Courage, sheer determination and the will to get on with their lives. These are the qualities I discovered in New York, a city which is now better than before the tragic events of September 11. I don't think I can speak more highly of the people of the Big Apple, they are an example to us all. New York was quite naturally rocked by the attacks on the Twin Towers. I suspect that for New Yorkers it must have been worse than the blitz bombing of British and German cities during the war. This was a surprise attack, completely unexpected. Naturally, there is still a major sense of grief and outrage at the attacks and the city will be scarred forever. New York's financial district (apart from Ground Zero) still shows clear signs of the attacks. Metro stations in the area remain closed. I was deeply moved by what I saw at Ground Zero. Personally, speaking I don't feel that the Towers should be rebuilt. A memorial to the 3'000 people who died would be more fitting. The events of September 11 should not be forgotten. But when former Mayor Giuliani called on New Yorkers to no longer be afraid and get back into their lives, they certainly listened to him. It must have been terribly difficult to try and get back to normal after the attacks. But New Yorkers have proved that they are a resiliant people and are not going to allow terrorism to change or alter their lives. By sheer determination and courage they are a living testament to what can be done under incredibly adverse conditions. I remember Tony Blair saying shortly after the attacks that today we are all New Yorkers. That is praise indeed. Security is tight, the National Guard are deployed at all stations. People have been asked to be vigilant, and they are doing so. But they have got the city back on its feet and it is hitting back hard. Well done New York.
I feel safer in New York than in London. It was none other than the Mayor of London, Mr Ken Livingstone, who uttered these words. And he was right, the zero tolerance in New York has paid a handsome dividend. It is unfortunate that Mayor Ken doesn't follow Giuliani and Bloomberg's example. Unlike London, New York is spotless, you are not assaulted by beggars and there is a visual police presence. Strict codes are enforced on cab drivers and public transport works. Perhaps Mayor Ken should take note.
REGULAR readers of this column will be familar with my obssession with prices and in some cases rip-off Majorca. Right, here goes. Dinner for two in a good standard restaurant in central Manhattan with a bottle of wine cost 70 euros. Not a bargain but you could expect to pay similar in Palma. And now for Palma airport. Two beers and a packet of crisps cost 10 euros, similar order in London cost 2.90 pounds. And people say that Heathrow is expensive.