In New York:
- I could walk around on a very sunny day and not even need sunglasses because with the shade of the tall buildings the sun didn’t reach the streets in a blinding way.
- Many a block is crammed with tiny storefronts, usually including a bagel shop and small deli with racks of fresh fruit or cut flowers outside. And I had my first taste of tofu cream cheese, a totally vegan version made of whipped tofu and often spiced up with vegetables.
- Food carts seem to be set up in any old place, dispensing everything from rows of fresh fruit to halal sandwiches.
- I walked for the first time on an elevated walking path, called the High Line, which was created out of an elevated train track in the Chelsea neighborhood, near where we were staying. It was beautifully landscaped with all kinds of greenery and some neighbors added whimsical touches of murals and in one case a cutout guy hanging out a window waving his hand at passing walkers
- The taxis must be so cheap because people seem to be hailing them all of the time. For 4 people it was cheaper than all of us taking the subway.
- The subway trains rattle and shake and there don’t appear to be any rules against eating or drinking
- Money definitely rules, as anyone walking through Times Square or the Diamond District can attest, with all the neon billboards, Hershey and M&M mega-story stores, and glittery window displays.
- Sunglasses are a must as the sun has lots of room to penetrate amid the wider roads and more squat buildings
- Stores and restaurants have a more static presence and wider, bigger footprint, with more gleaming newness than Old World character. Fruits and vegetables are kept inside, and the occasional bagel shop is more likely to be a chain than an independent bakery.
- There’s a war going on between the trendy food trucks and restaurants, with regulations being set up to limit where food trucks can park and for how long
- There seem to be fewer parks in the heart of the city to match the obviously well-endowed leafy green spaces in Manhattan, ie Madison Square Park and its own arts foundation for public sculptures.
- I’ve never taken a taxi, and am only acutely aware of their presence when they’re servicing the long lines of train and bus arrivals at Union Station
- The Metro is decidedly quieter and the cars and stations cleaner, which of course is helped by the fact that the system is much newer and signs everywhere warn you that eating and drinking is prohibited and violations carry a fine.
- Instead of glaring consumerism, power seems to be the operating principle, with most conversations veering to the political and even the buildings giving off the aura of pay-attention-to-me importance