Empire State of Mind

Trip Start May 04, 2011
Trip End Feb 20, 2014

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Where I stayed
77 55th Street
What I did

Flag of United States  , New York
Tuesday, August 23, 2011

That Jay Z & Alicia Keys song has been stuck in my head for the past 2 days! It has also taken me that much time to really adjust to being here and feeling good about it. I think I was tired from the Vegas trip and it was making me a bit flat. But a couple of days in and I am really starting to like it here. I got a yellow taxi cab from JFK airport to central Manhattan ($45 flat fee + 5 toll + 10 tip = 60 bucks) where my apartment is. I rented a 17th floor studio apartment for $1500 for the week, which I think is very good value for the location and the ability to have my own kitchen and not have housekeepers come during the day. Weird to return to my room and not have the bed made and stuff tidied up for me! The owner of the apartment was waiting inside for me when I arrived at 130am...strange process, but he wanted final payment then and there. I'm pretty certain that he’s renting this out on the side and the complex managers don’t know anything about it – he said for me to say that I’m a friend of his if anyone asks. Dodgy! But I like a bit of dodge in my life.

Slept like a log until 11 am Monday morning. Eventually dragged myself out into the New York streets early afternoon and went straight to Times Square which is only 5 blocks down the road (10 min walk). Broadway is just 2 streets west. I like the street numbering instead of street names cause u pretty much can’t get lost (unless u come up from a subway in Wall St and then I was completely disorientated and did a full circle of confusion trying to find the Bull). I had registered online for David Letterman tickets but not heard anything. I walked passed the Ed Sullivan Theatre (2 blocks from me) where the show is filmed and there was a massive line. I had all but given up hope of getting tickets. I was strolling through Times Square when I heard someone asking another couple if they wanted a chance to win Letterman tix. My ears immediately picked this up and I said that I was keen. I had to answer a trivia question (fairly basic) and then got a yellow piece of paper for the Tues show. It was like a golden ticket from Charlie & the Chocolate Factory!

Times Square is beyond busy. Madness. This city is packed with people. And then a gazillion tourists on top of that. I really don’t get the attraction of Times Sq. It is a whole bunch of advertising illuminated with bright lights. Quite a waste of energy actually, but really typifies the heart of America – money. The TV News anchor claimed that Times Square is "the cross roads of the world" – I hope not! I picked up my NY Pass from Times Sq Planet Hollywood where I had lunch. This pass is great! For $175, a 7-day pass gets me free entry to all the major landmarks and fast-track entry to most. I’ve already paid it back in savings I reckon. Also got a $29 7-day subway pass that lets me ride the subway as much as I want. Great value for someone who is a cheapskate when it comes to transport. Plus there is a subway stop just around the corner of my apartment complex.

One thing I like to do early on in any city I travel to is get to a look-out to centre myself. What better look-out in NYC than the Empire State Building. Free entry with my pass that included a 'Sky Ride’ movie thing that was supposed to be $42 just on its own. I paid $15 to go right to the top – 102nd floor. If not, then u go just to the 86th floor. The 102 was all enclosed, but u really felt on top of the sky. The air is a lot cleaner than I imagined with no smog (the streets are a lot cleaner too). Truly is a massive city made of a concrete jungle of sky-scrappers.

Day 2 (Tues) I went down-town to the financial district and visited Wall Street. The NY Stock Exchange is heavily barricaded but I managed to get a photo in front. More history on Wall St than I realised. George Washington was sworn in as 1st US President here. Again, more tourists than actual workers. Plus I got lost trying to find that darn bull which isn’t even on freaking Wall St as it turns out!! Lies. I then wandered across to ‘ground zero’ and the site of the World Trade Centres. Quite a humbling and profound experience to think that such a catastrophic event took place here almost 10 years ago to the day. That two massive buildings collapsed in this area is simply unimaginable and amazing that more buildings didn’t get felled in the process. Hundreds of construction workers were taking lunch while I arrived – they are building the replacement buildings, 1 of which will be 2 storeys taller than the WTC. I had free entry to the Tribute centre, which is run by survivors and victim’s families and is done in a very respectful way. The actual memorial does not open until Sept 11. I cannot believe they haven’t got a memorial until 10 yrs later.

I then had to be back at the Ed Sullivan theatre to collect my Letterman show ticket by 3pm. The line was ridiculously long, but I got chatting with a very nice New Yorker named Linda which passed the time. We ended up sitting next to each other during the show and had pretty good seats on stage level about 10 rows back. The guests were avg. Some journalist woman who ranted on and on about the Iraq war and US politics and then Rose Byrne – an Aussie actress that I know of mostly because she got nude in the movie Troy with Brad Pitt. The next night was Ashton Kutcher and Rafael Nadal, but beggars can’t be choosers! The show tapes at 430pm and goes to air at 1130pm. Quite interesting to be a part of the whole process and see how well oiled the machine is that gets the show produced. I’m glad that I got the opportunity to go!

I then went up the ‘Top of the Rock’ which is the Rockefeller Centre building. The NBC studio’s are at the base and it is quite an historic building. I wanted to compare the day-time views that I got from the Empire State Building with the night-time views from here. Quite impressive! This would’ve had great day views of Central Park, but I am glad that I got to see the city up high with all the lights. Plus, all these years I had thought the lights of the Chrysler Building was actually the Empire State Building! I still prefer the Chrysler Building for its gothic nature and beauty.
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globalchild on

I can't remember if I saw the bull in NY or TX but I know I saw one.

Do you find riding on the subway as confusing as I did? I was just glad I had some natives to show me around. The lines go in every direction all over the place, and I had no idea where I was most of the time.

If you get a chance check Times Square out at night. I got there at dusk and stayed into the night. The atmosphere seems to change about then and it's nice to just sit there and take it all in, because there is a lot to take in! Have you had a chance to watch American TV yet? There ads are shit. Haha.

I'm looking forward to your next update!

globalchild on

Oh! I forgot. Are you going to check out the state library? I missed going inside but from the outside it's really impressive and it's just around the corner from Times Square.

travellingross on

The subway is comprehensive that’s for sure. I have ridden subways in other places so I know the basics but yes, the NY one is confusing but I haven’t got on a train going in the wrong direction yet! Lucky. I’m staying just down the road from Times Sq so I have passed thru several times. It is too busy for me! Yeah, totally agree that American ads are shit house. I will check out the library if I have time tomorrow before I have to fly out. Not seen the outside yet, but I will look out for it.

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