I've been back for over a week now and I'm well aware that I haven't yet shared any of my photos, but there are just *so* many to sort through, plus life has continued as it has a knack of doing, so there is plenty to keep me busy. We had lovely weather for the few days we spent in New York and it was my first visit there, so I was happy to just try and take in as much of it as I could. I thought I'd share a few of the things I learned when I was in the great NYC...
- If you look up, the crazy mixture of architecture, old and new, could confuse you and you might think you were somewhere else - it's a lot like London, until you see one of the iconic landmarks.
- People are really friendly. Unlike London, they'll stop and chat to you; they're happy to provide you with directions and the armed security people, who are just about everywhere you look, are always happy to help (or have their photo taken with you). Not just public servants, though, we had lovely conversations with people as we were eating in restaurants, shopping and queuing for things.
- American queues work differently. It seems you can stand one person in a queue, who is basically acting as a place-marker for every member of their family / class / travel party / anyone they know (delete as applicable).
- Your tour bus seems to be the only one which doesn't come past every five minutes, when you're waiting for it.
- Just about everything is within walking distance. The grid system is amazing and made a lot of sense to me. Everything is measured in streets and avenues (except for Broadway, which confuses the system a little). Anything under twenty streets away is definitely walking distance.
- Times Square is horribly busy, no matter what time of the day you pass through.
- August is hot - and this one seems to be hotter than usual (so much so that just about everyone seems to pass comment on it). It's so hot that your rucksack will leave lovely damp patches on your shoulders. You understand why genuine New Yorkers "summer in the Hamptons" and you stop caring about your hair, so long as it's out of your face.
- So many New York smells. A lot of the streets are piled up with litter in the evenings, which I guess is collected in the early hours. There are plenty of rats around and they're not afraid of people. Also, cockroaches.
- It's a lot more difficult to buy what I'd consider a "packed lunch". In fact, it's generally not cheaper to buy things to make lunches than it is just to buy food out, which seems alien to me.
- Comfortable shoes are a must. I took three pairs of shoes with me for my trip - some running trainers, which I wore in the morninngs, some regular trainers, and these Miss L'Fire sandals from Spartoo, which I wrote about here. Although my trainers were perfectly comfy, I was glad of these to give me a break from wearing socks and trainers all of the time - I wore them a little before my trip, but the wearing-in process wasn't extensive and I found them super comfortable for a day of walking, which I put down to the fact that they're leather and have a decent, sturdy sole.
- The queues for things aren't as bad as you'd think. We expected to queue for the most touristy of destinations - the Top of the Rock and the Statue of Liberty. But, in fact, what held us up most at either of those places was the airport-style bag checks and security procedures. Once through those, the crowds seemed to disperse.
- The parks are lovely. There are more than you think. Central Park was hands down my favourite - mostly down to it's size and the sheer amount there is to see (personal favourites including the turtles in Turtle Lake and the Alice in Wonderland statue). I ran there each morning we were in the Big Apple and every day I saw something new. But, Union Square Park, where you can sit and play chess as you watch the world pass you by, is also nice.
I'm sure I'll think of more; these are just the things I noticed well enough to remember to note down.