New York, New York, the city that never sleeps… well we tried our best to keep up with her but it was a losing battle unfortunately. As we wind down to the end of our journey, we can’t help but feel fairly worn out. The trip has taken it’s toll, and although our travel hungry minds would love to carry on, our bodies have had just about enough and are certainly ready to head home and recoup.
As with Washington D.C, New York City was a place that we had previously spent some time and thus had already seen many of the more touristy sights. Well, as many as possible in the sub-zero temperatures that the city was experiencing at the time. The difference between then and now was stark, all of the trees still had their leaves and were slowly changing to the oranges and yellows of the fall, there was a chill in the air but not the nose and toe numbing cold that we walked around in and lastly the incredibly obvious thing was that there wasn’t snow and ice around everywhere, well for a while anyway until the snowstorm hit and everything went pear-shaped. New York is a great big city, with Manhattan only one of the 5 boroughs, and you feel this as soon as you arrive, it is as if you have stepped into a special place that has so much more to offer. It’s a strange feeling, similar to the one I felt when first visiting London and there is a lot of novelty value with new experiences to be had around every corner.
We had booked ourselves into probably the least expensive hostel in the city for two nights to be right in NYC and all of the action before we headed out to stay with some friends who live in the Bronx. The Tone Hostel on Lexington (that was actually closer to 3rd) was decent, clean and they had free breakfast and wifi… Champion find! And although some of the guests were complaining of bed bugs, we didn’t experience anything of the sort and would really recommend it to anybody visiting NYC on a budget as it was a mere 25 bucks a night. That’ not India or Thailand cheap but when the local Holiday Inn is already charging upwards of $200 a night for a standard room, this find was a great one. There are also a number of Tone Hostels around the city if you would prefer to stay in a different area.
Helen and Judy, our family friends from Cape Town, took us in and spoiled me rotten on my birthday with an awesome roast for dinner and we chilled with them for the weekend up in the Bronx.
Here are some of the memorable moments of New York City… in no particular order!
Brooklyn Bridge connects Manhattan with New York’s largest borough, Brooklyn, with a myriad of cables and some pretty impressive double arched pylons. The roadway runs underneath a pedestrian boardwalk, and a rent-a-cop with a whistle patrols his turf with vigour.It was hilarious watching him trying to warn foreign tourist of oncoming bicycle traffic… waving his hands about and blowing sharp trills on that infernal whistle!
We took the plunge and forked out the cash to visit the observatory on the top of the Empire State Building only to find out that they don’t take you to the top anymore… Well not unless you double up on your donation to the great city of NYC! But we were still quite chuffed with the 86th floor and had a great view out over all of Manhattan’s tallest buildings and out to the neighbouring boroughs too.
Although we missed the celebrations for her 125th Birthday, we managed to sail straight past her Ladyship on our (free) trip out to Staten Island. Apparently there were massive fireworks and all the hoo haa’s going on but due to lack of advertising… the most important guests (us South Africans) were not invited. The ferry to Staten Island is free of charge and is a great alternative to getting up close and personal with the Statue without forking out masses of dollars to actually ferry to the Liberty Island. The authorities swiftly closed her off for renovation that evening so even if you did want to visit… she’ll be closed for a year whilst they give her a change of clothes… anyway oxidised copper green is so last century.
After dragging ourselves through the security and queues to get into the recently opened September 11th memorial park at the site of “Ground Zero” we were pleasantly surprised by a moving (in motion and emotionally) tribute to the memory of those lost on that fateful day in 2011. We visited another memorial for the lost Staten Island residents, they’ve done well to create some very beautiful and impressive monuments.
Parading revellers filled the streets of Greenwich Village on the Lower West Side, from eyeballs to skeletons and everything in between. The only thing more impressive were the everyday people who turned up in their thousands to spectate. Easily the biggest fancy-dress party we’ve ever been to.
Greenwich Village was running amok with all sorts of ghoulish characters, at one point we even saw The Incredible Hulk but that may have been the costume that he wears most days… There are all sorts down there…
It was our first proper Halloween and I’d made it a personal mission to carve a pumpkin. After missioning about in the crowded streets of the Village we managed to find this squash at Wholefoods and he turned out to be a fairly cheerful chap. So we named him Jedidiah!
And so with a couple of days left of the URT we head back to the original Empire and to Family and friends in Knapp Hill, London and Worcester… so close! 6 months has disappeared!
T & D