Landing in New York
The United Airlines seat barely contained me, the seatbelt loosening as I jumped up and down trying to grab my first glimpse of the amazing city I had heard and seen so much about through pop culture such as HBO fave Sex and the City, nearly ever rom-com film ever made and songs by Frank Sinatra, Alicia Keys and Taylor Swift. The person next to me, a lovely lady from New Jersey, smiled and pointed out the window.
There, laid out before me was a golden city, glistening in the fading Summer sunshine. Buildings that stretched as high as they could reach; cars, like little ants, crawling along the wide vast streets; Central Park spanning an impressive length across the famous island… I could almost see the hope, opportunity and incredible desperation as a tangible asset in this city’s infrastructure.
I rushed off the plane as quickly as the line of people would allow and after navigating the confusing layout and lack of signage of Newark Airport, made my way on to a bus headed for the Port Authority Terminal near Times Square. Looking around the bus, I tried to separate the tourists from the locals and eagerly peered at each person’s profile, wondering if they were feeling the same anticipation that I was. It didn’t look like it.
Bright lights and loud noises
After about half an hour of looking out the window, seeing nothing but industrial buildings, down trodden apartment blocks and bumper to bumper traffic, we hit downtown New York. It was like nothing I had ever seen before. Lights everywhere, billboards for broadway shows inundating every available surface, people bustling along busy streets, sirens wailing in a constant song of noise. I had made it. I had made it to the city that never sleeps.
I jumped off the bus with my suitcase and trundled along the street, searching for the subway station. Turning a corner, I accidentally ran over a tall man’s foot with my little suitcase wheels. I profusely apologised, at which point he laughed and offered to buy me dinner. ‘Wow’, I thought, ‘they sure move quickly in New York’. I thanked him, apologised again and went on my way, finally spotting the red line subway entrance.
My first subway ride
The subway. A whole other experience. It was hot, smelly and full of people coming and going. I jumped on the train and made my way uptown, anxiously watching the stops as they increased in number, 79th, 86th, 110th… And finally got to my stop, 145th. When I came out of the subway station I saw wide, vastly vacant roads, a McDonald’s on one corner, a small supermarket on another. I walked down the hill towards the river and found my home for the next few days.
As it was about 10:30pm by the time I got into my accommodation, I was lucky enough to be able to go straight to sleep and hopefully wake up refreshed and ready to take on the city, minus the dreaded jet lag.
Good morning jet lag!
The next morning I woke up at around 5:00am, disoriented by my new surroundings. I couldn’t sleep any longer, my excitement for new adventures devouring me so I got up and peered out my little bedroom window. There, before me, lay the George Washington Bridge in all its sunrise glory.
It was time to go discover this city. First stop, Columbus Circle. Again, I got to ride the subway and found my way downtown fairly easily. It seemed I was a natural. I met my friend, Ronnie and we ventured to a diner for breakfast. Yes, a real diner, complete with bottomless, filter brewed, good old American-style coffee (pronounced in New York as “cawffee”). I felt like I was in a sit-com, sitting across from my friend, sipping strong black coffee, talking about life.
Experiencing the city
After breakfast we took to the streets, spending the day walking around downtown and midtown New York, exploring the different sights that the city has to offer. My senses were overloaded. I found the city mesmerising, magical, mind-blowing. There was so much to see and so much to take in, most of the time I didn’t know where to look. Sure enough, by 4:00pm I felt overwhelmed and could barely keep my eyes open. Hello again jet lag, old friend. I tried to fight it, but was defeated, soon crawling back into bed for an afternoon nap.
After a few hours sleep, I re-emerged, ready to try again. I ventured out to 42nd Street, near Times Square, for dinner, enjoying a delicious Mexican meal of enchiladas, tacos and margaritas. Then some more walking after dinner and that was it, I was done, I was ready for bed. This city never ceased to tire me out.
KJ heart NYC?
What a day! My first full day in New York City. The city was big, loud, overwhelming, crazy, tiring and I was beyond exhausted. But the question remained, after my first 24 hours, how was my first bite of the Big Apple? Well, the city challenged me, it tired me out, it was daunting and overwhelming, my senses constantly overloaded and overly aware, making sure I wasn’t hit by a taxi, or missing my footing in a pothole. But in all honesty… I was falling in love. This city was truly starting to steal my heart.
Stay tuned for my next blog post that will look at some of my favourite sights and experiences from my first week in New York.