Thursday, 2 July 2009

Day 2 - New York

Oh how we bragged before getting on the plane... Jetlag? Pfft... That's some kind of myth. That happens to other people. Like old people. Or sick people. Or people who crave attention for having a job that lets them travel all around the world. OK, OK we take it all back. We managed to stay up until 11pm the first night before crashing into bed and sleeping fitfully until... 6am. So, Swedish time that's 11am and definitely time to wake up. We spent about an hour trying to go back to sleep and another hour showering and getting ready. At 8 we couldn't take it anymore and went to find some breakfast.

I'd just like to take this time to announce to our parents: Yes, you heard us. 8am. 8am!

We had a supremely American breakfast consisting of a lovely, big bagel and a big cup of weak coffee, then headed into Central Park. It was much, much bigger than we'd expected and an amazing oasis in the bustle of the city. Below is a shot of a pond at the south end of the park with the midtown Manhattan skyline in the background.

Determined to see as much as possible of the city on this first day, we set out and discoverered two things:

1. New York is really, really big. This hurts feet.

2. Americans love to shuffle tourists around in queues while shouting at them through a megaphone from a 2 ft distance.

One of the first stops was the Empire State Building. What you need to understand about the Empire State is that you actually queue for nearly half an hour to get to the ticket counter. There, you can make a choice of buying either a standard $20 ride to the 86th floor, including another 45 minutes of queueing absolutely free of charge, or a $39 ticket to skip that queue. Of course, being Swedish, we were disgusted with the standard price in the first place and have practically been queueing since birth anyway.

ESB was one of those things you just have to do, but I must say it was absolutely not worth the money. I wouldn't go up again, but I'm happy to have done it and have no regrets. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and definitely one of the most - if not the most - visited attractions in NY. Part of that experience was the hour spent getting up there. It really showed a hysterical side of America :)

Moving on, we saw Times Square and downtown Manhattan incluing Wall Street and Ground Zero. Below is a shot of a cool van at 42nd st / Times Square.

The highlight of the day was our trip to Liberty Island and the Statue of Liberty. After walking all day in a humid 30 degree city, the boat ride was heaven. The queueing was not as long, but just as mental as with the ESB. Getting on and off the ferry included getting shouted at by several security workers, ferry workers and (I suspect) ranom bystanders taking the opportunity to do some shouting in their spare time. By this time we were immune to that kind of treatment and decided to just enjoy the trip. Below, a shot of the Statue of Liberty against downtown Manhattan.

In the evening we once again left the hotel to explore downtown, Chinatown and Little Italy. It's amazing how quickly fashionable blocks turn into dark back alleys in New York. I had stupidly expected NYs Chinatown to be like Kobe's Chinatown - alive and sparkling in the evening, food stalls and souvenirs, exciting colours and smells... Instead, we walked through a run-down, dark part of town with only the odd bar open. Not many people were about, but somehow it didn't feel like the sort of place you wanted to start looking at your map in public. We read later on in the guide book that you should avoid it after dark :)

Little Italy was exactly what we'd expected. Cozy little restaurants, colourful street lights and guys standing on the corners, talking like Tony Soprano, smoking hand rolled cigarettes.

The word of the day has got to be contrasts.


  1. Se där, så mycket man hinner med om man går upp på morgonen, är det inte det jag alltid sagt? ;)
    Men, snälla, inga mer skumma kvarter efter mörkrets inbrott, tack!

  2. Well, well
    I wasn´t sooo wrong when I was worried.
    USA is not like a bigger Sweden and New York is not like a bigger Stockholm.
    I can´t think of any place in Stockholm to avoid because it´s night. It´s nice you are trustfull but don´t take that to far....pleeeease.
    On the other hand it´s important with....some... danger to make it interesting...I think

    Love to read your daily stories, but you know how I am, if I start to exspect a daily story I will be worried if there isn´t one, so can´t you say there will be stories when you have time:)
    Love and hugs

  3. You guys worry too much! We're fine - I think the one thing about Chinatown that was unsettling was that everything was closed and that there were not many people around. I expected it to be alive and it was so quiet. As for the run-down bit, it's really half-and-half here. Some blocks are really fancy, but the next one along can be in complete disrepair. Central Park is the best example. All the houses along the avenues overlooking the park are gorgeous, but just one avenue down you think you walked into a eastern european suburb.

    The same contrast can be found between the subway and the long-distance trains. The subway is dirty, smelly and packed with people. The train stations are clean and shiny and new. That doesn't mean the subway is dangerous though - it's reportedly safer than the Stockholm underground.

    Anyway, I'm sure I won't be able to write every day because - well - I don't think every little roadside motel will have a broadband connection. Starbucks (a coffee shop franchise) have free w-lan, so in the cities I'll at least be able to write. Also, I'm always one day behind when blogging. Maybe I can catch up tonight ;)

  4. Gunnar Johannesson4 July 2009 at 00:11

    Thank you for the first reports from "The Big Apple" - it was nice to hear you are there now!
    But I had thought you would like the Empire State Building, than you did, Vanja! Hopefully You will let Mattias take the photographs the-re, as I wished from him, please!? Then I wish you a good continuation by your travel, and excuse my "school-English" please! Many gree- tings from "Uncle Gunnar" in Gothenburg!

  5. Hmm, the Empire State Building thing is a bit of a ripoff. Personally I take all guests to Rockefeller Center instead. It is only 70 floors but you get a nice view of the ESB and the park.