Wednesday, March 30, 2011

ROBBLOG# 243


Just another day in New York City.

We certainly had a varied selection of weather during our New York Stay but warm, spring sunshine was best.

Today, we decided to hop on the Subway to get us places fast. We loved walking but to cram in as much as we could on one day, we decided to take NY Transit. After a hearty breakfast at the Tick Tock Diner in the New Yorker Hotel, we headed across 8th Avenue to the subway. The “red line” would take us further south to Greenwich Village and Christopher Street- New York’s Gay Village.
We bought a “Metro Pass” for 10 bucks which gave us 4 ½ rides. As we moved through the turnstiles we looked at the signage. Good Lord! It’s much easier when you just know the way, rather than having to read a multitude of signs. We stood on the platform hoping we were waiting for a subway car, heading in a southerly right direction. While we waited, I noticed a lady standing just a few feet to our right. She was also waiting for a southbound train. She wore black slacks, a blue ski jacket and a pair of fabulous, fashionable sunglasses with plenty of sparkle on the earpiece. I just had to ask her if we were travelling in the right direction.

“Pardon me,”- I said as I approached her, “Does this train go to Canal Street?”
She turned to me and sized me up for a second.
I had said Canal Street being that it was just a couple of blocks south of Greenwich Village. Tom and I had been told vendors lined the street with cheap goods. Mostly styuff that had “fallen” off trucks! Maybe I could buy a cheap New York watch. That was on my “to do” list.

As she looked me over, she smiled warmly and said- “Yes, it does.”

The train was just pulling into the station, so we walked through the open doors and sat down. I pulled out the subway map, still wanting to be sure of where we were going. I was a little twisted around. Tom had a better sense of direction. In a minute or two, the platform lady spoke to us. I guess she could see we were fretting about our destination. Surprizingly, she had taken a seat nearby us on the subway.

“Look, don’t warry. This is the right direction. So, why did you want to go to canal street?”

“Oh, just that it’s close to Greenwich Village and Christopher Street.” I told her.

“Look,”- she says again with an outstretched hand, “You could get awff at Christopher Street and then wawk…” She stopped and looked out the window. The car had stopped. The doors had opened and were about to close.

“Oh!” She paused. “That was your stop.”

We laughed.

“Look, nevahmind. You’ll get off at Huston with me and I’ll show you where to go. “ Again, she paused and looked me in the eye from behind dark New York Shades. “So, why do ya wanna go to Canal Street?”

“Oh, because we had heard there were places to shop.” I had the sinking feeling she didn’t think it was a good idea.

“Look, I’ll show you some nice streets and you can see Worshington Square. You should see Worshington Square and then it’s just a couple of blocks to Christopher Street and the Village!”

Gilda's

This was a savvy New Yorker who just happened to live in Greenwich Village. She told us so.
“That sounds great! We don’t mind walking.”

The car stopped and we followed her off the train and up the stairs into the brilliant New York Sunshine. By this time I wanted to ask her if we could grab a “cawfee” and “tawk”. She was so nice and oh so New York. It was like were in a movie. I almost looked around for the cameras. She pointed us in the direction of where we should walk and what we should look for. She gave us some final instructions and we were off. I looked back, watching her cross the street, content in the happy fact that she had helped a couple of strangers.

We walked on a few blocks. Along the way we saw the red door for Gilda’s Club of New York. Our friend- Heather, would appreciate a picture of that- with me in the frame too of course! A left turn at 6th Avenue, then a quick right and there we were in Washington Square. Basically, it was a little park with a lot of benches, some gardens and a huge arch. It’s best to have a look at the picture. It’s worth a thousand words.

Washington Square
 We left the Square after stopping to pet a couple of pooches being walked in the early afternoon sunshine. Then, we walked east- about two blocks, and saw a street sign that said- “Christopher Street”. Like Church and Wellesley in Toronto’s Gay Village, Christopher Street is the iconic street for all things Gay in New York. We crossed the street and there was the Stonewall Inn. The outside needed a new paint job. The sign above the window was un-assuming. The rainbow flags were all faded and the window needed a good spritz of two of windex.

A decade and a bit before the infamous Bath House raids in Toronto that spawned the Gay and Lesbian movement here, the road to New York City Gay Rights began when a bevy of Drag queens and their friends decided they just weren’t going to take it from the New York Police- anymore! A street fight ensued. It’s a hallowed, historic spot for American Gays and Lesbians. The plaque pictured here tells you that. We had a quartette of European’s standing along beside us who appeared to be in awe that they were standing on the very spot of the Stonewall Inn.

The Stonewall Inn

We browsed the street and hopped back on the subway once again. We were pros now! This time, we rode north, all the way north to 59th Street and the southernmost entrance to Central Park at Columbus Circle. There it was right in front of us- famous Central Park. New Yorkers are proud of this huge green space and rightly so. I guess you could say in the same way Orillian’s are proud of Couchiching Beach Park, Centennial Park and Veteran’s Park that line our Downtown Waterfront. Inside the gates we could see trees and bridges, horse and buggies, bicycles and dog walkers- just like in the movies. We wandered here and there.

Bethesda Fountain
 I wanted to see the Bethesda Fountain- famous in the movie Angels in America, The Producers and others. After asking directions, we walked along The Mall bordered on each side by healthy American Elm trees all protected in this Central Park environment.

Just ahead I could see the top of the steps leading down to the fountain. The very steps that Meryl Streep and Company walked down and through the arches below, to stand in front of and eventually sit along the edge of the fountain. The Angel of the Waters- Bethesda, was perched in the centre. I couldn’t believe I was looking at her- in real time. Google her or Central Park NYC to find out more
She was beautiful. I had to sit on the edge and have Tom take a picture!

New York... She’s a Hell of a Town.

Still to come- a tour of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Rockefeller Centre and a Broadway opening night!

Central Park

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