80. New York City (Day Two)
I've said it before and I'll say it again: What's the best way to explore a new city? Go for a run. I made my way to the East River and joined hundreds of other runners and exercise enthusiasts as I ran along the water's edge. The location was beautiful, the sun was out, I wasn't at risk of dehydration due to sweat loss - it was the perfect start to the day.
Danny decided on a lazy morning so I wandered off by myself, back to the East River but I headed in the opposite direction. Bridges, boats, street markets, parks, wonderful old buildings, families out for a Sunday stroll, a punnet of blueberries for $1. Everything seemed so normal, so mundane (except the blueberries - that was a bargain), but somehow fascinating at the same time. The familiarity of a large, English-speaking city and the reminders of home created a safe, comfortable feeling that was a welcome relief after spending months in foreign lands.
I met Danny for lunch at the Essex Street Market, marveling at all the clean food with signs we could read. We both chose bagels, happy to eat non-sugary, non-white bread for a change. Danny was set on a self-guided bar-hopping tour of the downtown area, so I left him to it and hit the streets again. I later found out that he met some tourists in the first pub he visited, who gave him a drinking guide to NYC that they had devised themselves. It was the best present anyone could ever give Danny.
I caught the subway to the bottom of Manhattan, emerging at Battery Park to find thousands of tourists waiting to visit the Statue of Liberty. I walked in the opposite direction to escape the crowds, following the park along Hudson River. After exploring an incredible indoor market I headed over to the 9/11 memorial, again with a mass of tourists. Although I wasn't personally affected by the events of 9/11, the site still moved me. It was a lovely way to pay tribute to those who lost their lives that day.
From the memorial it was up through the business district and Wall St (quiet on a Sunday), over Manhattan bridge for city and river views, then finally to Little Italy, where I met Danny for dinner. We sat at the counter of Rubirosa, a small, popular restaurant that was renowned for classic Italian-American food. Danny and I shared a giant pizza with a super-thin base (we like it crispy, but it was almost too crispy). I couldn't remember the last time we ate a decent pizza. Afterwards we stopped by a jazz bar for a drink but we didn't really enjoy the music, so we soon took off and walked back to the hotel.