Dear New York,
Well, what an adventure that was! I am back in the UK, very jetlagged and with quite a big dose of post holiday blues.
New York was everything I imagined and quite a lot extra - I just wish there was more time in the short week I had there to explore. Manhattan had such a fantastic mix of the big tourist attractions and the hidden little gems that everyone loves to find, and I only scratched the surface of the millions of places to go and things to do. This was of course helped by your and Ed’s fantastic guidance, showing us some of your favourite places to eat, getting us up to speed on the subway system and giving us the little tips that help us tourists feel less lost and let us make the most of our time there.
So, from Marcelina and I, thank you New York!
For my photos for your theme New York, I have chosen two. I think that they sum up a lot of the feeling that I had when I visited - of constantly looking up at the high buildings and skyscrapers, and then the business of navigating the crowded streets below. I realised when I got home that many of the photos I took were very standard “tourist” photos, where I hadn’t really focussed on the important things, like framing, a compelling subject, or an interesting angle, but had just wanted to tick off photos of the landmarks as and when I saw them. My instinct still isn’t to pull my camera out and take the photo when I see something I love, so there were also moments I just plain missed, but I am getting better and better at remembering, and hopefully with time my camera will just be another extension of my arm and eye.
I thought I would also write my top 5 things to see and do in New York from the perspective of London, as they are still fresh in my mind… so, no photos for these, but hopefully an interesting read.
1 The Jazz
From the first evening I was there, it was obvious that the Jazz scene is very much still alive in New York. I must have walked past a hundred small, low bars with the sound of live music filtering out onto the street, and I managed to catch two fantastic shows while I was there (the first a perfect Birthday surprise from Marcelina). The ability to just walk past so much high quality and varied jazz is something that is really missing in London, and makes me very jealous of New York.
2) The Food
People always say that portions are much bigger in America, and this definitely rings true, however it is also true that with your guiding hand the quality of the food we ate there was also fantastic. From the incredible street food (namely pizza slices and hot dogs), to the huge amounts of Italian food (special shout out to Frankie’s 457 in Brooklyn, another Birthday treat from Marcelina) and the relatively cheap, but fantastically cooked and flavoured beef products to be found (burgers, steak and pastrami galore!). The food in New York is possibly worth a blog post all to itself and I think it was very telling how excited Marcelina and I were just entering the local supermarket, where you eventually found us just staring wide eyed at the hummus isle.
3) The Views
Me and Marcelina had a running joke that the Empire State building was spying on us, because it seemed that everywhere we went, we would turn a corner and it would pop into view, looking all tall and majestic, or dark and looming, but always there. This kind of sums up all the views in New York. The buildings are close and packed together, reaching into the sky and giving me a crick in the neck, but sometimes we turned a corner and the city just opened up, occasionally making me stop dead in the middle of a road as I stared down a long avenue. I suggest everyone goes up 30 Rock, and take every opportunity to go onto the higher floors of as many buildings as possible. The views are definitely worth it.
4) The Dinosaurs
“What?!” I hear you say. What do I mean the Dinosaurs are the best thing about New York? Well, like London, New York has a Natural History Museum (or The American Museum of Natural History in this case), which Marcelina and I had a lovely couple of hours exploring. Now, this museum was by no means perfect. I kept comparing it to the Natural History Museum back home, which just seems a little bit more impressive. It is more open, and I think the layout is much easier to navigate. The architecture of the London building itself can keep one occupied for a good while and in general, I think it is just a little bit more of an enjoyable experience than it’s New York counterpart. That said, one thing I really loved about The American Museum of Natural History was the Dinosaur exhibition. Housed on the fourth floor, it is a superb example of mixing education with interest, it was clever and engaging, and even the layout was informative (you follow the evolution of the dinosaur from their beginning to the development of modern day birds). I absolutely loved it. And while in general the Met Museum was a much better experience, and everyone should go to that one first, if you really like dinosaurs, pop in and have a look. We also saw a small child walk head first into a glass display cabinet, which was just the cherry on top of a great afternoon.
5) The Little Things
A lot of the enjoyment I got from New York, was not about the attractions, or the sights, or the plans we made, but in the little events that happened every day. Little things that were new, or unusual that added to the rich tapestry of the city that was both quite familiar, but also very different. From the different smells, to thinking we spotted a famous actor going into the cafe we just left (but turns out was just a waiter starting their shift). From seeing yellow cabs instead of London’s black hackney carriages, to seeing thee steam coming from manhole covers in the middle of the streets. It all came together to give my first visit to New York a really magical feeling - one that would almost certainly fade the longer you stay, but probably does occasionally crop up and surprise even the born and bred locals.
My Theme for you this week is based on one of my favorite photos from New York - Shapes.