I’ve just finished my first week back at work after a long summer vacation. It really sucks going back to reality, every time! And it doesn’t help when your holidays have been awesome. At least I can be thankful for all of the great experiences I’ve been able to have. One highlight was my trip to New York!! Whoo! First time to the States! I was lucky to stay with a friend who had just moved to Brooklyn. I did most of the exploring on my own, but also joined a few walking tours, and on a few occasions was joined by different friends.
I had a lot of preconceptions about America and Americans, you know the stereotypes I’m sure. But I was pleasantly surprised with what I encountered over there. It shouldn’t have been so unexpected. After all, I can’t even count the amount of times I’ve had to tell people that no, not everyone in Australia speaks like Crocodile Dundee, and kangaroos don’t hop around the streets of towns, and we don’t ‘throw a shrimp on a barbie’.
Within the first couple of days of ‘soaking up’ NYC, there were a few things I had noticed. 1) There are many parts of the city that are really quiet. I mean really really quiet. Walking around East Village on a Friday afternoon, I felt like the only person there! 2) The city is much cleaner than I was expecting. The train tracks were full of trash, but the parks and streets were fairly spotless. I even saw city workers picking up leaves in the park, which reminded me of Japan! 3) Some people are quite direct, which could be seen as rude, but they are a small minority. Most people I talked to were very friendly and helpful! If you are nice to them, they are even nicer back. 4) New Yorkers love to talk about relationships, in public. And they don’t care who hears. I swear, every conversation I overheard, whether it was someone on the phone or people talking on the street, during my first two days in the city was something along the lines of “I’m not ready to forgive you”, “Ohh, is he her new boyfriend?”, “They’ve broken up”. 5) New York is very, very diverse! I always thought it was cool to hear a few different languages on the train when I was living in Melbourne, but since moving to Japan, I rarely hear anything apart from Japanese and English. It was kind of a shock to see and hear so many people from different backgrounds. It was really nice actually.
Well, it’s kind of hard to rank experiences. I do have a solid #1, but the rest are just a bunch of my favourite things about NYC. I didn’t manage to do everything I had wanted, so if you think something’s missing, it might be because I didn’t go there/see it!
A perfect escape for book lovers! The Strand is not just a bookstore, it’s a ‘must-see’ in its own right. I went into the store to kill some time, not knowing what to expect. Two and a half hours later, I finally pulled myself out. It’s like a getting lost in a paper Wonderland. I loved the vintage bindings, the smell of old books, discovering classic stories I read as a child, the rare books floor (where you can see books worth hundreds, even thousands of dollars!), and finding quiet corners to flick through a few pages.
Coney Island is really not as bad as people make it out to be. I’d been told it was not that great, unless you like rides. Well, it’s a good thing I do! I actually had a super fun time with a couple of friends. Although, visiting ‘Margarita Island’ may have helped! The weather was nice, if not a little chilly, and the water was too cold to go in, but it was nice to relax on the beach. I also tried the famous ‘Nathan’s hot dog’ which was pretty delicious.
Staten Island ferry
I chose to see the Statue of Liberty from the Staten Island ferry, instead of actually going to Ellis Island where she stands. I’d heard the waiting time in lines at SoL are a bit insane, plus the ferry is free! After hanging around the Financial District in the afternoon, I went down to the terminal at dusk. I’d heard this was the best time to go as you can see Manhattan against a beautiful sunset – if you’re lucky! And I was! On the return trip, I got to see a very pretty night skyline, too.
Lights, camera, action! Yes, it’s very touristy. And yes, it’s overcrowded. But you can’t go to New York without visiting the iconic Times Square! Neon lights flashing from every direction, street ‘entertainers’ everywhere, cars buzzing past. It was all happening!
The High Line
The High Line is an abandoned, elevated railway line that was converted into a public park. It was originally used in the 30s and 40s as a way to make deliveries to factories and warehouses without endangering pedestrians. But by 1980 it had become obsolete. The residents of the Meatpacking District and Chelsea where it’s located, wanted it taken down because it was an ‘eyesore’, but a couple of locals decided to save it. And in 2009 it was finally opened to the public.
Stay tuned for my top 5!