m coining it. Scaling the heights of both St. Nicholas Park and Morningside Park left us breathless. Luckily, Broadway, at that point, offered a temptation of cafes and brunch options we couldn’t resist.

We’ve now mastered the NY subway, checking which side of the road to enter to get us to our destination and focusing on where our 4 or D trains actually have stops. Mistakes over the past few days have cost us energy we didn’t necessarily have as the next closest stations were ten or twenty blocks away.

DUMBO in Brooklyn provides a fabulous waterfront and a trendy urban area in the throes of development. I love standing under the Manhattan Bridge while the trains rattle by overhead. A different mood exists on Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights where wealthy and established brownstones seem to expel their occupants directly into the bars and restos just as cocktail hour begins.

Shopping in NYC always includes stocking up on seasonal basics at UNI QLO. This is followed by a quiet half hour watching the world go by in Bryant Park before heading to our Bronx home with a bottle of wine from the local liquor store where we enjoy chatting in French to two Africans, one from Togo, the other from Benin. Do they own the place? I haven’t asked them yet.

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