New York Day 1 – Alexis

Tuesday came around and, worrying that I would sleep in really late (remember, I’m 3 hours behind the curve now), I set an alarm to get up. I ended up waking up at 9 NY time, 6am Hanford time. I spent a couple of hours in the morning getting ready, catching up with my uncle. We chatted about this and that, work, TV, family, the works, but before long, he had to get to work, and I had to get out the door.

My friend, who I know from Glasgow, Alexis, was in town for the afternoon, so naturally, we decided to meet up. But she was coming in from Conneticut with family, later in the day. So first on my list was to walk around the nearby Cathedral, and get a coffee before heading into Central Park. The cathedral looked like it had some construction work going on, so I walked around in and into Morningside Park, with the dulcet tones of CGPGrey podcasting in my head.

After Morningside, Yelp (thank the lord for Yelp, right?) led me to a little cafe with not-bad coffee. I got one to go, and headed towards Central Park. At least, I thought I did. The streets in NYC are very regular – a grid. If you don’t know your way around, then it can be very easy to get turned around and head the wrong way. I did make it to the park though – it’s kind of hard to miss.

In the park, there was an awful lot going on. Let’s begin by saying that the park in huge – a few square miles. I walked the length of the park, but not in a straight line. I saw an awful lot of runners and cyclists running its length. At first, I thought that there might have been a race, or something, going on. Later, I realised that just by the law of large numbers, there probably wasn’t anything special going on. Just individual people doing individual things. Lots of them.

Along my walk through Central Park, it kinda felt like I wasn’t really in the city any more, but that it was just looming the the distance, beyond some trees, over the pond, and past the shouts of the kids. I got a little bit turned around in a section of the park near to the south end of the park. The area there is landscaped to look like a wild forest, with winding paths and, dense trees and a rugged looking pond. I wanted to walk across the path’s width but ended up at ceaseless dead ends. The park was really nice to walk through, but by the end of it, Alexis was close approaching the city, and if I wanted to make ti to 14th St at a good time, then I had to make a shake.

I strode off purposefully along what I had assumed to be 7th Ave, but turned out to be 57th St. Oops, I was heading west, not SE. So eventually I made it back to where I needed to be. Walking through mid-town was something of an experience – everything so tall, reflective, impressive. I didn’t take the time to stop and admire though, I had somewhere to be.

I made it to the 14th St subway, and from there, to Williamsburg, where I was greeted by Alexis and her family. I had never had perogies, so it was decided that was to be our first stop. By now, it was maybe 3pm, and I hadn’t eaten a bite since breakfast. Where we stopped for food, we had a beer (nice Polish stuff), and 3 courses (lunchtime deal) of soup, perogies, and apple pie. Alexis and I had a really good chance to catch up on what she’s been doing since Glasgow and how I’ve been doing stateside.

From the perogies place, Alexis’ sister suggested they show me to this hipster (it is Williamsburg) place which sells rainbow coloured bagels. I didn’t know what to expect. Walking there, you could see from the people in the streets, wearing tight trousers and faded denim and fur jackets, that this really was a strange place for strange people, which just so happens to be in-vogue, always.

The bagels themselves were strikingly vibrant, though that did not make them particularly appetising. Or maybe that was the kilo of food sat in my stomach. Anyway, we held onto the bagel for later. For now, we had a bridge to cross. We had planned to walk across the Williamsburg bridge! Back onto Manhattan. We walked on the wrong side (we weren’t to know) meant only for bikes. I t wasn’t until half way across that we could get back to the right side! The bridge was nice, it was a bridge. It had tains, cars, bikes, and pedestrians, each with their own little path.

Over the bridge, we headed into Little Italy for a wander, and something to drink. We didn’t spend long in Little Italy before moseying on down to China Town, where, again, we didn’t stay long. By this point, I was getting tired. Walking about ten miles will do that to you. So I walked with Alexis back to Union Square, and said goodbye. I decided to look at Union Square in the failing light, and spotted the Empire State Building looming over all.

I decided that the wisest thing to do, no phone battery, no map, dying light, and tired from walking, was to walk to the building and scope it out. I ended up making it to the base of the Empire State building before long, but thought it best to get back. Well, a few detours first. I made a bee-line, albeit unknowingly, for Times Square. It was bright and pretty and so busy. From there, I continued along Broadway, through Columbus Center, and up the west side of Manhattan before getting back to my Uncle’s apartment.

It was maybe 8pm when I got back, and after a long day of walking (maybe 14 miles, I dunno), I just needed to sit down with the family and watch the telly!

 

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