Thursday, 25 March 2004

Englishman in New York


This entry comes to you from the world's biggest Internet cafe in Times Square in New York.

What I'm about to write will probably sound a little geeky, but ever since I wrote my first blog entry, I've wanted to write an entry with the subject title 'Englishman in New York.' And now that I've done it, it actually feels quite good! Another ambition achieved! Two to go!

I arrived in the capital of the world on Tuesday after a two hour flight from South Beach in Miami. Miami is the worst place I have ever visited - it must surely be the place that devils go to when they die. A plastic place full of beautiful, awful, rude, plastic people.

I was forced to endure three days in the sunshine state after flying in from the Bahamas. I must have been on coke when I decided to include Miami in my travels. And it's not over yet - I have to spend one more day there before I fly home. Aaaargh!

But enough about Miami. What I want to write about is New York City. It's funny, but the strangest thing has happened. I've realised something, something that I could never have predicted or expected. What I've realised, simply, is that I love New York.

Yes - me! Mr. Anti-American.

This is my first visit and I never expected it to affect me in such a way. I understand now why New York has been the inspiration for so many films and musicals and why so many artists have been able to harness the almost tangible energy that runs through these dimly lit streets. I've never experienced anything like it before.

Within just a few hours of flying into LaGuardia airport I knew that this city was going to have a profound affect on me. I was like a kid in a candy store, running through the streets, marvelling at everything around me.

My tour of New York City began yesterday with a trip to the Empire State Building in Manhattan. My hotel is nearby and so it seemed like a logical place to start. I took the audio tour and learnt a little bit about the history of New York. It also gave me the chance to see the entire city spread out before me and to marvel at the scale and the scope of this vast metropolis.

I liked the view so much that I returned to the Empire State Building and looked upon the city by night. It was a beautiful sight, a million lights stretching out before me, seeming to go on forever.

After visiting the Empire State Building I made my way down Fifth Avenue. As I did so I listened to the song by Sting that was the inspiration for this entry - another ambition achieved! (One to go).

While on Fifth Avenue I did something that every visitor to New York should do - I bought a hot dog. And it was pretty darn good! I haven't travelled in a yellow taxi cab yet, but the night is still young!

After devouring another 2 hot dogs I made my way to the ice skating rink at the Rockefeller Center. I stood there and watched a few dozen people skating and I wanted, more than anything, to join them. Yet I lacked the confidence to do so.

That sounds strange, I know. I can travel halfway across the world, I can swim with sharks, I can go paragliding, I can eat in restaurants alone and yet I can't bring myself to go ice skating alone?

Even with all these thoughts going through my head I still couldn't bring myself to step onto that ice rink. The head said yes but the feet said no. The truth is I'm a shy person, I lack confidence and there are just some things I find it difficult. I guess that ice skating alone is one of them.

So I left the Rockefeller Center behind and made my way to St Patrick's Cathedral, the oldest cathedral in New York. It was okay, though my eyes were drawn to the gigantic American flag hanging from the ceiling. The stars and stripes inside a church? Ugh.

After leaving the cathedral and the flag behind, I made my way to Central Park where I found another ice rink. This time I was determined to let my feet do the talking and before I could doubt the wisdom of my thinking I paid $13 and made my way on to the ice.

And it was all okay. The world didn't melt, Michael Jackson didn't turn black again. Skyscrapers didn't fall. I didn't even get laughed at. And I didn't fall over once!

True, I went went round slower than almost everybody else and I did knock a few kids over, but I didn't fall over once!

It turned out to be one of the most enjoyable times I've had during the past 16 days and it was quite magical, skating in Central Park at night, surrounded by skyscrapers. Quite magical.

And that was my first night in New York City. After stopping by Grand Central Station and New York Public Library, I returned to my hostel and was soon sleeping soundly in the city that never sleeps.

Earlier today I took a short helicopter flight around Manhattan. It was fun, a little scarier than I imagined, almost like floating.

Afterwards I made my way to the site where the World Trade Center stood. It was a sombre moment, standing in the spot where, two and a half years ago, nearly three thousand people lost their lives.

September 11th was a chance for America to change. Unfortunately, under the leadership of George W. Bush, America was transformed that day into something awful.

Monsters created more of a monster. And now, sadly, because of this Government's appalling foreign policy, what happened on September 11th was just a taster of what is to come.

After leaving Ground Zero I took a ramble down Wall Street and soon found that Battery Park and the ferry terminal to Liberty Island were nearby. I couldn't resist going to see the Tall Lady so I paid my ten bucks and headed out to see the french visitor.

And she was kinda small...!

After the Statue of Liberty I made my way here to Times Square - and boy what a sight to behold. Piccadilly Circus eat your heart out! I think that the first time you see Times Square you are either amazed or appalled. Or, like me, both.

Times Square is a mesmerising combination of skyscrapers, advertisements, flashing lights, TV screens, crowds of people and yellow taxi cabs. It's hypnotising, impressive - and probably quite evil!

A few hours ago I was standing in Times Square, wearing my Versace coat and taking photographs with my mobile phone, when a photographer doing a photo shoot started taking photos of me! Really!

A child of capitalism in the capital of capitalism.

And that's just about it for New York City.

I leave this great city behind tomorrow afternoon and board a flight that will take me to Detroit. Hopefully I'll be able to squeeze in a quick visit to the American Museum of Natural History before I leave. I also want to visit the Bronx.

But for this entry, and for this night, this is an Englishman in New York signing off and wishing you well. It's after eleven and I'm miles away from home.

I'll write to you again from Michigan.

Until then, take care.

New York, New York.

From the memory box of a Professional Englishman.

No comments:

About Me

My photo
London, ENGLAND, United Kingdom
This is me. Read a few entries and they will tell you more about me than I can fit into these few paragraphs. Many of these entries started their lives as mass emails. That was before I discovered blogs. Thanks for stopping by and thanks for visiting my blog and reading about my life. Both a work in progress.