The journey from New York to Hamptons,100 miles from Manhattan, was quite joyful and unexpectedly picturesque. Either side of the road the fields were full of vineyards , pine and elm trees and only approaching the East Hamptons, which was our destination, the scenery was changing and you can spot Tiffany and Ralph Lauren shops and where the road- Montauk highway -makes a fork, in the center of it, a Windmill(the Hook Mill). East Hampton has a lot of titles under its belt. It was voted “America’s most beautiful village’ by National Geographic and the ‘playground of the rich New Yorkers’. According to the history, it was a farming and fishing village and the original land was purchased from the Montauket Indians, its first name was Maidstone(named by the english farmers from Kent,UK). It’s beauty is due to the strong preservationist policy. You will not see sprawling malls,fast food shops or even coffee shops with tables and chairs on the pavements. We were expecting haughtiness and exclusivity in the beaches and for sure we were not prepared to pack up our stuff,towels umbrellas etc, in order to go to there, as in olden days in Athens, where the beach destination was near to the experience of moving houses. The beach was an endless carpet of white sand and the fellow sunbathers were like they have stepped down from their Park Avenue apartment and being chauffeured to the beach. Next to us, a glamorous woman was wearing Hermes outfit bikini , skirt and reading the Voque, from the other side a couple of blondy teenagers were playing with their blackberry and gossiping about Ashley Olsen, front of us were two men with Gucci and Prada sunglasses holding the Vanity Fair and talking about Obama…East Hamptons is the favourite destination of the NY Democrats. Despite of this, Obama didn’t appear at any reception this summer, according to the local press. Perhaps he was not white enough to attend! The surrounding houses were beautiful but the big estates were hidden behind the high fences like this of Jacky Kennedy-Onasis’s family house ‘Lasata’-the big estate of the Bouvier’s family- which has been recently sold to a rich and famous couple who they are ready to use it for their own high profile parties. In the afternoon as usual in every seaside resort the town centre, with the shops and restaurants, was getting back in life, and the sunbathers were dressing down for their night’s entertainment. For men Lacoste was the label which is back in fashion with amazing colours. For women the same style as ever, Prep. I found a small boutique with the name McLaughlin where I loved every bit of it, even the armchair in the changing room but I decided to buy a dress, thinking “it is easier to carry it!” East Hampton has beautiful restaurants, but everything is enclosed, no tables and chairs on the pavements due to the preservation law as I mentioned above. The social game takes place in the private parties in the big houses like that of the Great Gatsby’s movie. Walt Whitman the american poet and native of Long island(Montauk) describes wonderfully the sea’s scenery in his poem “Montauk point” “… the tossing waves, the foam, the ships in the distance, the wild unrest, the snowy, curling caps-that inbound urge and urge of waves, Seeking the shores forever”. The above scenery was in everyday base as long as we stayed in Hamptons, fun of course by dangerous . On the way back to Kennedy airport my little Ablions were complaining about the waves, were nice and quite fun but they were unable to swim properly. My eyes were fixed on the wheel but my tongue had life on his own and the words came out independently “at least in Greece we would be able to swim in the peaceful Mediterranean ‘lake’!” “yesssss…..” my little Albions replied triumphantly. East Hampton which includes Montauk is the end of Long Island after this, the next stop is Portugal….!
New York is not the same any more, as the whole world is not the same after 9/11. “Americans cannot see really the world. They think they can, but they can’t” as Chuck says, the character in Joseph O’Neill’s book ‘Netherland’ listed for the Man Booker prize. This was what I was contemplating as our taxi was rolling down the NY avenues, heading towards to our hotel in Midtown, leaving behind the NY harbour and the surrounding area of Brooklyn, which is not the most glamorous place somebody can be. In meantime, I had my pleasant dose of spotting a big tyre manufacturer’s building which belonged to a Greek person and pinpointing the name to my little Albions, having at the same time a quick glimpse at Johnny and catching his hidden smirk. He is getting used to it, after all these years, I believe. I feel that I can’t really help myself anymore, as everything in our life, you start it for fun and after a while you see yourself in a position of chronic addiction… Perhaps the surrounding social circle doesn’t allow me to relax and I have to constantly reassure myself that my tribe still exists and is up to something worthwhile. During our cruise, our American friends were totally magnetised by Johnny, the English. It is a common truth, Americans love the English and everything else implies the word English, either this is their accent, their royalty, their countryside, their Blair, or their cricket ‘a lesson in civility’ with Chuck’s words. The last word ‘civility’ plus their imperialistic past probably is the key of their attraction, I suppose, because the American psychological profile is pending to be drawn in my mind. These thoughts disappeared in my back of my brain when the taxi driver drew our attention to the Ground Zero, where they are in the process of constructing a new complex of towers, which the plans they change every now and then, don’t forget the Governor of NY is of Greek origin, Patakis is his last name!. Our Hotel was exactly opposite to Carnegie Hall and the MOMA -Museum of modern Art- was down to the street, so this was one of our first stops. Among its permanent exhibitions,Warhol,Bourgeois, Modriano,.etc. There was a special one and quite impressive about Salvador Dali . There were around 130 of his paintings, scenarios and films and all of them were being presented wonderfully to illuminate the scale of Dali’s ingenuity and contribution to the Arts. Despite he isn’t among my favourite painters, too bold for my taste, my little Albions loved him. So we moved now from the Van Gogh to Dali era in our home territory! Another destination was the 5th Avenue shopping spree, taking advantage the weakness of the dollar against pound. Shopping in NY has no limits, the consumerism is beyond imagination and in every corner there is a happening(semi-naked gorgeous man, see pict)!. One example was our stop in the ‘American girl’, next to the Saks, which is selling dolls and everyrthing somebody can or cannot imagine about dolls. . In the ground floor there is a huge selection of dolls with all the colour complexion, white skin with black hair and blue eyes or black with blonde, brunette, blue or green eyes etc. The next three floors includes boutique for doll’s clothes, hairdresser, theatre, coffee shop, doll’s hospital ….etc. The only prerequisite for the NY shopping is to hold a good credit card, in order not to spoil your holidays by seeing on the spot your account to be reduced dangerously. New York is hot and sticky this time of the year and the New Yorkers were heading to Long Island for their one or two weeks summer holidays. So we decided to follow their plans and there we were, driving to the Wasps’s den-Hamptons for the third circle and the last of our holidays
Arriving in NY is exciting by itself, however arriving by boat is doubly exciting . This time I arrived in NY on the Queen Mary 2, the largest Ocean liner as the Master (captain) loved to call it. Five days we spent in the Atlantic Ocean without a trace of another boat or land, only some dolphins and two whales. I am not sure if the passengers (2600) felt this loneliness of the long distance liner in the ocean, as they were all really busy(including me) to carry on their own everyday activities. In the morning we were jogging around the ship and being annoying if somebody was on our way with a slower pace, or going to the gym, spa , swimming pools, restaurants etc.. In the nights, the serious entertainment was starting with dress codes , evening formal dress or formal casual dress and no blue jeans please!. I managed quite successfully to pour myself into the long dress but I found difficult to balance on the high heels which at the last day they found their own way in the Ocean to arrive in NY or to the wreck of the Titanic. The night’s entertainment included drinks and dinner with the Captain who really didn’t struck me as a real Captain , fatty with a beard and a pipe, on the contrary he was thin and tall without chin, the latter, according to the gurus of physiognomy, shows a sign of weakness and this made me to worry a little bit for the luck of our trip . The ballroom was the meeting point for most of the passengers, before finishing the night with a drink , one or two Cosmopolitan by preference . The orchestra was playing mostly tango , waltz , foxtrot and the ‘dancing partners’ were moving like hunters to find some of the single girls(160) who wanted to twirl in the dancing floor, as the single men numbered only 9 and most of them were registered in the medical centre. The’ dancing partner’ was a new concept and perhaps a new job which I have never thought about until I saw them to dance like a reincarnated Fred Astaire. The weather was quite rough and foggy most of the days, only the last day we were able to swim in the outside swimming pools or to stroll around the ship without an anorak. Still I am wondering how this brave chap Leonard di Caprio and his flirt Kate Winslet managed to play games in the ship’s bow in the middle of the night wearing summer clothes !? Around the 5th day we passed the point where Titanic was sunk and to our surprise we realized how close to the land the tragedy happened(pict.map). After this point, Penelope changed her view about the chinless Captain!
On the sixth day around three o’clock in the morning we started to see land and lights and the excitement was building to a crescendo as we were approaching the port. My little Albions had about the same excitement as when Christmas is looming ....Around five o’clock in the morning we were able see clearly the NY port. We passed the Elis Island, Brooklyn Bridge and the famous Statue of Liberty, I am not really sure if I saw the statue with a naked eye or with the camera lens, the photo snaps were uncountable, but very quickly our interest was focused on the Manhattan towers where the people work and leave. This familiar structure, I believe, is the trademark of NY, more than the statue of liberty. On the other side of Manhattan, in Brooklyn, another symbol of mass production was standing bold with the blue and yellow trademark colours, IKEA. I am starting to think wherever I travel this symbol makes me to feel at home! The sticky hot New York was waiting for us..