Washington and New York
March 24th to April 5th 2016
Thursday, march 24th
Time for another trip. After a miserable sleep, I get up at 5 am to catch my airport-bus for Billund at 7. At 10 am KLM fly to Amsterdam. That takes about one hour. At 1 pm the KLM-flight is scheduled for Washington DC. That is a 9 hour trip. Decent food on board, and ok movies. I get to see “Brooklyn” and “Peanuts”.
Touchdown in Dulles Airport is about 4 pm local time. Then it takes almost 2 hours to go through immigration and another 2-hour shuttle-bus trip to my hotel Morrison Clark Hotel. I check in to room 423, which is a great room. Then out to get some food before I go to bed early. I am somewhat tired.
Friday, march 25th
I good night’s sleep makes good. An excellent breakfast even better. So – now I’m ready to be a tourist.
There are a number of “must-see”-sights in Washington. So let us start with some of them. The big one first – The White House. I can see it from some distance surrounded by other tourists and plenty of security. In the garden, they are preparing for the yearly egg-rolling-competition. Something with an egg, some children and a wooden spoon.
Then I walk to The National Mall. That is not a shopping centre, but a central park with lots of monuments. One of the most famous is The Washington Monument. It looks nice today. Then further down the park to The Lincoln Memorial. There is a statue of Abraham Lincoln and many wise words from the man engraved into the wall of building where he is placed. Then I continue to The Vietnam War Memorial. Here there are no wise word engraved – only the names of the many casualties in the stupid war. Finally, there is a 4-5 km walk back to the hotel for a break.
Trip no. 2 later in the afternoon is a visit to The International Spy Museum. There is a huge line, but finally I get in. Inside there a lots of thing about spying. Very small cameras, umbrellas that can kill etc. There is also a James Bond exhibition and many things to touch and to press so it’s fine with me. After a couple of hours I get out, and walk back home – picking up a burger at a local place.
Saturday, march 26th
Up at 8 am and American Breakfast in the cosy restaurant at the hotel. There is a person at the table next to me, that sounds just like Forrest Gump. Weird.
First trip for the day is Arlington Cemetery. I go by Metro to get there. There is quite a walk to Metro Centre – my nearest station. Arlington is a huge cemetery, where all American soldiers who have lost their lives can get buried. There are also some celebrities around. John F Kennedy and Jacqueline under an eternal flame. Robert under a simple wooden cross. Then I continue around the cemetery. It so bit, you can’t see it all. The Unknown Soldiers grave is a must. At noon, they change the guard. There are also some people with funny hats laying down a wreath. I don’t know what that’s about. From there I continue along more graves. It’s a little bit like the cemeteries in Normandy. Finally – after one more hour – I turn to the exit, find the Metro back to downtown, a sandwich and my hotel.
Afternoon walk is around Tidal Basin. I take a local bus – The Circulator – some of the way to the basin. However, it is so slow that is faster to get off and walk. The Tidal Basin area is full of people. It’s Cherry Blossom time in Washington, and lots of tourist come just to see this. I take the walk around the basin under the lovely and colourful trees. There are also some monuments for Thomas Jefferson and Martin Luther King to watch. Finally, I have the 5 km. walk back to the hotel. However, it’s still faster to walk than taking the bus. Dinner is at the hotel. A nice cheeseburger. No Forrest Gump tonight though.
Sunday, march 27th
Easter-Sunday today. Not anything, you notice much around here. I take The Circulator Bus to Georgetown. That’s a cosy neighbourhood in Washington. Old wooden houses and so. Chance for a nice walk in the area seeing local residents but also café’s, restaurants and closed shops. The area is next to Potomac River. So I head down there for a one-hour boat-trip on the river. You get to see the main Washington sights from a different angle, but also the bridges crossing Potomac – including a very nice and old railway bridge. There are not many houses build close to the river, which you will see in other cities. At 1 pm the tour is over, and I get a bus back to my hotel.
Later it’s museum-time again. Washington has many world famous museums – many run by the Smithsonian foundation. Most of them is along the National Mall running from Capitol to Lincoln Memorial. All Smithsonian Museums are free – and they all attract massive number of visitors. I will check out The Museum for American History today. I am very bad at museums, so I only check out two areas – the transportation part, and the part about the Civil War and the American independence. 2 hours is enough for me – including a visit to the café. Then I head back through the streets to my hotel. Burger is at Bolt Burger. Not the first time – they remember my name – disturbing.
Monday, march 28th
Another long walk in DC. First, I head down to F and 6th street. To the Verizon Center to get tickets for hockey tonight. More about that later. Then on to National Mall. To the other end where you will find The Capitol. Both the Senate and House of Representatives are living here. Most of the building is behind scaffolding this morning, so it’s not as nice as it used to be. They have tours inside – but I was late for the one that I booked – so no tour for me today. I really don’t care. High Court is just opposite and beside that is The Library of Congress. I go into the Library to have a look at the old books and maps, the reading-hall and the very fine building. After this, I head down to a local Metro Station and take a Metro home.
Shortly after I have left, there is drama at The Capitol. Someone is trying to sneak a gun inside, and is shoot down and wounded in the process. Breaking News all over in terror-terrified US.
It is a long break at the hotel this afternoon. However, at 6 pm I am ready at Verizon Center. That is an hour before tonight’s hockey game between Washington Capitals and Columbus Blue Jackets. Capitals is probably the best NHL team now. They win by 4 to 1. First period is even – 1-1. In the second Capitals run their opponent tired and in the third they capitalize and win 3-0. Great game – great atmosphere.
Tuesday, march 29th
Time to leave my fine hotel. I take a taxi to Union Station. At 10 am, I am on a Washington Deluxe bus to New York. The trip is about 5 hours. Then another taxi to my airb’n’b place across Williamsburg Bridge I Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Susan is waiting outside as I arrive, and I get my keys to a nice little room/apartment. More private than a hotel – and kitchen-facilities as well.
After a short break, it’s time to take a look at The Greatest City in the world. It’s my 5th time in New York – I never get tired of it.
First stop is the new viewing-platform on top of the new World Trade Center. You get quit a shock when you come up from the subway at Fulton Street, and see this huge building in front of you. Views from the top is impressive as well, and the elevator ride even so. Then back to Marcy Avenue with the subway. I do a little shopping so I can make my own breakfast, and I pick up my dinner at a local street food place.
Wednesday, march 30th
Brooklyn is on the menu today. First a local bus to Dumbo. Nice area with old warehouses – and you get a chance to take the famous photo of Manhattan Bridge between the old houses – known from the movie “Once Upon a Time in America”. Then a nice walk under the bridges – Manhattan Bridge and Brooklyn Bridge. It’s freezing cold but no clouds. This make the views across the bridges to the Manhattan skyline spectacular. Then on to Brooklyn Heights with its fine brown houses. My walk ends in Brooklyn Downtown where there is a TKTS where I can buy cheap theatre-tickets for tonight. Then a subway back home. A detour – but much faster than the bus.
In the afternoon, I have chance for a nice little local walk in hipster Williamsburg. You can go down to East River and have a fine look across to Manhattan as well. They are building apartments down there. I bet they will be expensive.
Theatre time in the evening. A musical – An American in Paris – on The Palace Theatre. The story is stupid and silly, but the singing, dancing and set-up is fine.
Thursday, march 31st
Usual you think New York is Manhattan. But there are 2,6 mio. people in Brooklyn and 2,4 in Queens. So you should take them into account as well. Today I go to Queens. I have an appointment with a geography-professor Jack Eichenbaum. He runs some tours in Queens. There are no one when I’m here, but he has promised to show me around a little anyway.
I meet Jack at a café in Flushing at 10 am. It’s not far from the YMCA where I stayed at my first New York visit 29 years ago. Jack is a nice guy aged 75. He knows a lot about the area – not so much the tourist-stuff – more the geography stuff. Who is living where, how do they live etc. etc. Very exciting. He use subway 7 around the area. First, we go to North Corona. This is Latin America – or more correctly – The Dominican Republic. He tells about how the area started, how it has developed, how people are living, housing and shopping here. Only one semi-sight – a local Louis Armstrong Museum.
Then on to Woodside and Jackson Heights. This is Asian area. Many people from the Philippines. Same story as before – about the development of the area. We go to a local supermarket. Nearly everything is imported from “back home”. The smells are different from my normal supermarket. Finally, we end up in Flushing. Chinese and South Korean area. Many shops – lots of banking. We finish with a fine and cheap lunch. The local guy knows where to go. An extremely exiting morning – far better than any tourist tour.
I take no. 7 back to Queensboro Plaza, and my local bus B62 to my home. Back home at 5. Rest of the day is off, except a trip to my local deli to pick up a nice sandwich.
Friday, april 1st
Another walk away from the tourist zone. I start through my local hood Williamsburg. Main street is Bedford Avenue, but I criss-cross the area through the streets that looks the most interesting. There a no sights, but plenty of local life, small shops, café’s, workshops etc. And a brewery – the famous Brooklyn Brewery is here as well. Unfortunately – no visits or no tasting this morning. Williamsburg is young, hip and a great place for a walk.
When Williamsburg finish you enter Greenpoint. Many people from old Eastern Europe – and Poland in particular. Main street here is Manhattan Avenue. You can also head down to East River with great views across the river to Midtown Manhattan from the jetties. Here are warehouses as well. One of them has been turned into a film studio. Another one has been taken down and apartments are rising instead. The Future is coming to Greenpoint as well. Great lunch at a Greek restaurant – Moussaka and a spinach pie. Then I take the whole walk in reverse – through main streets this time – and is back 5 hours later than I started.
Evening entertainment this time is in Madison Square Garden. I am here – so am Sting and Steve Buscemi (Mr. Pink and Nucky Thompson) and 20.000 people I don’t know. NBA – Knicks vs. Brooklyn Nets. None of the teams can progress to the post season. Tonight Knicks is by far the better team. They win by 105 to 91.
Saturday, april 2nd
It’s raining this morning. No problem – I just sleep a little longer, take my time with breakfast and watch premier league on the TV.
At noon it has stopped, so I head into New York. First stop is Roosevelt Island in the middle of East River. There are several ways to get here. The most fun is the cable car from 59th street, so that’s the one I choose. I have a nice stroll on Roosevelt Island. There’s a nice little park on the southern tip. Great views as usual. Not many tourists – more geese. Roosevelt Island is like a little village in the middle of everything. Lunch is at a sportspub. El Classico is on the screen. Couldn’t be much better.
At 3 pm I cross Manhattan by subway. I am heading for Hudson Yards. Subway renovation this weekend, so it’s a bit complicated. Hudson Yards used to be industry. Now they are building – apartments, offices. The subway station is new. Subway trains still sleep here on the other side of the station. And the famous High Line has been extended to Hudson Yards. That is why I’m here – to walk the High Line. Last time I did it, it was winter, it was freezing cold and very icy. I was almost alone at that time. Today it’s a major tourist attraction – close to a tourist trap. There’s almost as many people as Times Square. But some places are still nice, and you get a good view of the Chelsea-area. The trip ends at 14th street, where I find my subway back to Bedford Avenue. From there, it’s a short walk home. I pick up my evening dinner – 5 $ - from a street food car. Except for the rent, things can be pretty cheap in New York. Hockey on the TV is tonight’s entertainment. Outside a thunderstorm is crossing New York.
Sunday, april 3rd
It’s freezing cold today. And windy. I am tired and lazy. Bad combination. Only a short walk today in the local hood. Watching the views across to Manhattan, Williamsburg Bridge, orthodox Jews with strange hats and funny hair. Fast food at my street food place at Marcy Avenue. Now they know me here as well. A nice banana muffin from a deli. Coffee – plenty of coffee – at my place, football on channel 314. James Elroy – my book on this trip – American Tabloid. Sandwich from the local deli – they know me as well – for dinner. Knicks vs. Pacers on the TV – lazy lazy day.
Monday and tuesday, april 4th and 5th
I have reached the end of this trip. I leave my nice airb’n’b place at 11 – putting the key into the mailbox. Simple as that. Subway to Jamaica – the station not the country – Airtrain to terminal 4. As usual – way ahead of schedule. My Delta flight leaves at 5. Tailwind – so it’s a short 6 hour jump across the Atlantic to Amsterdam. Flight is full, food is crap, movies ok. I use my time watching a documentary about Janis Joplin and a Japanese movie called Terminal.
Arrival in Schiphol at 5 am local time. 8.30 is my flight to Billund. Then airport-bus to Aarhus and I am back home. No more street food – no more deli – for this time. There will be another.