it’s New York, baby!

By amy ~ March 16th, 2012 @ 2:24 pm

To those who have been wondering, I am still alive – sorry! It’s been a lively couple of weeks all over – the fun started two weekends ago with a night out in York to see the still-fabulous Girlschool, for those who remember them, plus some fairly predictable hotel shenanigans at Heathrow (the third room at my decidedly-less-than 4 star hotel was finally deemed acceptable, despite having only 5 TV channels, no view and incredibly, new but unaired mattresses which reeked of formaldehyde (I slept atop the duvet and still wound up with a splitting headache), although these fortunately did not scupper the fun and games for my visitors. Another one for the blacklist.

This was all barely three days after returning from Belfast, where the springtime weather had put the menfolk of the city in punting mood and any concerns I had been harbouring about the huge number of other ladies populating the place the same week proved unfounded – yay! I arrived home with a spring in my step to match the gradually unfurling one outside – my usually immovable September to May coat-scarf-woolly-hat combo was rendered completely superfluous as Belfast happily basked (and I with it) in lovely warm sunshine, and after a suitably laid back journey home and a restful weekend monitoring the New York weather forecast, spoiling the fishes rotten and emptying the refrigerator, I set off in earnest first thing Monday morning and after the aforementioned Heathrow pit stop, with pal Kinky La Rue in tow we were off!As it has been my second visit to Manhattan (and regular readers will remember the hi-octane pancake-and-sightseeing fest of last year) a far more relaxed atmosphere prevailed, and having a lovely friend along to compare notes over breakfast, check in with after work-time, share the fun with in the free time (and assure me that yes, it would definitely be a very good idea to buy that) as well as a travel buddy for the flights made a pleasant change for a confirmed lone traveller and even more so with a couple of less-than-ideal hitches along the way. We arrived to near-tropical sunshine just after lunch, and a scant hour later were past the desks and heading into town to a couple of big corner suites, trips to Rite Aid and the Food Emporium for supplies and a few days of fun, frolics and the usual cultural exchange – woohoo!

The polar opposites encountered in communicating with American punters baffled me last year, and this year was no different – in the red corner the ditherers and foot-draggers with the faux-casual, meaningless dreck which passes for a ‘booking enquiry’; do you think we don’t know you’re having exactly the same tedious, drawn out exchange (generally about how you ‘might be able to schedule something Friday evening but will get back to me’) with three or four of us at once? In the blue corner fortunately, and as previous experience taught me the bona fide gentlemen are the same in Manhattan as anywhere else, and the senders of polite and specific enquiries containing (unprompted) desired time, day, booking duration and the requisite screening information (something alien to us in the UK, and long may it remain so) were welcomed along to make merry, and universally charming as ever they were too. And true to form, having recalled the disastrous effect on the pocket of exchange rates following my last visit and lacking any wish to furnish the coffers of the banks, we industriously and responsibly spent the lot – helped along in no small part with a visit to the huge B&H electronics superstore on 34th St (an experience impossible to adequately describe here and surely a worthy candidate for any forthcoming list of wonders of the world) and a slow but purposeful amble up Fifth Avenue which resulted in even our late 2pm checkouts being stretched enough to prompt a knock on the door to ask if we were actually planning on leaving today…But leave we had to, and after explorings of street markets and parks in Greenwich Village and soul food in Harlem, proper KFC (and with biscuits – read and learn, UK franchises) and much cut-price shopping in the non-stop Spring sunshine, a packed flight deposited us untidily back at Heathrow at the ungodly hour of seven am on Tuesday morning – a bus ride from home for KLR and an hour long schlep across town back to Kings Cross for me prior to settling into my (thank God for one of my better ideas) first class train seat home, although I was perturbed in the extreme to discover that the fish pie boasted on the menu was not available and I had to make do with sandwiches (these being a choice between chicken and egg, not helping my sleep-deprived brain in the slightest) but some three hours and as many cups of proper tea later I arrived home at last, and after a frozen-pea treat for the fishes and a much needed nap it was business as usual! The accounts are up to date, the laundry is done, the shopping is gloated over and it’s all systems go for my second island trip of the month on Monday – the slightly-different-to-Manhattan Isle of Man is next on the itinerary, shortly followed by a welcome return to Dublin city centre midweek, just for a handy comparison regarding the opposite end of how much it’s possible to get away with charging for exactly the same thing in a shop.

To those who have been trying to get in touch, apologies – the phone was off all day Wednesday and yesterday because I was knackered, busy and in no mood for silly questions about whether I’m available ‘this morning’, and so on (sent today shortly after seven am by somebody who presumably thinks that prostitutes are not only available and gagging for it twenty four hours a day, but don’t need sleep and just make up the ‘how to book’ information on our websites for fun – I eventually saw it when I woke up shortly before ten).  As ever, an email will get your question answered quicker and more fully mainly because unlike the BlackBerry which deals with calls and texts, the BlackBerry that deals with email is never switched off except on planes (yeah OK, quite a bit then).

Time for lunch, the usual repacking of the suitcase and continuing my wait for CityLink to pick the bloody rental phone up – I can’t possibly move off the settee in case I miss them. More soon. Promise.

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