We have just wrapped up the American leg of our journey with a week in New York, and it has been an absolute blast. New York is great- there’s tons to do, it’s easy to get around and there’s a constant buzz in the air. Our neighbourhood on the Upper West Side was also perfect for us. A little bit out of the tourist madness of Time Square, but still full of great sights, food and entertainment. Of all the cities we have visited in the States, it would be up there as one of our favourites. Campbell is less convinced than I am that it is livable, so we will be carrying on our journey to Portugal this evening.
Accommodation in New York is nose-bleed expensive (especially for a whole week), so we ended up renting a room in the apartment of a Dutch family (Mum, Dad, toddler, baby, schnauzer and siamese). The experience was an interesting one. The room itself was great – big, private bathroom, view out over Manhattan – but sharing someone else’s home is not something we were overly comfortable with. Living with a family also added a different dynamic. The toddler, Joy, (an aspirational name, rather than one reflecting current temperament) was prone to 7 am temper tantrums and also bedtime shouting matches with her Mother. These were held in Dutch and right outside our bedroom door.
Our room was also shy a TV. I know you might think it’s lame to want a TV on holiday but, after a long day of pounding the pavement, sometimes you just want to switch on and switch off. Our entertainment worries were over though, when we spotted this wee gem on the bedroom wall. You can only imagine how many hours we spent trying to figure out how the hell this painting could be worth US$25,000. Wonderful entertainment for all.
When we weren’t honing our artistic eye, we were out and about ticking off the following (in no particular order): Top of The Rock, the Natural History Museum, Grand Central Station, NY Public Library, Broadway, Central Park, the 9/11 Memorial, Staten Island Ferry, a couple of rows about nothing, a night ferry cruise, the Museum of Modern Art, and the High Line. Rather than a blow-by-blow account (“and then we went here, and then we went there . . . “) here’s a recap of some of our highlights, lowlights and takeaway points.
Broadway: It wasn’t until we’d already bought tickets to see School of Rock that Campbell mentioned that he’d never been to a musical before. It quickly became apparent that he really had no idea what he was in for (“They don’t actually sing all the time, do they?!”). At one point I looked across at him and realised that he was doing the same weird wince/grimace from the “It’s a Small World Ride” at Disneyland, which makes sense since both things involved a lot of small people singing and dancing their hearts out. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Museums: So it turns out that we actually don’t like museums or art galleries. It doesn’t matter how highly ranked they are on Tripadvisor, we just find them a bit boring. We went along to the Natural History Museum and the Museum of Modern Art (both “must sees”) and really didn’t get much out of either. At the very least, I was hoping to see the exhibit at the Natural History Museum where Ross and Rachel got it on during that episode of Friends, but we couldn’t even find that. We did find this little gadget though, which was a personal highlight after months of eating burger and fries (please don’t do the conversion – it’s not pretty!). The Museum of Modern Art was very much the same – a unicycle covered in feathers and nailed to a plank of wood just doesn’t really float our boat.
9/11: One big exception to the above, was the 9/11 Museum. We both thoroughly enjoyed this, and would highly recommend it for anyone visiting New York. It is, of course, a sombre experience, but also a very moving one.
Food: The food scene in New York is amazing. You can get pretty much anything you want, anytime you want. Campbell lost his appetite about mid-way through the week (he actually had a fruit cup for dinner one night, which had me rethinking the likelihood this marriage will last), but I charged on bravely and have been making my way round the city like Pac Man. Campbell is now feeling better and had a huge burger for lunch, so natural order has been restored.
Central Park: Yesterday was our last full day and we decided to rent bikes and cycle around Central Park. Central Park is a really amazing area, not least because it is smack bang in the middle of one of the most densely populated areas in the world. There are lakes, castles, fields, sport grounds, boating ponds and lots and lots of people. It was really nice to get back on the bikes (our bums nicely calloused after Cuba) and off the streets.
Random New York things: There’s so much happening in New York that random things just pop up all the time. Like when Campbell got asked to arm wrestle a girl in the street, or when we stumbled across a wedding in Grand Central Station. Campbell also had a haircut at an Orthodox Jewish barber, which he tells me was the best haircut he’s ever had.
We are leaving New York tonight ready to take on Europe. Our time in the States has been amazing, but we are ready to move on. I don’t think you can ever say that you have “done” a country, but we have certainly done what we came to do – see some of the big sights, and tick a few things off the bucket list. We’re ready to head off and take on our next adventure.