At this point, we had the whole routine down. We’d wake up early enough for the hotel breakfast each morning and head down after brushing our teeth in a hibernated state still. After breakfast, we’d head back up and straight into the bath in turns. There was an unspoken competition between my sister and me of who would take the shortest time in getting ready, that way if anything went wrong or we fell behind schedule, the other one could boldly point a finger perfectly aimed at the culprit.
We headed out into the sun and once more I regretted forgetting my favourite sunglasses on my bedside table in Manchester. I told my sister that I’d get one in the city, but I never did.
We were no longer clueless to the way New York worked. I mean, we probably still looked like tourists, but we had hopefully begun to stick out just a little bit less. We now knew how to find the accessible subway stations and how to find the bus stops we needed without immediately giving up and hopping on an uber ride. We had become pros at crossing the road, and as I wrote about in the post about our Times Square experience, that gave us major points in avoiding near-death experiences. The road rage and constant loud honking were no longer shocking to us and if a bicycle almost hit you, you just looked at him side-eyed at kept it moving (If you’re nice, of course).
New York was a complicated city or like most people call it; a true melting pot of so many different people. It was the place where a random person would look you in the eye and say ‘Oh, you’re so pretty’. It was also the place where a woman would yell at you for choosing NOT to bother her and ask her to move out of your way as she stood in the middle of sidewalk caught up in a seemingly intense conversation. It is also the place where a guy helps you in the subway station without expecting anything in return. It is also a place where a girl cries in the middle of the mezzanine in the underground hundreds of people pass by beside her.
It was all in one, New York, and I loved it for that exact reason.
That day we headed into the city with the underground trains. We reached the mezzanine where we purchased a metro-card we filled up with about $10 to cover a lot of the trips we planned to do that day and headed towards the platforms.
Arrived at the nearest stop to our hop-on, hop-off bus pickup point, we got off and headed there after a quick stop at Starbucks Coffee. I’m not a big Starbucks fan, or coffee, in general, to be honest, but those four days in New York saw me in and out those chains more times than I could count, and it was strictly for the Strawberry Acai iced drink I discovered while on the road. Plus, it was a perfect spot for pee stops too, which were multiplied due to the discovery of my new favourite pink-coloured drink.
The bus dropped us off near China town and I’ll forever remember that travel guide who spoke from the top decker into the earpieces as the one with the worst sense of humour I’d ever encountered, not to mention the creepy weird jokes he’d make in hopes to trigger a laugh. In response to the silence and weird looks that his jokes prompted, he’d then move on to insinuate that we all lighten up and get a sense of humour. How ironic!
China Town wasn’t too hard to find as we sneakily aligned ourselves into a long line of Spanish speaking tourists headed the same way. We found China Town, but we also found Little Italy neighbouring it. Just like the rest of New York City, both China Town and Little Italy were vibrant and colourful; so many people, so many cultures.
Every street saw an array of shops, restaurants, narrow streets and hundreds of people coming and going like they had somewhere important to be at.
We ate at a Chinese restaurant called Super Taste on Eldridge Street, and, although the room was the size of a shoe box, it was as tasty and filling as the online critics had claimed it to be. My sister and I both had big bowls of noodles, kimchi and more than we could devour in an about an hour.
After that, we walked around a little more and went back underground – it was time we headed to the Empire State Building.
The sun had begun to set by the time we got on the train line headed back into the heart of the city and after another Starbucks stop (you know what that means!), we began to walk to our destination. With our tickets on our iPhones, we headed in. A member of staff shouted at all the people waiting in line to head left to the lifts and as they opened a floor above I believe, we were met with the airport security style checks.
The excitement was over the roof, literally, but before we were led to the observatory at the top, we walked through an exhibition which presented historical photographs, documents and architectural sketches. They kept the anticipation up as we walked through another corridor filled on each corner with images of A-list celebrities who had also walked through that great building; from Priyanka Chopra to Taylor Swift and Whoopi Goldberg, it was kind of cool to realise that I was standing on a ground that had carried so many greats today.
One more lift ride was what separated us from the view we had paid to see and then we waited in another long line to be flown up top. The elevator felt like an actual plane ride as it was dead speedy, and our ears popped like it always does when we take flight.
And there it was. The whole New York City in an instant.
The sun was fully out of the picture by the time we got up to the observatory and there we could see it all. All the little pieces – we could see them all come together, one by one, to fit the puzzle that was New York City.
There is a certain specific feeling that comes when you find yourself at such heights. One deep breath and I seriously felt powerful at that moment, like I could do anything for real. I think it comes from seeing everything fall in place and fit together. You see all the lights flash before your eyes and without them, on a night like that, that splendid view would be nowhere to be found. Everything looks really small from up there and somehow it gave me a sense that there was so much more out there that was bigger than I was. It made me feel like I had all the control and none all at once.
Empire State Building showed the bigger picture of what that city was like. From up there you could hear all the noise like a whisper at the back of your ear and although you couldn’t see every little thing in minor detail, you knew that there was so much life going on there and all those lights were the proof of just that.
This time, unlike the day before, my camera battery survived all night long and I was able to take all the Instagram worthy shots like everyone else on that observatory.
We went round and round it until we felt satisfied with all our hearts and eyes had seen that day.
Your restless romantic roamer