And so it was that I began my last leg of my first round the world trip with the country that I originally planned to visit on its own, the United States of America. How tastes and wants change over time! Nevertheless, the thought of seeing the States in contrast to Europe and Asia did a little to change my dulled mood, with a little excitement returning at the thought of going somewhere I’d never been before.
I flew into Newark Airport in New Jersey with SAS, probably my favourite airline of the trip with Thai. Very impressed I was with service. I had to take a bus into town and then I used the subway to get to Brooklyn where my hostel was located.
People raved on about the downtown hostels, but they were rather expensive, and although it was a bit of a walk you could walk quite easily from this hostel, in a comfy house, down to Central Park. I remember doing washing in the laundromat a few doors down on my first day there, and shopping at the supermarket where groceries were put into a brown paper bag by a person other that the person who checked the items out. It was something out of a movie. Yes, I tipped the guy.
The hostel was full of interesting people, and I became friends with a group of Brits – one of which is still my friend in 2015. Hello Chris! You know, if you’re reading this. We hung out and went to a few places, including out one night to a club.
I remember Central Park – by day and by night. I remember walking around Broadway and stealing free internet from the tourist information centre in Times Square. Central Park was a lot of fun and you can get lost in there for hours, quite happily.
I didn’t do much other than BE in New York City, and I think that in itself is simply a thrill. It’s so big, we have nothing like it in Australia, and I don’t think I’d seen anything like it anywhere else on my travels to that point.
Today China of course is full of huge tall cities, and even Bangkok has grown to the point where it really imposes itself on you, but New York for me was the first mega-city I’d ever visited and it just seemed to go on forever. Just taking the subway was an awesome experience and I took it sometimes just for a ride and then came back, or to fill in an afternoon. I ended up in the Bronx and saw Yankee Stadium – from the train, and realised I wasn’t where I was supposed to go.
It seemed like a great idea to go and see the Late Show with David Lettermen, and I went with Chris because we had to queue up somewhere to get last minute tickets. There were hundreds of us in the line, and Chris and I were pretty happy because we were somewhere near the front. We chatted about queues because there seemed to be an awful lot in New York City, and were asked in ‘queue’ was the English word for ‘line’, which amused us somewhat. And then everyone was told to go because there were no tickets available for that day’s show. That was an entire morning gone but still I thought an interesting experience.
The Empire State Building was the one famous landmark I visited. Well, apart from Central Park. And the New York City Public Library. Anyhoo I was pretty excited to go up such a famous building – taking the lift was quite an experience. A better one than waiting in the long queue for sure! I could see right across Manhatten and NYC from the observation level, and actually get a sense of the overall scale of the city. Heck, it is REALLY big. Hard to comprehend so many millions of people there living their lives.
The Public Library of New York proved well worth a visit in a beautiful building in the heart of town. It’s again very big, and this time, free which always is a winner for the cash-strapped traveller. Down to Battery Park I went on the Subway to see the Statue of Liberty. So far away it was though that I barely noticed it! So I took a ferry to get closer. I didn’t get that close as you can see in the photo, but to see the harbour and the ocean showed yet another side of New York.
And then, with my Brit friends, I went out for a night out on the town. I don’t recall where we went, and to be honest I don’t remember it being a unique experience, however, I do have vague memories of a club, the colours, drinking, dancing and taking the subway back to Brooklyn at 6am. Some things have to be done. I suspect I blew a lot of money that evening!
There’s so much to see in New York City and in two visits I barely scratched the surface, but I have to say if there’s one city you could go to and just walk about for a few days in the streets and take the subway and say you’ve had an amazing, quintessential experience, New York is that city! But it was only four or five nights, it was a whirlwind experience and I was on an overnight bus to Boston. Another dream location crossed off my list of 1999. There weren’t many if any left.
Next time on ‘Trip of a Life Time’ – Boston and Toronto!
May the Journey Never End!