I Heart NY (part one)
Start spreading the news, I (wish) I was leaving today, I wanna be a part of it …
Anyone who knows me will be very aware of my affection for the city that never sleeps (although I certainly do when I’m there!).
On a warm October in 1995 I experienced my first taste of New York City whilst on a tour of the Eastern seaboard. We were only in Manhattan for a couple of days but one of my fondest memories was the Empire State building. The guard in the lobby informed us there was 0% visibility due to cloud cover but as I didn’t know if I’d ever be back I said I still wanted to go up to the observation floor, and once there … WOW, it was the most surreal feeling standing outside in a cloud with all the differen’t lights from the building making the cloud change colour – Awesome.
Another vivid memory focuses on Times Square, not because of the bright lights and world famous theatre houses although these are amazing but because of an experience with a Pizza. Lost in translation wasn’t exactly the problem but lost in accent certainly was, I ordered a pepperoni from a little pizzeria in the heart of Broadway … simple right … until the guy said you wanna piece of pie (on later reflection I think he probably said pizza pie) but I didn’t want a pie I wanted a pizza! anyway after a few minutes of trying to confirm what the hell it was I was ordering I finally left with a Pizza the size of desk! I could only just about get my hands around the box and I had to hold this thing above my head whilst walking 6 blocks to the hotel passing pimps, hookers and drug dealers on the way. Since 2000 and the 0% tolerance to crime initiative this is sight you will no longer see in Times Square.
The most significant sight from that trip was one that I wasn’t fully aware of at the time and that was the sight of the twin towers standing magnificently in the New York skyline – a sight that I would never again see during my future visits. I was in NY in 2002 and walking past ground zero you still very much felt an overwhelming respect for all the victims of that fateful day and St Paul’s Chapel was still trapsed in stars and stripes, firemans jackets and cards.
Since that first trip I have had the fortune of visiting the Big Apple a number of times and still have not seen or experienced everything and thats what I love about this city. I love London but for me its less than an hour away and a visit to the big smoke just doesn’t captivate me like a flight and a few days in a foreign land. I’m also a big movie fan and trust me when I say there is no city in the world better than New York for sightseeing if your a movie buff.
For anyone out there thinking of going then I suggest you think no more and just go (money permitting of course) – it is a city that can be seen on a small budget, ok you have to pay for a flight and a hotel but the food is cheap and there’s plenty of it and you can spend 5 days just exploring the sights of the city without spending a dime. Times Square, Central Park, 5th Avenue, Brooklyn Bridge, Greenwich village – all free to explore. A good tip if you want to get great photo’s of the Statue of Liberty without joining the huge queue’s is to catch the Staten Island Ferry and again this is a freebie as long as you don’t get off on Staten Island.
Looking out over the city at night from the 102nd floor of the Empire State is breathtaking and equally amazing is the view from the Top of the Rock (Rockefeller centre) during the day, the latter has phenomenal views of Central Park with the Empire State being in the photo looking South bound.
Of course alot of people go for the shopping, I’m not really one of these although I have a major weakness for Abercrombie & Fitch which has an awesome flagship store on 5th Ave. I also love the old style escalators found in the centre of Macy’s, a cool reminder of an era longer gone.
June 25 2009 is a date I’ll not forgot in a while as I was standing in Times Square when all the screens started buzzing with the news that Michael Jackson had died – I’ve never seen Times Square so eerie with so many people staring up at the screens. The next few days really showed America’s love for MJ as breakdancers were performing to his music, lookalikes were entertaining the crowds and literally everywhere you went there were tributes to the King of Pop.
Willem Dafoe, Whoopi Goldberg and Mariah Carey are some the famous I’ve seen walking the blocks of this great city but its the diverse mix of people you find in Manhattan that never ceases to amaze … walking South from the tourist trap of Broadway you’ll soon find the beautiful charm of Greenwich Village which is so differen’t than the hustle and bustle of Midtown, continuing south you’ll then pass through Little Italy and the mesmerising smell of Italian food filling the air and then of course comes Chinatown with all its diamond stores and chandelier shops (I think I counted 9 in one street!).
Wanna take a journey where there will be thrills and spills and hair raising moments? no I’m not talking about the old wooden rollercoaster at Coney Island – I’m talking about the experience you will have when you enter into a New York Taxi!!!! Most drivers speak little English but I’m sure they all have WRC Rally Car licences. They don’t have time for indicators in Manhattan they just use the horn and if the car to the side won’t get out of the way … well thats what the bumpers are for! Still you find a good driver and you can have alot of fun, I asked one driver to turn up the music a touch and he decided this meant we wanted a mobile party so he turned the system up full whack and started jigging – I guess if you can’t beat em then join em so there was this taxicab rocking from side to side up 7th Ave.
Well that little trip down memory lane has sparked a new urge to get the passport out.
There’s so much more to say about the city so good they named it twice but I’m sure this will come in a later Blog.
So for now have a nice day
Latino777 – Its our time down here