Saturday, August 12, 2006

New York State of Mind

Here I am in Central Park

For years I have been dreaming of going to New York – there was no question of excluding it from my itinerary this time.

Central Park views - wandering the many paths, and indulging in a spot of squirrel spotting

I arrived to Manhattan on a Friday afternoon. The trip from JFK takes a while on the subway, plus I was under pressure to work out the system right away, as I had to change to the Broadway Local to get where I needed to go on the Upper West Side. But I got there with no problems.

Left: Rockefeller Centre, Right: Strawberry Fields in Central Park, a memorial to John Lennon

New York is by no means a clean city – it’s a bit grimy in places, even more so in others, but it’s a city with such a fabulous atmosphere. I loved it from the second I got there. It’s also such a contrast from Europe – people talk on the subway, store assistants see it as their job (or in some places even their calling) to help you.

Left: The United Nations, Right: Grand Central Station

I didn’t realise how big Manhattan was until I spent a day, working my way from my accommodation on West 103rd St until I ended the day at 4th St, in Greenwich Village. I saw lots on the way, famous shops, MoMA, Fifth Avenue, and of course the famous Central Park, which I absolutely loved. It’s a great way to find some peace and quiet, and greenery in the big, busy city. I used to think Sydney, then London was fast paced, until I hit New York. There’s people on the streets all the time, the subway runs 24 hours a day on some lines.

The view from the Rockefeller Centre

Left: View over Central Park from Rockefeller Centre, Right: Foyer of the Rockefeller Centre

One of the best ways to see NYC is from the top, by going up either the Empire State Building or the Rockefeller Centre. I did the former by night at the start of my stay and the latter by day, the afternoon before I flew out. It’s a great way to see the lay of the land, and I’ve never seen so many buildings and skyscrapers in one view before. It’s a sight never to be forgotten.

Washington Square in Greenwich Village

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