Sunday, 21 July 2013

new york: empire state of mind

So after all the wedding hecticness I was almost ready to go home and skip New York. I had just had the best time and I could easily have ended my holiday there. Thankfully I didn't because New York ended up being another amazing time of course!

I first went to New York on a whirlwind guided tour with some other exchange students when I was 17. It was just another highlight in my year of living in the states and I since it was a guided tour I didn't bother looking too much into what to do. All the remember thinking at the time was that here was a city I could live in. Maybe not for a long time, but for awhile. That dream unfortunately got buried beneath a host of others due to logistics and time, but returning to New York has made it come alive again. I don't know how it would be possible, but lets just say it's on the list! The long, long list...

New York skyline

I arrived in The Big Apple on Tuesday at lunchtime and Neil kindly met me at the airport to take me back to his house in Queens where he lives with Tess. Even though I hadn’t seen Tess or Neil since probably around 1st year at uni they kindly let me stay at their house for the few days I was in NY. I love that when people travel they are so open and willing to let people come and stay even if they haven’t seen them in ages. I always think what is the point of being friends with people on facebook and that kind of thing if you wouldn’t see them in real life if you could, and I have an open door policy when it comes to people visiting and needing a place to stay. 

I spent the next few days exploring the city during the day and meeting up with Neil and Tess at night for various adventures. 

The first night we went to one of the events Neil was working at. We had free vodka drinks before leaving for a delicious Mexican meal which included an embarrassing fake birthday for me that resulted in a free dessert...

First glimpse of Manhattan after getting off the subway
My first day exploring I took the subway to Grand Central Terminal and then walked along 5th Avenue and to the Rockefeller Center

Constellations on the roof of the station

A familiar view from movies
Rockefeller Center

Outside the Rockefeller Centre

I had lunch a delicious lunch I bought off the street in Central Park and then explored that a bit more, since the last time I only got to see a tiny part of it. 

Delicious street lunch!
Area dedicated to John Lennon
John Lennon Memorial

Reading in Central Park
View over Central Park
Alice in Wonderland statue
Boats on a lake in Central Park
Father and son playing catch at lunchtime in Central Park
After relaxing with a book for awhile I headed to Times Square. New York was in the middle of a heat wave so it was almost unbearably hot. There were water stations all over the city giving out free water. 

Times Square!
That night I met Neil and Tess at the Chelsea Market. They film a lot of the cooking shows on TV here and have some great little places to get food. We got some stuff to cook at home and some beer for later!

Delicious balsamic vinegar's to try!

Day two saw me headed down the lower Manhattan to the World Trade Center site. When I was there in 2005 you could go into a building nearby and look down into the hole left behind, and see cranes still working on moving things around. This time I went to the 9/11 Memorial. It was a sobering experience to see where the towers had stood and all the names on the outlines. There were people there who were obviously family or connected in some way to people who has died because they were using tracing paper to take a print of a name. 

New World Trade One overlooking the memorial
South Tower memorial
North Tower memorial
9/11 memorial

Tree that survived the towers collapsing

After that I headed towards Wall Street, stopping for a pretzel on the way. Delicious! I jumped on the free ferry to Staten Island, so that I could sail past and see the Statue of Liberty. On my first trip to New York I had been up the Empire State Building and to the Statute of Liberty and other obvious touristy things. This made it a bit easier for me to just soak in New York this time and not feel rushed to see the sites. 

New York Stock Exchange

Pretzel om nom

Statue of Liberty!

On the ferry back to NY
I went to China Town and found a shop with delicious Bubble Tea which I have been craving since I left Australia. It was so hot I sat inside for awhile soaking up the air conditioning and downing two huge teas in a row!

I missed my bubble tea!!!
After that what was there to do but have gelato in Little Italy?

From there I made my way to Greenwich Village and walked around before stumbling across a park with a beautiful fountain. I relaxed for awhile then headed back to the apartment. That night we headed over to Tess's friends house in Harlem, and all tried to sit in the one room that had air conditioning. The heat was just crazy!
Park near Greenwich Village
Playing basketball in the city...don't know how they do it in the heat!

Day 3 and I was back in Central Manhattan at the New York Public Library. It is really beautiful inside, and I can't imagine how awesome it must be to be a student and come and study here. I have to say it beats the Palmerston North Library and Massey University Library hands down! Victoria University library might have an awesome view but I think this library still beats it!

Outside the New York Library

Studying area in the library
I ended up heading back to Times Square because I was obsessed with having New York Cheesecake and there was a shop there that purportedly had the best. I also came across filming for the Jimmy Kimmel show and was entertained for awhile by them throwing buckets of water over people because of the heatwave, and asking them how they felt afterwards. 

Delicious New York Cheesecake
Getting soaked
I was going to attempt a museum but instead ate a hotdog and went back to the apartment so that I could relax before we were going out. 

My last night out in New York turned out to be one of my favourite nights ever. 

It started out with Tess and I grabbing some street cart food and heading on the subway to Brooklyn to meet some of her friends at a bar for a birthday celebration. The bar was really cool and had a great outdoor area in the back, which we made use of even though we were dying of heat because it hardly cooled down at all even when the sun went down.

After that we went to meet Neil at the Empire Hotel where he had been working earlier in the night and had saved us some drinks tickets. We got to skip the line and go in and hung out on the rooftop bar. Definite score. 
At the Empire Hotel
Afterwards I hailed my first New York taxi and we went to 230 Fifth which was another rooftop bar that looked right out to the Empire State Building. It was surreal being on a rooftop in the middle of Manhattan. We got fancy cocktails and chatted with people and had an awesome time.
Hailing a taxi!
Elevator up to 230 Fifth
Annnnd down...
Drinks overlooking the Empire State Building
When we left it was around 3am and as we walked out we were planning to take the subway home, when a guy offered us a limo ride for $100. We said no straight away and another guy offered one for $80. We still said no thinking that was far too expensive since we could just take the subway for free. Eventually we managed to get him down to $60 including all tips and tax and only if he took us through Times Square and we could lean out the windows (unfortunately there was no sunroof). For that price how could we say no??

Limo party!
So we got in. And I need to learn some new adjectives...but it was AMAZING.
Hanging out the limo window
We put on music we wanted and wound down the windows to lean out and picked up a random guy on his way home and took him with us all the way to Queens instead. He wanted the party to continue when we got there but we told him we were going home!

Tess out the limo window

Driving through Times  Square!
The next day we were hungover and tired since we didn’t sleep until around 5am so we had the most delicious frozen yoghurt where you choose your flavour and toppings and went to the movies to see Pacific Rim, which turned out better than I thought!

Frozen yoghurt with a million toppings!

I caught a late night flight home and had a 3 hour stopover in Paris, which was fairly boring and didn’t feel like I was in France at all, before I got home and Danny and Sophie picked me up at the airport. It was good to be back home, although I apparently missed the best 2 weeks of Edinburgh weather ever!

Once again New York had gotten under my skin without me even realising it, and now I'm so looking forward to the next time I can go! And an especially HUGE thanks to Neil and Tess for having me to stay!!!


1 comment:

  1. awesome!!! I loved reading this. I felt like I was there too :) One day I will get there.

    Had me in tears though when reading your words about 9/11 and ground zero. I don't think we will ever not be touched whenever we read, hear or see anything about that time.