Saturday, July 2, 2011

First days in Manhattan

Finally, all my papers are submitted and I can focus 100% on my stay here in New York. Thanks to Skype, Dropbox and Co. the exchange of all documents and thoughts went perfectly. I wrote about the trip to D.C. in the last post and finished it with Pepe, Caspar, and me leaving for Darien, CT...

alive @5
Pepe has been working in the United States as ja coach for junior sailors for many years and is currently living in a room of a mansion out in Tokeneke Woods in Darien, Connecticut. Unfortunately we just missed the "alive @5 Festival", a festival with live music in the streets of Stamford, CT which takes place every Thursday in June and July, so we decided to check out some bars in the area. Stamford is the place to be in the area, with many universities and bars. I talked with Anne Culver who works for the Royal Bank of Scotland and we talked about Stamford and the festival. It was the first talk with an "native" American person during the first three days. All the others immigrated from Argentina, France, Netherlands, or other places.

Mac and Cheese
Before leaving for New York, we were invited for delicious macaroni and cheese by very good friends of Pepe. The Enkema Van Dijk family is very lively and very open-hearted. Their youngest son sails Optimist and left on the same day for the US Nationals in Los Angeles, CA. Their daughter is 17 years old and has been in the local news due to her success in Tennis competitions. She also teaches tennis to children and maybe I can book a private lesson with her.
Quiet neighborhood in Tokeneke woods.

People in New York
We reached New York at around 2pm and organized to meet Zapo at five in Washington Square Park which is in Greenwich Village, near the New York University. The humid and warm weather made us sleepy and we decided to wait an hour in the park rather than walking around with our luggage. We just looked at the people strolling through the park which was very interesting: We saw Hare Krishnas singing themselves into trance, homeless people high-fiving the clean-up personnel, many people who must just have thought that it would be a good opportunity for them to take their shirt off... there was almost no "regular" person walking by. But who am I to judge, sitting there with my large rucksack...
Zapo arrived around 5, just after finishing an intermediate exam. He is already a lawyer in Buenos Aires and is now studying American law in New York. He just moved from Harlem to West Village and is now living with a friend on Bank Street in the West Village. He let us sleep on his couch and said that I will always be welcome during the time I am on my stay abroad. This makes organizing my sleeping arrangements a lot less stressful and I am very thankful for that.

Zapo's Place
New York's streets are generally organized in a grid-like way with avenues alining from North to South and streets oriented from West to East. Except for the place where Zapo lives. Zapo lives on 42 Bank Street in West Village where the streets are no longer numbered but named. They change direction and are headed diagonally and some avenues that stay North to South and others change names and direction. There is even one corner in West Village where one arrives at the corner of 12th street and 4th street. Other than the confusing streets, it is really beautiful in West Village. Zapo lives on the third floor in a small but pretty three-room apartment with another guy who is subletting one room. The apartment does not have a balcony but one can use the fire escape just like one.
Reading a book on the "balcony"

Being part of a minority
The Neighborhood is not only very pretty and quiet, but also colorful. During the time we arrived, it was probably the most colorful time of the year. West Village is considered to be the place where the gay rights movement started in the 1980s. There where so many gay and lesbian couples in the streets and in the bars that they outnumbered the straight couples at least by factor ten. There where so many colorful and funnily dressed people. The state of New York has just voted in favor of same-sex marriage and it was gay-pride week with a major parade on 7th Avenue, on the same weekend. For the first time in my life, I understood how gays must feel in other places. I felt like an outsider and it felt not good. But I am really glad that gay people can express their love for each other in the same way straight people can. At least in New York and seven other states. Let us just hope it stays this way. In California, the Mormon church raised over USD 43 million with the help of the catholic church to forbid same-sex marriage in the state.
Happy store owners after the vote

Writing for PH Bern
In order to have an internet connection, I had to go to restaurants. I spent 3-5 hours daily consuming delicious organic beverages and food in order to finish papers and communicating with Annik and Nadja. Thanks to Dropbox and Skype, we where able to finish all of our assignments on time and are happy that everything worked out well.

When in Rome...
Before going to a Baseball game, we wanted to hit some balls ourselves, so we went to the Upper West Side to a batting cage where we tried to hit the balls a machine threw at us at 65 miles per hour. It was not so difficult to hit the ball, but very difficult to hit it good. When we went to see the New York Yankees, the most successful baseball team in the world, we realized that the 65 miles was nothing. Not only did the machine trow the ball to the same spot almost all the time, but a professional baseball pitcher (the person who throws the ball) throws the ball with more than 90 miles per hour.
It was not the first time that I went to see a baseball game but it is always great. There are many people generally in a good mood and the prices are not unaffordable. In the end, the Yankees won with 6 to 4 after having trouble in the beginning where the Colorado Rockies lead 3 to 0. Before leaving Manhattan for three days, I went to play golf. There is a driving range in Chelsea (about 10 minutes by foot) that is built on an unused pier at the Hudson River.
Training in the batting cages and enjoying the Yankee game. 

You can find more photos at the following link:
Please leave a comment..!


  1. i love the picture of you on the balcony

  2. i love the picture of the mexican food truck...