David Shull greets us with open arms in the middle of Times Square: ‘Welcome to my New York!’ We are looking forward to discovering the city that never sleeps from the perspective of a culture-loving Texan who moved to the Big Apple 19 years ago and has worked for the company since 1996. What follows next is a twelve-hour non-stop tour of one of the world’s most exciting metropolises. David has promised us the important sights and hot tips from an insider. ‘Let’s go!’ We can’t wait.
Our host waves down one of the legendary yellow cabs and suddenly breaks out laughing: ‘Look at the license plate!’ It’s almost too good to be true: in big letters we read JURA. ‘If that isn’t a good omen...’ The driver skilfully weaves his way through thick traffic. Our trip ends in front of the Rockefeller Center. ‘Up and away!’ Once we’re on the viewing platform, David explains why he wants to show us the city from here: ‘The Empire State Building is part of any visit to New York, right? But when you’re up there, the thing missing from the skyline is the silhouette of the building you’re on. Which is why a visit to the Top of the Rock is more spectacular. The view is simply breathtaking – and look over there: the Empire State Building.’
Like Phoenix from the ashes
David tells us to get ready for one of the most memorable and meaningful experiences in New York. What he means by that become crystal-clear when David takes us to the Freedom Tower and the 9/11 Museum. We enter the exhibition. Silence. It all feels a little oppressive. Here we can actually touch what we’d only ever seen on television before. ‘It’s hard to describe the compassion and emotion I feel here. I have visited this site annually and have watched and observed the building of the memorial. It’s a place for the entire world to reflect and remember, and to appreciate the rebirth of this neighbourhood as rebuilds like a phoenix rising from the ashes. Whenever people visit New York, I encourage them to visit this historic site.’
Hotspots for a gourmet
David Shull is a man who appreciates good food. Freshness and quality are his two top criteria. Whenever possible, he buys his food at Eataly. ‘Just look how much love and care goes into their presentation. Here you’ll find the best that Italy has to offer in the way of fine food: everything your heart desires – or your taste buds,’ he says jokingly. The choice is vast. You feel more like you are in an immaculately maintained market hall in Italy than at the heart of a pulsating international city.
hen David makes a beeline for an invitingly light and airy shop and points to the sign on the door. ‘Although I love coffee every day, I’m also passionate about top-quality tea. And what better place to enjoy it than my namesake, David’s Tea?’
The sun brings out the intensity of the colours in the wall frescoes as David takes us down The High Line. ‘I’m fascinated by the creative juxtaposition of old and new. On one side you’ve got the brownstones and a defunct railway line, on the other, modern constructions in steel and glass. And there is always art, in and on the buildings. All in all, it’s an inspiration,’ says David in summary.
Time for a break and a coffee
‘Let’s take a break,’ suggests David. He can see we’re close to overload with all the new information and impressions. ‘It may be hard to believe, but New York has some wonderful places where you can really chill out and relax.’ High Line is one of them. We sit down on a bench and take in the staggering view. We hear the sounds of a street musician, the ships, the staccato footsteps of passing joggers and the ever-present background noise that is the sound of a city breathing.
‘But now it’s time for a coffee, don’t you think?’ Coffee is always good news. ‘At home and in the office, nothing comes close to my JURA automatic machines. But in town I like going to the Intelligentsia Coffee Shop.’ We go in. The air is heavy with the enticing aroma of fresh coffee. ‘The baristas here do an amazing job. You don’t just get wonderful espresso. Intelligentsia has also rediscovered and reinterpreted the filter coffee concept. Try it, and you’ll forget all the horror stories you’ve ever heard about American filter coffee.’ It’s true.
Sur la table is handwritten in golden letters against a dark background above the entrance to which David is now guiding us. ‘This is one of the most chic and fashionable places for buying household equipment. There are over a hundred branches nationwide,’ explains our marketing specialist with his disarming charm and charisma. He says a friendly ‘Hi’ to the sales personnel and exchanges a few words. They clearly know each other. Then he proudly stands next to a GIGA 5. ‘In exclusive stores like this we have lots of JURA automatic machines. This is where all the celebrities shop. Brilliant, don’t you think?’ We nod approvingly.
Blown away by Broadway
Slowly, the sun sets, making way for the many neon lights of Times Square that vie with the gleam in David’s eyes. ‘This is my world. I love the theatre, the opera, musicals and concerts. In the last two decades I’ve seen at least 200 shows. The professionalism, passion and dedication of the artists here on Broadway are unconditional: in a sense, it gives me the incentive to go to work. In my job, my aim is to fire up the same enthusiasm with our customers for our automatic machines.’ Before heading off for the evening’s entertainment, David likes to pop into 44½. He loves the ‘cozy atmosphere and the delicious cuisine. It’s perfect for a light dinner before the show.’
We treat ourselves to a nightcap at the Marriott Marquis’ The View, New York’s only revolving rooftop restaurant and lounge. David points out the countless posters, all advertising Broadway productions. Now completely in his element, he raves about his favourites and rattles off the shows he really wants to see – no, will see. Before disappearing into the night, David takes his leave of us with the words: ‘life is one long wonderful play, and the ideal stage for it is New York.’ Bursting with new impressions, we take the ride back to the hotel. On the way, we suddenly catch ourselves, quite unconsciously, humming the introduction to Frank Sinatra’s immortal anthem to the city that never sleeps: ‘New York, New York...’ Yeah, Ol’ Blue Eyes, you were right!
Images: Salvatore Gigante