10 days in the USA principally to visit maytrees min whose employer kindly agreed to pay return the air fare although her stay in the USA is only for 8 or so months. The journey out was via New York JFK airport and the return trip was from Philadelphia airport.
Maytrees max predicted (I think) that I would not really enjoy New York but in fact my time there was brilliant. Staying in an hotel near to Central Park I achieved an ambition of running a circuit about 6 miles I think of the Park which including the run on the pavements (or I should say 'side walks') to and from the hotel took about 1 hour 10 minutes - a fraction longer than my usual Sunday morning Wimbledon Common run. Amazingly On Thursday when I ran, the sun was shining and there was a spring like quality about Central Park. However the next day the snow fell heavily transforming the scene to that of mid-winter.
Grand Central Station was a delight though my photograph below does not do it justice. By contrast Penn Station was really a dreadful mess and should be razed to the ground and started over again. Indeed the subway system though efficient and cheaper than the London Tube does need to be brought into C21. Its hard plastic seats many dank dark exit steps, dreary stations and poorly illustrated maps in carriages do not compare well with the London Underground. Yet everyone I met there was friendly and helpful when directions etc were sought.
There is much more to be written about NY but suffice it to say that it is a dynamic, interesting and surprisingly friendly place. So on to Washington DC. Train from Penn Central was crowded but the longish journey was comfortable enough. Washington is a city which probably appeals to those who enjoy grand monuments and large scale planning. For me grand monuments become interesting when they are ancient such as the step pyramids at Saqqara Egypt Ancient Egypt but to Americans today those at Washington DC are clearly important. The White House is attractive
To me Georgetown was akin to a pretty English village though Georgetown coffee is far better.
So finally to Philadelphia and to stay a few days with maytrees min in her very smart apartment (flat) near to the old town hall.
Again Amtrack was fast and this time quite uncrowded. Philadelphia is a city which has a whole host of museums sculptures and galleries many of which focus on the history of USA independence which clearly appeals to many Americans. For me the most interesting is the Barnes Foundation. I was lucky enough to visit when few other people were present. The gallery has I believe only recently been relocated to the its new building, housing the works collected by this pharmacologist in the 1920s when many of the pictures and other artworks were if not cheap far more affordable even to national museums and art galleries than they are now.
For me a virtual philistine, the little iPhone gadget that one was given to assist with the viewing was ideal. The descriptions of artworks that interested me, given each time by two or three relevant experts in conversational non-patronising style were most helpful. The number of paintings by of Picasso, Renoir, Matisse, Van Gogh and a whole host of others, depicted around the walls was huge, and reminded me slightly of the vast number of such paintings at the Hermitage Museum when mrs maytrees and I visited that in its Leningrad days although of course the buildings' architecture are of completely different ages.
Maytrees min then also took time off work to show me some of the sights as below
Overall the USA was refreshingly different and friendly. I especially liked the fact that in city centres at least there seem to be far fewer chain shops than there are in England although of course Starbucks and the like are ever-present.
The motor car does I think need more restraining over in the USA . Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson as mayors of London have at least begun to make those driving motor cars in Town pay for the privilege of polluting the rest of us with noise and exhaust fumes, which some American mayors could do worse than emulate