New York, New York

I’ve been in New York city since Saturday, and I fly out for Europe this Wednesday (tomorrow). You honestly need a full week to really appreciate this city, so I am a little disappointed. But I also know I’ll be back, so it doesn’t phase me too much.

My cousins in Boston drove me down and stayed for a night. We shared a room that cost $US200, overlooking a lovely cemetery. The average rooms in the city were $500! Accommodation is a real bitch here. The last few nights I have been staying with my other cousin Pete. He lives in Greenwich village, down on 11th St. It’s a bit like Sydney’s Paddington – young, trendy, gay-friendly, yuppie-ish. Such a nice area though, compared to the dirt in NY’s touristy regions like Canal St (China Town) and Mulberry St (Little Italy).

I stood atop the Empire State Building, visited Wall St, Ground zero, and dropped by Battery park which is where the statue of liberty ferry takes off (they ran out of tickets when I went). I also walked through some of Central Park, and visited the American Museum of Natural History which was awesome. I’ve been extremely lucky with my family connections here in the States, and in the case of NY, Pete has taken me to some good food joints. We also went to a Comedy club (Gotham) which was really high quality. We were sitting at the centre-front seats. And yes, yours truly was the butt of all five comedian’s jokes – everything from my watch, my shirt, my mobile on the table, and my nationality. Almost as bad as my experience at the r-rated hypnotist show in Boston (don’t ask).

New Yorkers are in such a hurry. They are like a trail of lemmings, running into each other and whatever is in their way. The city itself is impressive – Manhattan is organised in a grid system, which is very handy. The city is so dense, that every avenue (roads going South-North; “Streets” go east-west) are main roads, crowded with people at all hours. There are about 12 avenues, and 150 streets – to give you an idea of the size of Manhattan. Whilst there are tall skyscrapers, it’s also the average buildings that amazes me. You’d be pressed to find anything smaller than four-storeys – meaning you have these valleys of buildings all around you. And because of the grid system, you’re looking quite literally looking down a valley of buildings.

The subway system is very good, however this is more because of the grid system rather than the actual subway that makes it so good. All the subway lines do is go up and down in straight lines, directly underneath avenues, looping when they get to the end. The result is that you have several of these lines running parallel, enabling you to get to any part of Manhattan very quickly. Having said that though, the trains run quick, and I found them reasonably clean.

Cars are abundant as well, and clogged up roads are the norm. It’s interesting though that when looking at parked cars, apart from tourists, all the cars appear very upmarket – implying that driving is a rich persons luxury. Although with such a good subway system, I can’t see why you need a car.

Plenty more to say – however all I will say is do yourself a favour and visit New York at least once in your life because it really is the capital of the world. Next destination is Athens, but really it is Gallipoli, as I spend two days in Athens, waiting for my bus trip to Istanbul.

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