It’s a hot and humid place after all. New York, after only one day, already has fulfilled all my expectations and got me curious to see even more. I think even after only one day one can sense what this city means to the world. So, here’s how I got there.
After arriving at JFK airport which finally brought an end to what had seemed to be n endless day, I was hoping to get through customs rather quickly, especially, because of this new online registration for visitors to the USA. Well, nevermind, I had to wait almost 2 hours, being pushed from one queue to another and finally I was able to leave the airport and catch a cab with my friend who waited for me all the time to pick me up.
We drove to Brooklyn and headed for his home which is in what seems to be a very nice, pretty and quiet neighbourhood of Brooklyn City. His wife was waiting there for us and after a couple of beers we headed out for a small beergarden right around the corner (which was serving Kölsch, by the way), to round of my first few hours in NYC.
The next day my host had taken a day off from work to show me around, so we wandered through Brooklyn first, seeing lots of different neighbourhoods, some a little bit run down, some renovated, new and slightly richer, until we got the the banks of East River. Because the weather was so bad we could barely see the statue of liberty or the top of the skyline, but even so, it’s a very impressive sight. Leaving Brooklyn via the Brooklyn Bridge we headed for Manhattan and took a turn to go to St James cathedral, which seems to be the oldest church of the city, but ever since 9/11 it turned into a museum. Because it is located so close to ground zero the church was used as a place where the rescue workers took some time to sleep and refresh themselves. Today there are a lot of encouraging letters from all over the world on display. There were paper cranes from Japan which made me remember my trip to Hiroshima. There was a uniform of a firefighter put on one of the benches and it looked like it had only been there for a day. It was a strange feeling, which got even stranger when we exited the church through another door and looked right at ground zero, which today looks like any other construction site anywhere in the world. I think as a european coming over I will never be able to put this place into perspective because when it happened NYC was just a distant place across the ocean.
We left groud zero to head to a record store which as located near the campus of NYU. It’s kind of funny that record stores all over the world seem to have the same kind of feel to it and somehow you feel like you’re right at home. This one looked as if it was specializing in punk and hardcore, but there was a 2nd hand section downstairs with lots of jazz or classic rock. I ended up buying a record by the new band of Blake Schwarzenbach of Jawbreaker and Jets To Brazil. I’ll find out about the music when I get home.
We then took a break at a small park nearby and then headed for a small café. The thing is that although I am thousands of miles away from my home somehow here in New York you can find something the makes you remember something you might have seen somewhere else. This café had a very austrian/hungarian/czech feel to it, just like the Kaffeehaus tradition. Of course it was different, but it kind of reminded me of those places.
From there on we headed for a pizza restaurant because my host convinced me I should at least eat an american pizza once while I’m here. I’m glad he said so or else I would have missed out on something. The place seems to be rather popular judging from all the pictures all around the rooms. Lots of famous people had dinner or lunch there and it had the feeling of a cozy italian restaurant which might as well be located somewhere near Naples. The pizza was great and we were barely able to finish it.
From there on we took some time to buy stuff for my family and then headed to what used to be CBGB’s, the world’s most famous Punk/Hardcore venue. True, it’s a little sad to see it has now been turned into a high fashion boutique which sells men’s clothing, suits and so on. But in the end the whole street doesn’t look like it would be the right place a venue like that anymore. Times change and it might just be okay that it’s gone. Because it’s New York there might be a new place opening up tomorrow which might (or might not) become just as legendary.
Our last stop for the day was , the place where the shot this you-know-the famous-one scene from „When Harry met Sally“. There was even a sign hanging above the seat where the scene was shot. The restaurant’s interieur is rather simple, again with lots of pictures on the walls, but because of the simplicity it had a very comfortable feel to it. We just had a beer there and then headed back to Brooklyn to prepare for the show we wanted to got to in the evening.