New Years Eve - New York
Trip Start Nov 23, 2008
129Trip End Nov 2009
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Where we kiss goodbye the woes of 2008 and welcome in 2009. I haven't even
started my list of new years resolutions but I figure I can sort that out once
I'm in Sweden. I got up early today and travelled straight down to Ground Zero.
There was a fair bit of construction going on.. Still just a hole in the ground
at the moment.. Those of you who know me pretty well are probably aware of my
particular opinions regarding the events of that tragic day and for me I
suppose I went there expecting to find something.. I'm not sure what it was but
nonetheless I can say I have been there.. I'm going to visit the Pentagon for a
similar reason and see if my soul and mind finds what its looking for.
From Ground Zero, I walked down to Trinity Church and took a
few photos outside. It's kind of strange having all of these massive buildings
surrounding this old church. Your not meant to take photos inside, but I still
tried to take a few sneakys. The ceiling was pretty amazing as were the solid
wooden doors at the entrance that had been carved into paintings.
Looking outside the Trinity Church, you can see straight
down Wall Street, so I decided to do the touristy thing and walk down. Not much
to see apart from tall buildings and a few Christmas Decorations. It definitely
resembles its name though. It's one massive wall. The street is actually a lot
shorter than I had imagined. It's interesting how the name 'Wall Street' is
known throughout the world and talked about almost every night, overtime we
can't help to gain certain perceptions about what the place must be like. On
this occasion the reality was far different from my own perception.
As I was leaving Wall Street I couldn't help but notice
stuff was falling from the sky.. It wasn't rain, nor was it hail... What is this
stuff my mind wondered...
SNOW!!! Finally it was snowing
again and this time actually falling heavily on me. It stung my face a little,
the harder it fell, by I loved it nonetheless. The Snow followed me on my
journey to Brooklyn Bridge. It was a godsend it some ways as it scared most
people away and so the bridge was virtually deserted. I took a heap of photos
as you can see and even a video.. After spending about an hour walking across
to Brooklyn, stopping in the middle and coming back, I realised it was midday
and I should probably head towards Times Square to check out what was going on...
Now I know what you're thinking.. He's crazy... well actually a few fellow
travellers had thought this as well.. Originally I wanted to stake out times
square at 10 am, but I thought that was probably pushing my endurance a little
too far.. So anyway, I made my way to Times Square looking at a few smaller
things along the way.
1pm... I arrive at Times Square.. It's a little busy but the
roads are still open and noones staked out positions yet.. I walk around for a
little and find the best spot.. The ball drops on 42nd Street so I
moved up to 45th (3 blocks sound far in terms of Brisbane, but in
the US a block is probably only about 50m). From here I could all the TV
Screens, had the band behind me, the ball in front and McDonalds wasn't too far
away either... Great plan! (at least it seemed so). So I waited here for about an
hour. A little after 2pm they started closing off streets and letting people
into the 'pen's' - a series of barricades used to section of groups of people.
I got into the one I wanted relatively easily and there still weren't many
people around. After another hour I started to get hungry and as there wasn't
many people around/still space is what I mean, I decided to go to McDonalds..
Well I have never seen anything like it.. There were about 20 registers open
and you literally had to squeeze through the door to fit inside.. It was nuts..
I found American fast food workers relatively slow and very slack compared to
home, but on this occasion I did have to feel for them.. It took half an hour
to finally get through to order and wait for my food and so I little panicked I
got out of there as quick I could and back to my spot.. Luckily there was still
room and I just got in before they sealed my section off..
Now you may be thinking why am I on my own... Well the plan
was for a group of us from the hostel to go together.. Unfortunately we had
phone issues, they didn't wanna go so early and in the end because they came
later in the afternoon, they couldn't get past a spot about 10 blocks away from
where I was. Anyway, I met a guy from California who was a bit of a goose, but
nonetheless made me laugh.. And an Indian family from South Africa. It was a
very random New Years Eve, but I was nonetheless there for Times Square, not to
find or meet other people.. There were quite a few nice girls around who I
chatted with for a while, but most had boyfriends hanging around.
A few hours went by.. No music, no entertainment... Finally at
6 pm! The ball rose up the tower and the fun began.. I haven't mentioned it
yet, but I was told after the fact that it was -10 degrees celcius in the
street that night and the wind made it feel like -17 degrees.. I would not
disagree with this one little bit. It was the coldest I have ever been in my
life and I danced my butt off, not to impress the ladies, but to keep all parts
of me firmly alive and attached to my body J
The next 6 hours was one of the longest periods of time in
my life.. Stuck in a pen with the same people, not allowed to go and get food
(blew my mcdonalds plan), not allowed to go to the toilet, NOTHING! It was
I got to about 9pm and was busting to take a leak.. I sussed
out all the cops and decided I'd try my luck with the female.. Talked to her
for a bit, but apparently I wasn't good enough to budge her stance and if I
left to go to the toilet, I wouldn't be allowed back in.. At this stage I
thought this was complete MADNESS.. I asked why there weren't portable toilets...
The response was typical - a portable toilet posed as a high risk utility as it
would be a obvious terrorist target... After having my jaw drop and then forcibly
having to stop myself from laughing my head off and probably get myself into
trouble, I removed myself from the area..
It was hard, but I had come all that way for this night, for
this moment and wasn't going to leave prematurely.. So I held on for the next 3
Finally midnight approached, the countdown began, the ball
began to fall and it was the new year finally! Streamers, confetti and balloons
were fired off all the surrounding buildings.. And within 5 minutes it was
finished.. I will admit that after all the hype of being there, I was kind of
hoping for a little more, but again, I think due to the Americans paranoia,
they no longer have fireworks shows or anything similar.
So after everyone had started to leave I took a few photos,
found a payphone to call home to mum and then had to make my way back to the
hostel.. I desperately wanted food and a toilet, but unfortunately everything
was closed.. I had to walk about 30 blocks to catch the subway, and an hour
after leaving times square finally made it back to the hostel..
Funnily enough, back at the
hostel and bumped into the guys and girls who were going to come, heard their
story about not getting through to where I was and then found out they had
spent new years in the hostel.. It was at this exact moment that I knew my
11/12 hours of pain in the cold was more than worth it!