Da little slink in da big city!

Trip Start May 05, 2007
Trip End Sep 02, 2007

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Flag of United States  , New York
Sunday, June 10, 2007

I arrived in NYC, having a budget of $90 per day (trying to save the last of my US dollars to get back up to the border while having enough to tour New York) and an itinerary set out to do things across the two days. Within 15 minutes of arriving in the city my budget was shot and my itinerary gone completely out the window! I arrived in Times Square and was overwhelmed with all the action; I had originally decided to walk around the city and save some money while getting a more informative tour of the city. Amongst all the traffic chaos I saw people getting on a Double Decker bus that went around the city, no sooner had I thought about it before I was approached by a vendor flogging the product off. As most of them do, he explained it fairly fast telling of all the inclusives of the tour in no real great detail. For $79 you received the "all tours" as well as statue of liberty pass and empire state building package. A fairly steep price, although I think it made the time I was there more valuable, although if you have longer than just two days it probably might not be as attractive.
          The tours consisted of a Downtown, Brooklyn, Upper East Side and Night routes, each with a tour guide explaining various facts and quips about multiple aspects around the tour of the town. It was a much more informative (and faster) way to view NYC. Being in a Double Decker bus did have its advantages (and disadvantages too) over being on foot. The view alone was worth it, as well as not worrying about if you were going the right way, plus you could get off anytime and get on another tour bus, which ran fairly constantly (about every 15mins - although I had to wait 45mins in the rain one time). The only problem with it was when the rain came (and of course since I was there it found me!), which saturated me and the height of the vehicle. Once you sat down up top you had to remain seated, this became fairly obvious once traffic lights, street signs and low branches came whistling over head (around central park many people got smacked by branches- which was funny until you get hit). So this became my way of navigating and viewing NYC.
          On Sunday it was fairly quiet and a good chance to get used to the city during a slow time as well as view some of the more popular exhibits that were still open. During this day I went on the Downtown and Brooklyn tours as well as a cruise of Ellis Island and to see the statue of Liberty. It was quite a sense of independence for me to be in a city of this magnitude, navigating in a foreign area and viewing landmarks the world is familiar with.
          I didn't get too hung up on the statue of Liberty, since it was around lunch time and there was quite a few people around there, I decided to move on, after all it is just a land mark (although a very popular and important piece of history I might add) and once seen it is really all that is to it!
          I decided to look down wall st. and see what there was to it since it was near Battery Park, although I knew it was a Sunday I wanted to get an idea what it might be like on a weekday. From there I headed to the former site of the World Trade Centres, and to have lunch with the $10 I had left over. It was nothing really to view, just a large construction site, although the monuments people had created and the left over memories from what happened there was a really powerful emotional experience. There were tributes from all different countries and pictures posted up of the events that passed; one particular one that grabbed my attention was that of the crumpled car and an old man with tears running down his cheeks and in the reflection of his glasses an American flag. I had also seen the crumpled sphere, which used to stand in the courtyard between the two trade towers in Battery Park, which now had a small flame burning in front of it. After this I decided to go to church (it was Sunday after all), to St. Paul's Cathedral, which stood across from the towers and wasn't damaged.
          I then continued the tours, hopping back on the tour bus and going downtown Brooklyn. From what the tour guide said Brooklyn is a large city area and if it were to become a separate city it would rank within the top 5 largest cities. The residential streets of Brooklyn resembled a quiet neighborhood area with tree lined streets and moderate sized apartment/houses, just out of downtown Manhattan. As you can imagine the price was also adjusted accordingly and they weren't cheap for what you got, the only advantage was the close proximity to the cities (and all he noise I might add too).
Seeing as it was getting late I decided to head home, leaving the night life for Tuesday, however before I went home I was treated to the remnants of a Costa Rican street parade which was just finishing up. Police had cordoned off parts of the streets and it was refreshing to see so many people in New York, being a Sunday it wasn't overly busy.
On Tuesday I planned a full day in NYC, as this was my last time there I made sure I got to see as much as possible. I got up early and caught the 6:55am bus wanting to arrive in NYC shortly before 9am (if I thought peak hour in any other city was bad now I have perspective, NYC peak hour is crazy unless you know where you are going in advance you are screwed!). There were so many busses going into the system they had special lanes for them, although totally mad it was well worth seeing.
The first thing I wanted to do was see wall st. on a business day, I also wanted to see grand central station and the subway system, so I combined them all. I learnt about the subway system (and the smell) and first of all went the wrong way, but recovered after the first stop sensing I was going the wrong way and headed to wall st.
I expected to see a whole mass of people rushing around on cell phones etc and maybe to have a look in the New York stock exchange building, but I was severely let down. There was no one on the street and the New York stock exchange entrance was monitored by security.
The next stop was the museum of natural history and central park, planned to spend a few hours in the museum of natural history as the book had suggested and planned so accordingly. I had a brief look inside and I guess for someone not used to seeing these things it would be interesting, although studying them in more detail and seeing them in other museums I didn't find it all that worthwhile, still a very impressive collection though but I had seen most of it all before. Instead of spending the 3 to 4 hours I had intended I was out in about 30mins. Following the recommendation of the tour guide on the previous uptown loop bus I stopped in a local cafeteria for lunch which was moderately priced and good food too. After making my way back to the bus stop it began to rain, not just a little but some really heavy downpours, to make things worse the bus didn't show up for about 40mins (not that it mattered to see anything because you were outside and getting wet). I wanted to get my money's worth and so I continued the tour taking both the rest of the uptown loop into Harlem and the night tour (because I wanted to see the empire state building at night), getting quite saturated as well). This was both a blessing and a curse, it was not so good for sightseeing as such, although I had heard the lines to the empire state building can be quite long too (this reduced the waiting time considerably). I didn't have to wait in line at all and made it to the top to have a look around and even though the visibility was reduced it was still a grand view from the top. This was also the last thing I did before heading back on the bus and it made for a very good lasting impression.
          The bus ride back was also very slow and even at 10pm there were still a lot of vehicles on the road, as well as construction, making it slow going and I arrived back at the campground shortly after midnight. Not wanting to get up in the morning and continue I used this day to rest and recover before heading on up to Quebec.

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