How Sweet It Was!

photo, manhattan, water taxi beach, long island city, queens Water Taxi Beach, spa and oasis with a view.

Monster Slabs of Cheesecake

Paris:– Monday, 11. September–  When it comes to being a tourist I don't think I'm going to get any awards from NYC & Company, the official Web site of the City. Guide books make my eyes close their shutters and Web sites make them glaze over.

Luckily I have friends in New York who spend a lot of time reading the small print in Time Out New York or TONY for short. One of the first things I heard was that Manhattan is too expensive. Luckily TONY covers Queens too.

I stepped off the plane from Paris into 100 degrees Fahrenheit with considerable humidity and only part–time air conditioning. All the windows were open and grinding delivery trucks and howling jets from La Guardia were flying through while everybody else's elderly air conditioning units groaned night and day. I do remember what prompted a boiling visit to Penny's at Queens Center shopping mall in Elmhurst but the dinner at the Tacqueria Coatzingl on Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights was delirious inspiration, a crazed desire for a taco and some of that hot sauce.

photo, subway line 7, platform in queens View from subway line 7 in Queens.

It stayed hot hot hot so the next night I ended up at the Spicy & Tasty Chinese hotfood restaurant in Flushing, which was just a prelude to do a little dirt dancing in the garden of Flushing Town Hall which had a live group doing Beach Boys grooves from those oldie golden days when nobody cared if they were saps. Afterwards there was a cool drink featuring mango bullets in some sort of orange and yellow Asian fruit juice bar.

No sooner had I recovered than I was taking the steaming subway to Astoria to hook up with some visiting French folks who had been promised some Greek eats at Stamatis family taverna and this evolved into after drinks at the Athens Café with 500 loud Greeks. Luckily, on the way over there, we were unable to outwait the mob trying to get into the Bohemian Hall beer gardens.

Sunday seemed a bit cooler plus a day to take it easy so I climbed aboard the good old W train for the long haul from Queens through Manhattan and Brooklyn to the seaside resort of the world's original Dodger fans, fabulous Coney Island. It was sunny, clear, bright, and there was more than enough space to hold another million seaside fans, especially if Brighton Beach was included. After A reasonable inspection I retired to Junior's on Flatbush Avenue downtown for a tiny taste of cheesecake. Then I took the long way back. It means I checked to make sure the Hudson River was where I left it.

photo, city island, bronx The only deep–water harbor in the Bronx.

Then I didn't do anything, go anywhere, or eat anything for two days. Well, do anything – I had some Korean ladies give me a pedicure and a manicure, just to keep up my daily quota of 'firsts.' After that there were another couple of days of apparent nada, ending with a flood of rain. It could have reminded me of Hong Kong during the Monsoon if I had ever been there.

On Friday I had to have my ritual fish'n'chips at Donovan's in Woodside and that led spontaneously to climbing on the subway line 7 elevated platform for a priceless view of sunset, which of course evolved into a ride to Astoria again and a terrace table at the Athens Café for a gallon of iced coffee and three pounds of dessert, either the Ekmek Kataifi or the Galacto Boureko. Actually, it was both. For this reason I skipped the nearby Mr. Taco truck.

Nigel, the occasional Daguerrista, was in town, just returned from surfing in Hawaii where he was nearly done in by a wave, so we arranged to meet at the Bohemian Hall beer garden on 24th Avenue, in Astoria again. After enough good beers and orange juice we found Uncle George's Omonia Café on Broadway. Except for the howling baby it was fine and so were the later gallons of ice coffee across the street in another taverna.

Then it was Sunday, bright and shining, and the non–dietary goal of my visit was at hand. The MTA's line 7 trundled westwards towards Manhattan but I got off at Long Island City for the walk to the near–mythical Water Taxi Beach. It was everything I'd dreamed – ratlands, etc. – oh, I am wordless at the thought of it all! Vowing to return, I boarded a water taxi for the $10 mystery tour and added the South Street Seaport, Red Hook and the Statute of Liberty to my tour score, without, alas, eating anything. That was taken care of on the Upper East Side, known locally as UES.

photo, hong's shoes, shop, astoria Pride in Astoria.

I was about to write that there was another period of nada but by Tuesday I was in Flushing again, at Spicy and Tasty again. Before going there Paul looked at the WiFi router I'd purchased 10 days earlier between meals, and tricked it into working while Randy cheered. I cheered too. But by then I had gained too much weight to be able to type so it was a hollow triumph. My notes say I gave it a shot the next day but evidence is scanty. I probably had 750 junk emails to destroy by then.

It was somewhat gray the followingday when I took the F train to 34th Street in Manhattan and walked over to 9th Avenue, to the world headquarters of B & H Photo to see if they had a doodad for the camera. Of course they did! Now I can see what I am pointing it at. What a neat improvement. I rewarded myself with a random pass through Times Square and then went up 5th Avenue to see the the kids playing with iPods at the new Apple Store. On the spot I decided to deal with my potentially exploding battery later.

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Waldo Bini