Published: July 7th 2011April 3rd 2011
When it comes to travelling, it all has to happen in my spare time. Working in the public sector is great in many ways, but does mean that trips abroad with work are as likely as a trip into space. Barry, however, is much luckier than me and was offered a month working in New York. Of course he said yes (can't blame him!) and off he went. I decided that if he was going to be away for that long, there was no chance I wasn't going to pop over for a long weekend to see him, so off I went! I was only away for three days, but managed to fit in a surprising amount, and somehow survived without suffering from any jetlag...
Barry was in work on my first day in New York, so I took some time out by myself, walking the busy streets, taking in the sights and sounds. Seeing New York for the first time is a strange experience because it all seems so familiar. I knew I was going to see yellow taxis, the Empire State Building and hot dog stands! I guess this is what comes from watching American TV shows or
Hollywood films. What I was less prepared for though was the rain which drizzled its way into my day and decided not to leave me until the evening. Still, the rain gave me an excuse to hide in coffee shops and indeed over the next few days I found myself very well fed and watered! This was helped by having Barry as my tour guide, ensuring I saw the sights but also tasted the flavours of New York.
Some of the highlights from my three days (apart of course from seeing Barry) included:
* Midtown. I really enjoyed wandering around the Soho area, full of art galleries and those cool fire escapes you see in the movies - you know, the ones which Batman always uses to get out of trouble or criminals jump up to when running from the police... Nearby Greenwich village was great fun too, with its large student population and lovely cafes. We went for a great Cuban meal there and also enjoyed plenty of coffee breaks. Barry also took me to the oldest pub in New York - McSorleys - which was really good fun. They only have 2 drinks, light beer and
dark beer, and needless to say we tried them a few times. The food wasn't too bad either.
* Central Park. Another one of those places I thought I already knew, Central Park was a lovely oasis within the hectic city. Traffic is banned from the park at weekends, so we enjoyed a nice long walk taking in the sights and relaxing in the sunshine. I think I could happily have spent days wandering across the grass and sitting by the lake.
* The Guggenheim. Barry managed to get us into the Guggenheim for free and this was definitely the best way to see it. When you haven't paid for entry, you feel less need to study every bit of art and just concentrate on the few you like. This meant we were out of there in less than an hour but really enjoyed what we saw whilst we were inside. The building itself is of course part of the reason for visiting and it was one of the best designed art galleries I have been to. I really enjoyed the way in which the walkway next to the art works spiralled up around the inside of the
building so that you barely noticed you were walking uphill and yet after a while realised you had reached the top of the building. Great fun!
* Empire State Building and cocktails. We headed to the top of the Empire State Building late in the afternoon. This meant we had to queue for a while as it was a popular time to visit, but it was worth the wait. The views from the top spread far into the distance and as darkness fell the city lights came on giving us a beautiful view. Unfortunately though it got cold pretty quickly so after a few photos, it was time to head down to the Empire State Bar. Well, we did have a half price voucher...! We enjoyed some very tasty cocktails and it turned out to be a great way to start an evening. Barry always says he is not really a cocktail person, but I think he changed his mind that evening!
* The food! Well, what can I say... when I go on holidays I feel it is only right to try out the local cuisine and New York was certainly no different. I enjoyed bagels, pancakes,
pizza, muffins, deli sandwiches and many (many!) other things. I'm not sure which was my favourite, but there was definitely no bad meal.
New York certainly met my expectations and more. It was a great place to visit and I can see how people could call it their favourite city. However, I think I may be getting old and for me it was maybe just a bit too busy and a bit too exciting. A few days was fun, but that was enough for me! Having said that, I certainly wouldn't say no to another visit...
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