Still a bit numb with fatigue at 6:30am this morning, we breakfasted and stepped out into a blustery cold day with fingers crossed that it would follow the pattern of every day so far and fine up. It did not. Stepping off the 4-train, we got into line for the Guggenheim at 9:41 and felt the first drops on our immaculately coiffured heads as we walked in. Forgetting the inclemency is easy when you are surrounded by Kandinsky, Cezanne, Ernst, Picasso and co., but we were reminded of it the minute we left. Luckily, the Smithsonian Design Museum is only a block north of the Guggenheim, so we took shelter amidst the history of design for another productive hour, but eventually it too had been exhausted.

Forced back outside by our growling stomachs, after a quick detour to buy another umbrella, we cut through Central Park into the Upper West Side and this time found ourselves studying the menu outside Bella Luna on Columbus Avenue, another Italian restaurant, where we lunched on Argentinian malbec and a couple of their brick-oven pizzas.  All this did was to reinforce our growing respect for the New York staple. We both briefly pretended we were interested in something different today, maybe try the pasta, but really nobody was fooled. While waiting, we managed to study some of the West Side street life and concluded that Americans love their dogs, and that the quality of an eating establishment is directly proportional to the number and vibrancy of tulips in the planter box out front. Another great meal.

Replete and just a teeny-weeny bit drunk, we returned to the Park and dawdled south until bursting bladders forced us to duck into Saks 5th Ave to answer nature’s call. After so many profitable shopping adventures these past few days, the last thing I wanted was another minute looking at designer softgoods, so we escaped as surreptitiously as possible, threading the gauntlet of aggressively-friendly cosmetic-counter staff on the ground floor back out into the rain.  I’d wanted to check out the range of poetry on offer at Barnes & Noble, but when I realised I couldn’t even get my eyes to focus on the many titles they have for sale, I knew it was time to call it quits. Luckily, home for us was only a couple of blocks away.

Disgraceful weather, with the rain really settling in, so we didn’t send a lot of time outdoors today and not a lot of photographs were taken. We’re still keen to hit the Top of the Rock, and see Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty from the water, but we’ll have to wait for better weather, promised in the next few days. Five more days to go, not counting our exfil on Friday 28th, so plenty of time to fossick through some less-touristy sights before we go. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every exhausting day, and my opinion of the ‘average American’ is fairly high. That said, have I met one yet? I’m not so sure. Let’s see what tomorrow brings.

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