North America Part 4: NYC

It was a spectacular drive to New York. We crossed the border straight from Canada into New York state and drove through another stretch of forest without hardly seeing another soul. We were so deep in the great outdoors that we actually lost phone signal for about 2 hours on the drive. Driving into Manhattan is an experience in itself. (Practical real-life tip: if you’re dropping off a hire car in Manhattan, don’t agree to return the tank full. There are no petrol stations anywhere!) Within 100m of emerging from the Lincoln Tunnel I was honking like a local.

Late April seems like a lovely time to go to New York City. The days were long and trees were sprouting their leaves, it felt like spring had just sprung. It was also warm enough for just a jumper making for enjoyable outdoor exploring. Here’s my attempt at summing up my thoughts on four days in NYC.

It felt huge compared to the other places on our trip. We spent the most amount of time in NYC and we explored a different part of the city every day. Lower East Side and Greenwich Village on one day, Battery Park and Tribeca on another, Upper East Side and Central Park the next, evenings in Brooklyn, Hell’s Kitchen and midtown. We were walking 30k steps a day just exploring and taking it all in. Just choosing what to do to make the best of a few days was very hard!

The garden of the amazing Cooper Hewitt museum.
The garden of the amazing Cooper Hewitt museum.
Washington Square Park
Washington Square Park.

NYC makes the best of being urban. Architecture, structures, streets. Whether it’s vital in the case of the Brooklyn Bridge or repurposed in the case of the High Line. I am an urbanist by day (stationery blogger by night?!) and the form of the built environment at any scale is fascinating to me.

Found this synagogue on White Street in Tribeca.
Found this fascinating synagogue on White Street in Tribeca.
Walking on the High Line.
Walking on the High Line.
Love locks and trinkets on the Brooklyn Bridge.
Love locks and trinkets on the Brooklyn Bridge.
A colourful house in the middle of a Brooklyn street.

The everyday is so exciting. It doesn’t matter how many times you see a view, or something famous, or even something not famous, I wanted to look at everything, take a picture of everything. I wanted to stop every few steps on the Brooklyn Bridge just to check the view out again and it was fantastic every single time I did. Perhaps people feel this way about London, I would love it if they did. What seems everyday to a New Yorker is just so exciting for a tourist. Seeing an archetypal building with iron staircases on the exterior makes me stop in my tracks and think, wow, I’m in New York. I am actually in New York. It was the same when we stopped for a rest in Washington Square Park amongst locals walking their dogs or eating lunch and when we popped into Grand Central Station as people were hopping on trains to go home for the evening (I saw a train going to White Plains, and obviously quoted out loud Phoebe’s line “White Plains… it sounds like such a magical place”). I can’t explain it. It’s like being a little girl.

Gorgeous unassuming record store where you can take what you want and leave your money at the door.
Gorgeous, unassuming record store where you can take what you want and leave your money at the door.

As fulfilling as it is to feel like you have got to know a place or have seen much of what it has to offer in a short amount of time, it’s equally fulfilling knowing the opposite: when I come back to NYC in the future I can, and probably will, have an entirely new experience. One of my overwhelming feelings about NYC is a mixture of disbelief, awe and incredulity that this is truly what it’s like, regardless of two extra English people being there for a few days. When we leave, two more tourists will come and take our place and experience it all, and two more when they leave, ad infinitum. The noise, people, subways, all of it is constant and unrelenting. I am fully aware that this is the case in any city, but there’s something about applying this concept to NYC that makes you think it couldn’t be possible for a city like this to exist and be somebody’s “normal life”. This is my second time visiting NYC and I feel like it’s a balance of great and evil. The worst of people seems amplified – the over-consumption, expense, inequality. But it’s so great for its uniqueness, diversity, opportunity, culture and inspiration. We had a wonderful time.

Oh and yes, I stopped off here.  :mrgreen:


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