A Collection Of My Favourites
Some Things Are Great No Matter Where You Are…
Once again I was up early and raring to go. However, today I wasn’t heading off to a common sightseeing destination. In fact only a small exclusive group of people will have heard of it. The Blind Pig is a small pub on the south east corner of Manhattan in an area dominated by Irish pubs and sports bars. It also happens to be the official Arsenal NYC supporters club and ever since I had read about it in a weekly Arseblog, I knew I wanted to go and meet some of the people who supported a team that played their football so far away from NYC.
A beautiful 3-0 victory and several pints later we left and went for brunch. Cautious that I was in severe danger of losing a whole day of my little time in New York I decided to head off to South Manhattan on my own. Brooklyn Bridge was another goal on my to do list and I had some beautiful weather for the occasion:
I wasn’t disappointed and although there were tourists everywhere, I was getting used to it by now and it didn’t ruin the walk. The view across the bay is amazing and second only to the Staten Island Ferry but more on that later. I spent some time looking at the various messages on the bridge and snapping photos of a few which you can find here. Here’s my addition:
*Not really. My handwriting is woeful compared to that masterpiece.
An Emotional Walk… For Some
Next I decided to head down to Wall Street via the World Trade Centre site. I wasn’t really sure what to expect and when I got there I wasn’t convinced I was in the right place when I did:
The entire area has been done up and there’s barely anything to show for the tragedy which I think is a shame as I thought there might be some sort of memorial. Then again there was a huge section cut off where there may have been some stuff in the planning so I’ll hold off until it’s been released. I did find this statue depicting the man who climbed out of the rubble in the aftermath of 9/11:
What really pissed me off was the light hearted manner that many of the non English tourists were adopting on the scene. One family where climbing all over the statue, making jokes and having a right old laugh about it. I’m pretty sure if something similar happened at one of the war cemeteries in Europe someone would have something to say about it. Anyway, that’s an issue for the police to fix.
Afterward it was getting towards sunset so I headed for the Staten Island ferry, camera in hand. I made a huge error in rushing to the front of the boat as they close all the doors and windows which haven’t been cleaned in years so it’s impossible to get a good picture. However they leave the doors open on the back so you can get a really good view of Manhattan as you drive away from it. I’d definitely recommend going at sunset, I managed to time it just right:
Good Morning New York
Originally I thought it was the jet lag that woke me up at 5am this morning. About ten minutes later as I was just drifting off again I realised the actual cause. The J line of the subway system goes above the road that my hostel is on and I had a room overlooking the train line itself. That placed me about 10 feet away from a train that runs up to every ten minutes, 24/7, with a single pane of glass to shield me from the noise. I was really starting to like Brooklyn.
I spent the next hour or so taking tiny power naps between the trains before eventually giving up and getting showered. It was time to head out and do some sightseeing. If I’d been culture shocked by the city’s vastness the night before then it was nothing compared to climbing out of the subway at Rockefeller Centre Station. You see the skyscrapers from a distance and they’re impressive, but it’s when you get underneath them and have to arch your neck to see the tops where you get a real feeling of how impressive these buildings are. Pictures can’t even do them justice.
Having readjusted my neck to the correct degree I set off for Time Square. I was fairly underwhelmed to be honest, it just seemed like a huge tourist trap with not a lot to see. Don’t get me wrong I still enjoyed the area I just thought there were far more important things to see.
I wanted to make my way to Central Park via Fifth Avenue which is the shopping hub of New York. I’d promised my lite sister I would head to Abercrombie & Fitch and get her some discount stuff. Unfortunately, when I got there the queue was well over an hour long and I just didn’t have time to waste standing around some alley. Abercrombie will have to wait till California. Eventually I reached Central Park:
What amazed me most about the Park is the complete contrast to you get from walking down fifth avenue, arching your neck to check out the skyscrapers and avoiding the tourists with their ridiculous number of shopping bags, to walking through a park that wouldn’t look out of place in the English countryside. Obviously there are still a lot more people but no ones in a hurry, unless they’re out jogging the 11km circuit. Most people are just chilling out on the benches, feeding the squirrels or even rowing on the lake. A few days on I can still say that it’s my favourite place in the US so far. I just wish I had done the run as it’s on my bucket list. At least it gives me a good reason to return when my ankle has healed.
Top Of The Rock
Now I came to one of the key dilemmas facing any tourist in New York : Empire State Building or Rockefeller Centre? It’s a serious ‘first world problem’ I know but still one that has to be addressed. Now I had it on good information that the view is actually better from Rockefeller Centre and it is also considerably cheaper so I went for that option. I got my ticket for the earliest tour available which gave me an hour to kill. I took the opportunity to grab my first authentic New York Deli Sandwich, a choice I’d highly recommend. There are a huge selection of places to get these in the basement of Rockefeller Centre. Unfortunately I made the error of also getting a ‘large’ coffee from Starbucks. The cup I was served reminded me of the sharer cups they give out at the movies in England that are designed for four people. If anyone has ever finished one of these behemoth beverages I’m pretty sure they’d have needed a restroom break in between starting and finished. Personally, I needed two.
Eventually it was my allocated time to start queuing for the ascent. The wait was long but relatively painless. There were a large amount of shows providing information about the Rockefeller Centre and its roots. Unfortunately they also had a lengthy story about their nation’s unhealthy obsession with the Christmas Tree. I’m certain that no one can be that excited about lighting up a tree once a year but maybe I’m just not being festive enough. Up the elevator we went and walked out to one of the most spectacular metropolis tickets views available on the earth today:
Like I said, pretty spectacular. I had also decided that I wanted to see the view at night as well so I bought the Sun & Stars ticket allowing me to make the trip up later that night, a choice I’d highly recommend to anyone considering it:
Going up at night gave me a great opportunity to mess around with my camera. Here’s me making some J’s using the ESB :
Last but not least, a wise piece of advice from me to you: whatever you do in life, never, ever be this guy:
Tomorrow the Arsenal are playing and I’ll have the opportunity to visit The Blind Pig!
So You’re Telling Me Broadway Isn’t Just Time Square?
I arrived at JFK last night with so much adrenaline pumping through my system I could barely function. I had heard so much about New York City and its benefits and drawbacks and I couldn’t wait to find out what it was like for myself. However the subway system leaves a lot to be desired and it took me an age to finally find out which way to go and then get to the subway station nearest my hostel. I’m not going to lie, when I booked my hostel and it said Broadway I had expected to be staying down the road from time square and would be able to hear the Lion King performance from my room. However I since learnt that Broadway spans the entire length of Manhattan so there’s really no point in booking a hostel simply because it’s on Broadway. It’s also worth checking that you are on the right Broadway. Try not to do what I did and book yourself onto the Broadway in Brooklyn. Brooklyn is slightly dodgy to say the least.
Anyway, facing up to my mistakes I got off the subway and stepped into my new world for the next couple of days. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of what it looked like as I refused to take my camera out for fear of it getting stolen, but that should provide you with a general picture of how I felt about the place at the time. I rushed around in the dark desperately searching for my hostel, constantly looking over my shoulder and finally found it. I dropped off my bag, locked up the valuables and headed straight out as it was almost 11pm and the only way to get through the jet lag was to keep moving. Thinking back on what I did next, it really does seem quite moronic. Having just spent half an hour panicking about how dodgy the area I staying in was, I decided that because I no longer had anything valuable on my person that I was immune to muggings and people would look straight through me. I must have been so tired. Not only did I decide to walk instead of getting the subway, I decided to walk to Manhattan via the Williamsberg Bridge. I just figured that the Hudson must be about the same size as the Thames and I’d be looking up at the Empire State Building within 20 minutes or so. When it got to the half hour mark and I’d not even made it halfway across the river, I was starting to think the Hudson is slightly bigger than I’d previously considered. It was also dawning on me that this is not a bridge that people decide to walk across as I’d only seen cyclists so far. This is probably because of the walkway being caged by thick orange bars, all but eliminating any chance of a view across Manhattan.
Once again, cursing my lack of planning, I finally made it to my destination: Manhattan Island. The change in atmosphere from crossing over from one side of the river to the other is astonishing. The area was bustling with young money and they filed into the obviously over priced and pretentious bars like cattle. Well dressed cattle but cattle nonetheless. I was incredibly underdressed for these places and didn’t particularly fancy spending my first night stateside being turned away by bouncers because my wallet wasn’t stacked with hundred dollar bills and/or I didn’t have a ridiculous playboy model on each arm. However I did manage to tick one thing off my bucket list which made the whole ordeal worthwhile: grab a slice of famous New York Pizza. It was enormous, cheesy and dripping with grease, everything I wanted it to be. Much more satisfied, I jumped on the subway back to Brooklyn ready for an early start. Next up: Time Square, Central Park and most of the stuff in between.