After planning and researching for 3 months, sleeping for 4 hours the night before, leaving @ 245 am and driving 10.5 hours to the Tribeca Sheraton on Canal between Church & 6th ave the last thing I felt like doing upon arrival is shut up in a hotel room and rest. But my wife needed to sleep for a couple of hours so, thinking for a second, I decided that Id walk over to the 5 points knowing that it was one something that we probably wouldn’t see otherwise. She went to sleep & I bolted out the door.
Round the corner I headed in a direction crossing the streets to the south and east walking @ a brisk pace, choosing my path according to which street lights were white or flashing. It wasn’t long before I had to cross a street & wait for the light to change and I stopped. I quickly realized that crossing streets in NYC had less to do with the color of the lights and everything to do with the “will I get struck by a vehicle,” question. In no time flat I was already @ the five points and thought to myself, “well that was fast, my wife has to sleep and getting around isn’t going to take nearly as long as I had anticipated.” It was a little after two oclock and I figured Id wake up my wife @ 4:00. Pausing for a moment in a futile attempt to contemplate the historical land on which I stood and watching the hundreds of neighborhood kids frolic and play @ Columbus park on the brilliant, sunny, 60 degree Sunday afternoon I then continued, happening onto Mott street.
Recalling that Lombardis was on Mott St and deducing that the remnants of little Italy would too be there I walked north up through China town feeling like Barry Sanders deeking and ducking the throngs of people everywhere moving wildly in every direction. There was one particular older woman, who walked at a snails pace with the aid of her daughter whom I could not get around. When I finally passed her I hurried up another block and viola, there she was again. The same elderly lady accompanied by her daughter struggling to get to their destination. Well I managed to blow by them once again and thought to try walking on the other side of the street, maybe there would be less people. I tried and there wasn’t and, after walking another few feet there she was again, somehow standing directly in front of me @ a cross street waiting for the light to change. I had little choice but to cross over to another block, these people were out to get me. Up Mulberry street I went, taking Broome st. back over to Mott. Having a look @ the long line filled with tired, impatient faces @ Lombardis it was certain that we wouldn’t be dining there due to time and the plethora of other options. Along I went up to Houston st. It was still early but I was sorta close to Katz deli and I knew my wife would appreciate a nice sandwich when I got back. “Hey, I didn’t see little Italy, it really must be gone.”
Traveling east down Houston I see the handwritten word Knish hanging in a store window and it snatches my attention. I was starving having not eaten since dinner the previous night in Detroit so I do a quick google search to see exactly what the heck they are and decide to have a go at one. At Yonah Shimmel I order two toasted onion & garlic Knish’s, one for me and one for her, and sit on the steps @ the Sara Roosevelt (I think that’s what it was called) eating mine, watching the never ending charm and energy of New York bustle pass me by. Get up, go to Katz to get a sandwich for my wife (I was definitely not hungry after the Knish)
Waiting for the Pastrami on rye the guy serves me up a slice on a dish. Before I could chew Im like, “hey, where did it go,” as the tender and soft slice of meat melted away before I could do anything about it. The stuff is amazing, I couldn’t believe what I had just tasted. Katz deli deserves its reputation, its line out the door, its landmark status (reputed or not) and to be a must visit for anybody who likes eating cows. It was time to start walking towards the hotel as opposed to away from it, along the way picking up some batteries, a 6 pack of beer and calling my cousin, who works in Manhattan, and arranging to meet her at Rockefella center the next day. “Here ya are honey, try this,” I say giving my wife the sandwich and who had just gotten out of the shower. She liked the Knish and loved the sandwich, I had to steal a bite or two.
About 5 oclock we were out the door meandering down Church st. to visit the WTC. We looked around the area for about 15-20 minutes. Whats to be said about the WTC? All words seem inadequate if not patronizing.
“Since we’re here there is one more thing I really wanted to see and its just over a couple blocks if you feel like going,” I say to my wife, continuing that its name was federal hall and where George Washington’s inauguration took place, arguably the official beginning of the United States. We go over to it, first sitting on its back steps for a cigarette then around to the front for a picture of George and a few snapshots of the NYSE. There we decided to walk the Brooklyn bridge, it was getting darker but the temp was still nearly 60, absolutely glorious.
Not being familiar with the area we found ourselves a few blocks farther E of where we would have liked to have been and were on a narrow street with gigantic buildings on either side making it much darker than most of the other streets in the area. A dollar bill appeared in our pathway lying on the ground. As my wife goes to pick it up I say in an incredulous voice, “come on L..dont..” and up into the air the dollar went via fishing line. We look up giving amusement to a couple of teenagers who were laughing and brandishing a fishing pole. “Couldn’t you see the string, you could see it so clearly, jeeze ha ha.” She too got a good laugh out of it………A buck.
On the next block we see the Brooklyn bridge rising a good 35 feet in the air meaning that we were still yet too far East. As we approach a cop looks at us and immediately knows what we are trying to do. When we get within earshot he gives us directions to a staircase, asks us where we are from and chats it up with us for a minute or two. Up the Brooklyn bridge.
We continued up the bridge taking a few pictures, ducking out of other peoples photo ops, listening to the bikers bellyache about inconsiderate pedestrians spilling into the bike lane and the temperature getting colder and colder. By the time we reached the first post (Im not sure what they are called) it felt like it was 30 degrees and the wind gusts carried the power to bluster a small child into the East river. It was way to cold up there so instead of going to Brooklyn we decided to turn around. Back into Manhattan where it was warm again.
Like the alarm clock going off in the morning I was struck with the sudden impulse to have a cold pint of Guinness. “Ya wanna go find a pub and have a drink?......Alright, lets go find one, this is NY, we shouldn’t have any problems finding a place for a drink, I think there was a pub right over here.” Finding a place to drink in the financial district proved to be impossible and, after deciding to leave the area and heading up Broadway we could not find a place to have a cold drink. Surely we had passed dozens of places meeting our criteria but we somehow managed to fail to spot them. It was now dark and over an hour since we had descended the bridge and finally were ordering our beverages at the Mercer, on Mercer of all places in SOHO (at least I think its SOHO). I was mighty mighty thirsty, and hungry and before my wife could take her first sip I had managed to make my pint disappear. While I was finishing my second pint I was searching out pubs on my phone and, after now noticing plenty places that we had missed, we decided to go to the Blue Haven on the corner of Houston and Sullivan.
The Knicks v Celtics (that’s plural for the Scottsmen) game was on and along with the 10 or so small groups of Knicks fans cheering on their team was a single cluster of 15 or 16 Bostonians rooting for the Celtics. No matter what happened on the court uproarious cheers and moans alike could be heard bellowing out of the Blue Haven. In the meantime my wife had ordered a plate of Nachos and I a basket of fries, just to get some food in my belly. The fries came with a brilliant (it was absolutely delectable) dipping sauce that tasted like honey mustard blended with mayonnaise. The waitress assured me that it was merely mayo and vinegar, Ill have to try it out at home for confirmation, it was fan friggin tastic. The game was close with the Knicks winning by a point or two all the way till the end but Chauncey went out and the Celtics won making a basket @ the very last second, to the pleasure of the Bostonians who were now standing and cheering but, to their credit, didn’t taunt the Knicks fans, who now all wore dejected , speechless countenances. The game was over and the bar emptied out. We finished our drinks and food and decided against going to times square as there was lightning in the sky and my phone showed a rain cloud stretching from about times square all the way north. In fact the TV showed it pouring on the Yankees up in the Bronx.
We stopped by an un-noteworthy place off of Mercer (I think) along the way back to the hotel for one last drink. It was empty, we were tired and left. Stopping first @ tribeca Bagels next door to our hotel for a few bagels in case we became hungry @ the hotel we went to our room to call it a day. That’s day one. Maybe more later