Staying in the East Village turns out to be the smartest ploy imaginable. Our apartment, which I find on AirBnB, is located on 1st Avenue between 2nd and 3rd streets, just off Houston (pronounced “Howston” by residents of the Big Apple). Serendipity has placed us right at the heart of one of New York’s most interesting and flavoursome neighbourhoods.
Not that there is any imperative urge to stray far from “home” because all along 1st Avenue there are excellent restaurants offering a choice in cuisines that encapsulate the colourful, cultural diversity that is a hallmark of both the East Village and the Lower East Side.
It also means that following an inspiring yet inevitably tiring day of adventure while roaming around the big city there’s really no need whatsoever to leave our friendly neighbourhood for an evening meal. Even better, after we’ve dined we can simply stroll home well fed to our beds.
Even the weather does us a huge favour on the day we arrive in town by shifting abruptly from late winter chill to soul-inspiring spring sunshine.
This switch to a long awaited welcome warmth transforms Sunday in Greenwich Village’s Washington Square Park into a day of rich outdoor celebration and entertainment. There’s a jazz band in full flight at the NYU entrance and classical pianist in full cry on a baby grand beside the Garibaldi Statue.
A spontaneous, joyous jam on massed guitars breaks out among the crowd gathered beside the famous Arch at the centre of the park. This celebration of live music and the general bonhomie of the people gathered in the sunshine prompts us to shift instantly and effortlessly into a New York state of mind.