Just got back from a week in Manhattan, my second trip in two years. I am loving that city! We happened to arrive during a heat wave, with temperatures in the 90s and higher. I was pleasantly surprised at how un-muggy it was, despite the heat. And all the pretty ladies in beautiful, sexy sundresses - now that was a sight to behold. It goes without saying (but I'll say it anyway!) that New York is the most stylish and stylistically brave city in America. My issue with so many places is feeling like I'm drawing more attention than desired by the clothes I want to wear. Not every woman is asking for a virtual target sign by the fashion she dons. Sometimes she just wants to feel free to fully express her vision of herself. In New York, I felt that freedom.
Multi-ethnic groups of friends and couples were a much more common sight in New York. This also surprised me, as I had always thought of California as being on the forefront of racial harmony. But I saw many more mixed groups and couples hanging out - both young and old - to the point where it no longer seemed novel. Perhaps it's simply the greater number of people you can observe in that vast city. Yet my initial impression of it as a novelty seemed to reinforce its relative rarity on this coast. I guess they've had more time to work on that over there.
Contemporary New Yorkers defy the old stereotype of being unfriendly. One of my friends says it's because of 9/11, that after getting your teeth knocked out, it changes your perspective. Whatever the reason, my friendly encounters outnumbered the rude ones by at least 10 to 1. And not just friendly but helpful and actually watching out for you. I would say it's one of the most neighborly big cities I've had the privilege of visiting.
The only place that underwhelmed me during my visit was the local Hustler strip club. That being said, I was there on a Sunday night, which is supposed to be slow, and the blond Russians who worked the tables were just not my type. I'm sure on a future trip I can find a strip club to suit my tastes, though the Bay Area definitely seems to be the center for hapa hotties.
I checked out Brooklyn as well, since I have heard it compared to the Mission in San Francisco, which I call home. We took the subway to Park Slope, which I believe was Heath Ledger's neighborhood. I'd say that area is more like Noe Valley, with all the strollers and kids. But I'm glad I ventured over there, as it reinforced for me why places in Manhattan are so in-demand. I'm going to do a bit of research and figure out a way to stay there for a month or so next summer. New York has not seen the last of me!