After an easy flight from Iceland we arrived at JFK Airport in New York and I was pretty excited but also trying to act cool… Customs officers always make me nervous; I never know if I should smile or frown, look at them or look away but while I was being pre-occupied with my internal struggle of if I was smiling too much the officer handed us our passports and through we walked into America. We grabbed a cab and waited patiently for the drive to end so we could get to our apartment and start exploring. If you were to look up the definition for rush hour traffic you would find New York City there which meant by the time we got to our apartment the time difference from Iceland had started to hit us and we were getting hungry. All we did for our first night in NYC is eat and then sleep, which was probably a good thing considering the mood New Yorkers were in after the election results. The next day however we were up early and our first stop was Washington Square Park to check out the archway and fountain. The archway was there as was the waterless fountain. Not to worry though because we were in NYC and nothing could ruin our mood. That first day we quickly became familiar with the NY Subway system and also become very familiar with all of the interesting people, smells and sounds that can be found below the surface of NYC.
We’ve learnt to get up as soon as the sun rises, if not before to start our days when we are in heavy tourist areas so we got up early and made our way out to Brooklyn for our morning walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. We were lucky enough to experience Brooklyn Bridge with the locals while they all started their days with their morning routines; walking, running, or riding. We decided to spend the morning doing our laundry because we knew if we left it any longer we would be exploring NYC in our summer clothes so we picked up our bags of dirty clothes, grabbed a coffee (hot chocolate for me) from our new ‘local’ cafe and made our way to the laundromat. 2 hours later we had bags full of clean clothes and were ready to start our real exploration of the city that never sleeps.
We are lucky enough to have a couple of friends from Melbourne living in NY so we caught up with them to get their recommendations on what we should do while there. Because of them we were able to eat some amazing food and visit some amazing sites free of charge thanks to their memberships. Thanks also to the US Election we were also cut off from many roads and access paths due to protests. I found the protests themselves quite uneventful to be honest except for one where a lady started yelling at us to join in. At this point I thought about trying to tell her that we weren’t American but didn’t think she would actually care and sure enough after about 30 seconds of yelling she was back walking with the crowd. These posts I write are never meant to be about politics, they are only meant to be about our trip but I’ve learnt a lot throughout our travels so far and I believe I am quite well versed on the world these days. One of the main things that has stood out from our travels for me, and I know Mark feels the same, is that a lot of people never see how deep a scar runs. People living in cities all over the world who have jobs and can support themselves rarely think about the indirect affect a government’s policy can have on their own population and on those who were already doing it tough. I don’t think any country is perfect in the way they do things but I strongly associate myself with the government and social systems of Scandinavian countries. The sense of pride and gratefulness shown by so many Scandinavians about politics is truly unbelievable and I hope that in the future Australia heads more towards the Scandinavian way of life instead of the American. There are simply too many people hurting in America that are being left behind and forgotten about thanks to the media. There are many places I would like to live in this world, American is not one of them. I find this feeling of mine hard to handle when I absolutely loved New York.
After 3 full days of exploring it was Sunday so we slept in and then went and treated ourselves to brunch. After brunch we went back to our apartment to pick up our bag and while Mark sat down to do a bit of research on where we should go, I did some research on tattoo shops that take walk ins. I easily found heaps but after a bit more research I found one I liked and showed Mark. We had already agreed on what tattoos we were going to get but once we looked at them again there was something that just didn’t feel right so I began researching new ones and quickly found ones that we felt worked better – bind runes symbolising love. We sent photos of them to our phone and off we went to see if the tattoo shop could fit us in and within minutes they were leading us through to meet our tattooist and get everything set up. I went first and it was over so quickly with minimal pain. I don’t understand though how people could sit there for hours. Mark went after me and after an hour the entire process was done and we were walking out of the shop with our new tattoos – Mark’s second and my first. Now we’ll never forget NY. We spent the rest of the day with one of our friends as she showed us around the Chelsea Markets. We ate the most amazing lobster and tacos that we vowed to be back there before we left for Canada.
Monday was the start of another week and thankfully talk of the election was slowly (and I mean at a snail’s pace) starting to die down. The weather was starting to go downhill on Monday so we tried to fit in a few of the last things on our list and before we knew it the day was over. Our days in NY just went by and before we knew it we only had 2 days left. Our second last day was met with pouring rain so we hung out inside and began organising ourselves for our trip to Canada. We applied for our ESA’s and mine came through straight away that it had been approved, Mark’s however came back ‘pending’. This caused Mark to go into slight panic mode but within an hour he was all smiles after getting his ‘approved’ email. To further lift his spirits we went to Chelsea Pier Driving Range where I agreed to let Mark try to teach me how to hit a golf ball. It wasn’t quite as boring as I always imagined it to be but I can’t say I could stand there and hit over 100 golf balls. Leaving the driving range we walked past a sign for the bowling alley so we turned and went and played 2 games of ten pin bowling. Mark won the first game but I won the second so I was happy to leave it at that… I hate losing. Before we knew it we were back at our apartment packing our bags getting ready for our last day in New York.
For our last day we decided to head out of the city and drive up state to Storm King Art Centre. The drive up there was really nice and we were able to see so much of New York. The first thing we noticed when we arrived at Storm King was the fresh air thanks to the large open space. To make the most of our day and to see as much as we could we rented bikes and rode around. It was so peaceful compared to NYC that at some of the art installations we stopped and sat down on the grass just to take in the tranquility. Of course driving back into NYC took some much longer than it did to get out so by the time we dropped the car off we were happy to be done with it and jumped back onboard the subway to head to Soho and then Times Square just one last time.
I loved New York and although I’m looking forward to the several weeks, I can’t wait to get back to the city and next time it will be for New Years Eve.
And now, off to Canada we go!