I was so eager to post new entries the last time I wrote here, and then I couldn’t get around to writing anything for months. But better late than never! So here I am again trying to restart this blog.
Continuing from my previous entry, this time I’ll write about the first stop on my trip: New York City. When we were planning this trip with my brother, we found a good deal on tickets from New York to Dubai and, since he was flying from Barbados, it was a good place to meet up and start our journey.
My brother had been to New York a couple of times before, but for me, it was actually my first visit to the US. Of course, I was looking forward to seeing all the places that come to mind when you mention this city, like Times Square, Central Park, the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building and other famous skyscrapers, the Brooklyn Bridge, Broadway, the Fifth Avenue, and many more. It was a short visit though, so we couldn’t really go everywhere I wanted to, but for the most part, I could catch a good view of the city. 😀
I was supposed to meet with my brother at the JFK airport in the evening, but my flight arrived way earlier than his. With lots of time to spare and an increased desire to explore my surroundings, I did something that my back would deeply regret the next day: I wandered around the terminals carrying my big backpack and before I knew it, two hours went by. That airport is huge! (And I was yet to be blown away by Dubai’s airport.)
We booked a hotel within walking distance of Times Square. For the rest of the trip we would mostly stay in hostels, but for New York, we wanted something that was kind of central and therefore convenient. After dropping our bags at the hotel, we headed to Times Square that night. As we got closer, the billboards became brighter and the bustle of the streets louder.
I once heard someone describe Times Square as an overload for the senses and it was exactly like that — flashing billboards everywhere you look at, busy crowds coming and going, people speaking in several languages, others wearing costumes and posing for pictures with tourists… It’s such vibrant place, I can see why it’s one of the most popular landmarks of the city.
We walked around for a while and visited some of the nearby stores — mostly candy stores to replenish our chocolate reserves — and then had a quick dinner. We didn’t stay much longer because we couldn’t stand the cold. Despite being the beginning of March and with winter supposedly over, the night air was freezing! It made us run straight back to the hotel.
The next morning, we went to Columbus Circle; a big traffic circle surrounded by famous buildings like the Museum of Arts & Design, the Time Warner Center — with some fancy shops inside — and the Trump International Hotel and Tower, and with Central Park on its side. In the middle of the circle, there’s a statue of Columbus, that gave this place its name. Interestingly enough, Columbus Circle is the point from which all official distances from New York City are measured.
After roaming around the circle for a little bit, we entered Central Park. The trees were still recovering from winter and without a single leaf, but even so, the atmosphere was nice. It was a normal weekday and there were several people jogging, riding bicycles, walking their dogs, and kids playing here and there. It’s amazing how a few steps into the park, you can forget that you’re in one of the largest and busiest cities in the world.
I’d seen some panoramic pictures of the park before, and I was impressed with its size, but being there I could actually feel how massive it was. We stayed for a little over an hour and probably didn’t cover even half of it. It’s a great oasis of nature in the middle of the city! I really liked it, and I guess it must be beautiful in spring or with the trees changing colors in fall.
On our way back, we passed through Times Square once again. It was slightly less impressive than its night version but still cool. We went into some stores that we didn’t see the night before and then continued on our way. I don’t clearly remember what direction we took from there but we passed by a park (was it Bryant Park?) with lots of people playing ping-pong. It was lunch time so it was pretty packed and they were playing so intensely it was fun to watch. There was a big public library beside it, and from there we could see the Chrysler Building in the distance.
We kept on walking until the Fifth Avenue and went into the Best Buy store there, just because my brother wanted to buy some new earphones and check some accessories for his camera. And well, that took a while. Then we walked a few more blocks and passed by the Rockefeller Center. Sadly, I couldn’t get a good picture of it as apparently, it requires some ability to photograph a tall building, haha. In one of those buildings, there’s a famous observatory called “Top of the World”, but we didn’t stop there because we had a different plan.
We took the subway to Brooklyn. The hotel staff gave us a map and explained what station to get off to go to Brooklyn Bridge, so getting there was easy, but it took us a while to figure out how to get on the bridge because they were having some construction works on the way. We even asked a guy who passed by on a bicycle but he was equally lost. XD
As another important landmark of the city, the bridge was crowded, with some people exercising and others walking around taking pictures. We took our good share of pictures — and took pictures for random strangers who asked us to — and just enjoyed the view. Since we were a little rushed for time, we couldn’t cross the bridge, though I think we walked at least to the middle of it. It’s a long bridge! Then we went back the same way we came in the subway.
Instead of visiting one of the many famous observation points, my brother suggested that we go to a rooftop bar. We could have a nice view of the city while having some food and drinks and save some money too. (The entrance fee to some of the overlooks can be a bit pricey if you’re traveling on a budget.)
The bar that we chose had a big outdoor terrace, with separate spaces for smokers and non-smokers, and some plastic igloos decorated with lights inside, where people could sit down and chill out too. Though it wasn’t the tallest building around, the view was pretty good. We could see the Empire State Building and there was a beautiful sunset later, too!
With all the rushing around, we forgot to have lunch so the food tasted even better. I have to admit I’m still surprised at the serving sizes, though. My brother ordered a hamburger and it came with the largest serving of fries I’ve ever seen! He couldn’t finish it, despite usually having a big appetite.
We stayed in the bar until it started getting dark and then decided to walk back to the hotel. It didn’t seem far anyway, or at least that’s what we thought. It was around ten blocks or so. But we had to hurry up because a taxi was waiting to take us to the airport.
Remember when I said I would regret carrying my big backpack around the airport the previous day? Well, walking ten blocks quickly and with the chilly night air hitting my face didn’t help. By the time I arrived to the hotel I was exhausted and about to cry. I felt like I walked way too much that day, and that was just the beginning of a month of non-stop traveling.
New York is a place that makes you feel tiny among its tall buildings and crowds, but its diversity is really cool. The fact that you can listen to almost any language on the streets, and meet people with so many different backgrounds, gives you lots of opportunities to see and experience new things, and that makes it a fascinating place.
There were many places I didn’t get to see this time, but that’s all the more reason to visit there again, isn’t it? 🙂
Thanks for reading! Until next time.