No really. I am totally, madly, deeply in love with New York City. Admittedly, when I went this past weekend the weather couldn’t have been nicer (15C and sunny? In November? Hello!) and yet the signs of festiveness were all around (Oh, Macys and your crazy crazy holiday spirit). Two of my favourite things are Christmas and sunshine. Really, what more could you ask for?

What did I do in NYC? I went to the Tenement Museum (awesome), walking from the hotel in battery park through little Italy (I’ll admit, I couldn’t actually find little Italy) and Chinatown (holy jumpin’, Chinatown is big) to the lower east side. I learned all about an Irish immigrant family who lived there in the late 1800s and their tragic tale of bad milk, no sewers, and a fifth floor walk up with four kids, three rooms, no toilets or running water, and only one set of windows.

I went shopping at Macy’s. Um, yeah. Overwhelming. It’s 10 stories, people. Ten. They’ve got a plus sized women’s clothing section the same size as my local grocery store, for the love of pete. I was completely overwhelmed.

The next day I went to Ellis Island, which I loved, to see what it was like for immigrants coming to the US before 1930 ish. Then I went up broadway, stopping in at a variety of cool places along the way, eventually going to fifth avenue to pretend like I belonged. Except, I was wearing a backpack and old jeans from Eddie Bauer and (shock, horror!) Keen shoes that are old enough to have holes in the interior lining. Sigh. There was no looking like I belonged at Henri Bendel and Bergdorf Goodman. Not that I really want to belong, since the stuff there was pretty flashy and ugly. I’m just sayin’.

I booted back to Soho for a stop at a fabulous knitting/sewing store (man, I would love to learn how to knit there) and a walk around Soho and Tribeca, which sort of bleed into each other and then flow into Battery Park. Soho at night is really really pretty. 

Saturday I went to an antique and flea market which was amazing. Two blocks of flea markets in parking garages. I saw the same jewelery guys over and over again. They would go through bulk lots of jewelery, looking for the real deal with their fancy glasses and their rubbing and special techniques of god only knows what. I know that one guy scooped me big time when I wanted to buy some goods. Bastard. Then I went to the wholesale flower markets. Wow. Every kind of flower you’ve ever thought of and then some, plus all the tropical plants and evergreens that you can topiary and plunk on a balcony. I got some really good photos.

Saturday was mostly spent on a hip hop tour of Harlem and the Bronx. For those of you who don’t know, hip hop is a total passion of mine (barring those years where Mase, Yung  Joc, and Sisqo were popular). This tour was operated by Hush Tours , was organized by J.D.L. Money Ray, and was MC’d by GrandMaster Caz of the Cold Crush Brothers.

OMFG people, this tour was fricking awesome. First they schooled us big time on the origins of hip hop. I knew it came from Brooklyn and that it started at a house party in an apartment complex in the 70s, and that the windows were open because it was stinking hot and the sound system was banging which, in combination with the open windows drew people to the new style of music like moths to a flame. Because I knew all this, I am a hip hop goddess. I’m just sayin’.

Anyway, we went to the grafitti museum in Spanish Harlem, which was awesome. A boboy (Jayson Vasquez, aka Mighty Mouse) schooled us on the origins of breaking, and had us get up and learn a few steps. Thank god I took that hip hop class a couple of years ago. At least I knew how to top rock. After that and some more education, we actually went to the site of the first hip hop house party at 1520 Sedgewick in the South Bronx. Awesome. We did some tours around the hood and then had lunch at a soul food restaurant. Man. It was some good good times.

It was so good, I seriously almost stayed on the bus to take the next tour, which was about the hip hop emergence in Queens, which brought us LL Cool J, Run DMC, and every white person’s intro to hip hop, the Beastie Boys. Sadly, Jay-Z, aka my secret husband, is from Brooklyn, and therefore would not be included on that tour. Sigh.

I packed a lot of stuff into three days in New York. I feel like I overpacked it. The people watching in that town is so amazing that I barely had my iPod on at all, and I wish I’d spent more time sitting and observing and less time moving from place to place. Yanno?

So, I think I’m going to self-fund some leave from work (that’s where you take a pay cut equivalent to your planned leave and equalize the cut over a 12 month period) and rent a furnished apartment in New York. Hopefully I can rent for a reasonable rate and in a decent neighbourhood, and just… wander. I would like to just be. I think I’ll go next fall, when there’s still leaves but it isn’t stinking hot. God, I hope my boss agrees!

Definitely one of the highlights of my travel life.

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