Notes from a traveller: part 12

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Kaye’s itchy feet have taken her to New York. Read the latest instalment of her ‘Notes from a traveller’ series, only on Just About Travel

Continued from last time

After a fabulous few days in the funky, forward thinking mountain town of Asheville, I flew to the Big Apple – the final stop of my whole ‘working remotely’ experience.

While in the city that never sleeps, I was fortunate enough to stay with my good friend Jo, and her husband Shane, in their stunning Manhattan apartment.

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Hailing a yellow cab is a New York rite of passage

After years of living and working in several cities, countries, and continents, I have friends scattered all across the globe. In fact I’d go so far as to say that I have more friends and loved ones overseas than I do back home – it’s almost as if the one requirement I have for relationships is that there must be an ocean between us?!

The most memorable friendships I’ve made during my 34 years on this planet weren’t forged at school or university but in the most unlikely of places. I’m talking Tango clubs (Buenos Aires) hutong haunts (Beijing), beach bars (Grand Cayman), shisha cafes (Oman)… I could go on. And while my traveller friends and I are separated by seas, we remain connected as only kindred spirits can.

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Hanging out at Hundred Acres with Jo

By basing myself at Jo and Shane’s, I managed to avoid staying in New York’s exorbitantly priced hotels and hostels (with their inconvenient check in/out times, dull rooms and ridiculous mini bar fees) but more than than that: I got to live their immaculate Tribecca life. Or Jo’s at least, given Shane’s punishing work schedule. Busy is one way of describing it but inhuman might be another…

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Saying hello to the Hudson River

Every morning I opened my eyes to breathtaking views of the Hudson River before venturing up to their rooftop for my morning coffee and bagel. Make no mistake: the  NY food scene – very different from other areas of America – was enough to keep me smiling. Think pizza (introduced by Italian immigrants in the 1900s), cheesecake (immortalised by Lindy’s restaurant in Midtown in the 1920s), Pastrami on Rye aka the New York sandwich, warm pretzels with Dijon mustard, designer cupcakes (blame SATC’s Carrie Bradshaw if you will) and cocktails (the Tom Collins and Manhattan were invented in NY in 1874 and flourished during the prohibition era in the speakeasy bars that sprung up all over the city).

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Up on the roof

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Cupcake time

By day I’d set up office in one of New York’s dizzying array of laptop friendly coffee shops and cafes, filing copy. I’ve been asked by my Mum and many Just About Travel readers whether I minded being on my own but if  I’ve learnt anything these past five months, it’s this: make friends with yourself and you’ll never be alone. Or as the author Kim Culbertson once commented: “People think being alone makes you lonely, but I don’t think that’s true. Being surrounded by the wrong people is the loneliest thing in the world.”

I’ve also been asked the question that every single 30 something woman gets asked: have you met anyone yet? Yawn…. Friends and family back home are always baffled my singleness but I don’t know why it’s such a big mystery to them for it should be pretty obvious to anyone who knows me that travelling is the great true love of my life. I am addicted to hitting the road and escaping. Sure there are easier ways to live but my heart and soul craves new experiences and adventures at breakneck speed – not marriage, motherhood and a house in the Home Counties.

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Cocktail hour

Consequently I don’t date much in my hometown of Harrow – where budding romances revolve around dinner in a shopping mall, a scenario that sucks the life out of me. However abroad – surrounded by like minded souls and gorgeous Latino types – I feel energised that  maybe, just maybe, I will meet someone I love after years of barely liking anyone.

But I digress! Back to the Big Apple which has been mesmerising  visitors for years. And for good reason. A visit to NY is like walking through a film set: yellow taxis, Bloomingdales, Tiffany’s, Fifth Avenue, Times Square, Central Park, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty are all present and correct.

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Ladies who lunch

I’d ticked off Top of the Rock, the Empire State Building and NY’s other historic landmarks and museums on a previous trip, so this time around I wanted to embrace my inner New Yorker.

This meant window shopping in Soho followed by a late lunch in buzzy bistro, Hundred Acres, dining out at alongside NY’s politicians & power brokers at The Carlyle Hotel – an Upper East Side landmark featured heavily in shows such as Sex And The City and Gossip Girl– and an afternoon in Brooklyn.

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As you would expect in the city that never sleeps, the nightlife in New York is legendary

Younger and edgier than Manhattan, this once down at the heel neighbourhood has undergone an impressive renaissance and its superb shopping (wander to Williamsburg and Atlantic Avenue), galleries (the Brooklyn Museum has the best collection of ancient Egyptian art in the US) and gorgeous Prospect Park prove that there’s more to Brooklyn than the bridge.

But of course no NY experience is complete without seeing a show on Broadway. Tickets aren’t cheap (they can easily cost upwards of US$100) but new musical, An American in Paris, is one show worth the splurge. Dexterous dancing, great Gershwin songs  (including the poignant But Not For Me) and two appealing leads in Robbie Fairchild & Leanne  Cope combine to help make An American in Paris a hit.

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No visit to NY is complete without seeing a show on Broadway

Alas my New York sojourn flew by far too fast and I find myself writing this at JFK airport where I am waiting for my flight home while mulling over the life that awaits me in London and wondering (read worrying) whether my tenants will have restored my flat to its identical former self?

Fingers crossed! I’m feeling confident – the couple have given me no reason not to – but at the same time I’ve learnt that there are no guarantees. Not with accommodation, jobs, love or life but then guarantees are overrated. I’d rather trade in adventure. In chance. In opportunity.

I don’t know what made me leave London earlier this year. Perhaps it was the gloomy weather?  The dreary commute? The desire to step off the treadmill and strike out on my own? Regardless what I do know is this: chucking in my life in London and boarding a plane to BA back in February was without a doubt the best decision I’ve made in the last three years.

I’m returning with a message: there’s a whole world out there, some of it welcoming, some of it hostile – especially when stripped of the safety of organised tours – waiting to be discovered. And going is easy. The hardest part, I fear, is coming home.

Or in the words of Rachel Wolchin: “If we were meant to stay in one place, we’d have roots instead of feet.”

Until next time,

Kaye

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To be continued on August 18

To read part one of Kaye’s ‘Notes from a traveller’ series, please click here

To read part two click here and here

To read part three, click here

To read part four, click here

To read part five, click here and here

To read part six, click here and here

To read part seven, click here and here

To read part eight, click here

To read part nine, click here and here

To read part 10, click here

To read part 11, click here

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