I write this post in a strange situation. I’m sitting at JFK airport in New York waiting in line to rebook a flight to Iceland – I was supposed to fly out 22 hours ago but it’s likely to be at least another 8, maybe another overnight.
I find it slightly amusing to see how everyone reacts when things go astray like they have. I’ve seen tears, and as expected much disgruntled grumbling. The golden light though is that when things take a turn from the ordinary they also become memorable and a good story. You don’t listen to anyone talk about how on time their flight was do you?
But getting back to New York, this was my first visit and I stayed for 6 nights (now 7). The first two nights I couchsurfed with a local New Yorker who has been in the same Upper East side Manhattan apartment for 25 years.
He wrote me out a bit of a whirlwind tour for my first day which included visiting Wall Street, taking the free Staten Island ferry to see the Statue of Liberty, the 9/11 memorial, and walking along the endless Broadway to Times Square. All the touristy stuff.
Wall Street was really cool, the big statue of George Washington, the first US president being the centrepiece. The free ferry was also well worth the couple of hour round trip. Fantastic views of the Manhattan skyline was a bonus to the statue views.
The 9/11 memorial along with the Empire State Building observation deck, which I visited later, are security crazy. At the moment both sites are like a security check at an airport. At least for the memorial site it’s only temporary while the new world trade centre building is completed. I even took a photo here and the security guy came over and told me to delete it.
Both sites are quite special, so if you can deal with a crowd (and a whole lot of waiting for the ESB elevators) they are worth it. The views from the 86th floor are awesome in all directions but at sunset the crowd was bordering on ridiculous.
Times Square in addition to the Empire State draw the biggest crowds. Makes you feel like you’re a bug in “A Bug’s World” with the tall buildings representing the tall grass.
Rounding out the “tourist hotspots” I visited is Central Park and the Brooklyn Bridge. I’d say my two favourite of the tourist attractions. Central Park is just gigantic and there’s countless paths winding in every direction. A four-lane roadway runs the perimeter and is popular with cyclists and runners.
Since I’m becoming a bit of a photographic nut the evening I spent strolling Brooklyn Bridge on sunset was the highlight of my New York sightseeing experience. The lighting was perfect and I was continually amazed every time I took another photo and it just looked like yet another gem. I couldn’t believe it.
Some other less known but brilliant locations for me was the site of the US Open tennis championship at Flushing Meadows and taking a stroll on the Coney Island boardwalk at the very southern end of Brooklyn. I’m a big tennis fan and I play quite a bit so being at the Arthur Ashe stadium was a mini dream come true.
The Coney Island waterfront seems like it hasn’t changed since the 70’s. The Luna theme-park has got some real dodgy looking rides, but that’s whats great about it.
Last but not least – the famous subway system. The most important piece of infrastructure in the city and the most extensive public transportation system in the world (by station number) at 468 stations. It literally drives the city with 5.4 million rides every weekday. I heard a stat that 75% of New Yorker’s don’t own a car and they can do that because of the subway. It’s fast, regular and goes everywhere. Only thing is it’s getting old!
Congratulations for making it to the end of my longest post ever. I’m nearly at the front of the line now!