New York must be one of the most popular cities in the world for tourists to visit.
Working on that basis, there cannot be much to write about the city which has not already been talked about by a thousand people before me… or maybe there is?
I am not a lover of cities and sprawling urban spaces.
Given the choice I would choose the countryside, the wilderness, mountains, seas, great lakes and vast tracts of sparsely populated land , before any metropolitan conurbation would get anywhere near my list.
Saying all that, I have visited New York City on three occasions. To be absolutely correct, for those of you who may be a little ‘retentive‘, I have visited the borough of Manhattan, New York City, in the state of New York, on three occasions.
Two of my visits were in early January; my wife and I flying across the Atlantic Ocean in the early hours of New Year’s Day.
The third visit, the one I am writing about in this post, saw us travel to NYC in late December, so we could watch the ‘Ball Drop’ in Times Square on New Year’s Eve.
As this was our third time in the city, the number of ‘touristy‘ things on our to-do list was greatly diminished.
On previous trips we had been to the 102nd floor of the Empire State building, marvelled at the Flat Iron Building and the Brooklyn bridge, drank coffee on pier 19, wandered about the Meat Packers area. We have Walked from Grand Army Plaza through Central Park to Malcom X Road and further into Harlem, to ‘do some shopping’ on a day when the glass read minus four, yep that’s right, I said -4 degrees. We also attended a Gospel church in Harlem on the Sunday, not as tourists, simply as part of the congregation.
We have taken a boat ride around the “Island of many hills”, seen the Statue of Liberty and Staten Island, walked along Maddison and 5th Avenue, (everybody walks in New York), been to Radio City and Maddison Square Gardens, shopped in Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Sak’s, Bergdorf Goodman’s and 21st Century Stores. Browsed the glass cases in Tiffany’s while thinking about ‘that‘ film and singing the Deep Blue Something song.
We have stayed in the Waldorf Astoria Towers, eaten at Mr K’s (sadly no longer there), the Burger Joint, (thank you Heston Blumenthal), Carnegie’s and the Stage Deli (another great New York icon that has now been lost). We have also ice skated in Central Park and at the Rockefeller Centre, skimmed stones across the frozen boating lake, to hear the ice ‘hum’ as it vibrates and watched Monkey’s bathing in hot pools of steaming water in the zoo.
Lastly, but far from the least; Our first time in New York was a few months after 9/11. When we came to Ground Zero it was a deep hole in the earth, Police and Fire crews were still standing watch.
The strangest thing was the atmosphere, the quietness surrounding the area. New York is an amazingly and sometimes uncomfortably noisy place. Yet at Ground Zero there was an eerie hush. The few vehicles passing drove slowly and as quietly as they could; people kept their voices low when speaking. The whole area resonated a sadness.
The last time I was in the city I returned to Ground Zero. The new subway station was operational, the noise of the manic city had crept back. Building work was progressing. The city was recovering as much as it ever shall. The overall feeling from the first visit had dissipated, possibly as the shock diminished. I suppose life must go on, despite of what has gone before?
I must admit, grudgingly, I like New York, even though it is a city.
So, what is one to do as that sightseeing list begins to fade?
Simple, start challenging yourselves.
Last time in New York we Pre- booked (from the UK), a Broadway play. Actually, it was an ‘off Broadway’ play, a little number called ‘Chicago’ , you may have heard of it!
As a treat, we also organised one of those ostentatious stretched black limousines to take us to the theatre, eventually, after a ‘bit of a runabout’ around the city.
It was while we were booking these an idea occurred to us, the ‘challenge‘ I spoke of earlier, the one I have titled this blog after; which was to see how many modes of transport we could cram into one day while we were in the Big Apple.
This is what we achieved…
1, Virgin 747 – 400 into Newark, New York.
2, Ford SUV into NYC. (Dodgy unlicensed hustler, we negotiated a cheap price. NOT an act I would recommended for inexperienced travellers).
3, Yellow cab. Waldorf Astoria to Grand Central Station. (Yes, the driver thought we were mad to take a cab such a short distance).
4, Subway. (Once you get to know the system, this is an excellent way to surf the city and beyond).
5, Downtown Heliport, (15 minutes of buzzing the buildings. Noisy, expensive, but fun).
6, Boat trip. A slow cruise around the island with a very funny ‘host’ commentating as we sailed.
7, Ferry, to the Statue of liberty, Ellis Island and back. (The heated seats are a must in the winter as it gets very chilly indeed).
8, This was our limo ride, a slow ‘tour‘ of the city. Stopping for a short while on FDR Drive overlooking the East River with a brightly lit bridge in the distance…I am uncertain now which bridge it was, possibly the Ed Koch? Then onwards to the theatre for the show.
9, As we left the theatre it was raining. Not a slight drizzle, but a full-on downpour. A shout attracted our attention, there was a bicycle rickshaw with a bright yellow plastic awning over the rear seats…perfect. With two rickshaws, on for us, (my wife and I) and one for my son and girlfriend, we were soon back at the Waldorf, but not in quite the same luxurious style as we left earlier that evening in the long, sleek black limo.
We did not make a city bus, or a greyhound during the day, time seemed to slip by far to quickly, but I think we did pretty well using nine forms of transport in a single day. Ten if you count the all the walking we did inbetween. However, the challenge remains open and when we return, hopefully during a summertime, we shall see if we can increase the number of modes of transport.
If you know of any further options we may have missed, please let me know, you may even get a mention in a future post.
Thanks for reading, Paul.
Please feel free to follow the Wild Geese. I would love to share more of my adventures with you.
By the way, have you read ‘The Abduction of Rupert DeVille‘, a great book for your holidays https://goo.gl/HqIIu9