Wednesday, 16 March 2011

5 days in New York

Another year, another girly break. And this time we decided to head for the bright lights of the Big Apple. For me, it was not only a new city but a new continent - of all the places I've been to, I'd never set foot in the US! New York seemed a great place to start, and a perfect short break.

Unfortunately, when we booked our flights, we hadn't anticipated the harsh, long winter that the US (and everywhere else) would experience, and touched down in below freezing temperatures with snow on the ground and 60 mile per hour winds. On the flip side, the icy weather gave us clear, blue skies and bright winter sun, glinting off the buildings and skimming across the frozen lakes. At times we were almost able to forget about our numbing fingers and toes.

Arriving late in the evening, after a comfortable night's sleep we were ready to do some exploring. One of the wonderful things about the city was how easy it was to navigate - a true pedestrian's dream. There's nothing quite like going from organic, unstructured cities to a perfect grid layout, where I would argue that it is literally impossible to get lost (not that I didn't try). Need to get to 31st? I'm on 50th, so that's 19 roads away. Easy. Once I'd worked out how the roads intersected, we were away!

First stop was the Empire State building, to get the iconic view over the city. It was here that perhaps our decision to ignore the forecasted winds probably let us down, although at least the queue was relatively short and groups were moving through quickly - watching some families holding their children down as they blew around the viewing platform it became clear they didn't intend to stay up there too long!

After some wind-swept 'here's a picture of me on the Empire State, although you can only see my hair as it was constantly getting whipped over the face' type photos,we admitted defeat and went back down, warmed up, and began exploring.

Completely by accident, we stumbled across the Public Library. Impressed by the exterior, we made one of the best decisions of the trip by deciding to step inside for a look around. Not only was the interior just as beautiful, but the free exhibitions, wonderful artwork and an interactive exhibits room (where we tried out our best calligraphy...or rather, traced our best calligraphy...) were definitely worth an hour or so's attention.

Continuing on (and realising along with our aching feet that whilst the city is very 'walkable', the distances are greater than they looked) we finished our 'sights' day with a visit to the Natural History museum. Despite being a little disappointed that the T-Rex wasn't in the entrance hall (and subsequently seeking it out immediately), we thoroughly enjoy our visit and I'd definitely recommend it. The panoramas were beautiful, and the exhibits spacious and interesting. Although we had a minor heart attack at the entrance fee, I would go again.

After a short rest, it was out for dinner, and our first real experience of American portions. Try as I might, I could hardly make a dent in my meal (this was to be a recurring theme over the next few days), despite it being delicious and my being very hungry (or so I thought!). A few drinks, a catch-up with a great American friend, and it was time for bed.

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