Today was day one of an overnighter in the Big Apple. After breakfast Steve and Kirsten dropped me off at the train (which I narrowly missed) and sent me on my way into the city. The train was about 45 minutes away from Penn Station when I got a call from a friend, Gary Goldfinger, who goes to school at Plattsburg University upstate. He is in town for a few days at his parents house just north of the city before he heads out to Asia for seven months to work as an outdoor activities guide/instructor/coordinator for a school out there. Gary was still in bed when he called but still managed to get ready, drive into town, find parking, and find me before I finished my first street vendor hot dog.
Steve was a bit bummed that he couldn’t join me in town today as he enjoys seeing people’s reactions to the city when they see it for the first time. He wouldn’t have been disappointed with me, for sure. When I got to the top of the stairs out of the subway my jaw dropped… right there was Madison Square Garden, The Post Office, and the Empire State Building… all HUGE! That was the thing that struck me throughout the day, the sheer immensity of all the buildings. It truly was like walking through a canyon of buildings at times. And the people… so many people… of every shape size color and nationality you can imagine. It’s not a melting pot in New York it’s a salad bowl.
Gary and I made our way from 32nd street where we met up down to Battery Park on the southern tip of the island where we caught the ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. I was a bit disappointed to learn that you need advanced reservations to get tickets to go inside the statue (which are sold out until September by the way). But we still got to get right under the statue then hop over to Ellis Island on the ferry for a very interesting tour of the famous entry way to the US for millions of immigrants.
After the statue and island tour we slowly worked our way back up to the Empire State Building near where we started our day. Along the way we found Veniero's restaurant and pastry shop and had a canole as recommended by the kids I stayed with in New Jersey the other day. We also passed so many of the famous sights that New York is famous for; Wall Street, the New York Stock Exchange, Ground Zero, Macy’s, China Town… It’s all so big and all so close together.
It was after sunset when we reached the Empire State Building but we decided to go up and see the city lights from above. After waiting in numerous lines and climbing more than a few flights of stairs we were rewarded with a stunning vista of the city below light up with millions of lights. To the south I could make out the lights of Atlantic Heights where I stayed before crossing into the city the other day, and to the north and west I could make out the dark gap in the city lights that is the Hudson River and the path I’ll be continuing on toward home next week.
After more stairs and lines and amazingly fast elevators, Gary and I were back on the ground. We hustled over to the parking garage where his car was parked then did a drive by of Times Square which rivals or beats any display of glitz and lights I’ve ever seen.
I thought I had only nodded off for a minute but I pretty much passed out for a half hour while Gary drove me out to Kristen’s apartment in the Bronx where I stayed for the night. Tomorrow I had planned on hitting the town hard again but I think I’ll slow my pace a bit so I’m not all worn out when I catch up with Steve and Kirsten later in the day to see a show downtown.