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05.11.2010 - 07.11.2010 15 °C
First things first, what an amazing city. The first night in New York was spent staying at the Americana Inn, a few blocks away from Times Square. It was exciting to wake up to the sounds of a policewoman blowing a whistle to direct traffic at an intersection, and window views of Delicatessens and bagel houses.
It was quite an adventure to get to NY, with having to fly for a total of around 26 hours. On top of this, Shaun, my travelling buddy, missed the plane in Sydney due to not having the visa waiver form filled out! - this would not have been a problem usually, though for some reason this time, the system crashed, forcing Shaun to wait for the next available flight. This was certainly a surprise to me when I was waiting in the departure lounge at Sydney airport! My flight route took me from Sydney to Los Angeles, then a connecting flight to Memphis, Tennessee and finally New York city. Flying with Delta was an interesting experience, from LA to NY, as there were mostly locals and business people travelling home for the weekend. I had the chance to talk to a girl who was going to visit her mum in Tampa, Florida, who was going to compete in an Iron Man competition - quite a feat. Some of the funny questions she asked, though, were "oh, where is Sydney?" and "how big is Australia? I've heard it's the size of Colorado"…
After landing in NY at La Guardia airport I felt relief and happiness at having made it this far, and quickly looked around for a shuttle to take me to Manhattan Island (as the airport was in Queens, the area east of Manhattan). This was quite an experience- the shuttle driver took us around some of the key sights in NY, such as the Trump Hotel, Central Park, Times Square, etc. though the highlight of the trip was when we were in Times Square and a taxi (cab in NY) cut ahead of us and tore off his bumper bar! Much to our misfortune this was right in front of a flock of police cars and we were told to go ahead without the driver, as he'd be stuck in talks with the police for an hour or two. So I had just arrived in a foreign city with slight jetlag and I had to find the hotel myself! This was definitely a challenge, but one I enjoyed. After getting to the hotel and meeting up with my Dad and brother, I quickly unpacked and got some well needed rest.
The next day was a chance to explore some of the city with my Dad and brother. We ended up starting the day with breakfast at a bakery - bagels! And wow, I have to admit that bagels are a lot more filling than I had imagined, especially with the amount of cream cheese that they managed to spread on them! (lets just say that the cream cheese was kept in an icecream container, and that the amount they spread on was a few centimetres thick!) This, as well as a "small" coffee (about the size of a large soft drink cup from McDonalds in Australia) managed to keep me full until dinner. Some of the highlights of the day were visiting Times Square, seeing a squirrel (so cute!!), visiting Macy's (huge department store in NYC), seeing the Flat Iron building and visiting Soho and Chelsea, really nice artistic districts of NYC. Walking around the city gives a sense of how huge it is- I also managed to take the subway down from around Times Square to around 8th street station. These subway trains are much faster and more efficient than the ones we have in Sydney, though they seemed to have quite a bit of trackwork going on during the weekends (which became annoying later on when we tried to return to the hotel!- more on that later).
David and I at Times SquareA squirrel! :DChelsea, NYCThe Flat Iron Building
After visiting Soho, dinner was at "Little Italy" in downtown NYC, where I had some of the best pasta and cannoli I've ever eaten. The food there was amazing! I’d definitely recommend the Italian food in NYC, and I will be comparing this to the food in Italy later on in this trip. With night time already approaching, we had to then make plans to meet up with our tour company in Newark, New Jersey. This would be quite a challenge as we were still in downtown NYC, with the subways going back to midtown (our hotel's location) being closed for trackwork! This had resulting in all of us walking about 30 blocks or so until we finally found an open subway station, taking us back to Grand Central station- an epic building with a lot of history. My second day in America ended with a cab ride from our hotel to Newark, which was around an hour away, to the hotel to meet the tour company, Tours4Fun. At this hotel we also met up with Shaun, who had arrived at NY earlier that evening.
The next day was the first official day of our tour, which was to take us around NYC and see some more of its main attractions. The highlights of the day were visiting Wall St, the Statue of Liberty, the Intrepid Sea, Space and Air museum, Ground Zero, the UN building, and finally the Empire State Building- such awesome views from the top! I swear<br/, you could see to the next state or something, the view was so good. This was the last attraction to see in the city, and with much regret we left New York that night to head for Philadelphia with the tour. I could have happily spent weeks in NY exploring it inside out, and will definitely consider coming back in the future.
Wall StreetMe with the Statue of LibertyUnited Nations CenterLooking up at the Empire State BuildingNew York City Skyline from the Empire State Building