~The weather for the first full day of my
And just so you are not expecting an account of my running of the New York marathon – a feat I am never going to perform – this entry refers to my marathon walking tour through Greenpoint, Brooklyn, across the Williamsburg Bridge to Chinatown and the Lower East Side, back across the East River via the Brooklyn Bridge, and on to my accommodations at the YMCA through the suburbs of Williamsburg and beyond.
I left the YMCA at around and went for my first breakfast at the Manhattan 3 Decker Restaurant just down the road. The 'Y' gives you a voucher for free breakfast, which you redeem when you order your food. I had eggs, bacon, toast and fried potatoes (a bit like potato fritters), and coffee. You can sit up at the counter (just like you see in the movies), or you can sit at tables. I got the impression that if you are eating alone, they prefer you to eat at the counter where you occupy one seat instead of a table for four, but if there are several people dining, you are expected to sit at the tables.
After breakfast I went off to explore the neighbourhood, and before I knew it, I was at the
The Williamsburg Bridge is a suspension bridge across the
I was feeling pretty good, so away I went across the
By the way, I was delighted to see that the final confrontation between Denzel Washington and John Travolta in the recent remake of The Taking of Pelham 123 took place on the same pedestrian walkway I myself used to cross the bridge to
After crossing the bridge, I came to ground around the
The Lower East Side Tenement National Historic Site (designated a National Historic Landmark in April, 1994), preserves a six-story brick tenement building that was home to an estimated 7,000 people, from over 20 nations, between 1863 and 1935. In that year, the owner, rather than continue to modify the building, evicted the residents and the building was boarded up and sealed, leaving only the storefronts open for business. The building is able to convey a vivid sense of the deplorable living conditions experienced by its tenants, especially the top two floors which contain rooms, wallpaper, plumbing and paper preserved as they were found in 1988. (Source: Wikipedia.org)
By this time I had been walking for around three hours, and I knew I needed to sit down for a while, so I sat down in the museums little theatre to watch a couple of short videos about the history of the building. An hour later, feeling somewhat more refreshed, I went off through
Bearing in mind the adage: “When in
Manhattan's Chinatown is one of the largest Chinese communities outside of
The only park in
I was to return to
The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the
Originally referred to as the
Of course, hundreds of other tourists also had the bridge on their list of must see places, and sure enough, they had turned out to see one of New York City’s most iconic images at exactly the same time as I had. Undaunted, I headed out across the Bridge for the Long Island side, snapping photos, and shooting video as I went. Having made it to the other side, I figured there was no point in walking back to
Big mistake. I had no idea where I was going, except that I worked out that as long as I kept roughly parallel to the
By now it was around and I had been walking for some eight hours.
It was around this time that I also faced a problem I was to encounter constantly during my
Off I headed again, through
Big mistake. Again.
Williamsburg is inhabited by tens of thousands of Hasidic Jews, most belonging to the Satmar Hasidic court. Satmar is among the fastest-growing communities in the world, as its families have a very high number of children. The Satmar community of
The sight of hundreds of Jewish men and boys dressed in traditional black outfits (long black coats, wide brimmed black hats, etc), was a sight to behold. There were men, women and kids everywhere, and all seemed to be in a hurry to get somewhere. There were also men, women and young girls pushing prams around the streets, and not all of the prams had babies in them. Some were just being used to move stuff around the neighbourhood. From what I could hear, almost no-one spoke English. They were all speaking Yiddish – men, women, and children. In deed, the Wikipedia entry cited above confirms that the Satmar hasidim study almost exclusively in Yiddish in their schools.
It was like being caught in a time warp. It was as if I had crossed an invisible boundary into this community, and then just as oddly, crossed another invisible boundary out of it again.
By now, I was exhausted. I had been on my feet for close to ten hours and they were killing me. Some how or other, I found myself back on
I finally got back to the YMCA at around , almost twelve hours after first setting out that morning. I got my shoes off as quickly as I could. I didn’t think I was every going to walk again, my feet hurt so much.
After downloading all the photographs and video footage from my cameras onto my laptop, I finally collapsed into bed for a much needed rest.
And so ended my first full day in