MGWeb Travel Blog

New York City - 6 April - 12 April 2012

May 02, 2012United States
It was a challenge for me to get into the USA, thanks only to my ignorance. When I was bording the plane from Europe, the kind air hostess says "do you have a visa?", I say of course that I don't, she says well you are supposed to apply online 72 hours before. She rushes me to the internet cafe, logs me into the website and walks me through the process. God be praised, it accepted me automatically there and then so I managed to hop onto my flight. The troubles didn't end there. On arrival the customs officer wanted to see my return or onward flight ticket, which I didn't have printed out, and it took me an hour or so being held up in a side room until I finally talked my way into the country. 
I stayed at a hostel in Brooklyn, which wasn't by choice since all the hostels in Manhattan were fully booked for easter weekend and I didn't have the sense to have booked far in advance. It was a nice place but of course out of the way, and expensive - I've paid less for hotel rooms. On my first day I took the metro to High Street, Brooklyn and started walking across the Brooklyn Bridge.
You can also see the tiny Statue of Liberty from the bridge.
When I reached Manhattan I started walking North with no real purpose, except to see what downtown Manhattan was like, and to eventually get to Times Square. I came across some chalk drawers:
Later on I stumbled onto Madison Square Park and saw a long queue for a cafe that presumably had only just opened.
You can also see the Empire State Building from there.
Now I do consider myself an avid Subway fan (the sandwich restaurant) and was intrigued that they offer pizzas, something I haven't come across in Europe or Australia. 
When I reached Times Square, I was of course impressed as I'm sure most people would be. The Hard Rock Cafe, I had a peek inside to see what it was like. Pretty cool.
I checked out my map and saw that I was only a few blocks from Rockefeller Plaza, so I beelined to it. 
Now some of you may be familiar with the TV show "30 Rock", and some may not be, but if you know the show then you would know that the GE building is quite awesome, and even more awesome once you see it for yourself.
Inside there are the ground and 1st floor which are made up of restaurants and a huge NBC (National Broadcasting Company) merchandise store. The NBC make plenty of good shows such as 30 Rock, The Office, Community, House, Saturday Night Live, and back in the day Friends. I was so tempted to buy some of the Community and 30 Rock shirts they had for sale, really cool.
I noticed that you could do an NBC tour, and also could pay to get the elevator to the top of the GE building, but I decided since I was in New York for 6 days I would take the time to do it another day. I carried on with my self guided walking tour and headed up the decadent 5th Avenue. Here's the Trump Tower (one of a few of Donald Trump's buildings in New York). 
Inside, just to show off a bit, is a golden motorcycle.
Outside there was a big Apple store, I went down and had a look around and was amused by all the Apple geeks lining up with their Macbooks and iPads for either tech support or whichever tutorial they were going to run.
I noticed an NYPD SUV. Look closely at the picture, see if you can see what I saw.
In case you missed it, there's the car key on the radio antenna. I could have just got myself a cop car, no problem.
By now I had reached the truly massive Central Park. I visited it twice in my time there, and I didn't even see the entire thing. That first afternoon it was a fantastic day, and I spent an hour or two just sitting, taking it all in, catching peices of people's conversations which is something that I like to do for a little while in countries I visit. On a day like that though, most conversations were about boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, wives, and romance in general. Can't say I was surprised. The men did also talk about sport though.
I walked up to the reservior and got this pic with the Warner building in the back (the one with twin buildings).
I got back onto 5th Avenue and stumbled upon the Gugenheim Museum which is pretty much a modern art museum, although with some quite differing exhibitions than that you would find in a Museum of Modern Art.
I spent a couple hours in there and was impressed, and would recommend it to anyone with even a small interest in art and culture.
So that was my first day, and I must say I walked for something like 7 hours straight so my legs were quite dead by the end of the day.
I met some cool people at the hostel. A couple of Mexicans, and three Argentians. I later met up with the Argentians in Miami Beach, and we had many a wild night, but back to New York. So the next day myself and my new amigos went down to south manhattan to catch a boat tour which went under the Brooklyn Bridge and around the Statue of Liberty. Here's me with the Mexicans.
We had a good view of the new World Trade Center buildings that are to be done within the next year or so.
My token pic with the good statue.
Here's a view of Manhattan on the left and Brooklyn on the right.
We disembarked and checked out Ground Zero - where the World Trade Centers used to stand. Afterwards we walked across to nearby Wall Street.
I looked around for the Brass Bull but couldn't find it, later I learned it's a few streets down. Oh well, maybe next time right? 
All around Manhattan are piers, there's something like a hundred of them. Some of them are commericial, some have great dining concourses like Pier 17, and some don't have anything on them, except maybe a seasonal flower show or small show or gig.
So I did head back to the GE building and did the NBC tour, which was actually pretty sweet. There were actual NBC pages like in 30 Rock, and we were shown some studios where Bill O'Reilly does his show, and Dr Who, and Saturday Night Live. Very interesting as I hadn't seen a studio before. I was sad to learn that 30 Rock isn't filmed there, except for the live special episode they did a couple years back. 
After the tour I took the elevator to "The Top of the Rock" and had excellent views of New York City. Here's Central Park to the north.
And the Empire State Building to the south.
To my great pleasure I found out the International Car Show just happened to be on that week, and saw plenty of interesting cars and even the flying car that was on Top Gear recently. 
My favourite car is the Chevy Camaro.
I found this quite amusing, basically you stand on this spot and you see on the big screen a car doing donuts around you.
One night I met up with a Swiss guy and we went up the Empire State Building. I decided to go at night since I'd seen New York by day, but not by night. It was really awesome.
As was Times Square by night.
And that pretty much more or less is my time in New York. I did look into seeing a Broadway Musical, but they were about $150 and I didn't really have a budget for that. There was even a musical created by Matt Stone and Trey Parker which was the one I would have gone to.
Next up is Miami Beach.

Written by Mark G