I do not recall the city being this bicycle-friendly, but the last times I was here in the company of friends and family: A larger number of people pedaling in the city are more of an effort. Today, I found a recommended bike repair & rental store on Amsterdam Ave, off the beaten track for tourists:
While not cheap, thirty-five dollars did give me a bike, a basket that comfortably fit my handbag, and two locks from 10am to 6pm, a full day. I biked from the Upper West Side to Central Park, looping down the West Drive there, and from the corner of Columbus Circle I checked out 7th Avenue. Rode over to Chelsea, to the West Village and the I made it back via 8th Avenue to basically Columbia University from Greenwich Village in 45 min, and that is already counting the long Eastern loop around the Jackie Kennedy Reservoir -- by the Met and the Guggenheim.
In any case, for those of you not into running red lights, glaring at tourists, and generally being a little too swift, there are bike lanes everywhere, most people observe them, and car drivers are amazingly non-aggressive (this is NOT true for many cabbies; keep an eye on them). Yes, even the tourists. I'm just being my usual international grumpiness society self.
2. The food & drink varies widely, as it does in presumably ever other place in the world. I'M JUST SAYING THIS BECAUSE READING THE NYT HAD MADE ME THINK DIFFERENTLY.
Before getting the bike, I had already ambled to a gluten-free bakery that is genuinely spectacular in the scones department -- if you're ever in Manhattan Valley, you *must* check it out: Tatz Gourmet Sweets. You know I'm an amateur baker; you know I cry every night over the taste and texture of certain baked goods since May 2013 when I stopped eating wheat, rye, and barley (or, for WTNV fans: wheat and wheat by-products). But these babies were not "good-for-a-gf-pastry", they were better than most scones out there.
Lunch was spent at an Asian fusion restaurant. Verdict: Lili's 57 is decent quality, absolutely -- some of the freshest tuna-avocado rolls I've had in recent history -- but overpriced. I've had better papaya salad too...but it may be unfair comparing NYC to Sydney for South-East Asian dishes. I'm not being a snob FINE I TOTALLY AM but 'tis a long way.
Coffee was had in the Chelsea Market (Ninth Street Espresso), and it actually made me choke. I'm not a coffee drinker for a reason, and that reason is the sour taste of a lot of roasted coffee beans. Sure, my stomach isn't overly fond of coffee, but it's mostly my tongue that takes offense at acidity. Yelp tells me loads of people consider this place the non-plus-ultra of coffee bars, but like every other Eurosnob, I have a vivid taste memory of Italy, of its hole-in-the-wall espresso bars (caffè! doppio!). So, another no.
Then again, I genuinely enjoyed, down in the Village, the Black Cow milkshake they made for me at Hamilton's Luncheonette. The place has super-mixed reviews, but I thought, OLD-FASHIONED SODA PLACE HOW CAN THIS BE WRONG? And it wasn't: vanilla ice-cream and milk and root beer syrups, mmh (I consume root beer roughly twice a year, but then I love it, a lot).
So far, there's also some wine and appetizers at Bistro Ten 18, and I've already voiced my opinion elsewhere. I know, I know. What a time to be alive, and to have been so lucky in life I can afford this and so much more (I'm not being sarcastic; I wake up every morning thinking that surely, this streak must end soon, and I will be tossed back into misery).
But so far it's good.
3. Summer In The City is maligned.
Most summers in NYC are hot and humid, I understand...but this is extremely lovely, so far: dry and warm, perfect weather for bike-riding, strolling, and sitting until late in neighborhood cafes and bars *cough*. Also, while I expected Labor Weekend to be the, err, fourth circle of hell, I was pleasantly surprised: Lots of New Yorkers have clearly fled the place, and as a result the traffic isn't intense, and nor are the people. Many of whom are tourists, of course. Those can be more easily intimidated, I guess (see above no. 1). All in all this was a fabulous day.
* I miss FRINGE, you guys -- show and fandom!
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