Well, here I go to the Big Apple! A long time ago I created a bucket list of places that I would like to visit. Some of them, such as Florence or Venice have already been visited but I had the thorn in New York or NYC. I love movies since I was a child and I've always watched this great city in movies and TV series, dreaming of going to visit it one day.
It's strange, but I've always had the feeling of seeing it, despite never having been there, through hundreds of moments on big and small screens, many of them everyday. Anyone who is or has been a follower of the Friends TV series will understand what I mean. For the preparation of this trip I have had different documentary material, through the Internet or in printed format such as, for example, the Lonely Planet New York City guide.
We got up, dressed and moved to the airport, but not before having a light breakfast of coffee and pastries in a tavern. After checking in at the airport, I start to visualize the hours on the flight. We have a long wait in the departure lounge. The first stretch to Paris goes smoothly. Once there, we have again queues and more waiting until the departure time of the flight that will leave me at JFK.
At last I am going to travel to the Big Apple, but it still did not seem real. I go to my seat, and as soon as a passenger realizes that I am traveling alone, he requests me to change the seat with his to be next to his partner. They have been given separate seats. No problem on my part. Being near the emergency exit, I'll be able to go with my legs stretched all the way.
Between meals, reading and episodes of my favorite series recorded on the Tablet, the trip flies by. When we arrive at JFK, the thing gets messed up. The flight arrives promptly at 5 o'clock local time. So if the immigration procedures and others are fast, I can still see something of the St. Patrick's Day festival.
Here they have a day in advance as against in Ireland. Obviously, I will not be so lucky, and the immigration checks are eternal. At other times, in less than half an hour everything is resolved. Today it takes more than two hours. I guess that being a holiday, many people do not work.
Of the twenty-odd counters, eight are only active. After despairing in the queue, it's my turn with questions, fingerprints and photo to be signed. Now I can pick up my luggage. At the time it is, I have lost all hope of seeing something of the parade, so I take it easy to wait for my suitcase.
As Mr. Murphy said, my luggage has not arrived in NY with my flight. I discover when I arrive at the luggage belt of my flight and I see that it is stopped and almost empty. Almost all passengers have already collected their bags. So I go to the counter to present the claim with the baggage slip attached to the boarding pass.
Without this, everything would have been much more complicated. With the number in it, I am immediately informed that my suitcase has left on the next flight and will arrive on the flight at 19:45. There is little more than half an hour, but they explain to me that they can deliver it to me in the accommodation that I tell them.
I give them the address of the hostel, and in return and as a consolation, they give me a bag with some toiletries, a T-shirt and some socks. They inform me that I also have voucher to buy clothes and toiletries I need, that are valid until the delivery of the luggage.
I go to the exit to take the shuttle that I rented online, along with other passengers who are heading to Manhattan. Luckily, because with the delay I have, I already saw myself taking a taxi. The journey of about 40 minutes on the shuttle is almost a touristic tour of Manhattan, as my accommodation is the last stop.
I begin to get an idea of the enormity of this city. The lights, the traffic and the people make me dumbfounded as we move towards Chelsea. The hostel is well located for what I see, with subway stops. At the time I arrive at the hostel, I have time to register, see the room, ask me to store my luggage when they bring it and a little more.
The most spartan room is old but clean, about 6 square meters, with a single bed, a locker without lock (I bring mine) and a tap with running water. The sink is in the front door, for all the rooms on the floor, and the shower, also common to the entire floor, to turn the corner in the hall. On the lower floor is the dining room and common area, with access to a patio.
Once set, I go for a walk and have some dinner. The thing about buying some clothes is not going to work, because all the stores at this time are closed. I'm too tired to kick around looking for some. So I go to the 8th and I get into the first Deli I see. I take a cheesesteak and a beer and I go to the hostel to rest.
The neighborhood seems lively, as there are many people on the street despite the cold. As soon as I finish eating, I lay down in bed, to wait for the effects of jetlag. I fall asleep right away.
At about 7 in the morning the alarm clock sounds to remind me that I am in New York, and without clothes. I put what I had on the flight and I go to reception to see if there is luck and my luggage has arrived. It's here, so I take it to my suite and I take a shower before going down to breakfast with bun, fruit and coffee and start my walk around New York.
My first destination, which I intend to walk, is the Empire State Building, one of the essentials in any visit to NYC. I try to get used to the traffic, the hustle and bustle of the streets at all hours and the network of streets and avenues. Without realizing it, I come to the corner of 5th Avenue and 23rd Street, that is Flatiron Building.
The plank design of the building is particular and interesting and I take the opportunity to take my first photos. The light of the early hour give a special color to the building located at the crossing point of 5th Avenue, Broadway and 23rd Street, just across from Madison Square Park (not Garden).
Satisfied by the first sight, I continue climbing up 5th Avenue, looking up at the sky to see the tip of the most emblematic building in history. I know it has to be around here, but since I have not studied the area very much, I do not get it almost until I get inside by accident, in the 5th with the 34th.
Before 9 o'clock in the morning there is a long queue and a couple of Japanese buses wait to get in. So I ask the attendant if there is a reservation and she replies that it is not necessary. I just stand in line with the others while the explanation of the building that takes place on the ground floor lasts.
After paying the entry fee I pass the security control, in which they keep my multipurpose knife until the descent. I enter with a group of tourists of different nationalities in the elevator that leave us on the 86th floor. The viewpoint rises over Manhattan from its building again higher since the attacks of 9/11.
The day is very clear and the view is spectacular, as expected. I see the Statue of Liberty to the southwest, the Brooklyn Bridge to the southeast, the Chrysler to the northeast and Central Park far to the north. I swell to take pictures of the landscape and to ask other amazed tourists to immortalize me with the city at my feet.
Of course, it is chilly cold as an incessant and icy wind pass in the four viewpoints that surround the building. After a while I go down and get into the store that is just in front of the entrance, to buy my first souvenirs of keychain and Yankee cap! With the coat drawn to the eyebrows, down the 5th I go to the hostel to leave the clutter.
I then go back out and go to the metro station of the 7th with 23rd. I leave the subway and get into a clothing store, where I browse and buy jeans and a dozen socks. I admit, I am a compulsive buyer. With the change in my pocket and after another trip to the hostel to leave the package, I return to the subway.
This time I triumph and I already have the pass in my possession. The operation of the metro is relatively simple (except weekend nights. The only thing more or less complicated, is to guess if the train is local or express. The first one makes all the stops, while the second one skips several of them.
Anyway, I get on one to Harlem. The intention is to go around there, see the Apollo theater and go down Central Park. As soon as I get off the subway at the station, I find myself face to face with General Grant's Tomb, on Riverside Drive, next to the Hudson River.
The park is snowy, but not much, and I take a walk without entering the monument or the Riverside Church. I head to the Apollo Theater, at 125, between Frederick Douglass Boulevard and Adam Clayton Powell Blvd. I go down the avenues to the south, crossing from east to west from time to time (and vice versa).
I reach the northwest entrance of Central Park, after having crossed the Morningside Park and pass in front of St. Luke's Hospital and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, leaving Columbia University in oblivion. I get in Central Park and go wandering through the hundreds of roads that cross it in all directions, until reaching the height of 81st Street.
Here I decide to take refuge from the cold by spending some time in the American Museum of Natural History, star of several movies. Lots of pictures of dioramas and skeletons later, and quite tired already, I go out and I take a sandwich in one of the many street bars that are found throughout the city.
I continue further south to the Dakota building, residence of the late John Lennon. Already in the park, more or less at the same height, I see the Strawberry Fields, dedicated to the memory of the author of Imagine (among others). I go further south, and see one of the Trump Towers, next to the Columbus Circle, with a statue of Columbus included.
We went to browse in the spectacular Apple store. As if it were the Louvre, the store is below ground level and accessed by a glass cube in the style of the Pei pyramid.
The fatigue wins the battle finally and I get into a subway entrance to go to Penn Station. Here I walk around Madison Square Garden and walk down to the hostel. After a well-deserved rest, I go for a final round to find some place to dine. After a couple of streets from the hostel, I get into a pizzeria where they serve some gigantic portions of various types of pizza.
On the way back, I can see the Empire State building in the distance, illuminated by the colors of the Irish flag at the top.