Monday, October 31, 2011

The Big Apple!

New York City. The Big Apple. Manhattan Island. The big city. And I'm finally here!

The view of Manhattan Island from the Staten Island Ferry. For only $7 a day and a free ferry ride, Staten Island is a great place to park and ride over to the big city. And if you're coming from the south, it is free to get into Staten Island (however, I paid $13 coming in from the north). Technically, there is no overnight parking here, but... I did park overnight for one night and was fine.

Occupy Wall Street! Ra Ra Rabble Rabble!
Hope these guys do some good with all the donations they've been given.

The rebuilding of the World Trade Center. The 9/11 memorial just opened up. It is still difficult to get tickets at the moment, but it should get easier after awhile.

Way cool looking skyscraper in the middle!

Time Square! The lights here are unreal!

I wonder if I could get my picture up on one of these billboards...

Bingo! If you buy something in American Eagle and show the guy on the 2nd floor your receipt (or someone's elses if you're cheap...), you can get you and any friends up on a Time Square billboard. It rotates through about every 5 minutes and you will show up for 15 seconds. It will rotate through until enough new people do it you are bumped off. Since not many people seemed to know about this, I showed up 3 times while I was there and was probably up there several more after that. The masses had flocked to another billboard (Forever 21) which took a blurry picture of the crowd every now and then and showed it for a few seconds. If you have a sharp eye you can pick out the general area you are in...

The Empire State Building shot from Grand Central.

Inside Grand Central!

If you take a right from the main entrance, you can find this domed area that, when you and a friend stand in opposing corners and talk to each other, you can hear them like they are standing right there next to you!

The view from Central Park. An oasis in the middle of chaos.

It truly is a spectacular park. With everything from softball fields, to running trails, to bike lanes on all the roads going through, to boulder formations to enjoy a picnic, to a simply nice, tree covered walk through the middle.

And there's even a castle!

Which comes with this spectacular view!

And you can even find some semblance of solitude in the right place!

Colombia University had quite a nice campus, however, because of the surrounding neighborhood, requires an ID badge to get into any of the buildings, thus preventing me from wandering around where I should(n't).

So what did I like about the city? Oddly enough, it had the best, cheapest food I've found as well as the most expensive! I was able to get excellent deals on very tasty food from the street vendors (try chicken and lamb over rice, I got it for $4, look to pay $5-7) and in the right areas, excellent NY pizza could be had for $2/slice (Mama's in Harlem on 106th, just a block or two from Central Park). And around Colombia University were some of the best happy hour specials I've encountered yet. So when you're thinking about eating in Time Square, think again, and head off the beaten path a little bit and you just might find better food for a half to a third of the price.

What else? Be prepared to walk. All of the concrete surfaces can even wear out the feet of someone who has no problem hiking all day without rest. The subway system is great here and not badly priced at $2.50 a ride, but walking from place to place is where you really get to see the city and get a vibe for the atmosphere. People that live here really are quite friendly, just like everywhere else. However, they have a shield around them that has to be broken through first and it takes some skill, the right location (people really don't like to talk to strangers on the subway, but a ferry or a bar or even Central Park is OK at times), and a little luck.

On the ferry ride back, don't forget to look for a beautiful sunset over Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty!

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