Tuesday, September 13, 2011

East and West

I've been "off the air" for the past 4 weeks because of having limited Internet access during my trip to the States. Here are some random thoughts about my vacation:

* If I had the choice to live in either Los Angeles or New York City, I would take NYC. The LA freeways and drivers are downright scary. I feel much safer on the subway in NYC. In LA you have to drive everywhere, while in NYC you can walk or take the subway. The trains, especially the expresses, are very fast and efficient.  The NYC subway system is very easy to use and goes just about anywhere in the city. My brother is a real subway expert and goes back and forth between the local and express trains. He owns a car, but takes the subway in the city. In my brother's neighborhood, there are stores within walking distance of his apartment, so a car really isn't necessary. The one down side of living in NYC is that the grocery stores are outrageously expensive.

* Because California is built around cars, there are gas stations on almost every corner. Maybe I was in the wrong neighborhoods in NYC, or the gas stations there are camoflauged, but I didn't see any gas stations there. But there have to be gas stations somewhere in NYC because people own cars and the taxi drivers need something to power their vehicles.

* I loved the variety of buildings in NYC. Many of the buildings have little statues or gargoyles on them. I could easily spend a month there doing nothing but photographing the buildings and all of their little details.

* New York City is a walking city. There are so many people out walking. One of the things that I noticed about NYC is that there are very few obese people. Because the majority of people ride the subway (and have to take stairs to get to and from the trains because there aren't any elevators), then have to walk from the subway stop to their final destinations, they are getting a little bit of exercise. In California it seems like there are a lot more obese people and people riding on Rascals. People only walk from their cars to the stores. Even the department and grocery stores provide Rascals for their customers. I only saw one person in NYC riding on a Rascal and he looked like he was about 90 years old. Everyone else was on foot.

* The most over-the-top thing that I saw on my trip was at one of the malls in Los Angeles. An older woman was pushing an umbrella stroller with mosquito netting. The stroller was festooned with little fairy figures. When I looked in the stroller, there was a Chihuahua lying in it. My stepmother, who was with me, asked the other lady if the dog was named Tinker Bell. The lady said that the dog's name was Twinkles. At least that name fit, though it would have been funny if it was named Killer. I've seen little dogs in bike baskets, but never in strollers at the mall.

* The number of Germans who love going to Death Valley in the summer never ceases to amaze me. Even though was 50 C (122 F) in the shade, the Germans that I met in Lone Pine all had to go to Death Valley. There's something about the desert that attracts the Germans. Maybe it's because the desert is very different from Germany, maybe it's because the lowest point in the USA is in Death Valley, or maybe simply because it's warmer than Germany will ever be and Germans are real sun and heat worshipers. Whatever the reason, it's a "must see" on a German's California itinerary. If I were to plan a trip to Death Valley, it would be in the winter, spring, or fall when the weather was bearable.

* Carmine's in NYC is not just a restaurant, it's an experience.

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