"Marry your butt to that iron fence"

Trip Start Jun 24, 2012
Trip End Sep 21, 2012

, New York,
Monday, June 25, 2012

Today we got up at 6am as we'd planned to go to Sleepy Hollow, though were a bit dubious as some storms had been forecasted (NY is currently being graced by the tail end of Hurricane Debby which is bashing Florida). However, the news this morning said that it would be worse away from the area we were hoping to visit, so we decided to risk it.

We walked from the hotel to North Elizabeth train station through a neighbourhood with loads of Jewish cemeteries and passed through Kellog Park which is home to about 500 squirrels. On the train to Manhattan, Laura was white faced and bug eyed as she was convinced we'd gotten on the wrong train, but her face lit up as we pulled into Penn Station.

We headed out into the city and I stood open mouthed at it all. It is HUGE and hot and loud and there are people everywhere. It sounds obvious, but it feels unreal. We headed out from Penn to try and find Grand Central Station to catch a train to Sleepy Hollow, and went for a block before Laura was a clever clogs and realised we were going the wrong way (her geography degree paid off!). As we were walking, I couldn't stop looking up at the buildings; everything was flashing and glowing and I felt like I'd eaten one of Alice's pills in Wonderland that made her about an inch tall- New York is literally the biggest, tallest city I could ever imagine.

As we walked, the heavens opened. It was chucking it down, and we were drenched in minutes...and then the thunder storm started. Huge bursts of noise which made it sound as if Godzilla himself was around the corner, and lightning flashes which lit everything up. Everything in America is exaggerated, and the weather is no exception it would seem. The lightning was actually so bad that when we got back to the hotel we saw on the news that an apartment block had been struck and set on fire.

We were soaked by the time we got to Grand Central, on the way passing Madison Square Garden, a giant advertisement of the Dark Knight (amazing!), Times Square (exciting!) and the bridge from the Avengers where they stood to fight the aliens (which I was proud to recognise). Grand Central Station is huge (we were on track 112!?), and really pretty, and was buzzing with people. We found our train and took an hour's ride north to Philipse Manor eating our breakfast of champions... Giant chocolate muffins and Mountain Dew! Starting as we mean to go on obviously, haha.

Our route was up the east side of the Hudson River, which is really lovely, although I'm pretty sure it's wider than the English channel. When we arrived into Sleepy Hollow, we walked through a beautiful area of housing to reach the old cemetery, which Laura has wanted to visit ever since she saw the film. The cemetery is gorgeous, which I know is weird to say, but it is quiet and old and leafy and has some of the most beautiful sculptures and mausoleums. It rained off and on but was really hot and humid, and we had a lovely morning wandering around and looking for the graves of Washington Irving and the Van Tassels from the 'Legend of Sleepy Hollow' story. Cars are allowed to drive through the cemetery but we only saw a handful (including one that reversed into and knocked over a headstone, which was awful!) and we were the only ones walking around, except for some really cute ginger chipmunks.

We got to the original part of the cemetary, the Old Dutch Burying Ground and Church, and were having a look around, when I was beckoned over by an old bearded man with an oxygen tank on a ride on lawnmower. I thought I was in trouble when he asked me what we were doing, but when he twigged that we were British, he proceeded to give us a personal guided tour of the place. He told us the history of the area and some of the people buried there, including the unmarked grave of the Dutch hessian who saved a local girl and was then beheaded, who inspired Washington Irving's story. He was really interesting and lovely and he gave us some free tour guide booklets, as he was of 'distant English descent' himself. He told Laura how to get some good photos (by marrying her butt to a fence... I think that meant to stand back as far as the fence...). He introduced himself as Bill and we chatted with him for about an hour, until he mentioned that he didn't have morals as he'd give me 'a squeeze' (and wouldn't say no to Laura either!) so we said goodbye!

After a brief walk into Tarrytown, we made the journey back to Manhattan on the train, passing a heron and some deer (one alive and one dead!) When we got back we took the opportunity to have a wander into Times Square where we saw the 'Naked Cowboy', a dude whose job is apparently to stand in his pants with cowboy boots and a guitar and take photos with tourists (I don't ask why as I'm aware we're in the USA and that is all the explanation I need), and we popped into a multi storey Toys R Us which has a ferris wheel inside of it! Amazing! We also managed to find a shop which sold the most delicious slices of pizza for $1 and ate them in the street whilst enjoying the sunshine and people watching, before heading back to the hotel. New York is amazing, and I'm so glad we're coming back in September. The people are friendly and diverse and we both commented about how safe we felt the whole time we were in the city...it's just brilliant.

For now though, we need to pack our bags as we start on our first trek in the morning, and will be heading up to Canada in the next few days. Fingers crossed the people are lovely and the rain stops as after tonight we'll be camping!

Deej x
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Claire Swift on

Whoops! Blogs looking cracking so far, hope you have a wonderful time! USA baby! xxx

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