We almost didn’t make it to JFK. Whatever pick up time your taxi company gives you, add at least 2 hours to be safe. Getting out of Manhattan can seem hopeless, when you are caught in a jam. No wonder that New Yorkers walk with so much determination. We were lucky not to know any of these constrictions as we were still strolling on Fifth Avenue. We took a ride up the Empire State Building and had the observation deck almost to ourselves because it was raining. The ushers and security staff seemed like the same ones I had seen decades ago on my first trip. The Empire State is a very traditional site and a masterpiece of human construction. Yet times were simpler then. The bid for construction cost fit simply on one page. My picture today is called SMILOPHILE. I don’t know what the rest of it says, since the skyscrapers were jumbled together so densely. Never mind, this image helped me see the light as I was fretting about catching an international flight. We are in London now.
Now let’s back up a bit from what I said yesterday about the New Yorkers. I had given up asking them direction. But, voilá, as confused as we looked over the subway map (going in the wrong direction again?), some locals took pity on us and volunteered strategic information. Another thing I learned: New Yorkers walk with steadfast destiny through the daily masses. You can’t just flag them down. You need to catch someone’s eye. Try looking. Pin a glance on someone and then smile. Finally, we even engaged in playful banter with a hot dog vendor. We had a great time: Liberty Statue, Museum of Natural History, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Top of the Rock, Intrepid Naval Air & Space Museum, Greenwich Village, MoMa, 911 Memorial, the Subway, Time Square, neighborhood delis, French bakeries, and many other places.
You must be Intrepid when asking New Yorkers the way. Some will blankly stare through you as if they hadn’t noticed you are talking to them. Some will determinedly rush by you with a stone face, never mind you’re waving at them. Others will detour in a wide bow around you with fear you might want to hit them up for money. Some may pretend not to speak English or Spanish or German or Hindi. The nicest ones will say, “I don’t know,” shrug their shoulders or shake their head and scurry on. We asked, “Is this sub going uptown?” Yes, yes! That man sent us in the wrong direction altogether. One friendly New Yorker, however, saved our day. He walked us through the maze of Central Park to come out on Fifth Avenue next to his favorite knish place.
Pictures, pictures everywhere. We take so many to never see them again. Having a selfie-stick helps to get more. You don’t need to ask a stranger to help you with the group pictures. Not us, we like hitting on fellow travelers.
I will give you one picture a day of our whereabouts. Unfortunately, none of our gazillion digital pictures are bound to be famous. Here is one image by Alfred Stieglitz that became a legend, “The Steerage,” from 1907. Compare that with the Liberty Island tourists above, voyagers have it quite a bit better today. Happy trails to all of you and them.