Sunday morning I again had minimal plans. I was to meet Peter later for Spamalot, but my morning was open. Phil had to babysit his daughter, so he would be occupied. I headed off in search of breakfast and adventure. Phil had told me of a good soccer bar where I thought maybe I’d stop by to check out the Manchester United-Chelsea match. I noticed it was “near” the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue and I really wanted to see that famed glass cube, so that sounded like a good starting point. I actually got on the correct “downtown” subway train and got off at 59th and walked. I spotted a sit-down breakfast place where they made omelets to order and had a delicious breakfast (with potatoes grilled with peppers and onions and real fresh-squeezed orange juice). Refreshed, I head off toward the Apple Store, passing places like Bloomingdales and other landmarks. Just as I got to the Apple Store my phone rang it was Peter, wanting to meet for lunch at 12:15 on 8th and 42nd Street. Since I was on 5th and 59th, I’d have a bit of a walk, which was fine.
The Apple Store is amazing: I thought the glass cube was just sort of an advertisement, but it’s the actual entrance. You descend a spiral staircase of glass stairs and you’re in a huge open space filled with people and electronics. The place is vast and packed with customers — there must have been at least 200 people at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday morning. The store is open 24/7 and I’m told it’s nearly always busy. I wandered around and checked out the myriad accessories on display (a far better selection than at most stores). I wasn’t there to buy anything, though it was tempting: with so many people pulling out their credit cards you felt compelled to join in the fun. I overheard at least seven different languages. Most Apple Stores just have a “Genius Bar” — this one had an “iPod Bar” and a couple other help locations as well. One gal was giving a live demonstration of the iPhone: a camcorder was positioned above her hands and the video feed displayed on several huge Apple monitors around a table so customers could watch exactly what she did with the iPhone and learn how to operate it. Another guy stood in front of a huge stack of iPod Nanos and sold them: if that was all you were buying you could just go to him and he’d ring you up on his portable credit card scanner and off you’d go. I watched and he was pretty much constantly busy, selling a nano a minute.
After the Apple Store, I walked the width of Central Park (the “short” dimension), which takes like ten minutes. I passed the smelly horse carriages with tourists lining up to pay money to ride around the park. The park itself has always amazed me: it is so huge and beautiful with ponds and lakes and winding paths, all right in the middle of the city.
Then I walked down 7th Avenue. At one point I looked up and realized I was passing Carnegie Hall. Walking around New York is like that: you never know what you’ll find. I (eventually) hit Times Square, walked through the theatre district near Broadway, and found that 8th Ave. was blocked off for a street fair. It reminded me of the open markets in Dakar: throngs of people, vendors everywhere selling everything you could imagine. I’d eaten just a couple hours earlier but my high activity and all the food smelled so good I was soon hungry again. I met Peter at about twenty after and we found a nice Mediterranean place for lunch. My “shwarma” was not a sandwich like it usually is, but it was good (not the best I’ve had, though). There was plenty of food, however: Peter and I were both stuffed when we finished. At close to two we headed off to the theatre.