Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?


There are lots of ways to travel and flying is a major one. I do not like to fly; lots of reasons but my height is one. I'm Six three and do not sit well in an airplane seat. I have resisted for years. And then I rented a movie; "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" - the American version. After one hour of reading on the flight I pulled up the film on my iPad. The plane ride was not long enough. I had twenty minutes of film left to watch when we landed. I couldn't believe we were there. The time had evaporated. Let this be a lesson to me - and perhaps to you. Get a suspense film and the plane ride becomes not only tolerable but enjoyable.

This is Retirement Talk. I'm Del Lowery.

I want to focus on New York today but I have a couple of comments concerning Chicago: the first city on our tour. Chicago has really done well keeping the Lake Michigan shoreline public. We biked along it on two separate days. It is public and a hard trail weaves along the edge and it's beaches and parks. It's well used. There are bike rental businesses downtown. It is easy and relatively inexpensive to rent a bike and helmet. On one of our rides we paid for the bike, helmet and tour. We were the only ones on the tour. It was great. The guide had been born in the city and kept us entertained with tales of architecture and history as we wove our way along Lake Michigan and then into neighborhoods and back again to the lake. It is a good way to see part of the city and get exercise at the same time. The following day we felt a little more confident and took the bikes on our own and enjoyed two colorful neighborhoods.

On our flight to New York I was seated next to a city hiker. He was fifty seven years old, Chicago resident and serious city hiker. I didn't even know such a group existed. He goes to cities with a pair of hiking boots on. He has read about the city, mapped out his route and intends to wake at 3am so as to get on the streets early. He dresses in layers, wears a hat and carries an identification card in case of emergency, a twenty dollar bill and one credit card. He approaches a city like a hiker might approach the wilderness.

He focuses on architecture and neighborhoods. He keeps his head up as he walks - sorry, hikes. He goes as far as he can and then takes a bus or subway back to his base camp. Amazing - I thought. What an idea. He helped us buy a seven day pass for subway and bus system and then guided us to the bus and subway that would take us to within two blocks of our first home exchange in the city. A real nice guy.

New York is just such a unique city. For example you can't call a cab in NYC. There are so many cabs that you just step out on the street and hold up your hand. It won't be long and you will be on your way. You can call another service called "black car" and they will pick you up at an address. But for a yellow cab - just hold up your hand.

We stayed in three locations in the city: on twenty third just one half block off Fifth Avenue, at the Lincoln Center on 67th, and on Bleecker St in Greenwich Village. The varied locations allowed us to explore different neighborhoods on foot. We walked. 
We did not take any official tours in New York other than audio tours at art museums. We just seemed to stumble on things of interest: Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, Strawberry Fields in Central Park, 9/11 Memorial, Wall St, Washington Sq. Park, Gramacy Park, the new linear elevated park, Times Square, Brooklyn Bridge and of course the great art museums. We also saw three Broadway productions. They were great and worth every penny and they are expensive. There is something about directors, actors, singers, dancers, costume and set designers  who are at the top of their game that make these performances something special.

We never met a rude New Yorker. We kept looking but everyone was so friendly. A waitress in one restaurant even gave us a complimentary chocolate mousse desert. Unbelievable. We ate very well. The New York pizza reputation is well deserved. All of the Italian influence on food in the city is fantastic. We even found good coffee. They don't do coffee like we do on the west coast but good coffee is there if you look for it. They do have Starbucks but that doesn't do it for us most of the time.

Our home exchanges added to our enjoyable experience. We had one loft just off of  Fifth St. that was huge and comfortable. Then the owner arranged for us to stay in a condo of one of his clients that was on the 39th floor of a two year old building at Lincoln Center. It was huge with 13 foot ceilings and floor to ceiling glass walls. What a view and dynamite location. It was like something out of a movie.

Then we moved to Bleecker St. in Greenwich Village. It was a large condo in faculty housing for New York City University. A big, authentic, Picasso sculpture was right outside our window and the Greenwich neighborhood was so much fun to explore. We could stroll through it and Soho, Little Italy and Washington Park with ease. It was fun.
A former student and his wife joined us one day and we spent eight hours exploring areas of the village we had not seen. Pretty Lucky people.

Times Square stands as a symbol of NY for me. It was busy - all the time. People, noise, lights, electric billboards and then more people. It is in constant motion. Energy radiates out from this hive of activity. New York is an intense place; great to visit and probably a great place to live if you have energy and money. It would take lots of both. We really enjoyed New York but we were happy to board an Amtrak and headed for Boston.

This is Retirement Talk. I'm Del Lowery.

If you have questions or comments contact me at: del@retirement





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