The final city on our global trek was the Big Apple. The city that never sleeps, the biggest rip off this side of England. Call it what you will but for most it holds the same significance, poor service, bad attitudes, and inflated prices yet one of the most amazing cities on the planet.
Abi’s birthday was the Sunday; the day we flew back to the UK. So I decided on the sly to have it the Saturday. That way we could celebrate her birthday and then have an evening meal together. It pretty much went to plan and she loved her birthday!
Anyway, New York has a certain aura about it, it is hyped up the world over and those who work in the city in a service roll certainly believe that hype. The attitude of just about every city official or service provider I met stank. Expect to be treated with absolute contempt, the rolling of eyes, one word half arsed answers, patronizing – everything. However, speak to any local New Yorker and expect the attitude of someone who loves their city and is desperate to show you why. The locals I met and spoke to without exception were friendly and only too willing to help. One guy I asked directions even took the trouble to walk with us to the subway. The citizens of this amazing city added to the complexity and excellent atmosphere which constantly abounds.
New York itself is huge and it is not a city for those with prams or wheel chairs. However it is a city meant to be walked. And we did. We pretty much stayed south of Central Park and a walk from the Empire State building down to Battery Park (the southern tip where the ferries sail from) took a while, but took in some of the most amazing sights NYC has to offer. Everything from Wall Street, Ground Zero, the Hudson River, Times Square and what seemed like an infinite amount of skyscrapers.
The subway is easy to use and very inexpensive at only $2.75 for a single journey. Kids under 8 travel for free. Despite the stories surrounding the subway I never felt intimidated or even so much as concerned. In fact, not once did I ever feel like that in the whole of New York. Its worth mentioning about the subway, when you get your train check if it is either Express or Local (EXP/LCL) if it is Local it stops at every station, if it is Express then it stops only at the stations denoted by a white circle on the map.
Whilst we were at New York for 3 days it was really only the one day which we really got to the heart of it, but even then I know we merely scratched the surface. We started out in the Bronx and headed south to Grand Central station, it is worth noting that when it is cold its always a bit colder due to most of New York being in the shade of the skyscrapers – But when its warm it has the same effect in that it’s a bit warmer as the heat is kept in. After Grand Central we went and chilled out at the Empire State building, whilst Abi and Charlie looked for Spiderman I read a little about the history.
From there we walked down to Ground Zero, not really knowing what to expect I was surprised to see it is simply a building site which of course makes sense. We then walked to the riverside and started to walk south. Just before we arrived at Battery Park we saw loads of people fishing, a craft workshop and puppets. It is run by the city and is provided by a tax the citizens of NYC pay. It basically means that familes can come and chill out for free. We did some fishing and caught nothing then continued the walk.
Not long after we arrived at Battery Park. From Battery Park run several ferry companies all offering amazing deals. However, the state of New York actually runs a ferry to Liberty Island where the statue of Liberty is and then onto Ellis Island for the immigration museum and then back to Battery Park. Prices are $12 for adult’s passage only and $5 for kids. The boat crosses the Hudson River and you can either get on and just cruise about or disembark at each stop. We got off at Liberty Island and felt skanked when we realized you couldn’t go up the Statue. Tickets must be pre-booked and are limited. However you are able to get some tickets at Clinton Castle at Battery Park but these too are very limited and sell out as soon as they go on sale.
We didn’t bother with Ellis Island because we were getting knackered. Rather we headed back to Battery Park and then began walking back uptown. Broadway is a road which pretty much runs right up the centre of New York and crosses some great tourist attractions. This for us included Wall Street and City hall. We then cheated and got the subway to Times Square. From this point onward the night became a blur as the beer, pizza and amazing neon lights and cheesiness of Times Square left us mesmerized.
The following day we left and between us there was a sadness mixed with happiness – Sad to be going home but happy to have done what we have. Holidays always come to an end, but I feel our trip has been more like a journey and lesson in life. At JFK waiting for our flight to London I heard a call for a flight to Jamaica, a part of me wished we were on that flight and our dream continuing but both the adult and father within me knew we were going where we had to.