I believe it is a testimony to how much I enjoyed myself in LA when, suddenly, I was at the airport, supposed to leave, but realizing I had done absolutely no, zero, zip, nill, nada research about New York whatsoever. What would I do once I landed at JFK? No clue.
It certainly did not add to it that the taxi driver tried to trick me by taking the long route – and blatantly had to make a U-turn when I called him out on it while watching my GPS tracker – nor that I arrived to the hostel feeling like poop after the Aircon on the flight. I was prepared to lie down in my top bunk bed (I love how I always get the top) for the rest of my staying, but, thanks to the awesome nature of Hostel communities, I sooner made new acquaintances to go sightseeing with. Thus, my New York adventure started with fine people and a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge over to Manhattan.
On an historically old rail line elevated above the streets of Manhattan’s West side, you’ll find something you don’t find everywhere else: A public park has been built with market corners, street art and water creations which will most likely be the closest you will ever get to walking along a shore – I mean with toes literally in the water – in the middle of the city. I think this is an almost just as wonderful escape from the city life as Central Park, only perhaps a bit more urban and with less bugs. I know for sure I haven’t been many places where I can take off my shoes, cool down my feet in the water and walk barefoot along the concrete several meters above a buzzling city.
Even today, Einstein seems to provide us with the answers we so desperately seek in the midst of everything going on.
Tip: Not far from here, you should be able to find a small restaurant/bar that consists of seating arrangements on the deck of a boat. I didn’t take down the name, but apparently there are a few around New York’s Harbors.
The Staten Island Ferry and Lady Liberty
On the second day, me and the guys left from the day before met D before setting out on our biggest sightseeing day. It was such a fun day, but boy were we all exhausted afterwards. The day began with a visit to Lady Liberty – only we did not take the boat taking us directly there. Apparently you have to book in advance to go inside the actual Lady Liberty so we took an enjoyable boat ride to and from Staten Island with the free ferry instead. I would really recommend doing this if you, like us, only can/want to see the Lady Liberty in all her splendor. Moreover, taking the ferry and going by the Lady in a boat also gives you the opportunity to try and reenact the final (Flashback) Titanic scene (See Tip Below).
Tip: You might want to listen to the Titanic soundtrack for an enhanced Rose DeWitt-Bukater Dawson arrival to America feeling. If you don’t have the soundtrack available you may also just considering singing it like I did (Don’t worry, the ship didn’t sink #gallowshumour).
NYC Time Square
I think you could find most things you’d be interested in here from Fashion to the M&M shop; from Cafés to Restaurants. All you would have to do, I guess, is survive the buzzling mayhem of people and traffic! Speaking of traffic, I really did not find the traffic (including the walking people) as chaotic as movies make it seem – but then again, I’m used to Thailand.
Tip: Apparently it was really nice to go here by night as well. I really wanted to go, but couldn’t because of the flu hitting me.
Plaza Hotel & Central Park
Well, the Plaza Hotel itself wasn’t much to see, but it’s really nice that there are some spots within the Plaza that you’re allowed to go and have a peek at. The Fountain above is told to be the Friends fountain by tour guides, this is bull. The Friends fountain was set up in the studios (apparently).
Central Park, on the other hand, was amazing and such a perfectly situated spot for a breather. It didn’t take us long before we felt like we needed to get out of the city – but it did take long before we ever got out of the park so make sure you are aware of the time it will take to walk through it. I’d say rent a bicycle, but we didn’t find it as easy and convenient as we thought it would be so we dropped it.
Tip: Have anyone seen this guy playing in Central Park? Whoever knows who he is, please let him know he is amazing and encourage him to pursue this as a career. Anyone looking for a talent, you know where to find him.
Empire State Building and Rockefeller
Let me say this now: Empire State Building is better viewed from afar. It looks ridiculously incredible from distance, but up close you are simply not going to be able to take it. You’ll be staring up at a wall. We therefore went to the top of the Rock(efeller) to get a panorama view of the New York Skyline. What can I say? A picture speaks more than a thousand words? No, because a picture simply couldn’t capture it. I don’t even think my head is done processing it.
Tip: Go to Rockefeller and get in line to get to the top a bit around 7PM-ish (or a bit before) to be allowed to stay up on the top until past 8.30 PM. This way, you’ll be able to take pictures during daytime, sunset and the night sky when all the lights come on.
9/11 World Trade Center Memorial
No one will ever forget this day. I certainly won’t. What happened, on this very spot, moved so many people within and outside of America. I still remember watching it all with disbelief, so sure it was all just a film on the Telly. I think everyone who has experienced Terror on their home country can relate to some extent, but if you’re not from the said country, it would almost be as if it never gets entirely real. Then you get here and it gets too real. My skin went hypersensitive with empathic nerves. I felt the sorrows of a decade. The wind breathed for those who will never breathe again; engraved names carried witness of stolen destinies. Standing here made the tears silently stream down. I had to walk around on my own because I’m not really fond of crying around people although it does happen more than I like to admit. What baffled me though were the quizzical looks I would get; from what I could tell, people found it weirder if someone was crying rather than standing in front of the memorial and smiling for the cameras #givinguponhumanity.
Tip: Bring tissues.
At first I loved the sound of The Local NYC when I read their info page. Then, people made me aware that Queen’s is a shady area so obviously I began wondering if I would even make it out the hostel doors. My first intuition was right. The Local NYC is awesome with nice clean rooms and a big sunroof. It’s also so close to Manhattan and the subway system that you wouldn’t need to worry about the area itself. Moreover, it has activity nights/days and hosts a lot of nice people (speaking from experience). The only shame is that they don’t have an elevator so pack lightly!
Manhattan Bridge – Peeking through the fence on Chinatown
Start spreading the news, I’ve left already xxx