New York and Boston
17th to 30th of August, 2005
Wednesday, August 17'th
Leaving Vejle at 8.15 am, and arriving at Kastrup Airport at 11. Flight is scheduled for 2 pm, so plenty of time. It's a good idea to arrive early. Lines for check-in is huge.
At 2 pm it's lift-off with Iceland-Air for Reykjavik. It's all on business-class this time. The reason for this is here.
3 hours later we arrive at Keflavik. There's an hours wait, before another flight takes me to New York. Nice with a little break during the trip.
Business-class is nice. They give you a transportable DVD-player so you can choose your own movies. And then there's the catering. I taste Foie Gras for the first time in my life. Food is great - and nice wines as well. When the candy is given round for the fifth time my also upgraded neighbour says - "ohh - these guys are your friends".
5 hours later - at 7.15 pm local time - we arrive at JFK - New York. Not as hectic as I thought it would be. Passing immigration takes 2 minutes.
Then a Supershuttle to Midtown Manhattan and Milford Plaza Hotel. Hotel is booked via Priceline. It's huge and it's old, but certainly lives up to my needs at a hotel - and then it's damn close to Times Square.
It's 9 pm - I'm tired but it's too early for bed. So a short walk to the local Starbucks for a cup of coffee. There's people everywhere - I feel like I'm in the middle of the universe.
Thursday, August 18'th
First thing today is shopping. I want to buy myself a digital camera. A Nikon D50. Lot's of money to save compared to Denmark. I go to the the huge B&H Photo and video on 9'th avenue. Not far from my hotel.
The bying experience is strange to me. Ordering at one place, paying at another and picking up a third place. Lot's of people involved. Like old Sovietunion. But people are nice and qualified, and they don't try to oversell you.
Back to the hotel to make the camera work and then a subway to Greenwich Village to try it out. I walk around this neighbourhood using Washington Sqaure Park as a center for a couple of hours. Nice area - small houses - a lively place, but room for everyone - lots of cafe's and restaurants - no skyscrabers - probably why it's got so popular among the locals.
In the evening I bought tickets for a musical - The Producers. Mel Brooks wrote the thing as a movie back in the 70's. It very funny. The musical is at St. James Theater, right next to my hotel. It's about a theaterproducer Max Bialystock, who has found out that the only way he can make money is producing a total failure. Then he invents the musical "Sprintime for Hitler" - and even though the premiere-audience is totally jewish, the musical becomes a great succes.
Friday, August 19'th
Breakfast and then on to Port Authority bus-terminal and a Greyhound to Atlantic City. Atlantic City is a kind of mini-Las Vegas. It has been an entertainment-city since the railway arrived in 1850's, but the casinos didn't arrive before 1977. Now it's a place where americans go for gambling, concerts, boxing etc.
It's only 28 $ for the trip down there, but 20 $ is refunded at the casino you arrive. For me that was the casino Resorts.
Weather is quite nasty, so walking the Boardwalk is not much fun. But then there's the casinos, and they are inside, so I have to test a few of them.
First I try Resorts and then Taj Mahal. I loose a little. Then weather has turned a little nicer, so you can actually walk outside on the boardwalk along all the casinos, hot-dog bars, souvenir-shops etc. When it starts to rain again I'm right next to the Sands-casino so I step inside. The buffet is only 8 $ and I'm hungry, so that's an easy choice. But before I can get my lunch at this price I have to be a member of the Sands Club. Bloody bureaucracy. But now I'm member no. 4766340 in Sands Club.
When I have finished lunch i better gamble a little. A 75 $ win makes sure I don't loose any money today. Not all are as lucky as I am. I talk to a guy who has lost all the money he had brought for his trip - but wisely has left his credit-card back home. And you see quite a lot of people with a definite gambling-problem at the place.
At 8 pm I take my bus back to New York. The trip takes 3 hours.
Saturday, August 20'th
A streneous day today. I'm off to Brooklyn. I like the Paul Auster movie Smoke, and want's to take a closer look at the area. Well Brooklyn is too huge to see it all, so I find some interesting places.
I take the subway to 7'th avenue close to Park Slope. There's plenty of nice brownstone-houses around here. Very nice neighborhood. And no tourists. When you go shopping, the people ask where you are from. They don't do that at Times Square.
I walk around Park Slope until I reach Prospect Park. A nice place with barbecue and baseball. A lot of families gather here, as a refuge from their small apartments. I take a walk in the park, before finding the subway-station at Grand Army Plaza.
From there I take no. 2 to another part of Brooklyn, Brooklyn Heights. I jump off at Clark Street, and walks downhill to Fulton Landing, with a nice view of Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridge. Uphill again, and a late lunch at a nice local restaurant with good and cheap food. Then further on to the real Brooklyn Heights, with nice Brooklyn-houses. On to Brooklyn Heights Esplanade, with a nice view of Manhattan. Then up the shopping-street of Mantague Street, passing Borough Hall and on to Adams Street.
Adams Street becomes Brooklyn Bridge, which is walkable. I did this walk before. That wan an extremely cold february-day, where I had put on almost al the cloth I had brought for the trip. I was freezing - and there was only a small path on the walkway, where ice and snow was removed. Today it's 30 degrees celsius and lots of people, so this is another experience. But the walk across Brooklyn Bridge is still one of the most fascinating there is, walking above the traffic and watching Downtown Manhattan getting closer and closer.
Back on Manhattan I have to call this a day. I find a subway at City Hall and take it back to my hotel via Grand Central Station. The evening is spent at relaxation.
Sunday, August 21'st
Today I'm heading for Brooklyn once more, and a little off the beaten track. This morning I'm heading for Coney Island.
But on the way out there I visit another "sight", that I have visited before. It's World Trade Center, now known as Ground Zero. A depressing and sad visit.
There's nothing sad about Coney Island. The place used to be a poor peoples entertainment-place in New York. A lot of old Buster Keaton film was shot out here. Now it's more or less a run down entertainment area but pretty fun I think - and with almost no tourists.
And then there's the "sideshows". I visit one and has the chance to see a girl swollowing a sable, another one with a huge snake around her, and one girl walking up a stair made out of sharp knives, and finally a guy that thinks it's great fun to lie on a mattress made of nails with two people standing on top of him. Weirdo.
There's plenty of latinos out here. They've got a little party with their own calypso-orchestra. And on one of the jetty's a large number has gathered for fishing. Other people are more relaxed and just go for a swim. Cozy place for a sunday afternoon.
In the evening it's more local. Broadway and Times Sqaure are much more crowded. And I wouldn't use the word cozy about these places. But all the neon and all the noise and all the people is kind of interesting anyway.
Monday, August 22'nd
I start the day taking the subway to 125'th street, better known as Harlem. I walk around the area for a couple of hours around 125'th street, Malcolm X Boulevard and Adam Clayton Powell Jnr. Boulevard. I pass the famous Apollo Theatre as well. It's under recunstruction.
From Harlem it's a short walk to Morningside Heights. Here I take a look at Columbia University and Cathedral of St. John The Divine. It's the largest church in USA. But it's pretty dull since most of it is under reconstruction as well due to a fire in 2001.
After visiting the church a walk around the neighborhood. As Harlem it's mainly black. Finally I take the subway back to my hotel and some relaxation during the afternoon.
In the evening it's baseball-time at Yankee Stadium. Yankees vs. Toronto Blue Jays. My first baseballmatch ever. Very american thing. Start of with chicken wings, fries and a large coke. I find my seat just in time to rise again for the national anthem. Strange hammond-organ they use at this place. Then the match starts, but noone seems to care. People are still eating chicken wings and drinking beer og coke, so not much interest in the game. It takes a few innings before the stadium is full to capacity - 50.000 people.
The athmosphere among the crowd is getting better. That's mainly due to drinking more beer, but of course it helps a little the Yankees get 6-0 up in the 5. inning. In 7. inning there's suddenly another break in the match. Everybody rise - and it's time for "God bless America" for our heroic boys in Iraq - yack.....disgusting. Then another song - "Take me out to the ballgame" - this is getting ridiculous. Is this a ballgame or is it a song contest.
But the ballgame is much fun, especially as I start to understand what's it's all about. I leave the stadium at the end of 8'th inning to make sure to get out before the crowd. Yankees win the game 7-0.
Tuesday, August 23'rd
Subway to Battery Park on the southern tip of Manhattan. Then on the boat to Ellis Island having done the security check. Most people on the boat are heading for the Statue of Liberty, but I have seen her before so I only go for Ellis Island.
Ellis Island is an exiting place. This was the place the immigrants all had to pass in the old days, before America was opened for them. It's now a museum, and I take an audio-tour around the place. Some of the people that actually was passing Ellis Island is telling their story on the audio-tour. That's pretty interesting, as well as the pictures from the time and of course the whole building.
Ellis Island was used for immigration up to 1954. The last few years though not for many people.
After this very interesting visit I take the boat back to Battery Park.The rest of the day is simply walking around and people-watching in Midtown. Up the fine 5'th Avenue and down the less fine 6'th Avenue. Evening in front of the TV with a new hobby of mine - watching baseball.
Wednesday, August 24'th
I'm quite used now, and there are no plans for today, so I can improvise making it a lazy day.
I start by taking a short walk to Times Square and TKTS. There I buy tickets for an afternoon show of Lennon - the musical. From Times Square I walk down Broadway to Harold Square and Macy's Walking through Macy's - shoppingmall's will never be my thing - and then up 8'th Avenue to my hotel again.
At 2 pm it's musical-time. The musical of the life of John Lennon, has only been running for a few weeks, and seems like a failure. There's plenty of empty seats in the Broadhurst Theatre. Act 1 is kind of confusing, but things are getting better in act 2. I kind of like it anyway, but of course I'm not so much used to musicals, so I'm easy to impress. I think one of the problems with the musical is timing - "Give peace a chance" seems not to be "comme il faut" - times are more for "God bless America" for our heroic boys in Iraq.
After the show it's just around the corner to my hotel. Later another final New York walk. Up Broadway to the corner of Central Park - and down 7'th Avenue to Times Square. In the evening it's time for packing for moving on.
Thursday, August 25'th
Goodbye to hectic New York. Leaving with an Amtrak-train from Penn Station at 10 am. The trip to Boston is scheduled for 4 hours, but takes almost 6 because of a derailment on the tracks. It's a very nice trip though with great views.
I get of the train at Back Bay station Boston. From here, there's a short walk to Boston Park Plaza Hotel. This place is also booked via Priceline, and it's a bargain. Very nice with lot's of marble and other nice things that I don't have in my own apartment. Also plenty of restaurants that I can't afford to visit, a huge tv on the room, a coffeemaker, and last but not least - all towels are folded in mysterious ways and a little sticker on the toiletpaper makes sure noone has used it.
Well, I'm not here to admire my hotel, so off I go into the most historic city in America. I walk through the park on the other side of the hotel and into downtown Boston. The pace is much slower here, than in New York. More relaxed. Dinner and a walk around downtown before going back to my hotel, my tv and my coffeemaker.
Friday, August 26'th
In Boston they've have a trail called The Freedom Trail. You can follow the trail by following a red line through the city.
I don't know much about american history and the american independence, but most of the things you pass have something to do with that. First part is in downtown with plenty of shops etc around - and a few of those great american bookstores that I like so much.
From downtown the trail goes to North End. This is the italian part of Boston. Most people talk like they have just taken part in a Godfather film.
From North End the trail crosses Charlestown Bridge to Charlestown. That's a nice neighborhood with old houses. The trail ends at the Bunker Hill Monument and the very old warship called USS Constitution - or better known as Old Ironside.
The trail makes a nice walk. Much nicer than all the tours that runs in this town. Some of them is on a special kind of sailing van known at the Duck Tour. If you are on this tour you have to shout "quack quack" now and then to the people you are passing. Thank God for walking........
From the warship I walk back to Boston Park Plaza. Enough walking for this day.
Saturday, August 27'th
2 walks and 2 local neighborhoods today.
Walk no. 1 is for Back Bay, which according to my guide book is a nice area with elegant streets lined with trees and gaslight-lamps. Except that the gaslight-lamps looks pretty electric, it's a pretty good description. It's close to Charles River where I start my walk before taking in the area of Back Bay.
In Back Bay I walk up Commenwealt Avenue with a nice little park between the left lane and the right lane. Houses here look very nice and very expensive. At the end I turn around and walk down Newbury Street. That's a street with plenty of fancy small shops, restaurant and cafe's. It's brunch time, so most of the restaurants seems quite busy. By the way - I have never seen as many restaurants as in this city. Do the people who live here do anything else than eating?
Walk no. 2 is for Beacon Hill. According to my guidebook this area is full of nice hilly streets with gaslight-lamps and nice old townhouses. So except for the hilly-thing it's a little like Back Bay. And I also think that the gaslight-lamps in this neighborhood are fakes.
Plenty of historic and litterature people used to live here. Plenty of signs for different celebrities. I haven't heard of any of them, but that's probably my mistake. Well of course - except for the bar that inspired the tv-series of "Cheers" - We all know about that.
On the way back to the hotel I pass through Public Gardan. A great place for relaxing.
Sunday, August 28'th
I have to glad that I'm not in New Orleans. A huge hurricane is building up and most of the city has been evacuated. ½ a million of people. A lot in the tv about this.
I take the T - the local subway - to Cambridge and Harvard University.
According to my guidebook there would be music at Harvard Square. Tracy Chapman and Bonnie Raitt started their careers here. Today there's a single sing- and songwriter. He won't be famous. Instead a take a walk around the campus and the area.
From Harvard I take the T back to city center. The green line in the Boston T is supposed to be one of the first subway's in the world. Actually it's just a simple tram, that they've put into a hole in the ground.
Later another trip with the T down to Aquarium and the harbour. It's a tourist-harbour with tourist-cruises and nothing else. Not that interesting, so I head back for the hotel again.
Monday, August 29'th
Final day and my flight is in the evening so I have to spend the day someway. I'm not good at this. When things are packed I want to go back home.
Then I take the T to Logan Airport. 1,25 $. That's dirt-cheap for a connection to the airport.This time I'm allowed into the business-lounge with nice chairs, free drinks and cookies. Thats nice. I wasn't allowed to the lounge in Copenhagen on the way out. So there's no problem in arriving early for my 9.30 fligth to Reykjavik.
Tuesday, August 30'th
Arriving in Keflavik in the early morning, and then an hours wait for my connecting flight to Copenhagen. Here I am at 1 pm, and it's time to find my train back to Vejle. Back home at 5.
I wake up late and get's a late breakfast at my local cafe. They make the beast white-bread that I have tried for years. Then I check-out and goes to the movies. Jim Jarmusch' new movie Broken Flowers is nice.
The rest of the day I just walk around doing nothing special. A burger-lunch at Quincy Market and some people-watching and coffee at a local cafe.
Then on to Boston Common and Public Gardens for more people-watching.
It's pretty hot and humid today, and when it starts to rain at 5 pm I head for my hotel to pick up my gear. It's heavy - I have bought too many things. Especially books.