After a night of sleeping on the hard airport floor with one eye half open in Costa Rica, I was ready for a real bed. As the plane descended for landing I saw across New York city, millions of lights glimmered in the dark, black sky. The grid system infrastructure was clearly visible with streets running parallel and perpendicular from one other. Huge bridges across the Hudson River were light up, revealing their length and shape. I was flabbergasted with the sheer size of everything, the lights and streets were never ending. At 11.30pm the plane touched base at New York airport. I grabbed my rucksack and ventured out the double doors into the city that never sleeps. My adrenalin was rushing. Consequently the cold did not hit me just yet. I rushed around finding a ticket machine and the appropriate bus. It was pretty straight forward and people who directed me accordingly. I hopped on the bus asking the friendly driver to tell me when to get off. For so late at night the bus was fairly busy. People with suitcases sat chatting, others were engrossed on their smart phones, I even heard Spanish families natter and argue about where to get of the bus. A little while later it was my stop. I walked to my relatives apartment, clinging onto my bags for warmth. Broadway Street was huge, shops littered every corner, most shut at this early hour in the morning. A few people walked along wrapped up in puffy coats, others stood outside a pub clearly too drunk to feel the chill.
On arriving at the building I was to stay in, a smartly dressed doorman opened the huge door for me into a grand foyer with clean, elaborate marble floors. I got a warm welcome by my lovely, hospitable and friendly relative. We had a nice chat, cup of tea and snacks before I retired to bed, collapsing in a heap. I slept soundly. The next morning when I awoke and looked out the window I saw a fantastic view across Manhattan, New York. The city skyline looked so dramatic beyond the bright blue Hudson river. I had a strong desire to venture out and explore this busy, huge and incredible city – so that’s what I did.
I walked from the apartment to Central Park. As I stood outside the cold hit me like a slap in the face. The best option was to keep walking and very fast. That was easily done as everyone in cities rush around like maniacs – I fitted in just fine. I walked to the visitors centre in the park to find out the best route take. They had an interesting exhibition on about the history and conservation efforts employed in the park. Central Park’s purpose is to provide a relaxing, calm place away from the busy city for citizens to enjoy, with wildlife and fresh water reservoirs. Walking around, I believe that central Park met these goals. Numerous people were running, walking and biking. Some in groups others alone. I walked around lakes, reservoirs and ponds high all had stunning backdrops of the city.
I walked around a Shakespeare castle, some forts and passed a carasol. I stopped to watch a street performance which was very amusing and good fun. Two guys performed gymnastics, dances and provided some funny jokes. I walled some more before deciding the cold was too much. I took the busy subway back to the apartment for some much needed warmth.
After warming up, I went to visit some relatives in a suburb of New York named Chester. To get there I took a bus and an overground train. On riding the train I needed to confirm it was the right one, so asked a friendly looking gentlemen. He then proceeded to talk to me about financial system and politics in New York. I had a lovely evening with my relatives got the chance to look through some correspondences my grandfather had made with them and find out more about the family tree. We then went back to Manhattan and I roamed around time square, which was like in the movies, big, lit up and crowded.
It was a fabulous first day in New York – there is just so much to do and see.