Published: December 30th 2009April 16th 2009
Getting from central Toronto to the airport was a piece of cake; in fact public transport in Toronto was fantastic. Calgary could learn a lot from them, they have an abysmal system, the city is growing so fast that the public transport has totally been left behind. We were lucky that the weather was fine and that we were sitting on the left hand side of the plane as when we started our descent into New York we had amazing views. The people sitting on the right hand side of the plane would have seen hardly anything. The plane flew over the Hudson river so Manhattan was clearly visible, then we banked to the left, meaning we saw the Statue of Liberty and the other side of Manhattan including the Brooklyn Bridge, the financial district and the Empire State Building it was brilliant!
Our bus ride into the city was an interesting one, there were some characters on the bus, I'm pretty sure the guy sitting opposite us was Shaquille O'Neil, he was a giant. He pulled out a cheesecake halfway along the journey, his face excited in anticipation soon turned to disappointment after he tasted the goods, he looked
gutted. I thought about giving him a hug, but I doubt that would have gone down well.
Our hostel that we'd booked was found rather easily, the numbered street system makes finding places a piece of cake. My brother Todd had intended to stay with us in New York before heading onto Scotland for the upcoming cricket season, but due to visa troubles he had to cancel as he waited for the damn thing to arrive from some drop kicks in Canberra. Anyway the hostel changed our booking no trouble at all which was nice of them. What wasn't nice was the actual hostel, the rooms were small, pretty grimy and the bathrooms worse. Thankfully we would be spending most of our time seeing the Big Apple. Accommodation is really expensive in New York; even shabby fleapits cost more than a motel would in NZ.
Jaimee and Joel had been in New York for a few days and had also taken a road trip to Washington DC. They had spent the morning at Central Park Zoo so came back and met us at the hostel. From here we caught the subway into Times Square to pick up our
New York passes, they cost us $150 USD and were valid for 7 days. Seeing as we were only in the city for 5 days we'd have to huss through the activities. We got on to that pretty much straight away, taking a tour of the Rockefeller centre. I'd like to say that I learnt a lot from the tour, but the guide was just so weird. He was a rastafarian-esque guy called Tommy who told terrible jokes, said "Am I right?" and then scanned the crowd hoping for a laugh, it was awkward, if he caught your focus you were kind of forced to fake laugh. Two fat South American girls were laughing over the top at him. People like that shouldn't be encouraged at all, if I'd had tomatoes I would have hurled them, at the guide that is, not for the fat girls to eat. Anyway John D Rockefeller was an American industrialist who revolutionized the petroleum industry. Through this Rockefeller's wealth soared, and he became the world's richest man and first American billionaire. He is often regarded as the richest person in history. Thankfully he was a philanthropist so many benefited from his wealth. The Rockefeller
centre is an impressive building, the lobby was full of amazing artwork, murals and I think the largest chandelier in the world. The building along with the Empire State and others built at the same time have a tiered structure which reduces in size as it gets higher, this was in keeping with regulations that stated that the top must be 25% smaller than the base in order to let sunlight filter through. The building is used for the filming of the TV series 30 Rock, amongst other things. Once outside we watched ice skaters in the rink next to the building, there were some absolute nutbars including a lady singing and moving like a peacock, another guy was pulling off outlandish moves and was dressed in an outrageous costume that wouldn't have been out of place in the film Blades of Glory.
For dinner we headed back to Planet Hollywood near Times Square, mainly because our New York pass had a meal discount. I can't really remember the meal, so it can't have been good, or bad, or maybe I was just drunk. Times Square at night is an absolute amazing sight. It is a hive of activity,
you could people watch or stare at the bright lights for hours with ease. Some interesting characters hang about, including a "naked cowboy", thankfully he still keeps his gruts on. He must earn loads for simply posing in photos in his undies with a guitar; I wonder what qualifications you need for that? Another guy making a lot of money was a homeless guy who caught our attention by yelling "How the F*ck are ya?" we turned to read the funny sign he was holding, as we read it, he yelled "What you starring at? You look like you never seen a n!gger with a sign before". Joel was cracking up and decided to offload some change, he only had a small amount of 1 and 5 cent pieces. As he put it in the guys cup, he screamed "What the f*ck is this?" and hurled the coins at Joel and I as we ran off. Before leaving the area, we sat on the famous red steps and snapped off loads of photos, trying to get ones with yellow taxis for authenticity.
Joel had a friend from University in the city so we caught up with her, she had
struck it really lucky, her friend who works as a teacher had been given the keys to one of her student’s parent’s apartments. Wow that’s confusing. All you need to know is that they were staying in a multi million dollar apartment that looked directly over Times Square and the Chrysler building, it was brilliant. We all marvelled at the view for a good while before heading down to an Irish bar. When it was finally time to head back to the hostel we jumped on a subway train and made our way along with the people of seemingly every nationality, age and personality. Despite this you feel incredibly safe, more so than London, even if people are singing full noise on the train.
There are more photos below