It was a pleasant five-hour bus journey from DC to NYC and we were dropped off right in the centre – or “midtown” as I now know it to be. I’m talking right next to Madison Square garden so we picked accommodation close by at “reasonable rates” America-wise.
We stayed in midtown Manhattan for a couple of days before Vivian manages to get us a room with a view of the Empire State building for a good price. The rate doubles on the weekend – that’s how the American hospitality system works. It sucks – but the view didn’t.
So my Mum commented she was looking forward to seeing and hearing things that might help her remember her own time here almost 30 years prior – a long time ago.
So, let’s start with some of our initial city ‘feels’ – big buildings, a few ‘crazies’ on the street, and the unmistakable stench of cannabis; all things that remain prevalent throughout New York City, I can report.
Mum, do you remember such smells and crazies? If not, that’s an evolved setting for modern-day times.
What about Times Square? How do you remember that? Pleasant?
I think that’s a fresh-faced tourist perspective and one I thought, hoped, and expected to be true, but in fact, it wasn’t. It’s filthy and littered to the max. I understand in the old days it would be an area frequented by junkies and hookers (am I turning American with my lingo?) but these days they’re more so filled with street entertainers and of course, tourists. Not a problem but it doesn’t add more charm to the area and instead, offers the opposite. There’s nothing remarkable here and it left us feeling underwhelmed. That said, we don’t for a minute believe this accurate representation of New York so onwards and upwards.
Cool to grab a couple of quick snaps and to gaze in amazement at the size of Macy’s department store.
I also see a couple of small advertising boards which makes me think of Broadway. How many of you all went to Broadway to catch a show? We’d loved to have but, no. You won’t be surprised to hear that this is closed with the first showings being booked for September. Again, curse you Covid.
As for how to get about this colossus of a city, the metro would be the obvious choice but we decided to wait on this for the time being as we were centrally based and are no strangers to walking. (This would prove to be a very lucky/smart decision for reasons we will cover later on).
We ended up on Fifth Avenue. My goodness, that’s some contrast. Population manipulation brands everywhere. An area that is so exclusive and vast that they didn’t even consider building a metro under it but instead, near it.
But it has some interesting buildings and artwork too. St Patrick’s is a Catholic Church and nice to see as Roman Catholics are not the majority denomination in the States.
We made it to Central Park which I guess most of you made a visit to at some point? It’s mighty big though, huh.
We located “Strawberry Fields” / John Lennon garden memorial and observe the infamous Dakota building in the distance before finding a lovely lake.
So in order for us to get to Central Park West, we caught the metro. Who remembers the challenge of navigating the New York metro!? That’s no easy task the first time around.
As for obtaining the tickets, well that’s a story we’ll never forget….
For our morning stroll, we discover there are some attractions within walking distance; Grand Central Station is one of them. We enter it only to find it’s relatively quiet. (I base that on the mayhem I’ve seen in movies lol). Perfect for pictures.
You guys tell me – is this quiet from what you remember?
It’s at that point we notice above the beautiful turquoise celestial ceiling. We try to make out some of the mythical creatures from the constellation.
We find ourselves hanging about in Grand Central Station for a while and on our way out, we notice a dedicated pop-up stop for Covid vaccinations just before the exit. We then see a sign, a rather tempting sign she and I agree.
You see, so varied is the opinion in the US regarding the vaccine, the New York State Department of Health has been forced almost to team up with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to incentivize vaccines! What a crazy world. Conspiracy theorist etc.
I’m imagining there are some delays back home in the UK with trying to vaccinate everyone but in America, they’re struggling to give the stuff away!
With this country bleeding us dry, especially on the accommodation front and 5.5. months of heavy expenditure later, people like us are powerless against that kind of manipulation 🤷♂️😊
I mean, that’s 66 dollars folks of 7 days and unlimited access. Like a lottery win for us lol.
Yes, folks, it’s been done and in Grand Central Station of all places, all by a chance encounter.
So either have a laugh with us and roll with the “…they got a vaccine purely cos of a free rail card’ or take the more serious perspective of ‘they’ve managed to get a vaccine outside of their home country, fair play. Good effort’.
We’ll take either but promote the first 🙂
For our final section of content for NYC: Part 1, we visited Ground Zero.
They say our most significant experiences are the ones we come away from emotionally moved; a feeling that we can ‘remember’ at a later point. Today was definitely one of those.
But before Ground Zero, there are a few other things to show you:
1) – The High Line
This is a 1.5 mile historic, elevated rail line that has since become a global inspiration for cities to transform unused industrial zones into dynamic public spaces. It deceased operations way back in 1980 and they’ve been transforming it ever since.
We walked pretty much all of it in awe of the urban beauty they created. It offers greenery, wildflowers, outdoor art, and an effortless walking route with minimal elevation providing great views.
This was also the first time Viv and I were like ‘Man, you lucky, lucky buggers’ to people we could see in their modern flats, probably working from home, overlooking the high-line. Ahhhhh, to be a modern-day New Yorker, hey.
2) – Joe’s Pizza.
Simple name, simple pizza but that hasn’t stopped it having a massive fan base over the years with many A-listers getting a visit. Also in Spider-man 2 (2004) Toby Maguire is working as a pizza guy for Joe’s lol.
3) – Friends apartment building in Greenwich Village
The cast probably never even visited here but this is the apartment exterior shown in the series, or so I’m told.
As you can see below, one is more thrilled to be here than the other lol.
Next up, the big one – visiting the rebuilt World Trade Center complex. Here are a couple of things you might find interesting, including the ‘replacement’ tower known as One World Trade Center.
It’s the tallest building in the entire United States. Build started in 2006, largely completed in 2012, and opened in 2014. Once they finished adding the spire (the tall, pointy thing on top of the building), they ensured the total feet measurement for the entire building was 1776 – the year of independence. They really do take their constitutional freedom quite seriously, don’t they?
We first walked around the existing ground, humbled by the memory of the tragedy and also amazed by the magnificence and splendor of the water feature memorial that now sits in place of both the World Trade Towers.
This walk was poignant enough but we felt this moment could be enhanced so we made the decision to pay the 50 bucks (combined) to visit the memorial museum and we’re very glad we did.
How many of you have been there? Not somewhere you’ll ever forget, huh.
Before we knew it, we were 1.5 hours later and still ready for more, despite half a day’s exploring prior.
That very evening we would watch “United 93” (not Flight 93) and relive all the emotions once again but this round, they were so immensely intensified. It’s also the 20th year anniversary, of course, so expect incredible scenes around here come September.
Did you notice that despite the content above, the majority of all experiences came without cost proving that even in New York you can enjoy yourself without breaking the bank if you put in some research and get a little luck from time to time. (Oh, and discount accommodation from that sentence!).
For ‘NYC: Part 2’ we shall ‘bite the bullet’ and enjoy some purchasable experiences courtesy of my family for my birthday that Viv and I will enjoy a few days belatedly 🙏💗