This Saturday, I belatedly celebrated two birthdays with my girl-friends; a luncheon at Da Nico’s in New York City’s famous Little Italy. Now, to get to Little Italy you have to pass through the equally famous and bustling China Town. Both of these areas of lower Manhattan are a “must see” in every tourist guide book and therefore jammed packed with people from all over the world taking in the sights, sounds, taste and smells of these historic districts.
I ascended from the subway onto Canal and Lafayette Streets, the hub of China Town, at 10:30am. We were not meeting until 1:30 so I had plenty of time to wander the streets with my camera to capture some of the neighborhood architecture and ethnicity as I made my way through the throngs of visitors and locals. The shop owners had just opened their doors and the hawkers were already outside enticing the passersby with the best and cheapest prices for their wares. Hanging from the awnings and homemade displays of each shop were hand bags, shoes, hats, fans, umbrellas, jeans, scarves, shawls, flip-flops, T-shirts, jewelry, and thousands upon thousands of NYC souvenir gee-gaws for people to take home as a fond reminder of their trip to New York City. There are street artists too, who for a small price will immortalize your name on a long rectangular pre-printed paper canvas in flowing colorful script interspersed with Chinese good luck and happiness symbols. I couldn’t help myself and bought one for each of the birthday celebrants.
Along Canal Street there are Chinese fast food carts with thin delicate noodles entwined with savory meats and vegetables packed in Styrofoam containers, if you prefer to eat on the go, or you can choose from the many restaurants offering Dim Sum, and stuff yourself with a wide and delicious variety of delectable dumplings.
When I reached Mulberry Street I made a left and stepped into the heart of Little Italy and watched as the restaurant staff prepared for the hungry afternoon crowds. Tables were put outside on the sidewalks and covered in festive cloths, brightly color umbrellas were popped open, bus-boys rushed by balancing long stacks of chairs to be placed around the tables. Next, shiny silverware and sparkling glasses were put out alongside tiny vases of flowers and lastly the laminated menus listing mouthwatering Italian dishes were laid opposite the forks and knives. There were gifts stores nestled in between the restaurants and cafes just in case you missed a trinket or two in China Town.
There are hawkers here too, but they are enticing the passerby not with touristy treasures but with delectable dishes of pastas, chicken, veal, and seafood prepared in rich sauces that will make you swoon with caloric happiness. If you are a pizza lover you’ve come to the right place. You have a wide choice of hot, crisp, crusty, cheesy pies accompanied by a bottle of the finest Italian wines. For dessert you have your pick of cafés to enjoy a leisurely cappuccino or espresso and a mind blowing creamy cannoli; as advertised by some poor guy who was wearing a king sized cannoli costume as he walked up and down the street handing out menus. A job you could not pay me enough to do.
As crowded, hot and noisy as these neighborhoods are you can’t help but get caught up in the festive tourist atmosphere and if you are like me usually wind up buying something that you really don’t need and walking away having spent way more than you intended, but somehow, feel you got a bargain.
With all of the incredible aromas assaulting my sensing and my stomach growling like a lion, I knew it was time for me to put the camera a way and get ready to eat, drink and be merry with my best friends.
My home town is New York City and I am on vacation for a few days and decided to take a tour of my favorite landmarks of this fair city.
My first stop was the observation deck on the roof of the Rockefeller Center building better known as the Top Of The Rock. Seventy floors above the sights and sounds of the greatest city in the world you have a 360 degree view of the awesome skyscrapers and bridges that make up the Manhattan skyline.
My second visit was to the Intrepid a huge World War II air craft carrier now retired and converted into the Air, Space and Sea museum. Its deck is lined with old-time WWII fighting planes and helicopters as well as the British Airways Concord. These machines are all polished and standing proud and at attention telling their stories to tourist from all over the world. A photographer’s dream; I went wild and spent the better part of a very hot summer day collecting memories to share.
My third stop was Liberty Island and the famed statue of Liberty. The ferry ride to and from Manhattan is just wonderful with views of three of NYC’s Islands: Manhattan, Ellis and Governors. The tourists including myself were just in awe of New York Harbor watching ferries, tug boats, commercial vessels, and sail boats sailing up and down the Hudson River. As we got closer and closer to the majestic Statue Of Liberty I’m sure more than one person was imaging what is was like over a hundred years ago when ships filled to capacity with people whose hearts and minds were awash with dreams of a new life in the land of opportunity.
I think the Empire State Building or a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, maybe The New York Aquarium or…..ah, decisions, decisions the life of a tourist is so hard isn’t it? Enjoy the photos and get the heck off your heinies and tour your own home town or come visit NYC. You’ll dig it trust me.
Stay in Focus,