What can I even say about NYC that hasn't already been said by countless other people. Frank wanted to start spreadin' the news and now Jay Z and Alicia Keys are getting in on the action. Everybody seems to have something to say about "The Big Apple". I guess my contribution is just to give justification to their arguments. This place is exactly how I always imagined it would be. Usually relying on television and book portrayals to give you an impression of a city would be a rather ridiculous thing to do, but in NYC, or at least the surface of NYC that one can scratch off after three days, the portrayal is pretty accurate.
The borough of Brooklyn (where we're staying) has the ubiquitous galleries along Bedford avenue along with the really cool botique stores where my Visa has managed to take a bit of a beating. Taking the subway over the Williamsburg bridge to Manhattan is really easy until you have to change lines somewhere and try and interpret the subway map with it's many lines, many colours and many letters. And then, Manhattan. Downtown, midtown, uptown, it doesn't matter where you are on that island, you can be sure that there will be thousands and thousands of people all walking up the same sidewalk as you who really don't appreciate you stopping to get your map out. In fact on 5th Avenue it's actually impossible to stop. You'd get trampled. There is an incredible amount of people on such a small mass of land. And the incredible amount of people leads to massive line ups for attractions such as the Empire State Building and ice skating under Rockerfeller Center. But it also leads to queues in very strange places, like to get into the flagship store of Abercrombie and Fitch. A fairly omnipresent label, it can be purchased readily throughout the states and no doubt there is more than one A&F store in NYC, but nonetheless, the line went out of the front door, snaked down the block and around the corner. Needless to say I wasn't going to be standing in it. The line we did stand in though, for the Empire State Building was also hugely long, but totally worth it. It took us two hours, half of which we waited outside in the freezing cold and the other half in an even bigger queue inside, but the views from the top are totally indescribable. The 360' view allows you to look south to downtown and wall street, Ellis Island with the Statue of Liberty, and the suburban borough of Staten Island. Looking west over the Hudson River you can see more of midtown Manhattan and across to New Jersey with its skyline that seems to pale in comparison to the mighty Manhattan. Looking north was my favourite perspective. You can see Central Park- the mecca of peace surrounded by huge skyscrapers and all the way up past Central Park you can see a lot of Queens and the Bronx- moving to the East you can see Queens, Brooklyn and the connecting bridges to them over the East River. I could actually have stayed up there all day and just stared at it, but eventually we had to go back down through (wait for it) another line up! I have never in my life had to line up to get OUT of something. Only in New York!
We went to dinner that night at this relatively fancy Italian restaurant in SoHo (SOuth of HOuston) and I had the most expensive meal I've had since I left Australia. But it was pretty amazing and very filling even though it looked so small on the plate. Gnocchi with walnut sauce and the nicest wine I've had since I left Australia. Yesterday when we'd all finally managed to assemble, 4 of us swiped our metro cards down to the financial district and ground zero. It's all construction there now on the massive block that was once occupied by the world trade center- a block away though they have this cross that was part of the frame of one of the buildings that was pulled from the wreckage. Although it was almost ten years ago and it now just looks like any old construction site, it's still too easy to recall the haunting images of 9/11. There's just this big hole in an otherwise epic skyline. It's easy to just walk past it and not give it a thought, but it's easier still to remember.
On a more cheerful note, we then went shopping (again) at this store called Century 21 which has all this designer labels for really, really cheap. Once again the Visa took a beating but I got this DKNY blazer that I think I want to be buried in for like $70 USD so I was pretty jazzed by the whole thing. This store was as insane as any Manhattan sidewalk, people were killing each other to get to the clothes in there. It was nuts! We then continued our walk uptown and shopped through SoHo for a few hours (I could easily just stay here the week and shop, clothes are so cheap) and then headed back to Brooklyn to get ready for New Years Eve! Most of our group went into Manhattan to this club that they got tickets to go to for the party that night. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately- the tickets were $125 USD) Jo and I aren't 21 and couldn't go. So Jo, Georgina, Therese and I went to this loft party a few blocks up in Brooklyn. The party was full of Swedes and I'm now pretty sure I've actually met the entire population of Sweden. It was really cool though, the apartment was amazing and had these windows that opened up to give a view of Brooklyn and Queens and the 4 bedrooms were like hole in the wall cubbyholes. It was ridiculous but so very artsy Brooklyn cool. We went up on to the roof for midnight which was incredible because we were higher than the buildings in front of us and close enough to the East River to look over the bridges into Manhattan and see fireworks coming from 3 boroughs and Jersey. We stayed up there a while because it was so amazing, but eventually had to head back inside because it was raining profusely and was pretty cold. By this stage I'd also run out of alcohol (disaster) and was pretty w***ed from walking around all day so I headed back to our apartment and collapsed until Jo and Georgie beat down the door a couple of hours later for me to let them in where they then proceeded to start on the chips and coronas. We hung out for a while and then we all got to bed about 5am when one of our number still wasn't back from the club party in Manhattan!
Today as far as I know we're hitting Central Park and maybe going to a Broadway show tonight. I would love, love, love to see Chicago and I know Louise (one of the Swedes) also wants to see it so fingers crossed we can get cheap seats! I'll do another update on NYC in just before we leave. Hope everybody had a really good New Yeas Eve and that you all did it Aussie style for me :)
ps: My phone has been totally farked for the past couple of days- it wouldn't pick up signal from any company, but I've just turned it on and it's back (yay) so thanks for the new years messages that I haven't replied to yet x