A few weeks ago my husband and I went to New York, we booked our trip such a long time beforehand that it seemed a bit unreal to finally board the plane to finally go. I went there not really knowing what to expect, torn between the political climate, the social difficulties, and all these amazing images from my favourite movies and shows.
New York is a city of contrast and constant changes, it’s in the architecture, the different neighbourhoods, day/night, even the weather can change drastically in just 48 hours! We landed in New York on mild night, the day after was around 20 degrees, two days after we were back with coats, scarves and gloves with a 15 degrees difference!!
We stayed only 5 days in New York, so I am just going to describe it to you as a first time tourist would, because that’s what I was, and that is the story my photos tell too.
The first thing that stroke me was the architecture. We all know Americans don’t do anything halfway, so I was expecting big, but not that big. All the buildings, old and new, are so massive and breathtaking. I was expecting, everyday coming out of our hotel, to be a bit less stunned by it all, but it never came, it never ceased to amaze me! This city gives you vertigo and it has such a classic look to it, it gives any snap you take that timeless feeling.
I might compare the New York that surrounded me then to the New York I’ve seen on TV a lot as it is how I, and most of the world, know it as (sorry as this might be annoying to New Yorkers). Here it goes…The TV (or cinema) doesn’t do it justice! You pretty much always see the same thing, New York from above, with all the skyscrapers, day, or night with all the lights, you mainly notice the very tall buildings, and of course recognise the famous landmarks (statue of liberty, empire state building,…). But when you go down there, especially in Manhattan where we spent our first day, you also have these majestic older buildings with so many beautiful features on them. Inside and out, everything is extravagant and so detailed, it’s an endless feast for the eye.
There is constant crowd in Manhattan, it is both tourists (a lot of them) and people at work, or going to work. You see the white collars, and the blue collars, road workers and shoe shiners, you meet the waiters, and the food truck vendors. The police is, off course, everywhere and very visible, so are the yellow cabs. It is in constant movement, it is so noisy!
If you want a bit of rest for your ears you can of course go to Central Park, you will easily find horse carriages to take you around the park. It is as you imagine it, some parts are very peaceful, you sometimes really feel surrounded by nature only, until you raise your eyes to the sky and see the buildings again. We were told it is easy to spot celebrities walking their dogs there, they all must have been at the Oscar ceremony when we were there though as we didn’t see any, we did spot a lot of dogs though! Around the Park you also have amazing Museums! We went to the Natural history museum (fantastic!!! especially for children), and the Met (Metropolitan museum), with its stunning, stunning collection. Both are beautiful, of course, but also very big, so get you walking shoes on!
When you travel away from the centre of Manhattan to its distinctive neighbourhoods and other boroughs, Greenwich, Chinatown, Brooklyn, Harlem,…you’re treated with all this typical American architecture that, yes, you see in movies. Some of them look abandoned, and some swarm with activity and all kinds of small businesses. The buildings are more human size, there is even those beautiful streets with those nice, big houses with the stairs at the front. You see those classic fire-escape ladders where you half expect to see cops chasing someone, or a secret boyfriend sneaking in to see his girl.
Those neighbourhoods are everything you expect and more! Men playing basketball and a small crowd gathering to watch them, they yell and disagree, they mock and provoke each other (most time in a friendly way) for the pleasure of the onlookers. There are the playgrounds and courts filled with children playing all kind of games, running and sliding. Parks where people play cards, chess, and other games, you see people doing tai-chi in the background. All of this is constantly, bathed in the smells from food trucks and the sound of sirens. It is always so busy.
I loved New York by day, but New York by night, on a week end, is another story. It is a wave of swag. Is swag a word that cool people still use, I don’t know, I don’t think I classify as cool (anymore!!) but it is the only word I found to describe it!! The hairstyles, the clothes, the people… so beautiful and individual. I want to be like them!!
If you are in the right neighbourhoods, you’ll find a lot of bars, trendy, chic, jazz bars, soul bars, sports bar, the list goes on! Unfortunately we didn’t have the time (or the liver) to try them all! Just a piece of warning though, the measuring cups we use here to make cocktails, they don’t use them there!! They just mix the alcohols and hope for the best it seems! One cocktail (and a few beers) and I was done! I love cities by night, they buzz and tell you other stories. The atmosphere is deferent, people are different all the lights and a glass of your favourite beverage and you feel in another world.
Most of the people we met in New York City were amazingly friendly. I would say more than most big cities I have been to! One of the first question we got every time we met someone was “are you having a good time?”, and they genuinely care about the answer, you can see the pride in their eyes when you tell them that you are having a great time. I knew Americans in general were proud of their country (flags everywhere are a big hint!!). But it doesn’t seem to just be about being greater and better than everyone; from my experience, it is more what they have, what they build. They are amazing at everything and surpass other country at many things, and I find it is because they always seem to reach towards that pride that they want to feel. I don’t know if that makes any sense to anyone except me… but I think I understand them a bit more than I did before.
This is a sample of what we experienced there. I would need a book to tell you all the things we saw in just five days, some surprised us, some even shocked us, but mainly we were just amazed by the city. Between this little essay and the photos that follow, I hope it gives you a hint into what kind of city New York is. It’s my experience of course, and some people might not have the same opinion, but don’t believe people who tell you this city is not worth visiting, if you get the chance go and see for yourself, it is a vibrant city full of beautiful people.