In our Notes from NYC: Part Eight, our New York city gal Claire heads east to the sunny shores of the Hamptons to New York’s answer to a beach holiday.
In New Zealand we take for granted the ease at which we can enjoy the spoils of summer. Just a short drive or even a stroll from your front doorstep and you can be soaking in the summer rays and plunge into decent salt water. Be it a Sunday afternoon, even an evening after work, it’s simple; we don’t know how good we have it.
New Yorkers, on the other hand, have been forced to learn that summer is most enjoyed when you go that extra mile (often literally). Certainly there are a number of roof top pools to enjoyed by the privileged few, and even some that are available for ‘public’ use – those being the ones intended for club members only but where supposedly no one notices if you just stroll on in…I am yet to have the courage to put this theory to the test. There has also been a floating pool built on the Brooklyn side of East River that cleverly uses filtered water straight from the river, then filters it again as the water is cycled back out, cleaning the river one gallon at a time.
However, for those of us who prefer the refreshing icy sting of salt water the journey is further. A subway or bus ride to the beach can take up to two hours each way; that’s dedication to summer. Waiting on the subway platform, a day of work ahead of me, my fellow Bushwickians, usually dressed in scruffy jeans and vintage tees, stand opposite me decked out with what can only be a picnic hamper and skim board tucked under their arm (I am yet to see someone complete with Hawaiian shirt to really make it photo-worthy). I look on with envy as they board the first train of their day, most likely heading to Rockaway beach, impressed by their willingness and enthusiasm to go those extra miles to experience what for us “Kiwis” is a real summer day.
This weekend the tables have turned. A few conveniently timed days off and my roommate’s family being in town means I am now riding the bus to Montauk, New York aka, “The Hamptons”. So far, my knowledge of The Hamptons stems entirely from watching Revenge and listening to my friends brag about their own ventures earlier this summer.
My fellow passengers are a mix of families, foreigners and others who I would bet are Hampton regulars.
The South Hampton petrol station seems to cater exclusively to BMWs, Porches, and Mercedes; perhaps they only supply premium gas…
Similarly, the South Hampton carwash appears to be thriving, as men and women in red shirts rush around soaping and scrubbing and hosing a medley of the most premium European and American metal, their owners chatting idly on their cell phones as they wait in the sun.
Driving through each area of the Hamptons, each stereotype is fulfilled like a mental checklist; convertibles (tick), women dressed entirely in white workout gear (tick) as they power walk in clusters (tick) past entirely white houses (tick) – each the size of a small estate – each flying a bright and proud American flag in their front lawn (tick), behind their patriotically trimmed hedges (and tick).
Montauk is the last stop. Pulling into the old whaling village, which I was yesterday told is proud of its 60s surfer vibe, I can see the collision between wealth and resistance to the cliché Hampton rep’.
We quickly learn it’s not really a town you can be in without a car forcing my roommate into having her first driving experience on the right side of the road (the wrong side for us). All anxieties aside, we are able to make the most of driving down the side streets, peering through thick perfectly manicured hedges. Our rented Toyota Prius probably gives our tourist status away. East Hampton, what I would say is the wealthiest neighbourhood, boasts all the same upper-end stores as Manhattan perhaps with slightly more reserved signage.
There are more eclectic gems hidden along the way, go off the beaten track and you can find yourself browsing through antique jewellery and backyard sculptures. The Montauk Marina is almost another tasteful reminder of reality, were it not for the hundreds of yachts parked on its docks. Maybe next year I’ll find myself dining on one of these beautiful boats…perhaps I’ll be working as a kitchen hand, but dreams are free right.
A not quite sufficient amount of seafood later and we are back on the bus, settling in to a three hour ride to the city all too pleased to have travelled those extra miles.
As for the rest of the month…August saw:
– Further exploration of Bushwick; as more mind-blowing murals appear and bargain gems are found in thrift stores the size of warehouses, so too am I realizing that open rooftop parties complete with djs, live jazz and fire dancers and not all too uncommon.
– The welcome addition of a pool to our backyard courtesy of my roommate Robbie (again putting in that extra effort to ensure summer is enjoyed by all).
– My second Shake Shack experience and my third Yankees game – complete with sunburnt shoulders and too many Budweiser’s.
– Restaurant week: $25 for a three-course lunch at the best restaurants in the city – why not treat myself!
– Yet another weekend out of the city as I tomorrow head to Philadelphia for the Made in America music festival. I’ll be sure to say a friendly Kia Ora to Beyonce and ASAP Rocky…you’ll hear about it.