Sunday, 15 March 2015

New York, New York

I wasn't blown away by New York. I really, really wanted to love it and have wanted to go since I was young, but it just didn't capture my heart.

Maybe I would have loved it if it was warm, or if I was with friends, or if I wasn't staying in a hostel, so I will give it another go (in the summer!), but this trip didn't do much for me. Shame!!

I landed on Friday afternoon.  I had a relatively uneventful flight with a minor kerfuffle at security (for some reason my bag always gets selected for an extra special search). 

Top tip: don't go to the cinema before you have an international flight; the movie selection was ace and all recent releases.  I watched Foxcatcher (and fell asleep), Birdman (and fell asleep) and a documentary on the monsoon season in Cambodia (and fell asleep).  Turns out I'm good at sleeping on planes (and also the aforementioned films aren't that great)

It's really easy to get from Newark airport to central Manhattan.  I made friends with the couple next to me and together we navigated from the plane to central NYC.  At stateside security I got a bit flumoxxed as the guy asked me so many questions, "why are you here, where are you staying, what is your occupation, how much money do you have, will this be enough".  I couldn't tell if he was making conversation or being official and I got all nervous and sweaty and felt like I was doing something illegal.

From the airport you follow signs to the Airtrain, buy a ticket for $12.50 and get the airtrain to the terminal change.  From here you take either track A or 1 to New York Penn station.

At Penn station I decided to walk to the hostel as it looked quite close on the map...it would have been if I had gone the right way in the first place, whoops!!

I stayed in the New York Budget Inn in a 4 room female dorm.  The beds were $55 a night which was fairly reasonable price in my very thorough hint for accommodation. You also got free dunkin donuts at breakfast (this may have aided my choice a bit..) I was sharing with an Aussie, a Canadian and an Italian lady.  Maddie, the Canadian, invited me along to dinner with her friend which I gladly accepted.  We headed out for pizza and ended up in a dive bar called Peculiar Pub (their spelling not mine), bonding over how rubbish boys are and our mutual love of chips.  The pub was great, they had probably over 150 different types of beers from all over the world.  The boys back home would have loved it. I had a chai tea beer which was amazing.  On the subway home I saw a man wearing crotched trousers.

On Saturday I woke bright and early ready to explore.  I had a vague plan to head south down 5th and see what downtown had to offer.  I began with breakfast in a place Maddie and Nicole had recommended, I had a croissant with scrambled eggs and cheese and pesto. I always forget I don't like scrambled eggs unless I have made it myself so it was a bit disappointing.

It was absolutely pissing it down and within five minutes of leaving the hostel I was soaked to the skin.  I ended up buying a new handbag (it was necessary! My one was soaked and my camera was getting wet) from a street stall specialising in fakes and I'm proud new owner of a fake branded bag. I'm so cool I actually have no idea what brand it is meant to be. I got $5 off though so go me.

I passed an interesting shop and went in for a little respite from the rain.  It was a shop selling chess sets, all different types from Egyptian figures to american civil war themed sets. You could also play games in the back room. I loved it and if I ever started a business I would want to do something like that.  (I own a business.. Oh what's your business? A chess set shop... And how's that going? Ah business is a bit stale, mate...) Virtual high five me please. 

I ended up at the 9/11 memorial and museum.  The memorial itself is two pools of water where the original towers lay, with the names of those who lost their lives etched into the sides of the pools.  The museum costs $24 and is definitely worth it.  It's built underneath the memorial and the main part of the museum is within the original perimeter of the towers.  I spent a good two hours in there.  It is incredibly moving and a very interesting and detailed account of what happened that day.  It made me cry and is an incredibly hard hitting, humbling and sombre experience, featuring photos, eye witness accounts, videos and artefacts.  

From here I headed further south, past Wall Street and down to the Staten Island Ferry.  This is a free commuter ferry which goes from south Manhattan island to Staten Island and goes past the Statue of Liberty (you can pay for boat tours but I'm a total cheapskate).  The weather was still miserable so the views weren't great but it was a nice thing to do and I can imagine would be great to do in summer.

I walked back to the hostel, passing the Brooklyn bridge, going through Chinatown and Little Italy and ending up back on 34th street where my hostel was.  I was cream crackered and I reckon I must have walked about 10 miles (there's a hole in my sock to prove it) so had a shower and went to bed. 

Sunday I had to check out, so woke early, left my luggage and went to explore Mid Manhattan.  I started off at the Rockefeller Centre, this is brilliant.  It's pricey ($29) but the views are amazing.  Thank the Lord, there was no rain or cloud cover today so I got good views! Grey and drab but at least I could see out across Manhattan.  There's 3 different levels you can go to. The top level is the most unobstructed view as there's no glass surround, but it is very cold and windy.  The glass surround on the other levels have gaps between them so it is possible to get good photos through the gaps.

From here I walked up to Central Park.  This was a disappointment but to be fair the weather played a huge part in my diaappointment too, the park was brown and drab because it's winter, duhh!! I can imagine it's very beautiful in the summer.  I did a short loop of the park, cutting across one of the "ramble" paths where you can pretend you're in the countryside rather than a big city.  I passed a bunch of 10 people all quietly snapping away at the ground. I stood watching for 10 minutes trying to work out what they were taking photos of, until I just asked someone.  Apparently it was a woodcock.  I have no idea why that was so fascinating.  It has been pretty cold in NYC of late and all of the ponds in the park were frozen solid still.

I walked back to the hostel via Times Square which is quite impressive, it's basically Piccadilly Circus multiplied. So many huge screens all blaring one advertisement or another.  I stopped to eat in a diner.  Bonus for travelling solo is you get to skip dinner queues if you don't mind eating at the counter.

I randomly decided to get my eyebrows threaded before I returned to the hostel.  The lady also convinced me to get my upper lip done (ow!) and I had to walk around for the next 2 hours with a bright red moustache and eyebrows. But at least now I am hairless!

Oh also today the sun came out for 10 minutes.  It made me SO happy that it adds weight to the fact I think I would much prefer New York in the summer.

I'm now at the hotel where the tour starts from tomorrow.  It's much posher than the hostel (not that the hostel was bad, in fact it was a much better experience than I thought it would be) and I'm looking forward to being in the company of people again! 2.5 days alone has made me a bit funny in the head.

Anyway well done for reaching this far with no photos.  This has been posted due to popular demand (well Leanne Lisa and Mum!) and I'll update with pics when I'm back, in the meantime look at my insta and imagine the words with those pictures!

3 comments:

  1. Yay!!! I love your words!! I much prefer reading what you have to say than looking at the pictures ❤️It sounds like you had a good time in New York even though the weather was bad! Il go with you in the summer! Can't wait for the next installment xxxxxxxxxxx

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    1. Lisi a blog post without pictures is like a body without a heart! Or just an essay. Yay girls trip to NYC!! Love you long time xxx

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  2. My comment disappeared! So I am sorry if it appears twice. I am so excited that you have blogged! I thought I was going to have to wait until you got back and annoy you then. I agree with Lisa - I prefer the words. I love essays! I love all these words - especially about the woodcock and being hairless xxxxx

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