That NYC review

Posted on September 14th, 2009 @ 22:26 in Uncategorized

Er, no, of course I mean, that NYC report. Been dragging it out cuz it’s sorta difficult, but will (for now?) just write a straight out “what I did” entry. Cuz these are important for future reference and all. FYI if you hadn’t noticed, I’ve uploaded 40 pics to Flickr.

This was the day we arrived. My plane was a bit delayed, so we didn’t make it into Manhattan until, oh I dunno, 5pm-ish or something. We just walked around a bit, saw some of the stuff I’d written down off Scouting NY, and had dinner at some Italian place. Then bed cuz tired and all that.

We went to Brooklyn. First to the Brooklynflea market. Well, let’s say. we went to Brooklyn and looked around for the market for quite a while. But found it eventually. It was still quite early tho so they were mainly still setting stuff up. We intended to come back but found out soon enough that subways on Sundays were kinda sporadic so skipped that.
The next stop you see was Green-Wood cemetery. This was pretty cool, esp. cuz there was some Civil War memorial and reenactment stuff going on. But the cemetery on its own was also cool.
Then we went back to Manhattan, and my mum got her way and we did Greenwich Village, following her guide book and stuff. Once we were done with that she said I was allowed to choose what to do next and I said can we go to the river please (it was hot!), so we walked to the Hudson where it’s all pretty and leisurely. I rested there & read and she went for a walk cuz she got restless.
When she got back we walked back inwards and by chance found the High Line so walked that, and then caught the subway home to the hotel (for future reference, the hotel was the Grand Hyatt, which was quite convenient subway-location-wise). We had dinner at TGI Friday. *lol*


I should perhaps explain. It didn’t really occur to me before I went that I could/would be cycling. Then I bought TimeOut New York at Gatwick and it had an article on cycling, and that was me more or less sold. I had to do this. But even then I didn’t think it would turn into as much of an obsession as it did. I didn’t realise until after I’d tried it.
I was actually a bit worried about cycling on a weekday. TimeOut suggested doing it on a Sunday, and doing it on designated cycle paths. My mum almost forbid me from doing it at all – tho I think she was kinda joking. And when I did do it on Monday (rather than Sunday, cuz Sunday was Brooklyn and (weekend only) market), I also figured I would take it easy, keep to the rivers, play it safe etc.
But I discovered that – as always – it was ridiculously easy, and incredibly exhilarating. I’m not saying it is ridiculously safe. I am guessing it is not – but I am also finding it hard to judge this, because personally I have found it – well, as I’ve said, ridiculously easy. During the roughly 130km/8.5hrs I cycled through Manhattan and Brooklyn, I twice felt “ok if I hadn’t braked just now, this guy wouldn’t have seen me” (both times a taxi, once turning off, once cutting to the curb to pick up a customer). But I did brake cuz I saw them, and thus did not die.
OTOH, I rode around Manhattan like the madwoman that I am (I quickly learnt that cyclists don’t give a flying fuck about red lights or traffic rules there either) – again, a few times this brought me into situations where I had to “give in”, but more often I got a way with fucking murder, and it was absolutely amazing.

So much about cycling in NYC in general. On Monday specifically I did this still pretty tame ride (more or less keeping to the TimeOut trail – but then deviating to our hotel) and then once I’d tasted blood I went wild. Or something. Basically I just cycled up and down Manhattan.
For dinner we went to some Italian place on 2nd Ave around 50th – I’d convinced my mum to give the area a try that Charlie and I stayed at in 2006. Then after my mum went to bed I went for a walk, basically towards Penn Station and back – kinda the area we used to walk around loads in Sept 2001. This was somewhat fraught with memories.

This was the day of the Ascent to Liberty. Which was at 2pm. I think by now it is safe to say I was trying to find excuses to stay away from my mum as much as possible, so I basically made my way down to Battery Park after breakfast (our breakfast was very late). I got my ticket, then sat about reading, then caught the ferry.
The whole Crown thing had seemed kinda scary (it was only $15 – did that really include everything or had I missed something?), and I got this huge list of instructions with my crown access ticket as well, so I was a bit apprehensive (not to mention the 350 steps up to the crown) and did consider skipping it.
But actually the whole experience was so exceptionally pleasant – so un-NYC-like in its Americanness, if you will.
The park rangers (seriously, just the fact that they are called “park rangers”!) were incredibly helpful and genuinely nice! The instructions were pretty clear cut (there are very few Crown ticket holders, sth like 10/hour, and you have a dedicated ranger for each group) but I still relied on going “help, what next?” at pretty much every step – and this worked so well, with no one ever making me feel stupid, or being annoyed! I mean, these people are state employees or sth, but they were truly lovely! 😡
I really enjoyed the whole experience – also didn’t find it exhausting at all (I worked out later through photo timestamps that the whole ascent took me around 7mins or sth, which included a “forced break” halfway). I was “with” an American family, I walked up first, we stayed up there about 10mins. I walked back down after the rest of them but along with one of the lovely rangers who explained lots of things (nose & mouth!) to me and answered my nosy questions (he’d walked up and down about 5 times at that point = 2pm).

Then since I was on the ferry anyway I also had a quick look around Ellis Island, which I hadn’t seen since my very first NYC visit in 1996. I knew I would find this emotional and I did.
There’s something about that whole immigrant experience… I have no idea what it must’ve been like for those people, but I can sort of imagine – and even with all my cynicism I still choke up at the idea of getting into New York harbour and seeing Liberty there. You can roll your eyes at the cliché, but you can also think, well, these people actually took a huge risk, and we’ve got it so much easier now. Us affluent ones anyway.

Then on my way back to the hotel I took another break at Union Sq, partly for shopping and partly cuz I like the area. By then my mum was already worried again and called me to ask where I was. So eventually I went home. We had dinner at that restaurant in Grand Central… like on one of the “balconies” so you overlook the main hall.

This was cycling again, tho not as much as the first day. I took it easy – route one, two. About 38km in total. I also did some shopping for squi and for myself at the same time. I think we had dinner at TGIF again.

Was another laziness day, but I didn’t rent a bike. The one sucky thing about the cycling is/was that my knee starts hurting after a while, and I wanted to give it a break. So I walked down to Union Square, went to Barnes & Noble, bought a magazine, lazed about reading it, then walked back up, seeing the wizard clock mentioned by Scouting NY. Then I lazed about some more at Bryant Park, which has the poshest public toilets I have ever seen. I know, I can’t believe I mananaged to fill a whole day with that, but apparently I did. Laziness rocks, and it was important to me to not rush through this week and collapse with sore feet & legs every single night. And it felt really good, not having that. Can’t remember where we had dinner.

This was two things again: cycling, and the helicopter ride. This was truly awesome, totally worth it (even would’ve been if I’d had to pay for it myself, teehee). Loads of pics on Flickr if you’re interested, tho of course it’s not the same thing as really being in there. Cycling routes: one, (then heli), two. Now, that second route is incomplete cuz I’d paused Runkeeper at some point and forgot to turn it back on. I rode through Brooklyn for about an hour (with no map and just a general idea of where I was), and now I have no record of it, which annoys me no end!!!!! As a result I only have an estimate of my total mileage as well (since it was about an hour, at an avg speed of 15kmh, I am guessing roughly 15km of Brooklyn, which would put my total that day at just over 50km, which sounds about right judging by how I felt towards the end lol), and this also bugs me. But oh well, what can you do. Dinner was… at some Italian place we’d been to the previous time and liked.

Final day and we had to leave around 6ish. Again no bike, instead I walked… towards Penn Station at first, then subway to 5th Ave for another Apple store visit (and also a short walk through Central Park itself), then subway again to Battery Park cuz I considered going to Governor’s Island…. but once I got there and saw the ferry schedules I decided there was not enough time, so I just walked around some more and lazed about in Bryant Park again. *lol* Oh, and I bought three nice Tshirts at Kmart.

The End.
*phew* Ok, a few words about how it was…. as I’ve already hinted at it didn’t go too well with my mum, and although it was nowhere near as tragic as last time (and there were no bitter Charlie memories), it was still generally kinda painful – like my love affair with New York has come to an end and I’m refusing to acknowledge it, obstinately clinging to something that is in the past.
I don’t know. I’m probably gonna give it another shot tho (definitely not with my mum this time, lol). In a way it wouldn’t be so bad if my love had diminished, cuz NYC trips aren’t exactly cheap. But it kinda feels like I’m betraying it – it has been so good to me both after 9/11 and when I was running away in 2006. We have a history together and I’m just… throwing that away. I know most of you will probably find it really weird to think that way about a place – it has no feelings after all – but hey, I’m a bit weird that way.

So that’s my New York report.

1 Comment

L.J. said on Sep 29, 2009 at 11:20 pm

I don’t find it weird to think about it that way at all. In a way, I understand exactly what you’re saying.

>>my love affair […] has come to an end and I’m refusing to acknowledge it, obstinately clinging to something that is in the past.

Tell me about it.

And I can’t believe you cycled around NY and Brooklyn. To you that’s just “wheeee!” but to me that is incredible. Honestly.

And Ellis Island. Oh, Ellis Island. God, the memories.

I never went up the Crown though. You did. And you know what, you can go to NY a million times. You can feel like you’re betraying it further with every trip you do. Yet on the other hand… you went back. And from the sounds of things, you want to go back again. Something tells me you haven’t betrayed it in the least bit to what you think you have.


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