An Englishman in New York

Trip Start Feb 26, 2010
Trip End Feb 26, 2011

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Where I stayed
Marriot Courtyard

Flag of United States  , New York
Tuesday, February 15, 2011

After a good 5 hours sleep the alarm went off very early at about 6.30am, it was time to get up and go again. We piled out of the room putting on a few layers and hit the streets on foot. We had made several basic errors, we left the gloves and hadnt put thermals on. It was absolutely baltic, ok it may have been 1 or 2 degrees celcius but there was a bracing gale force wind that lowered the real feel temperature. As we paced the streets of lower Manhatten we got colder and colder and had to take a pitstop for a coffee. We walked down Broadway and also managed to see all the sights around Wall Street, including anti capitalist protesters, lots of police and I guess the usual carry on for such a place. Also we hadnt expected to find snow in New York in Mid February, a lot has melted but it seems like so long since we have seen snow and ice.  Saying that we have seen quite a bit on the trip from Russia to New Zealand to Patagonia.

After criss crossing around the streets of the financial district we managed to find the Statten Island ferry terminal which can be construde as a cheap mans trip to see the Statue of Liberty, we had tried to book a proper trip a few weeks ago but we were too late to visit the crown (this has to be booked at least a month in advance) and so thought it was a waste of money to just stand on the plinth below. It was just so very very cold we could hardly hold the camera so for the most part sat inside behind the glass. When we arrived at Statten Island we ran around the terminal and managed to get back on the same ferry to return back to Manhatten. If you are a cheap skate it is a good trip because it is entirely free and paid for by the tax payers of New York, hehe.

Oddly New York had already started to eat up time like we had never expected it to but with it being such a big place walking around lower Manhatten took ages. We then had to make our attempt to try and salvage our laptop so took the underground to Canal Street and walked into China town to a laptop repair place we had found on the internet. China town was huge and the quick walk from the metro probably took about 20 minutes, it is one of the biggest China towns we have ever been to, I also remember from our tour of the states about 10 years ago that San Francisco China town was huge. There were loads of people trying to flog watches and jewellery on the street providing only a minor irritation.

The laptop shop was open and the guy agreed to try and get it fixed in 5 hours and had quickly diagnosed the problem as a simple windows error, however it would take time to download the hard drive contents, including some 30,000 photos of the trip. We left full of the joys of spring delighted we hadnt lost our Galapagos pictures and that it could be done before we left New York at the end of the day, all for about $70 which wasnt the end of the world. 

We walked on to Little Italy and the change happens so quickly, all of a sudden the streets are lined with trees and full of bakeries, deli's and pizza joints when only doors away, the shops were full of fish heads and chinese vegetables. We had a bit of a walk around and then got a bit lost finding ourselves half way between Times Square and our hostel in the financial district. We eventually found our way back through city hall park, and checked out of our room, putting the bags in storage. The morning had already disappeared in its entirity rather frustratingly.

We hit the road again and headed to the Rockafeller centre, we had been to the Empire State Building on our last disasterous trip to New York, where we had an afternoon in NY then 2 days in a hotel room in a hurricane, we hadnt rated the Empire State building at all, whilst an icon and amazing for its day it seemed very tired and we remembered queuing for what seemed like ages. We got a taxi there and despite the cab drivers initial quietness we soon drew him into non stop chatter, so much so that the 10 minute journey, he didnt seem to want us to get out, his choice of topics had included nothing controversial.... other than, Immigration {he was a muslim immigrant who came to the States 20 years ago}, Politics, why he wont drive in the Bronx [he was adamant the black people and hispanic people have some kind of genetic thing meaning they cant drive], money, taxes, Barack, Religion...... so nothing at all that would be controversial, he also nearly crashed a few times.... what generalisations did he make about driving in the Bronx?

The Rockafeller was pretty good, clearly nowhere near as high as the buildings we topped in China, or in Malaysia to name a couple but it did give good views of Manhatten. For once even despite the wind I didnt feel too bad up there but then again there were no clear floors.

We rang the laptop shop to check on progress and were absolutely completely and utterly bloody mortified to find out that it wasnt a windows error but the hard disk drive had failed and no data could be saved. Unbelievably as predicted only about a month ago when I backed up everything to cd and sent them home that something terrible would now happen. Oh well it is only a few weeks worth of pictures, but non the less the lady nor myself were thrilled. We walked to Times Square and sat in the McDonalds and ate 20 chicken nuggets (this is allowed in the states by the way just not everywhere else) which were filthy cheap at 5 dollars. We took some snaps and walked back to the subway. Annoyingly we had run out of time and as the daylight started to draw to a close our day quick trip to New York was almost over, whilst we got a lot more done than our last visit here, we still didnt manage to get into the depths of Central Park and perhaps more guttingly we didnt get time to do the High Line park that we were really looking forward to. Never mind whilst last nights delays meant we had more to do, we are really glad we came to the States and have loved every minute of the last few days.... still I'm sure we could have more fun before the day is out.

We headed back to the hostel picked up our bags and hailed a cab to take us to JFK. We soon had the cab driver deep in conversation and I almost managed to get him chanting USA, USA with me. At JFK he dropped us off and when I paid him he asked for his tip, which I managed a dollar before telling him I'd make it up to him next time I visited just give me a shout. The smell of my shoes and feet in the cab were absolutely revolting and the whole cab wreaked. We checked in our bags with American Airlines and we realised just how shabby we are looking these days, my trousers are ripped right open again, and people stopped to stare as I walked into the toilets and got on with the job of trying to clean my feet in the sink and don the flip flops so that the stench wasnt as bad on the plane this time. We were in a bit of a giddy mood and this didnt bode well for the rather serious task of passing another US security check at there present status of high alert. Trying to be sensible Erica got all her stuff onto the scanner and avoided the full body x ray machine for the second time in 2 days. Again I was pulled over, and put into the xray machine, with Erica with a little grin on her face, the man asked me to get ready to be scanned, which promptly I dropped my trousers and started taking them off. The guy started going nuts shouting "did I tell you to get undressed, I dont want to see you naked, what kind of idiot are you, get your trousers on, pull them up, where are you from and so on, after his voller of abuse he turned around and started shaking his head to the other guards who all were in hysterics at just how stupid someone could be, I really struggled to keep a straight face after catching Erica's eye and seeing the tears rolling down her cheeks. When I got to the second guy who was doing the frisk it was a longish wait before the results of the xray came through, in the mean time, I said to the guy "I think your mate is a bit strange, he asked me to drop my trousers over there", we needed to calm down and do it quickly.... so we headed for the bar and a final attempt at being ID'd something after our trip 10 years ago (where we got id'd evertime) we had been looking forward to. Unfortunately it didnt happen but we did get to see spurs beat AC Milan, oh and Jerry Springer, who walked past us in to the bar with an entourage of people.  The stench in the bar was pretty much unbearable, which is pretty poor considering my shoes were in my bag. It was obvious the shoes had to go, I started first of all by casually dropping my socks on a moving walkway (which I did pick up concerned they may become a security threat) and then gave my stinky shoes to a cleaning lady who nearly vommed.

We boarded the flight and were soon on our way to Cancun, Mexico. Really sad to be leaving the states, but after only 3 days out of South America, we had already started to feel completely refreshed of South America lash, something I dont think we knew we had until we got to the states. Maybe this affected our review of Colombia. Apart from the really annoying people on the plane, the type who give citizens of the US probably the title of Least liked nation on Earth, closely followed by ourselves of course (that is the English, not our neighbours like Scotland, Wales or Ireland). As we took off they were all shouting "bring it on, come on ARE YOU READY.... CANCUN MAN, bring it on", only our own nation of proud chavs and tosspots could match that.

We landed in Cancun early and another hour of time difference meant we should have been fast asleep at the airport, but we managed to stay awake to get the free hotel shuttle. We arrived looking and smelling completely out of place, we still maintain this was the best value for an overnight stopover, 40 quid but with free shuttle to and from the airport and with computers, (only about a week behind on the blog and with no laptop). Instantly you notice just how touristy it is here, everyone speaks amazing English and you recognise just how important American tourists are to this place. Our room was huge, and we are most definitely out of our comfort zone. With our pool view we were so excited we headed down to the 'business centre' (I cant remember any of our hostels having a business centre), and started writing blogs, we finally headed to bed at gone 12, or past 1am NY time, oh well we can sleep when we are dead, or unemployed at home in 2 weeks. Well I suppose as we dont have any laptop, we are going to Cuba tomorrow evening, a place we have always wanted to go to and we feel this is a no choice option for us. Fidel Castro is approaching the end of his life, the USA are considering allowing its citizens to visit and everthing could change so quickly we are truly scared of not seeing Cuba before it changes beyond comprehension. I say Cuba, we are only going to Havana, but we are looking forward to it and just hope that Havana inspired Cartagena has not spoiled it for us, this will be our first time Couch Surfing too which we have wanted to do for ages, meet the locals and experience Havana like it should be experienced, plus saving a bob or two in to the bargain.
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farknash on

What a varied and hectic 2 days

Stevie T on

Gotta love NY. I know I do. I can be really rude and no one notices. How great is that?

Stevie T on

I also love the way they didn't mess with your junk at the customs. The TSA are crap - and I've probably just been watchlisted.

and construed. Not construde. Which I believe to be some sort of fake apple based desert

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