The idea of writing a blog post about my time in New York is a little daunting – like the city itself. We arrived at JFK airport last Wednesday from Niagara Falls, which I will get to before finishing this entry. It wasn’t so easy to get to our hostel. We had some difficulty navigating the metro system, and the size of our bags combined with the heat didn’t exactly help matters. But we got there eventually and I was keen to get out and start exploring the city.
We headed straight from the hostel to Times Square, landing me right in the thick of it. It was Sabrina’s fourth time in New York so she knew what she was getting into. I, on the other hand, was completely overwhelmed by it all. Amongst the hoardes of people I didn’t know where to look. At the unbelievably enourmous stores on the street, at the flashing bilboards ovehead, or at the traffic coming from all directions.
We didn’t have a clear plan for our first afternoon; I was just wanting to get a feel for the city. So we walked. And walked. By dinner time we were exhausted, but it was great. I took photos of yellow taxis and typical New York buildings and giant m&m dispensers. Movies and TV shows based in New York were always at the back of my mind as we went around. It felt quite surreal to finally be there.
The following morning I went up the Empire State Building, which provided amazing views of the city. It was a bit of a wait to get up there but unquestionably worthwhile. Sabrina and I spent the early afternoon walking along Fifth Avenue. Admittedly, most of the stores were not quite in our price range, but it was fun to see what was on offer. A highlight was stopping in to the New York Public Library, as well as F.A.O. Shwartz, the famous toy store. It’s fun even if you’re not a kid.
After lunch we went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art – or the Met. There’s a huge range of work to see; we barely made a dint in it. But what we did manage to see, we really enjoyed.. from sculptures to celebrated paintings to contemporary art.
Those of you who know me well would know that I am a big ‘Friends’ fan. Sabrina is too, so we made a point to find the aprtment building that always appears in the episodes. It took a bit of scrutinising our map, but we eventually found the right intersection in Greenwich Village. And we both got quite a thrill out of seeing it.
That night we had dinner at Katz’s, a well known Jewish style deli. We shared one of those massive pastrami sandwiches with pickled cucumbers. Yum. And apparently a scene from ‘When Harry Met Sally’ was filmed there!
The following day, Friday, we had both been looking forward to for some time. Our friend Aditi, also from exchange in London, was going to come from Conneticut to spend the day with us. We met her at Grand Central Station in the morning. We killed two birds with one stone there – it’s a spectacular station definitely worth seeing.
Unfortunately the weather turned on us that day. It rained and rained. We discovered Chelsea Market, which was really cool and fortunately indoors. It’s full of novelty fresh food stores and trendy little shops selling books, clothing and other things.
Later in the afternoon, the sun came back out and we went to High Line park. It’s of course not as well known as Central Park (which we did wander through the day before) but it’s a great little place. It’s a few storeys off the ground, set up on an old railway line. There is some nice plant life and space for chilling. And ice cream of course.
It was the perfect place to catch up on the last year we’ve been apart. Of course, all the three of us could talk about was the recent news of another one of our London ladies, Colleen, who just got engaged to her boyfriend Jonathan. Her British boyfriend who she met during our semester abroad and we used to tease her that she’d end up marrying him. Congratulations Colleen! We are all SO excited. (you can read her blog here)
Unfortunately we only had the day with Aditi, but in the evening we caught up with another friend of mine who happened to be in New York at the same time as us. We had dinner in Little Italy.
The next morning I took a ferry to Staten Island so I could get a view of the Statue of Liberty. It doesn’t take your breath away or anything, but it’s something you simply have to see. I had nice views of the city from the ferry as well.
Sabrina tends to feel unwell on boats, so I met her afterwards. We walked to Wall Street, and then part way over the Brooklyn Bridge. We also went to the 9/11 Memorial, which I found to be very tastefully put together. Two big memorial fountains cascade into the ground where the twin towers once stood. All around, the new World Trade Centre complex is going up.
And you can’t leave New York without seeing a show. Perhaps I’ll lose all credibility in mentioning that I saw ‘Bring it On’ the musical, but whatever. It was fantastic – colourful and exciting and thoroughly entertaining. The main thing is, I saw a show on Broadway.
All in all, New York was an experience, but I wouldn’t say I loved it. I enjoyed exploring the various neighbourhoods, but the centre of the city was simply mayhem. To the extent that you can barely walk down the street; there are just too many people. It was a huge relief to arrive in Washington DC, which is far more relaxed. I would love to tell you all about it now, but it will have to wait.
I did, however, promise a few words on Niagara Falls. They are a brilliant feat of nature. The first night we were there was some civic holiday, so we got to see fireworks over the falls, which were spectactular. On our full day there, we photographed the falls from all angles and went on the ‘Maid of the Mist,’ which takes you down to the falls. They give you ponchos so you don’t get soaked by the spray. It’s really cool. Other than the falls, it’s just a little touristy strip with a few tacky, overpriced attractions. But the falls are a must see.
I hope this finds everyone well. Can’t believe I’m half way through my trip already. Hopefully I’ll have some time for a Washington DC blog soon.