Reviving My Soul at the Harlem Gospel Church

So I haven’t yet written about my last day in NY! It was a goody.

I got up early after four hours sleep to go on the Harlem Gospel Tour. Our guide Evan took us north of the hostel to Harlem and we checked out old buildings. Fascinatingly, we even saw the alleyway where Barack Obama slept when he first arrived in New York and couldn’t get into his apartment (his friend wasn’t home to let him in!)

I met my first fellow Kiwi on this tour, a woman my age from Christchurch. On the very last day I met a Kiwi!

We then made our way to a park complete with syringes and bags of weed scattered next to the path. He announced it was the most dangerous park in New York. I was pleased I was there in a tour group at 9am Sunday morning.

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We then hit up Harlem shops which was actually a pretty cool place. It held lots of cheaper scale shops but the place had such a nice vibe with smiling locals. Maybe cos there were no tourists (apart from our group).

If you’re going to NY definitely check out Harlem. I don’t know about by night but by day it’s cool to look around. I preferred it to Brooklyn actually.

So we ended the tour at a Gospel Church. They welcomed everyone in, sung songs and gave prayers in the soulful, passionate way only Gospel Church goers can. They launched into Oh Happy Day and got everyone standing, clapping and singing along. Even the stiff male German tourists in front of me started to sway as they clapped. I dare any cynical Aetheist to stand up and sing Oh Happy Day while clapping, and not feel generally uplifted.

They gave a speech about the importance of mothers as it was Mother’s Day and I realised how odd it was to be here right now and not at my parent’s house.

We left the church and the group went our separate ways. I had a few hours left to finally see the Statue of Liberty so I thought I better go do that. It’s not so much that was hankering to see it, I just didn’t want to face everyone who found out I went to NY and didn’t see the statue. I wonder if other tourists have felt the same way. I guess it would be like going to Paris and bypassing the Eiffel Tower.

I got the free Staten Island ferry over and took photos of the statue. It was a nice day for it. On the ride back I went to the other side and daydreamed while looking out at the helicopters that tour the area all day. This city definitely caters for tourists on any budget.

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Statue of Liberty

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Reluctantly, I left the sunny Battery Park and hopped on the subway to my hostel. I checked that my taxi was still arriving in an hour. The attendant confirmed it was. Perfect.

An hour passed by. “He’s running a bit late sorry. He’ll be ten minutes.” All good with me.

Ten minutes turned into 30. After five apologies from the front desk I was furious. I told them I would hail one outside. He simply responded by telling me I could pay the driver five dollars less…

I walked out and got a cab within two minutes and it was cheaper. I should have just done that in the first place. The airport had incredibly long queues everywhere. Shit.

I queued and generally freaked out for an hour.

Fortunately I made it through with twenty minutes to spare before boarding. Nothing like a last minute thrill in the states to see me off!

I sat next to a friendly London girl on the plane and had a generally nice flight.

We touched down, she showed me how to get to the underground and I was off.

My life in London had begun!

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