From quiet New England to the bustle of New York City! The first half of my American Adventure is included here, featuring lots of bookshops and history. In NYC, I fully embraced the Tourist. I was there for four full days, and I was determined to make the most of my trip! I was the first one up and out of my dorm every morning and I would come back after whichever Broadway show I had been to. I wish I had a fitbit, because then I could have tracked where I walked and how far I walked, which definitely explains why my legs and feet hurt!
My first observation about New York is that it is simultaneously exactly and nothing like the movies. Everything is noisy, and the cars really do have beeping contests. The subway is crowded, the buildings are high, the tourists are numerous. It was exciting! I went to the ticket booth in Times Square for my Broadway theatre tickets, I waited in lines, I grumbled and frowned and I got really lost many times. I had so much fun!
My second observation is this: From the ground, it is so hard to tell if you are walking uptown, or downtown, east or west. The number of times I had to walk a block over to find out what that road was, only to discover that I was now two blocks from the road I meant to be on. If I’m perfectly honest, it was really confusing for me, and sometimes frustrating.
I have divided this post into two: the tourist traps and Broadway! because the word count was getting ridiculous, and with all the photos I wanted to include, this post would be a slow loader, and that’s just irritating.
Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
On Monday, I got up early, cross down to the bottom of Manhattan and bought tickets for the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. It was an absolutely beautiful day, bright blue skies and suncream required. I loved the photos I got from the Statue of Liberty (my favourite is the one of me copying the statue!). If you are going to NYC and intend to see the Statue on the tour, I would recommend going early. I was on the second or third ferry of the day and it was fairly busy. I arrived back in Battery Park around lunchtime, and the queue for the ferry went the whole way round the park. It was crazy!
Grand Central Station
I went to Grand Central, because I really wanted to see the ceiling! I was surprised by how dark it was in the lobby though. It was an absolutely gorgeous day, the kind toted in stories as a very good day to (I always want to finish with: your laundry). It was beautiful and sunny, but inside Grand Central, it was dark and a little gloomy. I think it’s because the lights in the pretty lobby area are chandelier types, big fancy light fixtures that look like they need their bulbs changing. I’m a little disappointed with the photos, but the ceiling was cool, I liked the zodiac stars.
I got lost. I went to Times Square. Times Square is a headache waiting to happen! There is so much going on, just above eye height, and it is really, really distracting! I also saw the building where the ball drops on New Years, and I have to confess, I thought it was bigger… It was a bit disappointing actually. I went back to Times Square frequently. There is a Broadway ticket booth, and most of the Broadway is within walking distance, so suffice to say I spent a lot of time there.
New York Public Library
The Second day, it poured all afternoon, so I went to the New York Public Library and did the tour. I didn’t realise, when I was watching Ghostbusters, that the Reading Room is on the top floor, or that there are so many frescos! Some of them were from the depression era, when artists didn’t have commissions so the state hired them to produce murals for public spaces. At the time, all I could think of was the current movement that gives permission to street artists to decorate the sides of buildings. It was a really interesting tour. I went back when it was sunny to take photos of the building because I am a nerd like that.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
I got lost. I went to the Met and queued up in the rain, only to be told that I couldn’t enter because I had food in my backpack, so I went back to my hostel to eat in preparation for going back to Midtown for my Broadway performance. I went back to the Met first thing the next morning. After spending time lost in Egypt and East Asia, I went to the art of the 19th and 20th Century exhibit to see the Monet’s and the Van Gogh’s, but after spending the morning there, I had a bit of ‘museum lag’ and ended up back in Central Park. I confess I had heard such amazing things about the Met, and perhaps if I’d gone back for the three days on my ticket, I’d have discovered everything it had to offer. As it was, it was a museum much like any other, albeit a nice one. And the gift shop prices were astronomical!
My hostel was near a top corner of central park, so I wandered into the park with the intention to cross to the other side, see some of the Park and then see the Met. Haha, yeah. I got really lost in the park and ending up further down on the same side, it was hilarious. Beautiful space though. It was strange, standing in the middle of tall trees and being able to hear the cars and the beeping, but then you’d look up to the top of the trees, and see the leaves mixed with the tops of skyscrapers and it would come crashing down that you were in the middle of Manhattan.
When I was in Central Park, I went to see the Alice in Wonderland statue. It’s a big bronze (?) statue that overlooks one of the ponds, about halfway down on the East Side. The statue has Alice, sat on a mushroom with various Wonderlandians. The base is surrounded by quotes from the Lewis Carrol novel. It is impossible to call the statute cute due to its size, but it was pretty cool.
The Brooklyn Bridge
I wasn’t going all the way to New York without going to see Brooklyn – however I ran out of time so I only had time to walk the Brooklyn Bridge, take photos, spend $3 on a cola and sketch the silhouette before I had to walk back. Next time, I am going to Brooklyn properly.
Top of the Rock Observation Deck
The choice of observation decks in New York boil down to the Empire State Building, and the Rockerfeller Top of the Rock. I chose to go to Top of the Rock because I would be able to see the Empire State building as part of the New York skyline, and I would be able to see Central Park (or at least some of it) on the opposite side of the building. It’s high. From the observation deck, you can’t see individual street, and I swear, everything looks like it’s made out of Lego! It was such a good view, but it did look a little bit make believe, like I was looking at a movie!
The High Line
The High Line is an old railway track that was turned into a path along the lower west. It starts at the Witney museum, and ends round about 42nd Street. There are bushes, and bits of greenery along the track, and it’s pedestrian only. It was a rather pleasant walk. I started at Chelsea Markets, having bought crepes for lunch.
Next Time I go to New York
Now that I’ve done a fair chunk of the “must sees” in New York City, I can spend next time planting myself in a district for a day and just exploring.
I didn’t realise quite how much I had done till I tried to write it all down concisely. I fear you’ve had a bit of a novel! Sorry it’s been taking so long to get back to “business as normal”, I’ve only just really recovered from jetlag!