Stinky Subways and Manhattan Musings (Part 1)

I never travel to cities or places expecting it to be the first and only time I visit. This is because I know that deep down, travelling is embedded in my DNA, and I hope to be continuously abroad for the majority of my life.

However, this also means that sometimes when I visit a place, I become lazy in sightseeing. I also like to joke that I am allergic to anything overly touristy and hyped up. “I’m like a non-touristy tourist,” I remember telling two hitchhikers from Tennessee in New Zealand a couple of years back.

New York City was a place I knew I would visit again. Partly due to the proximity to London, its position as a centre for art and business in The States, and also because I really did like it a lot… I just didn’t realise how much I truly enjoyed the vibe until I returned to the city in December after seven months of inner-London living.

While there are many reasons as to why I wouldn’t wish to live in the United States (health care being a very big one) a part of me would love to move to New York City. Despite its stinky subway system infested with rats, and a ticketing system that feels like I’m still living in the 1990s Sex And The City era of Manhattan, I’m utterly in love with the Yankee no-bullshit filter whisked in with a little bit of gumption and sprinkled with a good dose of ambition.

The city has this air that anything can happen. Something as small as an encounter with the barista at your local coffee shop can change the course of a day. Or, you could be lucky like a woman I met at the hostel I stayed at, who actually ended up having lunch with Diane Keaton after being ushered into a booth next to the queen of New York herself at a hotel somewhere downtown. It doesn’t quite get more Manhattan than that.

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After a while, you start to recognise city corners that your brain has subconsciously associated with the most mundane of life events. 

That kiss that happened in Tribeca after a night of boozy drinking in hotel bars, the time you ate pizza somewhere between W 108 and W 110th street that was bigger than your torso for a measly $5, the first time you tried a Twinkie and the slight tang of banana taking you by surprise, the exact spot on the Brooklyn Bridge you saw falling snow for the first time…

While I still have many more things to do and see in New York City, this second trip with my brother felt a lot more closed than my last visit in May. We climbed the Empire State Building and I saw the city from above for the first time and we decided to walk from Bushwick across the East River and the Williamsburg Bridge into China Town.

I was moved practically to tears at the 9/11 memorial and cringed as couples took smiling selfies whilst standing on the final resting place for so many people who had to choose between perishing under concrete, or falling to their deaths… a choice I still struggle to comprehend. 

I saw a Warhol exhibition at The Whitney and marvelled at how hoity-toity the art world can be with the imposing museum walls smack bang in the trendy Meatpacking District. We laughed at a movie directed by Warhol entitled 15 Minutes with Warhol that had a running time of 30 minutes. 

We had sword fights with icicles that had formed overnight on the outskirts of Central Park, and spent a lot of time having coffee… like probably too much.

PS. I have far too many images from NYC to share in one post so part II will be coming your way shortly…