What the movies and photos of NYC don’t prepare you for is the enveloping aromas wherever you go. Walking past restaurants I smell pizza (like Sals back home), cafes smell like sugary donuts, the street smells like petrol and smoke, the hotdogs stands smell like smokey BBQ goodness. Occasionally I have to breathe through the bend of my elbow to gasp some fresh air but overall it’s fine.
Today I decided to go to Brooklyn and stop at the 9/11 Memorial on the way. To get there I had to ask a guy where it was. He told me to go to a shop down the road. In that shop was a queue for tickets. Once I got a ticket it had a map on it showing me where to go. I went for another walk to find another queue. After about 15 mins we were taken to a security check and then did some more walking until finally we reached two huge dam-like pools. There was one in place of each tower.
The mood there is sombre and it was very sad to gaze into the bottomless pool with the names of the deceased surrounding it. Many names had roses in them.
There were still many families and couples posing for photos and smiling by the pools which didn’t quite seem like the appropriate thing for them to do. But what can you do. Then, once you leave the area there is another gift shop (of course).
As I stood at the pool I remembered seeing the harrowing ordeal on the classroom TV, thirteen years ago and half my lifetime.
Next up it was time to find the Brooklyn Bridge. Navigating here is so easy. A quick look at the map and I was off! As I started walking across it became apparent that this old bridge really is a treasured relic of the city. There are fantastic views of the NY buildings from it too. Like all the other tourists I took LOTS of photos.
I desperately needed the bathroom after walking the Brooklyn Bridge sipping Blueberry Tea. I came across a wine bar. “Only customers may use the restroom” the sign read. Well if I must!
Oh this was just round the corner… Doh.
I went and looked around Brooklyn shops for a bit. After an hour I needed the bathroom again. All the bars only allowed customers to go. Aha! A small cinema! I walked in and pretended to be interested in all the Indian independent films on offer. She asked which session I wanted to book. I asked if I could go to the bathroom and think about it. “Of course!” she said. Ok good job Holly, she doesn’t suspect a thing! I made a point of going up to her after and saying “I’ll probably come back later to book”. But I as I left I figured she would have clicked.
After looking at shops I headed to the ferry port to take me back to downtown. As I sat looking at the bridge I felt like I had gone back in time. It was so magnificent and the surrounding fog added an air of mystery. I really wanted to write or play music right then and there. If only it wasn’t bitingly cold!
I took the ferry to Wall St to have a look around. This is a small street with expensive looking lobbies. It’s really smoggy and hard to breathe in though. I wonder what the lucky New Yorkers who come to NZ must think when they can breathe our (somewhat) cleaner air.
Then I walked to South Ferry for a look and it was too rainy and foggy to go to the Statue of Liberty. Fingers crossed we get good weather before I leave!
By now I was exhausted so I got the subway and stopped at Times Square for dinner. It’s funny. When I first saw it I was pretty giddy. Now I ended up rolling my eyes at all the wide-eyed tourists blocking the path. That impatient, blasé New Yorker mood had found me already and it only took four days!
I tried some Chipotles (Mexican) for dinner and pondered some more. (I.e. I couldn’t move my body so I just sat there looking out the window for a while).
This is a city where everyone is a performer and many will even burst into song the street when you least expect it (especially in Times Square, shudder). Now I’m writing this in a Chiptoles near 5th Avenue, just looking out at Bryant Park and people watching those who walk past on the street. It’s my fourth night here already and I feel like I finally know the city. I know where to go, how people behave and what I can cope with. I must be fitting in though because I’ve been asked for directions twice already! I’m also the first Kiwi many New Yorkers have met. The last one I chatted to in Brooklyn by the ferry said he had studied NZ history and knew that Maori are the native culture. The only thing he got wrong was he said the Maori brought the British to NZ to settle. Hmm… not quite!
You really can enjoy many days by yourself here. I have anyway. I’m absolutely in my element with just my phone camera, wallet and a map – walking in whichever direction my feet take me. It’s surprisingly easy to find your way around NY. More cities should really use this numbered street system and subway.
After dinner it was time for an early night. I was shattered after ten hours walking and I wanted to do even more tomorrow!
P.S. NYC is very photogenic.