New York, New York it’s a helluva town

March 2014

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I’d heard all the songs and seen all the movies – this is a city that certainly needs no introduction. To say I was excited to be on a train New York bound would be an understatement. So much expectation, what wonder would the city-that-never-sleeps hold for me?

Well, if I am completely honest the ‘wonder’ that met me upon arrival was a grey snowy day, no escalators in the subway (and a 30kg bag) and people who mostly responded with “do I look like a map?” when I asked for directions. Was this the New York of my dreams? Surely not?

I am happy to say that once I made my way, to the quaint Airbnb apartment I had rented in Williamsburg, Brooklyn everything fell into place.

I started my adventure by watching the Oscars in a bar on Bedford Ave, surrounded by many an aspiring actor and actress – I had no idea that so many people had friends of friends or second cousins who knew every Oscar winner announced. This only added to the entertainment and was a perfect start to my time here.

The next day was the coldest day I had experienced yet – I am fairly sure every store I went into thought I was about to hold them up. My outfit wasn’t exactly high fashion – four thermals, two jerseys, a jacket, hat, gloves and two scarves (one to cover my nose and mouth). Basically I was a puffy, balaclava-clad, shivering mess. I went into more Sephora stores than I care to admit just to stay warm; I did smell great though thanks to all the perfume samples – silver lining.

Cold or not, New York is a big city and my to do list was very long.

First up was Wall Street and from there it was on to the 9/11 memorial. A surreal site, particularly because every other historical monument I’ve been to was in honor of some tragedy that occurred before my time. This one, however, occurred when I was 10. I remember where I was and who told me, I remember not fully understanding it – but standing there 13 years later, seeing the site and the memorials to the fallen; it suddenly all provided a very poignant context.

After this moment of reflection it was off to the High Line – beautiful. I was one of only a few walking the track (another sign of how cold it was). It was while walking this snowy trail that I realized I was taking so many photos of my surroundings but I had none of myself – one of the drawbacks of traveling alone. I decided it was time for the infamous selfie – I needed proof that I had in fact braved the conditions after all. I checked, made sure no one was around, reversed my camera view, lined up the background to head ration, my smile was ready, and just as I clicked I heard a yell from the construction site a few buildings down… “SELFIE!” Thank you New York construction worker.

That was my cue to leave and a great excuse to defrost in the Chelsea Markets - the perfect place for lunch and a spot of shopping.

After this it was on to Times Square. Wow. I had seen it in movies but seeing those giant billboards light up the night in person. Just wow. It’s somewhat amusing that a street full of advertisements is such a tourist attraction but great for the companies - think of the additional ad value you get from all the Facebook photo shares.

Finally, all the crowds, the cold, the sheer mental exhaustion of taking in all those sites had got to me. Time to return to my safe haven in Brooklyn for take out and to rest before tackling another day in the city. Little did I know the days to come would be filled with some of the most random and hilarious moments I’d experience – teaser: Korea Town karaoke, Frankie Legs and kids falling down ice skating.

Stay tuned and as always, thanks for reading.

CA