It was one of those typical last-day-in-New-York-days. When you wake up and think "Sh*t, once again I did not get to do all the things I wanted to so what am I going to do after I check out". One of the things - and I was really looking forward to that - was meeting Daan for lunch at Eataly. I decided to go check out Harlem. That had been on my list for a while now, and that's where I was gonna go.
So when Esther took the cab to the Upper East Side I got on the subway. Without a particular plan as to where in Harlem I was gonna go. The subway was pretty crowded. The regular subway scene. People looking bored, reading a book, playing with their phone or sound asleep. After having looked at the citymap for a while I decided to ask the guy next to me for his thoughts about what I should go see. "Excuse me sir, can I ask you something?". After his "sure" I continued "so, if this were your last day in New York and you had about 2 hours to spend in Harlem, where would you go?". The man quickly looked around, then leaned to me and whispered "I would not go to Harlem at all". Haha. I thought that was so funny. Until I realised that he was deadserious. He continued "no really, I don't think it is safe. But if you must, then at least do not go above 125th street. Stay below 125th and you should be ok".
And that's what I did. I got out at 125th street station and was welcomed by a beautiful blue sky and cold wind. Walked around the block. Saw Harriet Tubman's statue (she fought for her freedom aswell as that of many other slaves) and saw lots of policecars parked outside of the police station. No worries about my safety here. Stopped at the lovely Serengeti teas & spices. Felt like I was in Africa and should have gotten tea but really felt like having coffee. Note to myself - return for tea!
Before I knew it I was already back on 125th street. With the Apollo theatre and lots of stores. Filled with baseballcaps and basketballshoes. And hiphop and rapmusic. I met "Ali" or "Khaled" or "Ahmed" - I have no idea what his name is, he said "yeah" to each and every one of my attempts to repeat his name - a real nice old man who was selling jewelry made of silver and wood. I bought a wooden ring and necklace. And out of nowhere a guy with a funfilled face got me to buy his cd. Which ofcourse I did because I'm a sucker for funfilled-face-street-vendors. The cd turned out to be the new release by The Harlem 6. Worldfamous in Harlem and who knows some day in the rest of the world aswell. Just between you and me, Harlem 6 is not my cup of tea but I had 5 great minutes buying it.
Before returning to Manhattan I took a quick peek - as far as that's possible - in the DSW. Checked out their great mural for a while. Harlem is now "been there done that". Partly. Because I know there's lots more to go check out. Next time I'll go with Free Tours by Foot or with their selfie: //www.freetoursbyfoot.com/new-york-tours/walk.