Around the World in Three Boroughs

Trip Start Aug 25, 2008
Trip End Oct 17, 2008

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Flag of United States  , New York
Friday, August 29, 2008

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I made it out of Africa without getting stabbed or carjacked, and the flight from Cape Town to Joburg was great as well.  On Comair (the South African version of it) they offer all you can drink beer and wine and even a meal on the 1:30 minute flight.  Maybe that is to soothe your nerves and give you strength for what lies ahead in Joburg.  But in any case, what's not to like about an airline that liquors everyone up?  Flying domestically in South Africa is an absolute pleasure compared to home.  At security the shoes stay on and I could have brought 50 gallons of water through if I had some kind of need for it.   No one even compared my ID to my ticket a million times and it was nice not being a suspect during the whole screening process.

The flight on South African Airways to the US was really nice as well.  I got to fly on the Airbus A340-600, and that's the really, really long plane.  My seat back in row 80 or something like that was comfortable even in coach and the service was great for a 19 hour flight including the hour stop in Dakar, Senegal.  Each seat had a video screen with movies and tv shows on demand so that kept me halfway entertained whenever I wasn't trying to sleep in the upright and locked position.   And for all my flight attendant friends out there, how's this for a big difference in announcements...Down in South Africa it's "Please raise your window shutters and chairbacks and stow your hand luggage in the overhead lockers." 

It turns out that with a $7.50 all day subway pass and a lot of walking I could have saved 37 days of travel (and some $$$, too) if I had stayed in New York!!!  Greece, Russia and Israel in Brooklyn.  The Middle East, Korea and India in Queens.  China in Manhattan.  It's all here in NYC, especially when you get out of Manhattan.  The best part is that there is no TSA shakedown and all I had to worry about was which subway to hop on.   But give me the real India anyday rather than what I found along Roosevelt Ave.

To me the real New York starts a few subway stops away from the canyons of Manhattan in people scaled Brooklyn and Queens.  Brooklyn is my favorite place in the entire city and it's about as diverse as the planet it's attached to.  This morning I had breakfast in India, lunch in Greece and I haven't even decided what country to visit for dinner.   All this along the Q line subway.  Who would have known?  And if you drop something in the middle of a Duane Read Drug Store, someone else in line will actually pick it up for you with a smile.  How's that compared to Buenos Aires??!!  And NYC is supposed to be the place with rude people?  No way, everyone is so friendly here.  Seriously.

There are some really friendly old neighborhoods here, too like Brooklyn Heights and Park Slope.  The leafy streets are lined by old brownstowns with big stoops and are perfect for a slow walk.   I did some really tacky touristy stuff here, too like visiting the Empire State Building and walking across the Brooklyn Bridge.  Hey, I am on vacation so why not?  The views from the bridge are really awesome and a quick right turn after walking across it from Manhattan leads onto Clinton St I think it was and the heart of Brooklyn Heights.  And if you are reading this, Dad, Brooklyn is not the total dump that you remember it being when you left there!!!  There are plenty of nice neighborhoods all over the place to explore. 

I stopped to take some pictures of the architecture along one of the side streets and an elderly couple with very thick New York accents asked me if I needed help with directions.  I explained I was just taking pictures of the old buildings and they seemed pleased I had made my way across the bridge and discovered their neighborhood.  Not five minutes later a couple with a baby carriage saw me looking at a map and they asked me if I needed directions.  The Brooklyn Bridge back to Manhattan would be nice and they pointed me in the right direction.  Yeah, the taxi drivers do yell and scream but the every day people here are nice enough.  Manhattan is just imposing canyons of steel of glass but Brooklyn is more people scaled with its neighborhoods and I have found my own little oasis in the middle of this giant city.

I took some pictures from the top of the Empire State Building and I will get them on here as soon as I can.  The view was worth the huge lines and wait. 

I will see you in Jordan next.
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