We began our North American trip celebrating New Year’s Eve in New York. Having never been to this extremely cool, busy and cosmopolitan city, we weren’t too sure of what to expect. We came by bus from Washington on the Washington Deluxe and even before we saw the bright city lights we hit the famous New York traffic! How people are expected to merge from ten lanes to a few within a couple of hundred metres is baffling. A sea of taillights and honking horns welcomed us to the Big Apple!
That evening we dropped our bags off at our friend’s place in Manhattan and got dressed up for the big night out – a NYE party at Ciprianis. This place was very cool with all the bells and whistles, disco balls, stiff drinks and a very loud band. We had a great time, plenty to drink, and then of course, the mandatory stop for pizza on the way home. The finer details escape me but it seemed like the pizza was about a metre round!
At that time of year it was very cold in New York so we went to some of the famous New Year sales and got thick down coats that would help us to survive the bone-chilling Canadian winter! I still remember a photo of us wearing everything we owned and brought from Australia as we struggled to keep warm before we got our “proper winter coats”.
While in New York we did most of the touristy things like visit The Top of the Rock, The empire State Building, we saw a Broadway show, checked out Times Square, and strolled through Central Park (where I found my favourite part “Strawberry Fields”, the garden with John Lennon impersonators paying tribute. We also visited the museums and the Statue of Liberty via a ferry trip on the bay. One of our favourite places to wander was the High Line which led us from the Meat Packing District to Chelsea via a historic freight train line. Along the way there is great art to see and places to shop and eat like the Chelsea Markets. Each borough gives off a different feel to every other in the city. One evening we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and this was really enjoyable as it gave us a chance to escape the busyness of the city and look back at it from a distance, rather than from within, at least for a moment.
The food of New York was unforgettable – from the stereotypical hotdogs from street vendors (yes, I braved it and survived), to some of the classy and self-admittedly overpriced restaurants, this place had it all! If I went back I think I could happily live off the hotdogs, pizzas and tasty treats – though it’d be a short life!
The most moving place we visited was the 9/11 memorial, especially the chapel which became a hub for rescue workers and their aides in the aftermath of the tragedy. It is amazing that St Paul’s Chapel, stood strong, even though it is so much older and smaller than the towering buildings that collapsed around it. The tributes there in “Healing Hearts and Minds” and were still so moving as they painted a vivid image of the impact on the proud people of New York.
Overall, the city that never sleeps, does just that. It always has something new to see and do around every corner and it lured us back three other times in the year!