Thursday, 6 August 2009

A Bit of Jet Setting...Day One

Well here's something new for my little blog, a travel diary! I haven't got quite enough to do a full on Bill Bryson, but I went to New York for 5 days and crammed in more experiences than I would normally manage in a year! And I don't just mean the touristy sights, one of the things that struck me most was how much more open people were to actually stop and have a conversation with you - maybe the English accent was the way in? So, to record all of these little scraps of memory, I guess it would be best to be chronological.

Day One
Well, technically day two, but no one wants to hear about how uncomfortable plane seats are, so I'll cut straight to the New York stuff! As advised by the hotel concierge (a great woman who couldn't have looked more 'New York' if she tried, with big curly hair, big make-up, and an accent that pronounces it 'cwoffee') we bought a two day ticket for a hop-on hop-off sight seeing bus, and began with the Downtown route that took a loop around the south of the island. Here we encountered the first of our tour guides; a balding man in his sixties with thin wispy hair that floated around the sides of his head, who spontaneously burst into song on his harmonica. His name was Dave. I have to admit, I was hoping for something a little more exotic. Dave asked everyone where they were from as they boarded, adding extra facts that were relevant to each group - he even knew Korean. For our benefit, Dave recounted his last visit to London, which was so recent that he still had an Oyster card in his pocket!

Next for the Brooklyn tour, which we caught down by Dock 17. I was really intrigued to see Brooklyn, it is not as filmed and has none of the landmarks of New York, so I couldn't understand why it is so often talked about. In Sex and the City, for instance, they all voice their disgust when Miranda announces she is moving there - what was the big deal?
Well, to be honest, there is no big deal! Brooklyn was nice - there is only one skyscraper and one massive road, a
s after both were built, 'Brooklyn' decided it didn't like it. What 'Brooklyn' does seem to like is narrow streets with flourishing trees on both sides, and quaint steps leading up to a sturdy wooden front door - lovely, but lacking the buzz that goes on across the bridge.

So, what else would a group of three girls do on their first day in New York? Go on a romantic horse-drawn carriage ride around Central Park of course! The sun shone, the birds sang, and our Turkish carriage driver told us all about New
York. I'm sure they're not usually Turkish in the movies? Like so many people in the city, this young Turkish man had left his family to venture to the promised land and find his fortune, his destiny, and here he was driving a white carriage with red velvet seats around a small circuit of a park, past relentless walkers and joggers, with the aid of a pretty yet rather smelly horse, and all for the twenty minutes' amusements of tourists like us. One of his carriage-driving-friends had given lifts to Brad Pitt and Adam Sandler, but he didn't even have a celebrity sighting to fuel the fact that he hadn't seen his family in years and could not afford to go back and visit them. He was one of thousands, maybe millions, in the same position. The magnetic force of that old American Dream still seems to be alive and well. I hope he finds it.

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