New Jersey

Lower Manhattan seen across the Hudson from Neummann Leather Building, Hoboken

The first thing I got asked when I told some Americans I was moving to New Jersey back in 2004 was "Which exit?".

It's a joke. Most Americans think the state is nothing but a load of freeways, the Garden State Parkway and the New Jersey Turnpike.

Funnily enough, one of the first things I remember hearing about New Jersey is the line from the Simon and Garfunkel song which talks of counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike, the road that snakes the length of the state.

Hoboken backstreets I have done a lot of miles on that highway, commuting between Morris County, where I worked, and Jersey City in Hudson County, where I lived, criss-crossing the Meadowlands every day.

The coolest part of New Jersey is Hudson County, often referred to as New York's sixth borough and frankly more interesting than any of the other five except for Manhattan. It is even the home of the Statue of Liberty! I bet you thought that was in New York.

Lou Carbone in his Hoboken studio And the coolest part of Hudson County is Hoboken, the setting for "On the Waterfront", birthplace of baseball, Frank Sinatra and Weegee. It is also where the wonderful artist, Lou Carbone, lives and works so I popped round to catch up with him and buy a painting as a surprise anniversary present for my wonderful wife.

A short walk away from Hoboken, at the Newport Mall in Jersey City, I picked up my hire car for the next few months, a white Buick with Florida plates. Could this be the new Nicmobile? Has it got a cop motor, a 440-cubic-inch plant? Cop tires, cop suspension, cop shocks?

No, but it does run good on regular gas. It will do for my first road trip.

Midtown Manhattan seen across the Hudson from Hoboken

Next stop: Massachusetts.