It was a short week spent exploring New York. Every day I pounded the pavements with my head up in the air trying to take in as many sights and experiences as I could.
Our budget of $40 a day meant that free stuff was always the priority and I was surprised about how much we could do without feeling left out. I was just content with walking the city, window shopping and seeing everything.
The first three nights we booked in a hostel near the park. It was friendly but lacked a kitchen. We were going to have to go native and not cook. Dan had politely said that we were fully welcome to come and stay when we first arrived, but his girlfriend would be staying over then and they had not seen each other for the holidays, they were not really planning to get out of bed.
The first thing I did waking up in New York City was to have a shower. It struck me as I was standing under the hot, powerful water that anywhere in the world you are, it’s really nice to have a shower.
Hunger had hit after that so our first forage into Manhattan was for some breakfast. This amounted to bagels, apples and peanut butter sitting on a bench in central park. (Central Park!) It was cold, clear skies but the ice bit at your fingers and nose. We watched the dog walkers and runner go by, listened to the accents and marvelled in it all.
Nearby was a little Turkish coffee shop, where we sat slightly underground and warmed ourselves on one dollar coffee from a polystyrene cup and a straw, utilising the free wifi that came with the purchase. We dutifully informed everyone of note that we had arrived safely.
Caffeinated and fortified we set off south. 105th Street to the Staten Island ferry. A walk, but it was worth it. The sun shone on our faces as we meandered though the park looking at the pond, people and places. Down the avenues and cutting across the streets. The crevices created by the unimaginable tall sky scrapers attempting to touch heaven. The hustle and bustle, the smoking streets. It was brilliant, over whelming and wonderful.
Right at the tip we caught the (free) Staten Island ferry, a floating wooden box, quaintly old fashioned. As we drew away from the landing the sun caught one of the glass sky scrapers, reflecting right off it towards us; a beacon against the blue sky and still waters. It is an impressive sky line, the crane on top of the new world trade centre giving it an even more incomprehensible height above the rest of the still huge buildings. The coast guard followed our wake all the way there.
Soon the statue of Liberty was next to us, I felt another tick in my mental ‘seen-that’ box.
We didn’t stay long on Staten Island, in fact, walked off the ferry, round the entrance hall and sat back down in the departures lounge to go back again.
The next tick of the day was to get the subway all the way back. I felt an air of confidence and ultimate coolness. I have travelled on the New York subway. That’s what people in films and TV programs do.
The problem of no kitchen became more problematic that evening as we did not to eat out in the cheap sense of fast food but we did not know the area enough to find a supermarket for anything else. In the end Sarah bought a fried egg sandwich from a tinny corner shop and i bought a can of chowder which I eat cold, straight from the can, my camping spoon I had remembered to bring, making noises that made you wince as the metal scraped against the metal. We shared a single tomato for the health benefits.
As requested, the second instalment! Make sure you check out part one: https://hsquarmby.wordpress.com/2014/09/12/story-1-couch-surfing-usa/