Not having sampled many food specialties so far on our trip, we decided to start the day with a New York bagel. Walking down 8th Avenue from Times Square, we headed for Murry’s bagels in Chelsea. The menu for this place was spread out on the backs of the walls behind the counter. After staring for a good five minutes trying to figure out how to order, we took the plunge and chose bagel type, filling and drink. I had a toasted ‘Everything’ bagel (the New York representative with poppy, caraway, and sesame seeds, salt, garlic, and onion) with lox (smoked salmon) and cream cheese. The size of this, as with every meal in America, was huge. However paired with fresh orange juice this was the perfect breakfast. Stuffed to the brim we headed to Chelsea Market.
I had heard that Chelsea Market was a great place to sample food, but I did not expect its hipster decor and urban, Shoreditch (London) feel. At the end of the market there are clothes, jewellery and other knick-knacks. This is a great place to pick up a postcard/fridge magnet/souvenir, as everything here is arty and original compared with other typical tourist traps. After wandering around, stopping for a coffee and exploring all the different food venues we left to find the High Line.
The High Line is an unfinished walkway created out of a renovated railway route. This 1.45 mile long walk in Midtown Manhattan has plenty of greenery and places to stop to take in the city’s high rise views. There is plenty of art splurged along the route including Zoe Leonard’s I Want a President (providing a message that is still all too relevant today), and Kathryn Andrews’ Sunbathers I & II (pictured above — highlighting the contrast between risqué messages on commercial billboards and an innocent stroll around the city with the placement of this beach sign). The High Line appears to be a space created for alternative voices and freedom. In recent times of political turbulence Friends of the High Line have placed many signs along the line expressing non-prejudice and the importance of inclusion. This was a place where I felt at home. The High Line is a great example of how large cities can create spaces that explore alternative perspectives and protect minorities in supportive movements.
On our way back to central Manhattan we caught a different kind of spectacle, as a man high on more than life decided to dance in the traffic. Hopping from the centre of a crossroads to the safety of a bollard crossing, cars swerved around the man who was enjoying another planet. With onlookers not intervening this appeared to be nothing new for the streets of New York.
Searching for some lunch we entered Melt Shop. Having had the best grilled cheese in DC I wasn’t sure if Melt Shop would be able to live up to this. However, a cheese and maple bacon grill with a side of tomato soup (the traditional accompaniment) hit the spot. Don’t expect a creamy heinz version of this soup, it is very much a cup-a-soup type blend, but excellent for grilled cheese dipping.
Unfortunately, this was it for our New York trip — we were to take an Amtrak train back to DC. During our four days we spent all of our time in Manhattan (apart from a short pizza venture to Brooklyn). I know that this city has so much more to offer and I hope to return some day soon. Although central Manhattan has plenty of iconic destinations I much preferred areas such as Chelsea that appeared to be a more realistic take on New York life. Next time I will be sure to visit the MoMA and to spend some time along the Hudson river, if nothing else.
New York, your streets may not have been glowing, but even outside of my romanticised retrospect, I could still take up home within you any day.