Wednesday, September 19, 2007

New York City: 5 days in the Big Apple


My friend Greg and I parted ways after three weeks of traveling (Portugal, Spain, London) on the London Underground, carrying our heavy bags, at the Earl's Court stop. He was off to Gatwick Airport back home to Vancouver, and I was off to Heathrow Airport on my way to New York City. Greg's point of view of our Spain and Portugal trip can be found on his blog.

Now I was on my own, to fend for myself amongst the gangsters, pimps, druggies, criminal, and ill-tempered cabbies of New York. I couldn't wait.

With a reputation as tall as the Empire State Building preceding the city, I wasn't sure what to expect. Many movies are set there: Ghostbusters, Gangs of New York, Sex and the City, Friends, Big, Seinfeld, Men in Black, and King Kong! I arrived into JFK Airport at 4:30pm and took a coach through Brooklyn to my hostel in Midtown Manhattan. After locking my valuables in the tiny locker, I venture out into a New York night...

Three blocks north is Times Square, lit up like Vegas on Independence Day. Signs, billboards, posters, TV screens, ticker-tapes, all moving and vying for your attention. One feels dizzy as your eyes and brain try to take in the over-stimulating stimulus. A crowd surrounded the entrance of the Hard Rock Cafe, trying to catch a glimpse of some celebrity. I asked the crowd who was there. They didn't know. New York: City of Unknown Celebrities.

It is also the City of Museums: The Guggenheim (didn't see), the Metropolitan Museum of Art (amazing, but disappointed by the construction and renovations), and the new Museum of Modern Art (fantastic - free on Friday nights! - contained amazing Picassos and Monets and Van Gogh's Starry Night!).

But the Masterpiece of New York's Museums was the American Museum of Natural History - the home of the first Tyrannosaurus rex ever found, a life-size Blue Whale model, and a 563 carat Star of India (the largest and most famous star sapphire). I recommend the film Night at the Museum for a glimpse at some of the treasures within!

As someone who loves palaeontology, this is a mecca to prehistory. Their collections include: the aforementioned T-Rex, the nesting Oviraptor fossil and embryo, Canadian Sternburg's Alberta dinos, Roy Chapman Andrew's Mongolian dinos, Leonardo (the mummified Edmontosaurus), Styracosaurus, Deinonychus, Tylosaurus, and a rearing Barasaurus protecting it's baby. Photos upcoming!

Through the magic of Facebook, I was able to meet up with my friend Bree who went to elementary school with me. She is living in Brooklyn and working in Manhattan, so we decided to meet up and take the (free) Staten Island Ferry. The trip was great, catching up with Bree while catching the views of New York and the Statue of Liberty from the water.

We also went to see an off-Broadway play and meet up with her husband and friends for a night out in the Big Apple. One bar was unique in that it cantained many old 80's arcade games - each costing only 25 cents a play - in the bar! It was called (best name ever) Barcade.

While exploreing the city, I crossed the Brooklyn Bridge, had lunch in Harlem, and spent a lazy afternoon in Central Park. The citizens of New York sure do use their park. I wish we used Stanley Park to the same extent. I also tried to find the locations of where Ghostbusters (one of my favorite movies was filmed) - the fire hall, Dana Barret's apartment, the New York Public Library, and Columbia University!

One trip up the Empire State Building finished the grand tour of a grand city. Goodbye New York, I'll be back. Bree and I had one last (amazing!) dinner, and I was off to Newark Airport to catch my 5:30pm flight to Montreal, and on to Vancouver. What an amazing bunch of cities and towns I've been to in the last month... The good moments stick out and the bad ones are forgotten. But I'm not finished yet...

Back home for one month, and then the adventure continues in Korea, where I will be teaching English for about a year!

Ask me which part of Korea I'm going to...

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