Yes, we have made it into New York!!!!! Over 14 months since we left and over 50,000kms. When our trip to Australia turned into a round the world trip because we couldn’t take motorcycles into Australia (thanks to Australia’s protectionist laws), I had this vision of finishing our trip by riding into New York from the grand old Brooklyn Bridge.
We cross 2 bridges before getting to the Brooklyn bridge, with the Big Apple skyline gradually getting closer. Spotting the Statue of Liberty, a tiny but distinctive figure in the distance to my left, is so exciting. You will see from the photos how I don’t need much to be super excited about something – see if you can see what I saw!!! After stopping at Louis Valentino Jr Park for a mandatory photo opportunity (I thought it would be a more private spot than the better known but busy Battery Park), we finally ride across the beautiful Brooklyn Bridge. We had been feeling a little flat of late, confused about how we felt about the trip coming to an end, how returning to ‘normal life’ will feel like, how we will relate to our friends and family and home, riding into New York was a special moment, especially for me and I let out quite a few exclamations!! That felt very very special.
Looking through some old photos a few days ago, I came across a couple we took on our very first day. Oh my goodness. I felt like I was looking at someone else: this person in the photo had no idea what she was embarking on!!! I laughed to myself. That was no longer me. I feel so much richer and so much more complete. It is hard to describe…
We have been to New York many times before, I have held many exhibitions there, we have friends there now so we decided to stay just a couple of days. We also timed our arrival so that we could spend our anniversary there. A double celebration in effect.
After checking into our hotel and parking our bikes, it’s time for me to write and publish my next blog on our stay in Philadelphia and Princeton and download all the photos I took on the way over (and I took many!!). Then it occurred to me that our arrival in New York only required a single photo. Pressure is off, my job is done, Anthony has a snooze while I go for a walk along the High Line – an elevated park along a disused portion of an old elevated railroad line that was originally built to remove freight from New York streets due to too many accidents. I love so many features of this park: the plants carefully chosen for this park to resemble the grasses and wildflowers that normally grow along disused railroad tracks, lots of benches, some tucked away for privacy, a section of lawn where people just stretched out and enjoyed the warm sun, and an ‘urban theatre’ over 10th Avenue providing urban interesting view. (Check out Wikipedia for the fascinating history of the High Line at https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_Line_(New_York_City)
The first evening, we catch up with Suzun whom I met on my first business trip 10 years ago – she had been so welcoming and so helpful, we quickly developed a friendship and it seemed important to finish our trip and celebrate with her. Suzun picked the venue – Ladurée, no less!! Anthony decides a bottle of Piper-Heidsieck is appropriate for the occasion (all my friends know I only drink real champagne and Piper is an old favourite). It is a wonderful evening, sitting in the outside courtyard, amongst trees, a simple yet delicious dinner. Thank you Suzun for being part of our celebration.
The next day, 31st August, is our anniversary – we have always celebrated the day we met, 41 years ago today!! After doing our hand washing, we go for a walk on the High Line towards the new Whitney museum, then have a snack for lunch at a French café before visiting a dermatologist. Poor Anthony has been suffering from the most irritating, distracting and even quite distressing itching, all over his body, for the past 6 weeks, with the last couple of weeks being quite unbearable for him. We went to 2 urgent care clinics over that time, he was put on a course of prednisone which gave some relief for a time and the last doctor recommended he see a dermatologist for a biopsy, telling us she thought it might an auto-immune disease. Today is such a relief in many ways: not only is he seeing a specialist, she is certain it is not an auto-immune problem, but a reaction to an insect bite which got infected and she doesn’t see the need for a biopsy!!! Another mega course of the corticosteroid for 10 days with some anti-histamine spray should get him relief pretty soon and he will get over this. That was the best part of our anniversary!!!!
As always when in New York, we walked and walked. I do love the architecture there and noticing all the little quirks in what feels like distinct different villages within New York. As usual, I notice the graffiti artwork. But it dawns on me that this visit feels very different. I have always loved New York. Loved the buzz. Probably because I was excited about the exhibition I was preparing or holding. This time, I feel disconnected with the city. I had planned on visiting the Whitney museum and visiting the Freedom tower and surrounding area. They don’t matter to me today. I have changed… And it is more important to spend time together on our anniversary. The Whitney will be there next time I visit New York.
Back to our hotel for a rest, download my photos, a shower and a change, a free drink on our roof top terrace, enjoying the sky scape and we head to our friends Judy and John for dinner out. We are a little early so enjoy a walk in Central Park. What incredible vision back in the 1850’s to dedicate such a massive area (843 acres) in the centre of New York. It is a truly beautiful park and great to see so many people walking, running, and generally keeping fit or simply enjoying a quiet moment on a bench. I met Judy and John years ago, through one of my exhibitions in New York – Judy has been dealing in Vietnamese art for the past 20 years and was exhibiting at the same fair as me and the 4 of us have since always enjoyed each other’s company. We go to a lovely restaurant in Central Park, just across the road from their apartment and spend a lovely evening catching up.
The next morning, 1st September, we ride out of New York. Anthony has got some relief from his itching so is able to enjoy the ride out more than our arrival. We are heading to Connecticut to see some friends for lunch and will be taking the FDR, so we end up riding through more of the city centre. How special to ride past the Bryant Park subway exit, opposite the distinctive Grace building, which we first emerged from on our first visit to New York in 1980.
We would never have imagined we would have ridden past that point 35 years later, having just about finished a round the world motorcycle trip. That is a special moment!!! We both feel good.