Friday, December 21, 2007

I Wanna Be a Part of It... New York New York!

Ok, I'm descending into song lyrics again. That's what happens when I see something that is so iconic and awesome, I'm afraid.

Yeah so I'm in New York City!! I can't really believe it to be honest. I wish I could post some photos for you but they'll have to wait until I get to another computer, as this one isn't compatible to my camera thingy.

Well I arrived at Penn Station yesterday at about 11am. Took me some time to get my luggage and then get a taxi over to my hotel on 2nd Avenue. I arrived early (check in wasn't for another hour and a half) but Carlos, the owner allowed me to checkin early as my room was already prepared for me. 2nd Home on 2nd Avenue is a perfect hotel for me. Nothing fancy, but spotlessly clean, safe, relatively quiet (as quiet as NYC can be) and close to everything I could need. Carlos and his wife are ultra helpful and friendly, and it's a great rate.

Well I was rather exhausted after 24 hours travelling from Tampa, so I attempted to have an afternoon nap when I got to the hotel, but I was way too excited so I got myself all rugged up (there is snow on the streets here still!) and went exploring. Walked down 14th Street, and found an authentic NY pizza place. Had the biggest slice of pizza I've ever seen (like half a normal pizza you buy from Dominoes or something) and a Pepsi and it cost me $4.

Walked some more down 14th St until I found Union Square, where they are having a big holiday market. Browsed around there for an hour or so (what, you're surprised I went shopping?) and bought myself a couple of keepsakes, and then made my way back towards my hotel. Stopped off to get a bite to eat to take back to the hotel, and was fast asleep by 9pm!

Today was so busy, I am surprised I'm not sacked out in my hotel room now! I got up at about 7am, showered, dressed and ventured out to find some breakfast. Found a little place called City Gourmet on 14th Avenue where I had possibly the best cup of coffee I've had in America (not as good as I had in Canada at Wild though), a croissant and a banana, and an apple juice to go. All for like $7. And that's in NYC where things are expensive!

Went back to the hotel to chill a bit until my Big Apple Greeter arrrived. Big Apple Greeter is a fantastic service offered in New York for visitors to have a volunteer show them around the city... for FREE. My B.A.G, Sheila, was a dynamic retired lady from Queens that knows this city inside out! And is a ball of energy! We walked so far today, I certainly worked off any and all of what I've been eating lately!

She first took me via subway to Ground Zero, the site of 9/11. I have to say, I wanted a look to see the place for myself, but didn't expect to be as moved as I was. I was brought to tears just by being at the site. It's not just a scar on NYC, or on the USA, but really a scar on the whole world that ALL of us have suffered some way or another from. It's amazing that NYC has survived and prospered after suffering such a violent attack on them.

We then went through the Wintergarden, a lovely glass building with palm trees growing inside that it was very clear a lot of nannies bring their charges to play and interact when there is cold weather. All these cute little tots in the garden part. We sat there for a bit and looked at some maps, and then decided to head to Chinatown. WHOA, that's one big Chinatown!! It felt very familiar to me, Chinatowns the world over are all very similar. But the vastness could not be compared with anywhere I am sure. On our way to Chinatown she took me through the City Hall area and the best thing... I got to see the big court building - the same one that you see on Law and Order:SVU all the time (yes, I am a SVU junkie!)

We then went over to Little Italy, had a wander through there and made our way to Katz Deli, which is where they filmed THAT scene in When Harry Met Sally. You know, the scene where Meg Ryan fakes the orgasm. I had a corned beef and mustard on rye (well, we shared one, they're massive!) and soaked up the atmosphere. Great deli, if you're ever in NYC, you must go have a sandwich there.

We then headed over to SoHo, which is all designer shops and chi-chi-poo-poo these days. But the architecture is beautiful, and it has to stay that way thanks to city governance. So the old buildings that were the manufacturers zone of the time that they were built are still the same.

Finally she took me on the Subway to South Ferry, so I could say goodbye to her (after like 5 hours of walking!) and take the Staten Island ferry to get a look at Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. It's free, and only takes just over an hour to do the round trip. Was very cool!

And then I did something very brave. I caught the subway from South Ferry ALL BY MYSELF back here to Union Square. I am so proud of myself!! It was one thing that really daunted me.

So tomorrow I feel all brave and enlightened to be able to go and explore by myself!