After flying in from the Dominican Republic, I could describe in detail all the amazing things that we did in our ten days in New York (and could do more of, if we had the money and time), but it will be better for me to describe the experiences and pro and cons of this part of the journey.
Harlem is THE place
We stayed at a brownstone hostel 2 blocks away from the main street of Harlem, 125th Street. The reviews had been very good, and despite the slight roughness/abruptness of the host, Manny, we enjoyed our stay – especially given it is the longest (10 days out of 87) that we have stayed in one place. The hostel was 3 blocks away from the A/D Lines which gave us quick access to downtown Manhattan. We had a shared bathroom, toilet and kitchen area, and the bedrooms were clean and functional. To save money, we bought breakfast items from the local supermarket. Overall, our food and drink costs averaged out to $38 each per day.
Sandra had not been to New York before and I was last here in 1996! We had bought a seven day New York Pass voucher system enabling us to visit different sights and obtain discounts at restaurants etc. I’d worked out that if we did two to three activities per day, we would get good value for money.
Two activities per day
What I hadn’t counted on was the security checks and queues (as a result of the security checks). In the end, we pretty much settled on two activities per day. We even spent one entire day on Liberty Island and Ellis Island (arriving at the port at 0930hours and leaving Ellis Island when it closed at 1700hours.)
United Nations Tour
On one of the last days, we took the United Nations Building tour – not part of the New York Pass system, but something I wanted to do again. We got to see the main Chamber and the Security Council rooms, but we were actually more moved by an exhibition in the foyer regarding women who had been abused in war-torn countries and how they had coped using tapestry as part of their recovery. It made me think quite seriously about how sick and unjust some societies are. This trip has been a real eye-opener for me. I have managed to download and read a few books on my trusted Kindle while we have been away – relating mainly to politics, social conditioning, culture, different countries and their history.
Visiting New York after seeing the Latin American countries reminded me that the biggest problem in the world was individual greed and a lack of social responsibility for fellow mankind. We are all guilty of it.
Anyway, back to NY…
The view from the top of the Empire State Building was amazing, if not a little chilly. The fact that it was constructed in 13 months ahead of time was a Project Manager’s dream.
The newly opened 9/11 Memorial was a moving tribute. The new replacement Towers are being built now after many years of criticism of designs etc.
Carnegie Hall and the Charity Concert not to be missed
Another day, we took a tour of Carnegie Hall. I was so impressed with the Hall that we decided to splurge out and attend a Charity Concert for the Rainforest Fund (on the night before we left New York). It was organized by Sting and featured Elton John, Meryl Streep and Bruno Mars amongst others. We were glad to be able to contribute something back, plus be entertained at the same time.
And we managed to dance the Mambo
New York is famous for the Mambo Salsa style so we knew we had to check out the scene. Sunday afternoon/evening at Jimmy Anton’s Social (with a live band as it was the 19th anniversary) is the place to be – especially on a rainy night that we attended. The dancing starts early (at 1700hours) and finishes early too (at 2200hours). Guess the New Yorkers need their beauty sleep before the working week. My Mambo / On2 experience and training is almost non-existent, but we both enjoyed ourselves, even if I did accidentally fall back into the On1 beat. Watching the guys dancing playfully with the girls reminded me of how Uly and Jasmin dance. The music was also very easy to dance the Mambo. We continued living our dream…
We had also bought a three day Hop On / Hop Off bus pass which allowed us to orientate ourselves around the city. Each of the four tours we went on had a Guide / Host who explained the highlights and gave us some history of the area. Our Night tour Guide was the best. Being a retired artist who has lived in New York City for 35 years, she was able to provide all sorts of anecdotes about actors who lived in the area. Unfortunately, the Night tour was conducted in 0 degrees windy conditions and Sandra subsequently caught a cold.
New York Marathon in the future
It is a family plan that Benji and I will run the New York Marathon in a few years time, so in preparation, we also took a cycle tour around Central Park – where the finish line is.
Overall we really enjoyed New York and would like to come back to visit more museums and sights one day. On to Europe now…