The night of the Oscars 2016: a journey back to New York

 

Times Square

 

“And the winner is…La La…no wait..”

 

A cup of peanuts in one hand, a glass of Casillero del Diablo in the other, the astonishment all over my face: “Did they really f*** up with the best picture winner??” – I ask myself after Faye Dunaway has made the most embarrassing gaffe in Academy Award history.

 

It’s the second time I’m thrilled about something that happens during the night of the Oscars: now I’m wearing my comfy pyjamas surrounded by three posters of my favourite TV series “Sherlock” in London…last time I was drinking a beer on Mulligan’s Pub in Madison Avenue, New York.

 

The pub in Madison Avenue

Still dazed by the long journey, I walked with my partner at the time only a few minutes far from the NH Jolly Madison Towers Hotel where we were staying, when we ran into this Irish pub full of big screens set up for the special occasion. Excited, I took a step into it, feeling the warmth the New York’s weather couldn’t give me in February. “One pint of your house beer please…and a salad!” Awkward mix. I would regret later.

 

“Is he going to win this time?”, I asked smiling to the curly waitress who served us, even though she didn’t seem that talkative. “Who? Di Caprio? I don’t know, perhaps they will eventually let him win so that he won’t cry anymore.” Offended, I decided not to leave tips as Leo is my favourite actor, together with Tom Cruise.

 

Despite the headache due to the 30 hours I had been awake, a few pints later I was celebrating Leonardo Di Caprio’s first Oscar as the best Actor for The Revenant, the only film with bloody scenes that actually made me feel sick while watching. Finally you made it: well done Leo!

 

The following day we couldn’t hide our tourist’s attitude anymore and we went visiting the American Museum of Natural History on the Upper West Side – but first of all I needed a hot drink at Starbucks.

“Ho or co?”, said the man at the cashier after I ordered a chocolate with soya milk. “Ehm…excuse me?”

“Ho or co?”, he repeated impatient. I was aware my English skills were not excellent yet, but damn American English slang! After the third time he repeated that, I realised he was asking if I wanted the drink “hot or cold”….pointless question by the way, as I was already losing my fingers in minus four degrees that day.

 

Seven hours later, I was still wandering among the anthropology, palaeontology, and geology areas, leaving the most exciting part to the end: “Rexy”, the fossil of the Tyrannosaurus Rex shown in A Night At The Museum. I couldn’t wait to see it in the flesh.

“Excuse me, is it here where you keep the T-rex fossil?”. “No madam, we are sorry but this section is temporary closed for the restoration of the fossil. We apologise for that.” It took a big effort to hide my disappointment. Fortunately, I was rewarded with a surprise later on, in Chicago, where the most complete fossil of T-rex in the world, Sue, is on display.

Having visited the most popular museums such as the MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) and the Met (The Metropolitan museum of Art), we thought it was worth having a look at the Marshall Chess Club, where Robert James “Bobby” Fischer played the famous Capablanca Memorial Tournament being held in Havana, Cuba via Teletype from the club back in 1965.

Sue at the Field Museum, Chicago

Full of old pictures of the previous membership and players of the club, the building had a mixture of both refurbished and antique furniture that created a certain feeling of nostalgia I couldn’t really explain. My thoughts were suddenly interrupted by a warm, calm male voice.

 

“What are you guys looking for here?”, said the man who was probably a very high category chess teacher and player. “We are here to have a look at the building, we know Fisher played here once! My friend here is a player himself, so we were quite interested in this place!” The man smiled. “What about a chess game though? Fifteen minutes each. Come on, don’t be shy!”

 

My partner sat down in front of him accepting his challenge, but I couldn’t really say if he was happy about that invitation or not. Chess board already on the table, chess pieces in line, timer set: the game started. I know the basic rules of the game, but I’m not a real player and I couldn’t say which player was having the best strategic position on the board. “He’s good, isn’t he?” – said another teacher who was holding a private lesson with a young girl right next to them and who couldn’t stop analysing silently the match from the beginning until the end.

The Chess Match

After about 25 minutes, they shook hands. “Would you give me a rematch?” – said the man.

 

McGee’s Pub

We never knew how the second match would have gone as we were interrupted by the student who arrived for his lesson, but what’s for sure was that we celebrated at McGee’s pub at 240 West 55 Street between Broadway and 8th Avenue later that night.

Interior of the McGee’s Pub

The pub was full of customers, since its popularity for being the place that inspired the show How I Met Your Mother. I ordered a “TedMosbyIsAJerk.com” for the occasion: chicken Jerk Wrap-Olives, tomato, red onion, Cheddar cheese and fries. “It has been legen…wait for it…”

 

A walk in Central park while it’s snowing is a thing that people should do at least once in their life, as well as taking the ferry to Liberty Island and seeing the symbol that inspired thousands of immigrants in their “journey of hope”, but nothing is more thrilling for a girl who suffers from vertigo than going up to the Empire State Building.

 

The queue was endless – three or four lifts to take – but eventually I was up there: the cold wind on my face, the warm adrenalin in my blood and the smell of hope and dreams all around me. The sun had already set, but the city that never sleeps was obviously still awake, the everywhere lights clearly showed it. I closed my eyes, I took a deep breath: I wasn’t afraid anymore.

 

View from the Empire State Building

 

“If it’s a dream, I don’t want to wake up.”

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