"New York, New York..."

Trip Start Oct 04, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , New York
Sunday, October 17, 2004

We slept in a bit later than we expected after sleeping through both alarms, so we had to break our 'no more taxi' rule! It seemed the storms of Toronto had followed us as it was pissing it down outside. At least in a taxi we would be dry and warm and it was an excuse to spend the last of our Canadian dollars. Luckily for us the taxi driver had said a set fair as we were held up customs for 30 mins while this stupid America women asked us about 200 questions before finally letting us into her country.

Sods law the train was delayed 2 hours so we could have slept a bit longer, and we also found out that we could have caught it from the Canadian side saving us all the trouble at immigration. Live and learn! We happily boarded the train but not before getting a right telling off for walking on the tracks by the conductor! He even made us walk back over them and walk over the correct bit - a jobsworth with a power trip! We collapsed on the seats and proceeded to sleep for 8 hours where we woke up in New York City!!!

I had always had visions of getting off the train at Grand Central station and walking through the lobby that was made famous by all the films & posters. Sadly it wasn't the case.They stopped all national trains coming through a few years ago, using it for commuter trains only. Instead it was Penn St Station - not quite as ground!

Ive been dreaming of coming to NY for years, so the excitement of finally getting here was amazing. But it was the first place that we thought me might not be safe in the city, not from anything we saw but just from what we have heard in the media. Either way we stuck out with our massive bags so decided to get to the hostel ASAP and dump them.

The subway wasn't as bad as i expected and after being molested by ticket touts we were on board. Instead of the happy friendly faces we had come to expect on American trains, we were faced with faces not to dissimilar to London Underground at 6pm.

We walked around lost for 20 minutes until Dan realised that he had the map upside down. We found the Hostel eventually - another Hostel INternational, the biggest in America apparently with 600 beds. We were quite shocked that they asked for $35 a night, but in retrospect 20 quid a night in New York is quite cheap!

We dumped our bags down in the room and decided to hit Times Square seeing as it was Saturday night. We made our way to the subway, only to be harassed by the ticket touts, trying to sell old tickets for a cheaper rate - very annoying. New Yorkers have been up in arms recently as the new mayor increased the ticket fair to $2 each way regardless of distance. I would love to only pay $2 on London Underground!

It took about 20 minutes to travel to Times Sq so it wasn't long until we were out in the madness. It was like Picadilly Circus X 10. The amount of people and noise was incredible, nearly every building was covered an giant neon signs advertising everything from the latest films to a giant pot noodle. Some told us that Times Sq. is the most expensive advertising sites with small adverts going for millions of dollars!

Although we were transfixed by the pretty lights, we did feel a bit concerned for our safety, especially as the first thing we saw was couple getting arrested by undercover cops! They had the wrong people apparently! After that we made sure we had our camera's out of our bags for the minimal amount of time! It was mainly paranoia, as it was probably no worse than walking around the West End on a Saturday night but better safe than sorry!

Sunday 17th October

One of the good things about Hostel International Hostels that we have stayed in along the way is that they are usually quite good at arranging tours of the city. Vancouver being a prime example. NY HI was no different. Luckily for us the Saturday tour had been moved to SUnday, but this was no ordinary tour, no it was Jerry's Grand Tour, a marathon 17 hour walking tour starting at 8:30 and finishing at 2:30am the next day! The best thing about it though was it was completely free! Our favorite word!

Jerry was a very stereotypical New Yorker. He was 65+, had a hilarious laugh, which i tried in vain to film, and sounded a lot like Ross and Monica's dad off the tv show friends. He had been doing these walks for 10 years now and does them every Saturday. Very similar to Erik in Vancouver.

I wont bore you with all the details of everywhere we went as it will take me hours to type and hours for you to read! But as he said on his poster We did 'everything'. Look at the pictures to see where we went or click this link http://outpostmagazine.com/bpackerz/hostel28/.

The tour was brilliant although by 12 midnight the numbers had diminished to 8! A funny moment happened at about 12:30 when a limo driver stopped and offered to take us all down Times Sq in his limo for $5 each. We had been walking for 15 hours sop this sounded like a dream come true but Jerry stepped in and said we were all happy walking! The look of disappointment on all of our faces was a classic! Well we had lasted this long so with another hour walking we were finished and had completed Jerry Grand tour. It was here he told us we had just walked 19 miles!

We saw so much of New York that no guide book could have told us and also made some good friends along the way. I don't think I'll ever walk that distance again, but i'm glad i did it with Jerry and in New York. Our fear of New York now diminished (its actually quite safe now apparently) we headed back to the hostel and collapsed into our beds!

Monday 18th October

As you can imagine after walking nearly a marathon, we didn't wake up too early, finally leaving the hostel about 1pm. We arranged to meet up with a few of the other fellow 'athletes'to see the sights that we saw in the evening so that we could get pictures of them in the daylight. To please the women though we made our way to MAcy's - the biggest shop in the world or something. I dont know what the fuss was all about, it just looked like Debenhams on Oxford Street! After walking around for an hour, following the girls as if we were their boyfriends on a Saturday shop, the blokes decided to break off and meet at the empire state for Sunset.

We thought after walking around the city for 17 hours we might actually know where we were going, but like London, NY isn't the easiest of cities to navigate. Because of this we only actually made it to Grand Central station and the flat iron building (the cheese shaped building) before we had to leg it to the Empire State. Bit of a wasted day really!

We had bought our tickets for the Empire State in advance so assumed we wouldn't have to queue for long - we were wrong! We entered the building in broad sunshine and got to top in total darkness. we completely missed the sunset! Although NY still looked amazing from that height in the dark, we were really gutted we missed it in the daytime. Something i will definitely do if i ever go back to New York.

We finished our last night in NY by watching a baseball game in a small locals pub around the corner from the Empire State. We were lucky to be in America at the same time as their equivalent to our FA cup. The whole country as well as us had gone baseball mad. We spent the next 4 1/2 hours watching the Boston's Red Sox beat NY Yankees. To the delight for some of the other drinkers but to the disgust to most of the others! It was like Norwich City FC (never wins anything) beating Man U (Has all the money and no one likes them!).

A great end to a great weekend in NEw York.
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