Cruising the wide American sky at 35,000ft on one of the shit American airlines, our camp air attendant started singing down the intercom, amusing himself, though probably not how he’s like to. I was pleased to be back in the States for I was heading to New York, the Big Apple; as Dave Letterman’s Show states, the greatest city in the world. Well knowing a few of them, I was keen to put it to the test. A litmus test for me is the first day, strolling around, followed by a first night on the beer. Mexico City hadn’t failed me. Bangkok passed as did Buenos Aires. Don’t fail me NYC.
The flight from Chicago proved a classic. Sitting next to a Swedish girl who *cough cough* worked in Vegas and a Russian guy who’s entire communicative ability consisted of ‘Da, me interesting’ when he wanted to say ‘I like’. This proved hilarious after a few vodkas which he kept buying. Mafia I think. Me and the Swedish stripper got on famously to the extent she spent half the flight keeping her hand warm. The Russian raised a glass to me. But we all said goodbye and I went to the toilets.
I landed late and had to find my place in Queens, an area that had Birmingham written all over it. I got there eventually and was met by a curiously unwarm hostel and a Russian owner. But hey, it was cheap. The next day I got up early, caught the train into Manhattan and wandered. I loved it. All these names you’ve heard of before; Time Square, Broadway, Radio City, Madison Square Gardens, the Dakota Building where Lennon died, the Statue of Liberty etc. I saw it all, ate a hot dog, bought a new camera, and returned late and tired to my hostel which had been closed down and the owner disappeared with our money. Hmmm. It had failed all fire regulations. The Red Cross were waiting outside with the rest of the guests and we were placed in a decent hotel for two nights for free. Cool.
Across from my room was Zack, a French dude who’d lived in London for five years. As we checked in, he had the same look as me. It’s late, let’s get a beer. So we headed into Manhattan, found a bar and met Miguel. Miguel was a bit drunk but told us he was a bar owner and to come to his bar tomorrow night and on Sunday we’ll go to Philadelphia together, his hometown. Cool. I don’t think he thought we go for it. Americans don’t travel like us. We didn’t have anywhere to stay anyway. Miguel proved a great guy.
We got home about 7am and slept until the next afternoon, and prepped for Friday night in NYC. On finding Miguel’s bar, he closed up and we headed out trawling the cool bars. He brought the girl he was dating, Cathy, a Tyra Banks look-alike with wandering hands under the table. Again we got home at 7am but Miguel showed us some great bars.
The next day we checked out of our hotel and crawled to the Red Cross. I wasn’t really sure why we were there. They called us into an interview, told us that as we were now homeless, we were eligible for assistance. What kind of assistance? Well food, money, travel and phone cards, that kind of thing. Well, I said, looking at Zack, thanks very much. So flush with money, metro cards and food, we decided to blow some money on a trip to the Empire State Building before heading up to Harlem which has an eerie atmosphere at night and found new hostel. A great little place despite the murder on the next street the next night.
We met Miguel late and explained our hostel problem and he understood. We spent Sunday trying to get our money back, lazing in Central Park and wandering around. I also witnessed a crazy argument between two old tramps in another park.
A: Get out of here
B: I’ll put a bullet in you
A: My people will get your people
B: You want anymore?
A: You bum.
B: I swear I’ll kill you
A: Get outta here you punk
I flew out to Dublin a day later. New York was a great experience. I don’t know if I would go back. Maybe. The difference for me between London and New York can be explained as follows; New York is an international city, full of international people but they have American minds. London is the same except the minds are still international. However as Joe pointed out ‘But in London, will they talk to you?’ Fair point cos New Yorkers were polite, chatty, considerate and open. It’s cheap compared to Europe and it truly is a 24hour city but the bars close at 4am ahhhh!! It’s also very safe and has energy and Manhattan is awe-inspiring.
When I got to Dublin, I’d got an email from Zack saying he talked to the owner of the hostel who said he’d get our money back, which made New York a free six days. Being me, that just means I’ll have to go back to blow some money at a later date.
Memo to Dan; Bananas are the only fruit.
view photos here