New York City Diary

Words and pictures from my interesting life in New York.

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Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Carolines


I took this photo at about 6:45 p.m. this evening, as I was leaving work. The awning of Carolines comedy club can be seen on the left. I have been to Carolines once, when Jenn and I went with our friends Ted and Sonny to see Dave Chappelle perform stand up. It was great, we had a fine time. It was a couple of years ago, around 2004 or maybe 2003.

The weather has been pretty screwy of late, swinging between warm and cold, wet and dry. I hope it normalizes soon. Let's let winter be winter and then be done with it.

I walked a few extra blocks so I could get some decent Times Square photos, but the photo above is the only one worth a hoot. I dropped into the subway system at 49th Street. The NYPD was doing a random bag check but I wasn't stopped. I have only had my bag searched one time since this bag searching regime went into place last July.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Sunny Day in January


It's a beautiful day in New York. I felt a little crummy when I woke up but as soon as I stepped out the door and felt the sun on my face I felt great. Of course, the warm weather (it's 52 degrees Fahrenheit, 11 Celcius, at 1:00 p.m.) is a bit unseasonable. The average high for today is 38 F (3 C) and the average low is 26 F (-3 C) so you can see we are up there, temperature-wise. But enough about global warming. It's a wonderful day to be outside. I wanted to take a picture of something in sunshine, so when I saw these two old ladies in front of Saldo Drugs on Graham Avenue via Vespucci I pulled out the camera.

I was taking a walk to get some late breakfast from an Italian delicatessen called Bella Donna. It's a great old place that serves excellent food, from chicken parmesan to cold cuts (try the Godfather sandwich) to a wide variety of olives and stuffed peppers. It's not as good as my landlady Blanche's food, but it's still very yummy. In the past it has been called Mama Maria and Cono (one of several places in the neighborhood named Cono) but the new ownership seems to offer the same foods as before, which is good.

On my way back home I passed the infamous Store I Hate, and I liked how the light was hitting what I thought until recently were eucalyptus leaves. Can anyone identify these plants? And do you think they are naturally that color, or are they dyed like carnations are sometimes? Anyway, you can click on the pretty picture to make it big.



I walked home on Conselyea Street and noticed this lion, which reminded me of how I felt in the morning, so I shot the lion. With my camera.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Island Adventure


This is the story of two New Yorkers in the Bahamas for a long weekend of rest and relaxation.

The air was choppy as the plane descended toward Nassau. Our weekend in the Bahamas was about to begin. Island landings are often bumpy, something about the air being disturbed at the point between being over land and over water.

As we made our final turn on the approach to the airport in the center of New Providence Island, we got a good view of Paradise Island, a smaller, adjacent island connected by two bridges. This next photo (click to enlarge) just about captures Paradise Island in its entirety.


And definitely click on the following photo if you're curious about the famous Atlantis Resort. The Atlantis is the big hotel complex that dominates Paradise Island, and if you look closely you can see that they are building something new in the foreground.


We landed safely, went through customs and immigration, collected our things, and hailed a taxi to our hotel, the Wyndham at Cable Beach. The following photo is of our first glimpse of the ocean from the island itself. Jenn and I found it especially welcoming since we had just escaped a harsh winter day in New York.



We arrived at the hotel at around 1:00 p.m. and had to kill a couple of hours by the beach because they wouldn't let us check in until 4:00 p.m. This is what we looked like as we were waiting to check in.



When we finally checked in (at 4:00 p.m. on the dot) we were pretty happy with the room. We had a "luxury" ocean-view room with a balcony on the top floor (eleventh floor) of the hotel. I had requested a high floor and they certainly delivered. This was the view from the room.



And here's the beach and pool area, seen from the balcony.



That evening we unpacked and relaxed and had a drink in the room as the sun went down and a full moon rose over the ocean. It was a nice moment. Then we took a taxi into downtown Nassau and ate dinner at a restaurant that serves traditional Bahamian food called Bahamian Kitchen. Now, most traditional Bahamian dishes include grouper or conch, and, unfortunately, both grouper and conch are being overfished and stocks are dwindling. That's why Jenn ordered the steamed chicken and I had the pork chops. Both were excellent.

We were tired from traveling, so we went back to our hotel. The Wyndham was quite nice but also a bit run down. It's pretty clear that it used to be one of the finest resorts in Nassau but has since lost the #1 title to Atlantis. That's probably why we were able to get a good room at a reasonable rate. (I priced the Atlantis and it was way out of our budget.) In a few years the whole Cable Beach area is going to be home to a resort complex even more extravagant than the Atlantis, if you believe the developers. It's certainly a nice location, and there's no question the place needs to be spruced up, but we enjoyed it as it was.

We went to sleep and slept well. The next morning I took a long walk in a search for a cheap breakfast place, but, alas, wound up getting breakfast at the hotel. Jenn went to the hotel gym and then we both went out to the beach. The weather was breezy and cloudy, so we found a spot near the hot tub that was protected from the wind. We enjoyed the periodic sunshine. I took a ride down the waterslide. The water in the pool was freezing, and I got right out. Here's a photo of Jenn enjoying the sun. I like the older, white-haired guy you can see in the background. He's a real resort man.



Here are the obligatory Bahama Mama drinks (and obligatory paler-than-pale man). The stroller belonged to a neighbor.



After a couple of hours, Jenn and I got cleaned up and then took a jitney bus back into downtown Nassau (which is surprisingly uninhabited at night). We strolled through downtown with the idea of walking across the bridge to Paradise Island to check out the Atlantis, but as we paused near the beginning of the bridge (a pretty long bridge, I might add) a limousine pulled over and the driver asked us if we wanted a ride across to the Atlantis for six bucks, and I said yes. So we pulled into the Atlantis in style, in a white, stretch limo.

I kind of expected the Atlantis to be really tacky and cheesy, and it is, but it's also pretty cool. If I had a ton of money I'd definitely sail my luxury yacht there. Jenn and I walked around the grounds of the hotel and took some photos.

Here's Jenn at the Atlantis at night. You can click on any of these photos to make them big.



And here's Victor at the Atlantis at night.



And here's another picture of Jenn.



We strolled around and then decided to have dinner at one of the more moderately-priced restaurants at the resort called Bimini Road. Jenn had fish tacos and I had a Junkanoo salad. It was decent.

After dinner we checked out some of the amazing luxury yachts docked in the Atlantis marina. Some of those boats were so opulent they were just dripping with wealth. It looks like a nice way to blow millions of dollars. This little boat was called Hush.



The highlight of our trip to the Atlantis was a walk through their aquariums. I have always loved aquariums like that. When I was a kid I wanted to be the scuba diver that gets to go into the tanks and hand feed the fish, a memory I recalled as I pressed my nose to the glass as a 35-year-old, trying to get another glimpse of the stingray they call Zeus.

Sorry, but I didn't shoot any regular photos of the fish. I shot some video, and I don't know how to put that up on the blog yet. But here's a photo of Jenn somewhere near the casino.



We said goodbye to Atlantis and took a taxi back to Cable Beach, where we retired early.

The next morning I awoke to the dawn of a beautiful new day. So I shot it.



And then I shot it again.



The weather was much warmer and sunnier, and the breeze was much calmer, so after a quick workout in the gym (I did the "elliptical" which was kind of boring) Jenn and I hit the beach for some serious beach bumming. I didn't take too many pictures, but here's one Jenn shot of me splashing around in the snorkler's cove.



And here's a shot of our hotel room. You see the two units in the center, with the slighly higher roof area? Ours is the one on the left, with the backs of two deck chairs next to each other. I can tell you that room 1109 in tower F is a nice room.



We retreated from the beach and I took a few photos from the balcony before we went out to dinner. Here is a random Bahamas beach and ocean photo.



And here is another one.



And here's what the room looked like. Kind of tacky, but delightfully so.



After we got cleaned up we took a jitney back downtown to walk around a bit before sunset. This is a picture of the Queen's Staircase.



And here's the Christopher Columbus statue.



One of the main things we wanted to see downtown was the famous old Graycliff Hotel and Restaurant. Check out the link for a good history of the place. We walked around the beautiful 250-year-old Georgian home built by a wealthy pirate. Here's just one view. Isn't it lovely? This photo looks great when you click on it.



This is a photo of Jenn at the Graycliff.



This is one of several courtyard areas at the Graycliff. I know there's not much to these two pictures but I'm including them because they show perfectly the colors that define Nassau: green plants against subtle island-pink walls.



Another view:



And here's a picture of me, looking boyish.



We wandered through the gardens until we found a restaurant we had read about called Humidor. It was too early for dinner and we wouldn't have wanted to spend that much money anyway, but it looked like a spectacular restaurant. In this photo Jenn is standing in front of the patio portion of Humidor restaurant.



We asked one of the employees if we could see a menu and look around. Then we got to see the best part: he took us to the cigar factory, where they employ actual Cuban cigar rollers. They were speaking Spanish to each other. As you know, English is the official language of the Bahamas.



I especially like this next photo. And yes, I did ask permission to take these photos.



We continued walking around and somehow wandered off the property. A woman hanging up shirts in the yard we were walking through informed us that we were on "private propatty" but very kindly showed us back to the Graycliff. She had a big dog but the dog was also very polite. The dog had a plate of what looked like pork chops or something.

Here's a picture of Jenn after our trespassing adventure.



So we walked along, crossing over this bridge.



Breezing past this lovely swimming pool (one of three on the property).



And stopping in the main courtyard area for more photos. A very friendly hotel employee offered to take our picture.



Victor and Jennifer at the Graycliff Hotel in Nassau.



Having very much enjoyed the Graycliff Hotel, we left and walked toward where the jitney buses wait. I took this photo of a traditional Nassau building on the way.



This is the pirate museum, which we did not check out.



At this point, I started feeling a bit sick, like I had a fever. It wasn't very bad, but I certainly had a cold or something. For that reason Jenn and I decided to be pretty low-key for dinner and visit a charming part of town called the Fish Fry or maybe it's just Fish Fry without the the. In any case it's an area of affordable seafood restaurants and bars, where both tourists and native Bahamians go to enjoy themselves. I was very impressed with the Fish Fry and recommend it to anyone visiting Nassau on a budget (and even if you're not). I can't remember the name of our restaurant, but it's the brown wooden one in the center of the block with the second story balcony.

Here's a photo of Jenn and myself at the Fish Fry, taken by our very friendly waitress.



More cowbell! Here is a picture of my very delicious Bahamian Kalik beer.



For our dinners, Jenn had red snapper cooked with peppers and other vegetables in a foil pouch, and I had grilled shrimp. The food was delicious, and very reasonably priced, and the atmosphere of the restaurant was exactly what I wanted. We ate with a view of cruise ships sailing away into the night (cruise ships usually travel at night). I was very glad to see that about half of the restaurant's patrons were Bahamian, which meant the place wasn't a complete tourist trap. It seemed pretty authentic, all things considered. Bravo, Fish Fry!

We went back to the room and went to sleep early, owing to my illness, which wasn't very bad, I just needed a good night's sleep.

We woke up early the next morning, at around 7:00 a.m. As we were to fly back to New York later in the afternoon, Jenn and I decided to take one last walk along the beach. Here's a photo Jenn took during that last beach walk that I call Kafka on the Beach with Bed Head.



And here's a much cuter picture of Jenn.



I also like this picture of Jenn. And I can put it up here because this is my blog.



After we finished our walk we went back to the room, checked out, and headed to the airport, so I'll conclude this entry with a photo of a Bahamian palm tree.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Temporary Island Fix


We had a wonderful trip to the Bahamas, but unfortunately something has come up that will take my head out of the blogging game for a couple of days. Here's a photo to tide you over until things get back to normal.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Off to the Bahamas!


Please forgive the lack of posts of late. I've been terrifically busy. In a few hours we are off to Nassau, Bahamas for some much-needed rest and relaxation. I'm bringing the camera. Check back next week for the island odyssey.