The night before flying to New York, I remember looking at the 3D models of the city on Google Earth and feeling an intense excitement at the sheer scale of the place. I listened to ‘Empire State of Mind’ to get more into the mood, and barely slept.
New York was cold. Minus several degrees, but I had never been so grateful for a change to the damp San Francisco fog. I had left trying to figure out the subway map until I got there, as I wanted to test my survival instincts. Thankfully, they worked, and I found my way from Penn Station to my hostel on the West-Side with no trouble.
Just as I was about to have a nap on my hostel bed, my friends, who had arrived a couple of days previously, called me up to say they had booked to see a show. No rest for the weary. Thankfully the show was standing, otherwise I would have definitely fallen asleep through lack of sleep, not boredom, although hearing Shakespeare in an American accent was quite peculiar.
I remember well, leaving the Metro station at Times Square for the first time; looking up and being overwhelmed by how tall the buildings were. ‘Concrete Jungle’ is a very fitting description for the sheer amount of skyscrapers packed into such a small area.
New York felt like London in a lot of ways, so (at the time missing London) I really connected with the place.
New York was my first Christmas away from home. It felt a bit sad not being back with my family as usual, but I wasn’t by myself so it was fine. I wanted to get myself on one of the live cameras in Times Square so that my family back home could see me, but it ended up being just a phone call. After this, walking down 5th avenue and seeing street vendors selling fake high-fashion bags in the entrances to the very same closed stores was amusing.
Flying back to San Francisco
I almost missed my flight. I somehow completely managed to misjudge how long it would take to get back and left myself nowhere near enough time. By the time I got to Penn station, it was about half an hour until my flight. The train journey would take at least half an hour to the airport! I had to think of something quickly. I left the station and jumped in a taxi as quickly as possible and got to the airport 15 minutes before the flight (after the taxi driver took a wrong turn). The airport staff were amazing and put me through emergency check-in (after telling me my bags would be on the next flight). After an exhausting sprint through the airport, I got on the plane 5 minutes before take-off. The best part though, was that they had managed to get my bags on that flight too. Miracles happen!
Going up the Empire State Building.
Eating Italian in little Italy.
Trying to get free tickets for Wicked.
Getting scammed into buying a fake perfume (at a massively reduced rate thankfully).
Seeing a man-hole on fire.
Museum of modern art.
The giant Christmas decorations, including buildings wrapped in ribbons.
Going to a ‘Tutankhamun exhibition’ and not seeing Tutankhamun.