My last treat before next month departure: a short trip to New York to spend Bank Holiday (Memorial Day) with my good friend Ian, in Manhattan.
35, New York style.
Sunday was Ian's birthday.
Not sure how old he is now; I bought a card with no specific references to his age. He should be around 35.
For this last day of walking around, we decided to take it easy: the evening plan was to drink our sorrows away in some bar where for 35 dollars you could drink as much as you wanted.
We left home quite late and, this time just with Ian, we walked to the Empire State Building
and to Grand Central Station
. The station reminded me of a nicer and cleaner version of the Stazione Centrale in Milan
We reached the Rockefeller Centre
to get the lift to the panoramic terrace. While the queue outside the Empire State Building was too long, the one at the Rockefeller was short and quick and in a matter of 5 minutes we were already sitting at the top of the tower.
From the top I could see the north part of Manhattan, which was too far to enjoy from Ian's terrace. Well, Central Park was there
. And it looked exactly as I remembered from films: very big and very green, at least compared to the biggest park in London, Hyde Park.
After another 360° view of the city, we walked to the park, to admire it from the ground. On the way we stopped to the only place where I bought something for myself: Abercrombie & Fitch
. Strange shop, with great shirts and shorts at cheap price (the same model would cost the double in London) but unusual staff: all models. Yeah, I enjoyed the view of half of the staff, nice girls with probably just enough skills to help you in a clothing shop, but the semi naked guys helping another kind of clients was a bit too much for me, and for Ian.
So one shirt and 29.95 dollars later, we were on our way to the park.
In the heat of the day, Central Park was a giant green lung providing some sort of entertainment for anyone: fun fairs for kids, ice cream stalls for me, bicycle and jogging tracks for, well, cyclists and joggers. And free baseball diamonds.
And, unfortunately, grass where ONLY girls (yes, girls) played football
. It just broke my heart, seeing all these guys around playing softball, running, tanning and launching Frisbees and seeing only girls interested in what they call soccer over there. So wrong.
Well, the day (told you we woke up late) was almost over and it was time to get ready for some drinking session, New York style. After some friends of Ian and Sarah arrived we had drinks and food (tortillas dipped in Ian's salsa) on their great rooftop before moving to a bar. After the first drinks I found myself answering the usual questions regarding the first world war (yes, we win it with you americans) and the second world war (yes, we kinda lost it, yes you won, no it wasn't just because of you).
Only there I understood the New York rip off tricks: 35 dollars for as many drinks as you want, but only if you can get the attention of the only inexperienced bartender who was simply taking it very easy.
To recover from the cost I had to order two drinks every time, pretending they were for someone else. Towards the end of the night, while Ian was slowly killing his liver off with multiple shots, I almost recovered the 35 dollars after switching from beers to Gin and Tonic and Jack Daniels and coke.
Then, the disaster happened: I ordered 3 more drinks after 1am, which was the limit of the free drink offer (obviously nobody told me that). And so I had to pay 20 more dollars, since I would have never said no to drink just ordered. But hey, it was Ian's birthday after all; I guess that once in a while I can get money crazy.
After a night trying to recover from the amount of alcohol drunk, it was time to say goodbye.
Ian cooked me some great pancakes and we said an emotional goodbye at Penn's station. It was strange; after all we didn't have any more short terms plan so see each other. Maybe at my wedding. Maybe before, but nothing was planned this year. I'll really miss him, having a good friend around is always a nice thing. Especially since both always treated me as a spoilt house dog, feeding me whenever I needed it.
It was time to say goodbye and go back to London, which was experiencing the coldest Bank Holiday in the past 50 years. So good to be always back.