Bike path South of Riverside Park in Manhattan.

I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I’ve never really liked New York. I used to come here quite often on business and could never grasp the awe and reverence with which my mid-Western colleagues viewed the ‘Big Apple’.

During the course of this week the place has grown on me in many ways. But it is a city of dichotomy – at the top end it is amazing, however it falls off quickly to shabby and ugly. I love the museums and galleries, Central Park, the range of activities. But move away from those and you see the homeless, the poor state of the infrastructure, the edge of ugliness. True of all cities I know; but, in our experience, less starkly .

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We hired bikes and rode up most of the West side of Manhattan Island, all the way to the George Washington Bridge. It was a lovely clear, warm day – just perfect for a bike ride. There is a dedicated bike path most of the way along the Island – one of those great things about New York.

Biking.

Riding the path, or walking along the neighbouring pedestrian path, is a great way to see New Yorkers at rest. Central Park has lots of tourists; Riverside Park seems more local. And gives you a real feel for the range of people inhabiting the City.

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New Yorkers seem to love hands-free talking on the cell phones. It does make it hard to tell the broken people talking to themselves from the sane people talking to their brokers.

That can be a fine line here at the best of times anyway. We’ve seen some unusual people and things over the last week. Our favourite remains the dog we saw being taken for a run – a greyhound-like dog trotting along wearing its own little pink trainers.

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Our bikes.

Wherever we’ve gone in New York we’ve had people commenting on the boys’ hats.

We’ve had occasional comments on their sensible Australian sun-hats all round the world (often mistaking them for American cowboy hats, recognising the Indiana Jones link the boys’ love, or, occasionally, spotting them as Australian). Here in New York we had seven people come up to us yesterday and say “Ah laahk your haat.” or variants on that theme. They were, although I read nothing into this, mostly large black men.

So, if you see lots of people sporting sensible sun hats in New York next fashion season, you’ll know where it came from.