One of the hardest things about having grown-up children is that you don’t get to see them as often as you’d like. So what could be nicer than a four-day trip to New York with my daughter? The pair of us like doing similar things – walking, talking, searching out great cafes and restaurants and exploring new places – so I knew it would be a wonderful holiday.
And yes, it was. Thanks to Colm Toibin’s Brooklyn, one of my favourite novels, I’ve been obsessed with visiting Brooklyn for ages. So we booked a stylish ground-floor apartment in Clinton Hill and used it as a base to explore Brooklyn, the ultra-cool Williamsburg and, of course, Manhattan.
On the first morning we walked all the way from Brooklyn to the High Line, the public park built on an old freight railway line high above Manhattan’s West Side – a good six miles or so. There was a chill in the air but the sun was out, the sky was bright blue and we felt lucky to be in this fantastic city.
We stopped en route for a coffee at the Brooklyn Roasting Company, a place recommended by Rosie, the talented daughter of my much-missed friend Miranda. Rosie has brilliant antennae for the best coffee places in the UK and the US and the Brooklyn Roasting Company in Dumbo is one of her favourites.
We walked across Brooklyn Bridge, marvelling at its scale and splendour – and at the hordes of tourists taking selfies, some perched precariously on the side of the bridge.
Everyone we met was helpful and charming – apart from a grumpy Uber driver who cursed at the rush-hour traffic on the way to the airport and spat his disgust out of the window. No one mentioned the dreaded Trump word. Perhaps New Yorkers are still in denial about the election result.
We also visited the 9/11 Memorial and Museum and found it moving and harrowing. It’s described as “a tribute to the past and a place of hope for the future” but it’s a place filled with inexorable sadness. The names of every person – men, women and children – who died in the terror attacks of 1993 and 2001 are honoured in bronze around the twin memorial pools. As we emerged from the museum, shell-shocked by what we had seen, everyone fell silent. A man put a comforting arm round an elderly woman and gently led her away. No one will ever forget.