Saturday, January 16, 2010

my trip #3, or meeting interesting people

Reading a map is a skill I am proud of having. But, every now and then, it fails me. Like when I’m coming up to street level from a subway. Subway entrances can be very disorienting. So I was rechecking the map, one more time, after having walked for hours and hours.

“Where you going? You already been looking at that map.”

“I’m just checking the best way to get to the Brooklyn Bridge.”

“Oh, girl, you almost there. Here, I’ll show you, come on.”

I really wish I could share his accent and his laugh, but you’ll just have to imagine it.

cable net of Brooklyn Br“I was going to play there, but man it’s cold. I was going to play my sax on the bridge. Sometimes I’m here, or on 42nd St” “You play a sax? On the bridge? Isn’t it awfully windy?”

“Yeah and cold. Man, it’s cold. But, well, maybe I’ll try. Maybe there’s some other crazies on the bridge and I’ll make $3, $4. Come on, there it is, see?”

“I’d love to hear you play. Did your sax warm up enough in the subway so you could play for me?”

frozen water tower I give him a dollar as he searches for a cigarette. He needs a light, but no one else seems to have one either. I wish I’d brought the matches from my hotel room. I remember the next day to put them in my pocket in case I run into him on 42nd St., even though I have no plans to be down that far.

More talk, about Brooklyn, how long he’s lived here, tourists… I stop to get my camera out, he’s still talking and walking on ahead… suddenly realizing I am lagging…

view Brooklyn Br“Oh man, you got a camera, I might have known. Come on girl, you gotta keep up. And stay on the right. Don’t stop to take pictures or you gonna get run over by some crazy guy on a bike.”

playin' the sax He is happy to finally get a light and heads to a bench to get out his sax. He plays for a bit, but the sun is setting and I need to take pictures.playin' the sax 2 When I come back, he’s gone.

sunset Brooklyn Br Then there is Erna. She needs a big shout out. I met her at the airport. She was searching for a student and I was standing out in the cold, waiting for a limo that never showed up. Sound familiar? First visit, I lose a hotel; second I lose a limo! A friend had insisted on ordering me a ride, so I wouldn’t have anything to think about when I got off the plane. It was a nice thought that went awry. Erna’s student was nowhere to be seen and after several phone calls on my cell and me hopping into her car so she could run inside at two different terminals to look for her… eventually the girl is found and Erna offers to drive me into the city for my help. I pay the tolls and she takes me right to my hotel. We chatter the whole way. Much more fun than being on a shuttle bus, or train with stone-faced people. I perked up when I saw the skyline and maybe even squealed when I saw the Statue of Liberty (because I hadn’t expected that for some reason) even though I was not all that interested in her – but it was a sign that I really was on holiday. We drive uptown and I give her a running commentary on the things we were seeing that she didn’t know about, highline to standard hotel

like the Highline, the old railway tracks that has been converted to an above ground natural park space and

Gehry's Iceberg

the IAC building that is shaped like an iceberg, built at the pier where the Titanic should have arrived.


  1. Great photos, and what a nice little interaction with the sax player.

  2. love the silhouette against the sunset. very interesting stories

  3. Love love love your photos!! And the Sax player is wonderful!! Glad you got a ride...sounds much more enjoyable!! The IAC building is mag!!!!

  4. You're just making me want to go back to NYC! I love the Brooklyn Bridge and the experience of walking across it into the city was so quintessentially New York!

  5. SAW: he was interesting. I was disappointed he had left; I would have bought him a coffee, just to hear him talk and laugh some more!

    Char: thanks, I was pleased with that one, too. and if I hadn't interacted with these two, I'd have few stories, just pictures.

    SueAnn: yes, Erna's offer was very generous! and I also desperately wanted to see that building (so glad the day I went back was the only day with a blue sky!)

    Pinklea: want to join me next Spring? I want to make it an annual pilgrimage. next time I stay in the Village where it is much quieter.

    Tiffany: thanks. I took an awful lot of pics!

  6. Interesting people make a trip, don't they? That sax player sounds great. (His personality, I mean... not his playing.... because how would I know....)

    You know what I mean, I need another cup of coffee, I clearly haven't woken up yet.

  7. Frogdancer: yeah, his choice of music was so-so, but he was very genial.

  8. I would be lost all the time.

    Sounds like you are having a great time.

  9. What great adventures! You certainly know how to travel. Maybe you can make it back next year (April 2011) for my 50th birthday. I plan to spend it there.

  10. Gail: sometimes you find the neatest places when you get lost, always remember that.

    Geewits: we will talk... I really would like to go back when the trees aren't quite so bare and April was in my plans.

  11. Sounds like a great holiday and certainly you have met some great characters and they are probably what will make the trip special when you look back on it in the future. Good way to start the new year. God bless.

  12. Hi. I just stumbled into your #3 trip report and can't wait to go back and check out 1 and 2. I love the way you blend story and images. They have a beautiful flow that leaves the impression of a series of vignettes held together by a common plot.

  13. LGS: sometimes I think you meet so many more people when you travel alone

    Annie: thank you! my whole trip felt like a series of vignettes, each day a different focus.

  14. The sax player puts me in mind of Bleeding Gums Murphy - the jazz musician on the Simpsons who befriends Lisa and "shows her the way" and then disappears. What exciting adventures so far!

  15. XUP: OMG, I'd forgotten all about him!

  16. Aah, you're a tourists that the locals like to talk to! (Hope you're also careful, if you know what I mean).

  17. So much fun to read your adventures! Even at the musea... :)

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  19. Jeannette: yes, I grew up in the city and like to think I can detect a safe situation. and I would hate to live a life of being too fearful of everyone.

    Therese: I'm glad - because it was so much more fun to write these out than to tell them.

    anon: um, not at the moment, thanks.

  20. You gotta love when strangers step up like that. Renews my faith in humankind somewhat.

  21. My beloved Brooklyn...I was born there, and even though I did most of my growing up in the Bronx, I always maintained a strong connection to it. my mom was from there, as was half my family. I worked there for 11 years, and it was a very special place, even midst all the horror that sometimes permeated it.

    Gotta make a stop there the next time I go home for a visit.

    I've heard some of the best musicians on the streets and in the subways.

  22. ...How much fun does this sound like! This is what a city experience should be like:)...When I go to the city with Mr O I am always surprized how great he is at directions...

  23. Jazz: that was sortof what he said, too. he was paying it forward for all the times he was lost.

    Mr Nighttime: never actually made it into Brooklyn. he was the only 'busker' I saw, but yes, many of them are very good (they do practice a lot for us, afterall!)

    Oliag: I have no problems with asking, or confirming directions. and I always carry a map with me. but sometimes you get good tidbits of information from the locals.

  24. Violetsky - I've missed so many of your wonderful posts while I've been painting! I will slowly work through them now I have a bit of time.

    This was lovely - I actually heard the sax-man's accent! Wonderful.

  25. Katherine: good to see you again!

  26. I'm so behind in my comments!

    This is just a perfect post and one of your best, IMO! I love the shot of the bridge, and the silhouette, and the sunset one! Beautiful!

    I had no idea about the IAC building. That's awesome!

    I love that you caught a ride into the city with Erna...only you would be brave enough to hop into a total stranger's car. What an experience! You're making me even sorrier that I didn't take you up on your offer!

  27. Susan: or I could have driven you insane. I tend to set out on walks with no plan and am easily distracted and diverted....

  28. Now that is the kind of trip you want, connecting with strangers who aren't after that. Awesome.

    And the Highline is so great! I've only seen it in photos. (I blogged about it at puffing.)

    I love this, and it's fun picturing you in NY. That place will be different for every single person who goes, and the only way to do it right is to be open to strangers and see what you can give each other, even if it's just a few minutes' conversation.

    Oh, and when I go to Paris I take a compass so I know what direction I'm facing when I come up out of a Metro tunnel. It's impossible to know otherwise!

  29. Ruth: a compass! I'll have to remember that for next time.
    the highline is great (even in winter!) and I love that it even has its own blog (


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