New York City
I got off the plane and on to a bus. It didn’t explode. The next day I caught a subway. It didn’t explode. Followed by numerous subway trips over the next few days. They also didn’t explode. Nor was I mugged. Nor was I beaten to a pulp in Central Park.
At the risk of jinxing myself again… can I just say that this place is SUCH a letdown!
I did do something a little different and spontaneous for me. I became – THE TOURIST!
I clocked up over 5 museums, 6 tours and over 12 sights in just 3 days, riding buses and trains with unabashed abandon. There was one amusing moment when I was at the Madame Tussaud’s wax museum. I nearly walked infront of a lady taking a photo of a group of wax figures. So I stood back and waited for about half a minute until I started to realise that her hand looked just a little too waxy for my liking. Even more amusing was the time spent afterwards watching just about everyone get fooled by the same figurine. Damn you Madame Tussaud!
That shiny Big Apple kind of grows on you after a while. It’s a city to explore on foot, because every few streets there is a new subculture to explore. You may skip past Little Brazil on your way to Little Italy through Chinatown. It’s an interesting difference from many of the Western cities, after experiencing Brazil. In Brazil the communities are blended throughout the country. In New York and my remembrances of Sydney and other similiar places are small segregated communities.
The World Trade Centre site is still a gaping hole in the Manhattan skyline. We all saw the images on the news for weeks after the towers collapsed, but somehow, being there and seeing the site for yourself makes it more real. There’s a sombre atmosphere in the surrounding area. Keep an eye on this site in the future as the Freedom Tower will become a new high point in Manhattan. The space above where the original two towers were will be kept clear and become part of a huge memorial to the victims of the 9/11 attacks.
THE SUBWAY… To truly understand the New York subway system you only have to remember a few things (like the metro map for example). Trains typically go in two directions – uptown (north) or downtown (south) in Manhattan. The colour coding indicates a number of lines that head to a general location. Each line has a seperate number OR letter to identify it. You may have one station where three red trains (numbers 1, 2 and 3) all use the same platform. When that happens just wait for a train that has the number. The only other thing to watch out for are the express trains! They skip stops everywhere…
It is confusing, and probably this description will only help you begin to understand how it all works.
THE NEW YORK PASS…I found this little card was good value for money. You can visit quite a lot of places, tours and sites all for the one price. There are a number of options to suit your budget as well as for groups.
THE ROCKEFELLER CENTER…This was one of the best tours in New York and not to be missed. My Rastifarian guide was a wealth of architectural and historical knowledge as we walked around a number of the buildings owned by “Junior” Rockefeller.