Thursday, April 20, 2006

So good they named it twice

Well, we are back from the Big Apple. We had a truly brilliant time, and although we were only away for 4 days it felt like much longer because we packed so much in.

The time difference meant we arrived only just after we set off, and had all Friday afternoon and evening at our disposal. It was raining quite hard so, after walking to Times square and up Broadway, we opted for a rickshaw ride around central park. We got a really good running commentary from the rickshaw guy, and we saw much more of the park than we would have on foot (it's 83 acres). Then we walked and walked and walked ( the general theme of our trip!) down fifth avenue, meandering and marveling at the BIGNESS of everything.

On Saturday we got up super early (still on UK time) and the sun was out in force. We got the subway downtown and walked across Brooklyn bridge. The we walked and walked some more, down to the Staten Island ferry. I would just like to point out that we hemorrhaging cash at every turn so the free ferry ride was a god send. You get to see the Statue of liberty and the best view of Manhattan, as well as a smug feeling when you see people forking out $20 for a tourist trip that does exactly the same.

Then we started walking back up the island, past Ground Zero, via Century 21, past 100 famous sights, through China town, little Italy, SoHo and into Greenwich village. By this time we were knackered and it was boiling hot so we got a taxi back to our hotel. After a kip we headed back to China town for a superb meal in a restaurant specialising in Peking Duck. Yum!

We were up early again on Sunday, and here's a tip, if you are planning a trip up one of the tall buildings, go as soon as it opens. We went up the Rockerfeller Building at 8.30 in the morning and there was only about 10 people about. Both the Rockerfeller and the Empire State building have 2 hour queues later in the day.

Then we started walking again. The weird thing is that in New York you feel totally orientated straigh taway. It's probably due to the grid system of streets and avenues. You can always figure out where to go, and where you are. It's actually hard to get lost! Having said that there is always another Avenue to explore, and our walk back to central park took us past more famous sights. I also went for a wee in the Trump Tower.

Then we wandered nearly the full length of central park, down the East side. I had told Nick I really wanted to see the Guggenhiem, one of my favourite buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. This was the reason for our mammoth hike up the park. I was rather disappointed to find the entire building clad in scaffolding and all the white render stripped off for renovation. Maybe it was just psychological but because I couldn't see the outside of the building I resented paying the $18 per person entry fee to see the exhibitions, so we just took some snaps of the inside, used the loo, and set off on our walk back again!

Later we splashed out on the best seats in the house for a new Broadway show of the Three Penny Opera with Alan Cumming, Jim Dale (of Carry on fame) Cyndi Lauper (girls just wanna have fun) amongst the cast. In the queue for the loo during the interval I heard one obnoxious woman saying she thought Alan Cumming was very one dimentional and could only play one type of character. I really felt like turning round and saying 'oh but have you never seen the 'High Life'? Surely the pinnacle of Alan Cumming's career, he played a camp air steward in a sit-com for British Television'. Then I remembered that the High Life was totally shit and the only people who liked it were me and my sister, and we only liked it cos it was totally shit, so I kept my mouth shut.

On Monday we did more walking, to see the Chrysler Building (Art Deco Heaven), the Empire State building and the Seagram building. The Seagram Building is easily overlooked but it is a skyscraper of such modernist perfection that it is worth a visit. If you can't afford the airfare, go and look at the Arts Tower at Sheffield University. It was modelled on the Seagram Building and the similarities are staggering!

Then we walked over to Macys, the worlds largest department store. We stocked up on some new shoes and jackets, and then it was time to go home.

3 or 4 days in New York is definitely long enough to get your bearings and see the major sights, but there is sooooo much to see and do it will require a few more repeat visits.

The down sides are MY GOD you get through money like its going out of fashion, and also I found the pollution really bad. My nose was constantly blocked, and I had the most disgusting black bogeys you've ever seen.

The surprising positive sides for me were how welcoming everyone was, how safe we felt walking about, and how accessible the city was to get about in. I also found the architecture unbelievably uplifting. Those long, straight vistas of tall and even taller glassy buildings stretching into infinity made me feel both astounded at the extent of human endeavor, as well as faintly unsettled as I stared into an imagined vision of dystopia.

Its a wonderful movie set of a city. Make time to go there.


Blogger Christian Briddon said...

I have no desire to visit the states, too many Americans, except New York.

I would sell my Granny to go there. You made me willing to throw in my mum as a special offer!!!

6:10 AM  
Anonymous Dave said...

Hi There, found your blog whilst nosing through Blogger, glad you had a great time there, Me and my g/f went in January and had a great time, you are right though money goes like anything! Can't wait to go back!

1:00 PM  
Blogger Tracy said...

I always check your blog because you really make me laugh - but today I was just interested in what you were saying. I have never been to Big Apple (mainly cos I would be scared of getting lost!) but your description is very good and made it sound very easy and accessible - bit too much walking for me...."Taxi...! "

6:49 AM  

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