I’ve had so many people tell me about the time that New York captured their hearts and imaginations, and we haven’t even been here a full day just yet, and we are already falling in love with NYC.
Our day begins by saying goodbye to our newly found british mates and the immense amounts of snoring that they can produce. Not sad to see that relationship dwindle. But! They did just come from Iceland, so they gave us a few pointers.
Damo, Micky and Allison are all flying in this afternoon, so we have got a good 5 hours to kill, with all our bags before we can fully set them down at our accommodation. Until then, we have to explore NYC with all this gear on. Its not nice. That being said, Bec does devise a plan that involves layering the straps of the bags over one another so as to lock them in and no topple under the weight of the backpacks.
She’s a legend.
We talk with the chick at the counter and she points us in the direction of Central Park. THE Mythical Central Park. But, for us to get there, we have to walk across this Ed Koro Queensboro Bridge. It doesn’t look that far, so we hike our gear on our shoulders and off we go. We’re nearly half way, and I look over to see Bec, and she has this thousand mile stare in her eyes. I say to her “All good?”, so doesn’t say anything straight away. “I’m sore”. She made a joke about asking her how she was going in 10 mins time, after me just saying how well packed our bags were. I shouldn’t have. It didn’t work in my favour.
But, the views from atop the bridge were 100% worth the mission to cross it. To our left, the Empire State Building peers around other structures, while to our right, we are greeted with views of bridges further down the river, sat just beside industrial buildings from another era.
There are just layers upon layers of history already obvious to us. All the different eras that have etched themselves into the history of this city and helped shape the core of this place.
We reach the other side of the bridge after what seems like an ordeal. My back is aching, and Bec is trying not to think about walking. She says to me “I just wanna get to Central Park”, but to be honest, I am dead keen to just find somewhere to rest my ass. We struggle to find any form of a park bench, but we come across an elevated plant bed, and that is enough for me to rest up for a bit.
Bec doesn’t even wanna take her bag off. Its too much of an effort to try and get it back on once its off. I’m all about shedding the weight though I drop my bags faster than a fast bowl from Warnie after tucking into a 1.4kg value pack. It feels so good, I cannot even describe. We recover for a few mins, and get hustling to Central Park. We’re only 3-4 blocks away from the infamous park. I’ve seen it in so many movies, but to know that we are going to be reaching the park that I’ve read about, heard about and seen in so many movies feels so strange.
We navigate through the throngs of people, making sure that the sleep bag I have strapped to the back of my bag isn’t knocking too many people out in the process. Every now and then, someone is met with “Sorry mate” because I know I very well just greeted someone with hi-five in the face with a 2 person -4 degree sleeping bag. Its almost as round as the bag on my back. That is enough to piss someone off. My plan is just to put on my deepest and broadest aussie voice and impersonation of Steve Irwin. They all love Steve Irwin.
We reach this one intersection, and I can see the trees. I tap Bec, “There it is babe!” We exchange moment looks of excitement and thrill. We reach the park, and we are greeted by masses of stalls and little carts lining the park’s perimeter. Everything from coffees, to pretzels to creations that I have never imagined could have existed. We look for some food, but come up short, so just head into the park to find a bench and bask in the glory of the icon, itself.
We take a rest and recoup for the second time. Our backs aren’t coping so well with lugging around all our crap. We get a few odd looks, as we are the only people that we have even see with all our packs on. Usually, we are the ones watching some traveller, who is completely bewildered and has largely got no idea as to what is going on. This time, we are the ones walking in the middle of the CBD, and trying to find our way around. People have already complimented Bec twice on her ice skates. Neither of us can quite work it out.
We make our way through the throngs of people and little carts with their accompanying workers. I can say that it really is how it is portrayed in the tele. Its amazing. We walk past person after person taking the iconic ‘Central Park’ selfie. We sit and watch the passers as the passers watch us. There are smiles and hugs and a couple with a bag from Victoria’s Secret… We all know who is scoring tonight.
So get this. I should have known better, but I forgot.
We are sitting there, and this old Monk-like guy walks past and offers us this little gold card. I just say “Oh thanks mate”. Bec leans in, “Babe… Don’t you remember.. Dont take ANYTHING from him”. It all comes rushing back. All the stories that I have heard. They’re sly, these monk-like humans. They will bribe a donation from you by giving you a ‘gift’, to only then request that you give them some $ in return. “Haha. You sly bastard”, I think to myself. I hand him back his retarded gold car. “Nah. Nah mate”, and try not to make eye contact with him again.
He runs off to the Victoria’s Secret couple, and this guy has certainly dealt with the monks before. He’s a pro. He probably watched my rookie error and solidified his need to be vigilant against this punter.
We have sat enough and recovered enough and ready to move on. We rekon that it is going to be worth our while if we head to the Time Square. Not long after we get walking, we decide that Time Square is already too far away. We decide to make our way to the apartment that we are staying at and wait for Micky, Damo and Allison instead.
We get our legs on, and head to the subway. We are heading north, grab our tickets, and the subway greets us with the faint bleating of the saxophone echoing throughout the halls of the subway. The Saxophone is only momentarily silenced by the deafening rumble of the subway. The subway tears through the underground like it is nothing, but screeches and squeals like it’s trying to extract it last breaths.
We climb aboard and within a matter of second, smiles are exchanged across the carriage in recognition of the fact that we are visitors in their city. We get talking and conversations seem to start out of nowhere and end just as quickly as people leave. You’ll be wrapping up a conversation with someone that you just met as they are on their way out the subway door and wishing you good luck on your adventure. There really is a sense of community, even in such a large city. People certainly don’t appear to the be sort to just be out for themselves. Its quite cool to see.
We arrive at our location, and we disembark, we turn the corner and as we do, we are greeted by a mammoth mosaic on the wall behind the stair well. As we leave the subway, there is this massive tunnel to take you out to the street, and the whole way, it is just lined with graffiti all over. Its crazy.
Bec is starving, and bread is enough right now. We have got some spreads, so all we need it bread. Bec is inside. I am watching the bags.
The guy works at the pizzeria just 2 doors away from us, and he is making a delivery on this pushbike. He pulls over to me, and he looks a little dopey. The dopiness is overlooked by his intrigue and the genuinity in his voice. He wants to start film school, and he wanted to know what camera to buy.
He’s a lad.
He’s still got a pizza on the back on his bike.
He doesn’t care.
I’m cool with it.
We get the food in our bellies then have to hike a couple blocks to reach the place we are staying. By the time we get there, we are ready for another break. We keep walking till we reach this park. There are basketball courts, consumed with players with and without skill. All equally sharing as many laughs regardless of how the game is progressing.
The way I see it, we only have to do this for a couple hours, and then we are done for another week. Its a worthwhile investment of time and pain. We find a park and tuck into the bread loaf while watching the melting pot around us.
We sit there and read books while we wait for the time to pass.
The time wraps up, and we have to meet with the rest of the crew. We walk over 10 mins before they were meant to reach the apartment. I hardly have put our gear down, and their uber is tooting the horn behind us. I just assume that it is someone else just adding to the ambient noise, which is New York.
We dump our gear and get on our way out.
You see, we have a game to see tonight. We are watching the Pittsburgh Penguins play the New Jersey Devils. Devils are 2nd from the bottom, but the penguins are 2nd from the top. Needless to say, we flogged them.
The match is full of biffs and smooth plays. We’re sitting up the back, so even though we are ages away form the game, we have a bird’s eye view of the game. Its amazing. Reflexes are on a whole new level. For a first game, this is a good way to go about it. Allison, with the hook up.
The crowd erupts each time someone scores a goal. The greater to goal, the greater the eruption. We flog them. Unapologetically. 4 mins before the game even finishes, and the Devils fans are leaving the stadium already. They copped a flogging, and we don’t even feel bad for it.
We catch the train from Penn Station in Newark, to Penn Station in New York.
What. The. Hell…
New Jersey is actually another city, so it has another train system and everything. Its kinda crazy. Newark and New York sound just the same.
Its been a 10/10 introduction to NYC.
Come back tomorrow,