A Visitor in Town

My friend Meredith from Ipswich, MA came to New York today. She had announced her arrival for late afternoon and would be staying on the Upper East Side. So I tried to plan my day in a way that would take me close to there when Meredith would be calling to meet me for dinner. My plan was to finally walk up Lexington. When I just was about to start that walk Meredith called, much earlier than I expected her. That made me change my plans.

I had managed to start out pretty early and my first destination was Union Square to see if the Christmas season has started there already. Arriving there I was pleased to see there was still the farmers market going on. Although it surprised me because it was Monday. I picked up my favorite wrap (Turkey, fresh Mozzarella, avocado and sundried tomato) from the Deli on the northeast corner and turned towards Gramercy.
Gramercy Park, strictly private, is still wearing its fall colors.
I had a look at the places around Gramercy Park mentioned in “The streets where they lived”. John Steinbeck was living in this now posh neighborhood when he had come to New York, still a nobody.
I checked my phone and saw that Meredith had called. She had arrived already.

Walking up Lexington to the Upper East Side would have taken me two hours at least, I guess. So instead I walked over to Park and took a 6 train. As it would be a longer ride I took out my phone and started playing Candy Crush Saga. The woman next to me excitedly asked me what level I’m in. I said 115, proudly. Well, she was in 165. I asked her if she knew how many levels there are. She told me that they are creating new levels all the time and that right know there must be about 500. Ok, I won’t manage that in my remaining four weeks.

I got off the train at 86th Street and called Meredith. We met and agreed on checking out the winter places. So we took the 6 train downtown again and tried to catch a M at 53rd Street. I had never changed trains there. It is quite a long walk. I got a bit nervous because they mentioned transfer to the E only and when we finally arrived the E/M platform two E trains were coming in but no M. There had been a M in the other direction though, so I was confident it was running.
We finally caught one, taking us to Rockefeller Center. There we ended up in the basement trying to find a way out of to the Plaza. It is an endless labyrinth. Out on Rockefeller Plaza the tree is surrounded by a scaffolding now to put on the lights. The ice rink was busy but somehow ice-skating looks funny without any snow.
We walked the couple of blocks down to Bryant Park. Meredith told me that there had been a shooting this weekend. I hadn’t heard of it. Later I read in the news that it had happened Saturday night. A young man and a kid had been shot on the ice, probably because the young man had refused to give another guy – presumably the shooter – his expensive coat. The kid had not been involved at all but got seriously injured and may result paralyzed. Almost as shocking as the shooting itself I found the comments some people posted online. The tenor was that this is what New Yorkers should expect now after having elected a liberal mayor who plans to abolish the stop-and-frisk policy in the city. Horrible!
Meredith had not seen the Library yet. I wanted to take her into the building to show her Astor Hall and the Rose Main Reading Room, but due to Veterans Day it was closed. The ice rink was pretty busy. We watched for a while then decided to go for a coffee.
We took a train to West 4 Street and went to one of my favorite coffe places, Caffe Reggio on McDougal Street. Meredith liked it as I do. After having regained our strength we had a little walk through Greenwich Village and then had a very nice dinner in Cornelia Street Café.
Meredith had a rack of lamb, I had a carrot, sweet potato and ginger soup and tuna with green asparagus and jasmine rice. Very nice. We had been seated in the front room from where I could see  a painter outside on the street working on a picture of the other side of the street. It’s a neighorhoody place.

Meredith wanted to take a bus back to the Upper East Side to see a bit of nightly New York City. We got a bus map and found out we could catch the Madison Avenue bus on Lafayette Street in the East Village. So we walked over to Astor Place. When we arrived there I thought Meredith might be interested in Strand Books just a couple of blocks away and we went there for a short visit before we caught the bus.
Madison Avenue at night is not really impressive, but buses at night seem to move much faster than during the day. I got off at 59th Street and caught the subway home from there.

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