Uniting Nations & Riding Bikes until Irene Arrives

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
Saturday, August 27, 2011

The NY Pass provided a free 3 hr bike hire for use in Central Park and this was the plan for Friday. It seems that was the plan of every other NY Pass holder as well. The line was an hour long and I am not a patient person so I flipped the script and decided to train across town to the United Nations. I was happy to just see the outside of this building and the flags of the 153 member countries flying high out front, but I had read that guided tours were available. I'm glad I did this. Very interesting to step inside the General Assembly and hear the history. The Security Council was meeting at the time so I couldn’t get inside there. I would like to work for the UN one day.

The line for the bike tours was still long, but I held out and eventually got to the front of the queue. The bike shop was a block away from Central Park so I had to ride on the City streets for a little bit which was daunting. No helmet either. And no one told me that Central Park is a one-way place so of course I spent most of the cycle going in the opposite direction to other travellers and riding the footpaths where bikes aren’t allowed. Oh well, that’s what is good about being an ignorant tourist. Plus they didn’t give me a bike chain/lock so I wasn’t going to just leave the bike to get stolen while I walked about. Hiring the bike was soooooo good tho. It would’ve taken ages to walk to all the places that I rode to – the Park is massive. I haven’t ridden a bike for yrs either so I think I was just happy to be doing that. I am not a big fan of landscaped parks – I prefer natural bush – so Central Park didn’t exactly excite me. I went to the John Lennon memorial called Strawberry Fields and saw the 'Imagine’ mosaic and just across the road from this is the 72nd street apartment building where Lennon was shot dead. I thought there would be flowers and tribute stuff, but nothing. Yoko Ono still lives in the apartment. Interesting, but I still like McCartney over Lennon.

Following the Central Park bike ride, I had some new found energy and went just down the road from my apartment to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Apparently this is famous. I am not a fan of modern art – seriously, they had a canvas panel painted completely white and that is somehow ‘modern art’. But the reason I went is because on the 5th floor they have some real art – Monet, Picasso, Warhol and van Gogh. After this I went down to the Museum of Sex, which was...different ;-)

Luckily I did these things on the Friday, cause by Saturday everything was closed because of the approaching Hurricane Irene! This is a city that hasn’t had a hurricane or an earthquake for decades and I get both in the same week!! What is that all about – on one hand I have had great luck with Letterman and Liberty tickets, and then I’ve had this hurricane that has cancelled my Broadway show to see Spiderman and closed all shops. But I am glad it is the weather and not some stupid strike or protest that is causing this. The main reason everything was closed on Saturday was because the subway system shutdown at noon and workers could not get in/out of the city; the weather itself was a bit of drizzle, but nothing hazardous. I wandered about the streets for a bit but soon realised that it was pointless. I found one of the few bars left open in the city and got some lunch. They were having Hurricane specials too – now that’s more like it! It was an Irish Bar – there are so many of those throughout New York! Apparently it takes 9 hrs to tuck all the trains away safely and that is why the subway shut-down so early even tho the hurricane was not expected to hit until Sunday morning [and now as I write this on Sunday, they have no timetable for when the subway will re-open because they have to walk the entire system to inspect each line for damage!!]. With nothing better to do, I returned to my apartment with a bottle of red wine and free time on my hands for the first time in weeks. Checked my flight for Sunday night and it was cancelled. I was able to reschedule for Monday night tho. So I have an extra day in New York City. There are no Broadway shows on Monday’s, but hopefully the shops will be open and I can buy some New York goodies. The red wine was revolting and undrinkable, so I ended up flipping through all the tv channels that had continuous reporting of the approaching Hurricane before giving up. This is not how I expected my only Saturday night in New York City to play out!!!!

USA / NYC Observations: there are so many limousines on the streets that makes u wonder if they are suffering in a recession or not; US flags fly or stuck on everything; Sales tax (equivalent to GST) is added at the register e.g. a shirt might be $19.99 on the shelf but then a variable % state tax is added at the register. I liked this concept to start with but now I hate it cause it makes u think things are cheap when they are not!; everything seems to be "world class" or “world famous”; Tipping is more than I thought, rather than 10% it is 18-20% which means that eating out can be very expensive; lots of lawyer ads on tv and the pharmaceutical commercials have a bunch of disclaimers at the end that go for ages; every street in NYC (Manhattan) is as busy as St Georges Terrace.
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