Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Big Apple

My feet hurt!
We've been in Manhattan for just over 24 hours and in that time I think we've walked about 20 km.
When we think of downtown New York we think of it like the middle of any city but in fact this is a place of cities within cities. Manhattan is spread over 185 streets east to west and every one of those streets is a main street with some major, must see attraction! And that's just one of the boroughs of New York.

We left Boston yesterday at 11am for what was supposed to be a 4 hr bus trip. This actually turned out to be a very uncomfortable 6 hour torture but for $25 we weren't complaining. I was surprised how much open space there was between the two cities. In my mind the Eastern Seaboard has always been one long metropolis but in fact there are lots of woods and trees, right up to the edge of the city.
Our first real glimpse of New York city was the Yankee Stadium and then we crossed the bridge into Harlem. Whoah, just like the movies. And again, just like the movies, the neighborhood changed at the edge of Central Park to expensive apartments and coiffured dogs and their leash holders.

Our hotel ( the Affinia Dumont) is on 34th and Lexington, just a few streets away from The Empire State Building. We have a great view of the skyline of uptown Manhattan. Sophie met us at the bus station and thanks to her previous experience, we were able to master the subway fairly quickly. What an excellent method of moving people around the city. We bought a $29 weekly pass and we've already taken 10 subway rides! Our first stop last night was Times Square, the mecca of tourists and entrepreneurs looking to make money from the tourists. It's not so much a square as a street, full of lights and shops and buskers and more lights.We watched ourselves on the big screen for a bit and then went on search of food.

This morning we ventured to the bottom of the island. Earlier this year our Drama class used the events of September 11 as the stimulus for their ensemble performance and as a result we had done a lot of research into the tragedy.Visiting the memorial was an important mecca for us. It is a truly somber and overwhelming experience to stand where those mighty towers once stood and fell. It was freezing and the water spray from the reflecting pools was cold but I felt obliged to read each and every one of the names on the edges of the pools.

I had booked tickets to climb the crown of the Statue of Liberty but both Liberty & Ellis Islands are closed due to storm damage from Sandy. Determined not to miss seeing Lady Liberty altogether and despite the biting wind and heavy swell we boarded the ferry from Battery Park. Risking hypothermia we managed to get some wind blown 'selfies' and a few decent photos of the statue and the Manhattan skyline before tottering off the gang plank and hurrying back to the warmth (and the weirdos) of the subway.

Tonight we ventured down to the Rockefeller Centre to look at the Christmas decorations and then to the biggest department store ever, Macys.

Walking the streets of New York it's hard to believe there are so many people in the world, let alone in one city. Remarkably, a lot of them are Australians, particularly in our hotel. Amongst the accents of New York the Aussie drawl is instantly recognizable.

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