A few days later than planned, here is the final entry of my New York diary. Bonus points, no prizes though, for you if you get the reference in the title.
On our last morning at the genuinely fantastic Hotel On Rivington, we woke at a reasonable time, finished what packing we had to left and headed down for one, last, monumental breakfast. Jo had the pancakes whilst I was back on the smoked salmon bagel tip. I can’t tell you how tasty that thing is, or how much I loved the capers that came with it- little genius balls of flavour that they are.
We checked out but, as we weren’t due to fly back home till the evening, left our bags with Josh the doorman who also promised to sort us out a taxi up to JFK. And then we set off on our final exploration of what had been a phenomenal week.
Jo had been desperate to cross the Williamsburg Bridge all week, so after a stop off at Doughnut Plant (for later, you understand) we headed down to the bridge. Wait a second, did I say “down”? That bridge, we got on it and from the minute we stepped onto the pedestrian footpath, it was up, up and away, whilst the traffic and the Subway rumbled on beneath us. Had we not been caged in on the bridge, I think I would have genuinely frozen at the point where I realised we were at the same height as a block of flats next to the bridge. And still the thing rose, rose up across the East River. I lost count of the amount of times Jo said “We’re about to hit the top of it, honestly.” Jo spotted a Domino’s sugar factory that reminded her of the one that featured in The Wire’s opening credits.
Anyway, the graffiti on the bridge’s footpath was quite diverting and, when I could get it together to look out across the river, the views were pretty good. By the time we arrived back on terra firma in Williamsburg, my thighs were close to cramping. Again. The different vibe away from Manhattan island was immediately noticeable. It was properly quiet.
We wandered through the streets for a bit, then headed down, definitely down this time, to the riverside, where we sat for a while, watching two girls film a guy singing, and strumming, a Tom Waits kind of tune. We stayed for a bit, contemplating the impressive skyline, and then it started to rain. So we went in search of the nearest Subway. The Marcy Avenue station, with its outdoor stairs up to the tracks, had me wondering if this was where that famous car/subway chase in the French Connection took place. But we weren’t in Brooklyn.
Back to the WTC site and then, as our final act as tourists in this great city, we set about leaving it. We got on the PATH train to Hoboken. We didn’t know where we were going when we got there, just that we wanted to see the Manhattan Skyline from the Jersey shore and that we had to visit The Sopranos home county. Getting to Atlantic City, Holstens, North Caldwell and all those famous locations from the show was going to be a stretch in the three hours we had left, so we settled for lunch at the Wild Wolf Tavern just down from the PATH station.
A couple of pints of Blue Moon along with a chargrilled chicken sandwich (a relief after so much red meat) + obligatory fries in a quiet and friendly establishment felt like a really soothing way to end the week. Kind of like the final episode of a Sopranos season, you know, the quiet episode that happens after all of the bloodletting has happened in the one previous. Being on the Jersey side of the Hudson, it was also a bit easier on the wallet.
We headed back to the hotel, for a final glass of wine. This may have been cheeky of us, technically we were no longer guests of the hotel, but as they still had our bags… We finished our wine and headed downstairs to see Josh the doorman one last time. Soon enough, I was pressing a five dollar note into his hand and we were getting into our taxi as darkness descended over the Lower East Side. The taxi belted over the Williamsburg Bridge and we turned our heads back to glimpse the lights of Manhattan one last time. Look, there was the Freedom Tower, which had dominated our every move on Tuesday morning; look, there was the Empire State which… well, never mind what had happened there. And in any case, as I relay this to you now, I can’t honestly say that we could see it. What I can say is that it was a lot quicker to drive over that damn bridge than walking over it had been.
New York City, the city that never sleeps, I think I love you. Even with your ridiculously tall buildings and bridges. Especially with your city full of friendly faces, massive breakfasts and supersized doughnuts. See you soon.
Ok, so it was a reference to The National. You all got it, right?