Sunday, 24 July 2011

My NY challenge...

After spending several days in New York, I can safely say I’ve experienced at least 1 millionth of what the city has to offer.  That’s no exaggeration, there are people living here for 40 + years and they barely know their own city.  You can’t blame them, as it’s gigantic!  Many new impressions have formed and I’m glad to say my first impressions remain accurate, yet have been molded to a certain extent (all in positive ways).   

New York is not impossible, and that’s something I strongly believe.  Not everyone here is a tourist and that’s why locals find it difficult to spend time ‘exploring’ the city unlike we adrenaline-pumped tourists do so casually.  Once you work here, all that matters are deadlines.  It’s not important which subway you caught and at what time.  As long as you arrive to work on time, you’re still ‘in the game’.  One morning, I woke early (*read: 4:30/5:00am*), took a quick shower and dressed promptly.  I tried my best not to wake my roommate, but the shower made incredible noises, loud enough to wake the entire college up…  Nonetheless, I returned to my room and grabbed my belongings.  I promised myself today would be the most adventurous day of all, and I decided to explore NY independently; Not that I dislike roaming around with others but I wanted to speed walk through the whole city and didn’t want to tire people out.  I walk fast, but I still think Glenn holds the record!  I’m sure my buddies know what I mean… :)  Now’s probably a good time to mention that I couldn’t be happier with the entire group of ‘Dreamers’.  From what I can see, everyone gels together perfectly, and the unique aspect of each group member contributes to this trip in ways that are unexplainable.  Both of my roommates have been great, real legends.  Glenn and Cassie have been energetic and really determined to pace through the day while allowing enough time for us to all to spend sightseeing.
Ok, so my adventure continues…  I walk out of my room and am about to close the door until I realise I forgot my room keys and ID card.  This is a big NO-NO, as it means you’re trapped.  The security at this college is ridiculous (in a good way) but if you forget your ID, there is no way they’re going to let you in.  Thankfully, my door didn’t lock so I rushed back in to grab my ID and keys.  Phew!

So I leave the college and begin to roam the streets.  It’s exactly 6:00 am; I feel a great sense of achievement.  Starting early is fantastic as it gives you more to do throughout your day.  I start from 27th and my goal is to reach 110th on foot.  Seems ridiculous perhaps, but you’ve got to keep reading to find out if I was successful or whether I gave up. 

The streets are empty (for NY standards) but when compared to Melbourne, it’s already buzzing.  Metro trains can be heard as they approach a sharp turn near our college.  As I walk over the grills, I feel the heat of the subway and am greeted with the upward breeze (a ‘hot’ breeze...).  Remembering my goal, I decide not to even consider taking the metro (which is very tempting as they are on many corners).  Walking through central park from one end to the other is all that is in mind, and I’m happy I said NO to the subway.  To get there, I realise I need to walk through Times Square.  As I approach the beginning of the entertainment district, I am amazed at how quiet it is compared to the evening buzz.  Cleaners are on the street and delivery trucks are scattered; that’s reality.  Some sleep while others are wide-awake preparing the city for another glorious day.  Something I admire about New York is the determination to keep the streets clean.  It’s difficult and you’ll see plenty of rubbish, but the sheer fact they ‘try’ to keep the city tidy is what impresses me.  It’s not an easy task I can assure you…  As I turn the next corner, I see a small crowd beginning to gather on a corner.  I usually prefer not to explore such strange events but curiosity got the better of me this morning.  I cross the street and I see TV camera crews and a mini studio set up.  Not something I initially  thought it to be…  As I walk in closer to see what all the noise is about, I soon discover it’s a live audience for the Good Morning America Show.  I wanted to keep walking, and pursue my goal.  In the end, I told myself it’s not every day you get to experience something like this.  I stayed on and waited.  We were told 15mins at first but 15mins somehow became almost a two-hour wait.  One valuable lesson I’ve learnt:  never believe TV camera crews and producers.  They are shifty :)  To keep the crowd entertained, cardboard was handed out to encourage the audience to write messages.  I decided I may as well.  American flag-decorated cardboard hats were also distributed as well as small flags.  If there’s one thing about Americans, it’s their overwhelming sense of Patriotism.  It’s an unyielding trait and it permeates the entire nation.  If I had an Australian flag with me, I wouldn’t dare bring it out :D  However, there was a group of Australians who really made us proud by waving their cardboard sign upside-down whilst on air.  Oh boy, at that very moment, I did everything to avoid any association with our country.  I immediately assumed an American identity and for a moment I was proud.  Although we Aussies live down-under, it doesn’t mean we ought to hang our signs upside down on American TV (*read: super shamefully*).  You might argue that it was done especially because of the fact we live down-under.  After observing their behaviour for some time, I was convinced it was a mistake.  Even the others around me looked in dismay and had that urge to run to them, hit them over the head with their sign and finally rearrange it.  Somehow, they never managed to notice.  This is no tale, see the photo below for proof :D 

When the hype was over, it was time to revisit my initial plans.  I didn’t care that I messed them up, that’s what travelling is all about.  Sure, a rough idea of what you want to do is important, but it’s occasions such as these that remind you what travelling is all about.  Walking away void of regret, I decided to jump up onto the red steps at Times Square and take in the view.  At this hour, it was magnificent!  People had already started to flood in and Times Square once again became alive with boundless passion.  As I stood up on the steps, I did a silly thing.  I spun around performing many more 360’s than I should have.  You should have seen me walking down the steps… haha  Thankfully no-one I knew did (at least I think…).  I’m really hoping there is no video to prove my dizziness.  It was fun though, watching the World spin around you. 

Ok, so I thought I’ve been going on much too long without breakfast.  I walked around Times Square, hunting for a café.  Unfortunately, not as many as I had hoped for and most were closed.  Hence, McDonalds was the only option.

 I know, I know…  It’s unhealthy but so what!  It’s the convenience.  That’s why America isn’t rating too well on the health scale.  Don’t blame the citizens.  Rather, blame the choices.  McDonalds is everyone, many are open 24hrs and their selection is FANTASTIC!  Again, FANTASTIC!  Quite honestly, not everything is unhealthy.  Their regular options are often healthier than Australia’s ‘healthy options menu’.  Somehow, I don’t understand what is stopping Australia in adopting their menu.  There is so much to choose from that McDonalds has become more of a Café rather than a junk food outlet (as we all like to think of it).  I ordered breakfast wraps.  They were fantastic as they have the most unusual flavours, but I decided to stick with some of the more regular options.  In one of the photos the there is a mango smoothie which is rich and delicious (taken at a prior breakfast).  They even had a carry-home bag for their beverages - tell me that's not cool?   I also ordered a Frappuccino, which no other store is able to replicate.  I’m serious guys! Starbucks sucks and so does Dunkin Donuts (with certain beverages).  I tried many cafes and esteemed brands and makers of Frapps and McDonalds wins in my books.  Another thing that you’ll notice in America is that condiments are a must!  Sauces are plenteous and they are often thrown into you bag almost as if they’re some sort of good luck charm.  Some stores are greedier than others, but most will give you a decent dosage.  Not that you’re expected to consume them all, but they’re…. just there I guess…  

After finishing my delicious brekky, I felt energetic once again.  I was confident I could walk Central park from one end to the other.  But could I really?  That is something you’ll have to find out in my next post.     

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