I arrived in New York somewhat frazzled as I made the mistake of drinking a few beers before, and some wine during my flight from Salt Lake City. It seemed rude not to take advantage of free alcohol. So just as I started to enjoy a rich deep sleep, the lights came on, the shutters came up and we landed at JFK at 6am.
I hopped on the subway from JFK and after changing at 42nd Street and an initial muddle of where to go I arrived at my hostel on 103rd Street on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The hostel was a nice place with air con in the room which was much needed as I hadnt realised just how hot NY in June would be! As luck would have it, I only had to share my room on my first and last night too as the place wasnt very busy.
I decided not to sleep the day away but instead go out and explore. After all, it was my last 7 days away and I wanted to do as much as possible. I got a subway pass for the week and set about getting my bearings in this massive city. I headed to Times Square which seemed like the obvious first thing to do in NY and once there marvelled at the hustle and bustle of the streets. My tiredness soon overcame me and coupled with the heat, I felt like I needed a rest! I decided to go and watch a movie to get some air con and sit down so went to watch Prince of Persia and fell asleep even after slugging back a Red Bull to keep me awake.
I struggle to remember the course of events for the 6 days afterward as i'm writing this 3 months later. If I dont finish the blog, i'll regret it! I'm sure that first day I just wandered aimlessly and darted about different places on the subway.
I had bagels most mornings for breakfast from a world renowned bagel shop a couple of blocks from my hostel. I ate out for my whole stay in NYC as it was fairly cheap, I had the money to do so and I simply couldnt be arsed to cook anything! I alternated my evening meals between curry, chinese in Chinatown and pizza and calzone in Little Italy and all I can say is it's a good job I did a lot of walking in that week as eating everything that I did should have left me with an extra chin!
As far as seeing the sites goes, I made a list and managed to see 90% of what I wanted to see as well as some other cool things that I stumbled upon just by chance. I visited Ground Zero, saw the Chrysler building, Grand Central, The Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges, the Dakota building, Wall Street, the list goes on.. I left the hostel every morning really early and arrived back mid to late evening every day. It's true what they say about NY being the city that never sleeps, at least it seems that way!
I decided to head out of Manhattan on the third day and headed down to Coney Island to check it out. I went for a hotdog at Nathans (where the world hot dog eating contest is held every year) and walked along the boardwalk before going to watch a freakshow where amongst the acts were a woman who walked along sword blades and swallowed them, a fire breather, a contortionist and all the other usual freakshow acts you'd expect to see. After a while at Coney Island I caught the train back through Brooklyn and got some great pictures of the rooftop graffiti along the way. There's some really impressive stuff.
As I recall, the next day, I caught the Staten Island ferry, mainly to see the Statue of Liberty on the way over. I had thought about visiting Liberty Island but had heard the view from the top of the staue wasnt too overwhelming, just looking out across the harbour. plus, I didnt want to stand and queue. I managed to get some pretty decent shots of the statue from the ferry even though it was quite far away and then carried on to Staten Island. I wish someone had told me there wasnt much to be seen on Staten Island as I could have saved half the day! I visited Staten Island Mall to get some gifts but it took me a few hours just getting there and back and then another 40 mins crossing back on the ferry by which time it was nearly the evening. Oh well! I also lost my subway pass for the week and had to fork out for a new one. Oh well!
That evening purely by chance, I stumbled across a pub in Soho - Puck Fair, named after the annual traditional fair they hold in Ciara's home town of Killorglin. After getting a few pics of the front and enjoying a few pints and a chat with Tom, a native New Yorker I headed back to the hostel as it had been a long day. And for $7 a pint I couldnt have afforded to stay in there all night, ha ha
The next day I headed to Queens to watch a pro-skate competition that I had been given free tickets for. A free day out, spent in the sun eating hot dogs and watching people skate. I even got sunburnt. Afterward I headed to the 'Bodies' exhibition which I had missed in Las Vegas which was really interesting and quite the eye opener. Lots of real human bodies on display with the different parts exposed and preserved for display. Muscles, skeletal systems, nerves, respiratory and so on. It was unlike anything i'd seen before and well worth the money.
The last few days were a bit of a blur, I did some more gift shopping and explored the parts of NY that I hadnt previously seen including just over the Hudson river in Brooklyn. I dont know if I was walking on the wrong streets or not but it didnt seem as good as I had expected it to be. I got a cracking few pics of the Brooklyn Bridge from the Manhattan Bridge before crossing the river again.
I spent Sunday with Ashlee and Bec from Australia who I had met in San Francisco, who had arrived in NY a few days after me. We explored Central Park which took most of the day and then went for calzone at Famiglia pizzeria, who cook the official pizza of the New York Yankees - its good stuff!
My last day was spent checking out of my hostel and getting organised. I left my bag in a locker at the hostel and decided my last few hours in New York taking a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and back and in doing so I got some great pics of the lower Manhattan skyline. As with all the previous days, the sun was blazing and I enjoyed topping up my tan.
It seemed surreal heading for JFK airport to make the last leg of many legs of a long trip. I'd spent so long moving onto the next place and anticipating new sights all the time that it didnt seem to register properly that the next destination would be home. I had mixed feelings, sadness that it was all over but happiness that i'd get to see everyone and get to sleep in my own bed at last! New York was a great place to finish a great trip and definitely one i'd return to again as I still have lots of stuff i'd like to do there on the next visit.
So that wraps up 9 months away that strangely, went by in the blink of an eye believe it or not. But that just goes to show what a great time it was!