New York could easily be the most welcoming city I’ve visited. Most things were familiar and I never felt like a tourist. Not even when I got lost on the subway. I did my trip over 6 days, not a lot of time spent but well worth it. Plus when I went to New York I had gone through a personal trauma and had just been waiting to exhale.
And so I landed in JFK and took the Subway into Hell’s Kitchen, where I’d stay for the following days. Here’s my experience of those 1st few moments landing in New York – New York subway? Of cause. I landed about 7:05am on a Qatar Airways flight from Cape Town through Hamad International Airport. I had been traveling for about 26 hours. I had also gotten the best tips prior to going to NYC, which were:
1) For a few days before you leave, sleep using the timezone of the place you’re visiting and
2) When you arrive stay awake for as long as you can during daylight so that you can start sleeping during their night.
And so I did that. I arrived in Hell’s Kitchen and the 1st familiar thing was Dunkin’ Donuts. No no I didn’t have donuts for breakfast. I found a little take away joint a few stores away where I got a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich with fries ($3.5) and a cappuccino ($1.75) from heaven. The Dunkin’ Donuts was right next to my flat. The 1st strange thing I noted about the city. Shops and homes were all together next to each other. Everywhere. There were no scores of residential properties and then shoppings malls over there. The vegetable store, the heavenly cappuccino shop, the nail bar, the tacos joint; all of them were there, closer than a blink.
There was still a tenant in my room when I arrived. Understandably. I was early and so I was quite grateful that my host allowed me to use her bathroom to freshen up and her kitchen to eat my breakfast. And at no extra cost might I add *silly grin*. The flat was warm.
I dressed as warmly as I could master. I mostly looked like a huge furry creature with layers of clothing. Who was I trying to impress? No one. NYC was cold. Much colder than I anticipated but I was prepared. And so I started my walk about. I already knew that you cannot really get lost in New York and that the city is quite blocky. That plus my host had given me very clear directions to Central Park. That’s where I decided I’d go 1st. And naturally as I walked to Central Park I got sidetracked. Found myself at the Columbus Circle and the Jazz at Lincoln Centre and naturally I started walking around there to figure out what else I’d find.
Eventually I got to Central Park. And note my use of words is really just for effect because the walk from Columbus Circle to the park was all of 10 seconds. The park itself was a little grey, the lake was frozen but it was still buzzing with life and activity. Middle of the day in freezing cold runners. Some alone but most in pairs, male and female. Others just strolling along like I was. Some with backpacks and for forth. My favourite people in the park were those on bicycles. They always seemed to be more lively than all of us. The walkers and runners generally had earphones and minded their own music but the ones on bicycles blasted through with speakers and loud music. It was odd but I loved it. New York had the personality you read about. Bold.
I walked through the park and tried to get all the way to the end and I did. Barely but I made it. Remember I had been traveling for a full day prior, I was in a different timezone and I was trying to be a hero at the same time. FOMO is a real thing. I started walking back and found many interesting things at the park. I also bought my $1 “I love New York” fridge magnet from there. Quite original. There was one specific structure I couldn’t quite figure out and I’m kicking myself for not having engaged with it more. I also sat on a few benches as I walked through. Just people watching and admiring the quirks of each one/or group that passed. The sky was clear that day and I sat on the rocks close to the ice rink and watched as a few performers danced across the ice. It was nice. Charming.
When it became late enough to warrant sleep I started making my way back to Hell’s Kitchen. And I decided to walk through 6th Avenue. I felt so good doing it because 6th avenue is one of my favourite India Arie songs. It felt like home. And I felt like a queen to have done it. Found more references to places I’d seen or heard of and I was happy all the way through. I snapped a shot at the Love Sculpture and practically every street corner. I got a $7 rice and chicken ‘something’ dinner at the Halaal Boys stand on one of the street corners and I was back.
- New York subway? Of cause. – Part 1
- New York New York – Part 2