The wedding of our long-time friend David Adamson to our now new friend Theresa was what drew Sarah and I to New Jersey. And boy, was it a worthwhile trip. It was my first Catholic wedding and I'm telling you I'm going to every one I can find. At the reception we had a seven course dinner with dancing between the courses. Not to mention the open bar. I couldn't resist the traditional round of Sambucas just to make sure we were all just that little bit happier. I'll never forget the sight in the church of David grinning like a young schoolboy for nearly the entire duration of the ceremony.
The dashing couple tying the knot.
Of course Dave and Theresa were having a fabulous time and decided to extend the wedding event to their hotel room after the reception wound down. Stories were flying left and right. The most memorable being the one about how David met Theresa, falling madly in love at the first sight of her beautiful big brown eyes. Then, of course, when Theresa got back from the bathroom we got her version of the story. In all fairness the two stories did match remarkably well. The night couldn't be topped off any better than it did, with Adamson's patented rendition of Stairway to Heaven.
Are we good dancers or what?
The next morning, seeing Dave walking around the hotel, it became obvious he had absolutely no recollection of going back to his room after the wedding reception. So, I guess the rest of those stories will remain secret for now.
Beside the wedding we spent lots of time with my high school friends Reti, Nik & Shehla and John & Tricia. You know you're with good friends when you walk around Princeton for a whole day and not remember looking at a single thing. Unfortunately they are a bad influence on me because nearly every day we cracked open the duty-free scotch well before noon.
Not having fun was out of the question.
Its funny how people fall into patterns as they age, which became obvious during our trip through Princeton. At the very sight of an estate agent, Nik and Shehla run over ogling the properties and prices. At the next corner we have to drag John and Tricia away from a particularly rare car parked by the roadside. Sarah and I are constantly slowing down the group looking for the latest trendy items to buy. The only sane one among us was Reti who spent most of the time trying to get us into meaningful conversations. It's a day we'll all truly remember for a long time to come.
Just like old times, the prom perhaps?
Into an already hectic five day schedule Sarah and I managed to meet up with Michael, an old flat mate of mine since university and Melissa, my cousin. We only had time for some dinner and a quick walk around Times Square with Michael, but it was worth the effort just to get to see him again. We ate at a well-reviewed restaurant, Osteria al Doge on West 44th Street near Broadway. My risotto daily special was cooked to an al dente perfection and their wine list was flawless. We had a fantastic dinner, no holds were barred.
Party on in Times Square.
Seeing Melissa was equally wonderful, primarily because I haven't caught up with her in ages. Also I just have to drop the fact that she lives on West 24th Street. Am I cool or what, I've got a cousin living in Chelsea!
As a Londoner hailing from Canada I feel I have an interesting perspective on New York. A lot reminded me of London in fact, not at all like most North American cities. In fact I was very impressed by the city overall, but people have told me its a bit different living there than visiting it.
One misconception I had was the skyline of towers in Manhattan. I was expecting each tower to be a masterpiece of architecture, art and form. The builders put so much money into them I just figured they would be beautiful, almost gothic, towers jutting out from the bedrock. In fact most towers are really, really boring and quite ugly. I don't see why all skyscrapers are not as imaginative as the Chrysler building. If that were the case, then yes, the skyline would be world class.
I was impressed by how concentrated the city is. I consider the New York core to extend to the Upper West Side and Upper East Side, about halfway up Central Park. Within that core area all the buildings are tall and residential towers are almost as plentiful as office towers. This creates a living city atmosphere that never sleeps. There are always people walking around, simply because they live nearby, no need to commute back to the suburbs. I find in London, there is not as much central accommodation.
I thought the grid pattern was part of the city itself, not just a feature. In such a hectic and chaotic city it is refreshing to look down any street and see the rivers. Or look down the avenues right to the horizon. It gives you a special sense of place. One question I did wonder was that if the grid pattern was developed so long ago, what did the more remote streets have on them at the time? I suppose the pattern was drawn up early but the streets only were laid down as required instead of all of them being done within a shorter time period. Walking down some of the more remote streets in the Upper West Side reveals squat buildings that are obviously quite old but certainly not as old as the grid system itself. So, were these buildings the first ones on that spot of land?
There were some funny cultural differences we noticed. Such as signs you would never see in London saying the following: Don't Even Thing About Parking Here. Or, we knew that food portions in America were large but we were taken aback when we couldn't even finish some sushi we ordered! Too much sushi, what's the world coming to? And the dinner for three, with beers, only cost us $40.
And the taxis, the notices in them are hilarious: "You have the right to ask the cab driver to stop talking on the mobile", and "You have the right to drive in silence". This just cracks me up. And the final straw was a huge ad in Times Square from the Virgin company *without* a picture of Richard Branson on it. Come on!