The final stop on my West to East Coast US adventure was New York City. It was my turn to be the tour guide as I was meeting up with a few NYC freshers – as I visited NYC about five years ago and covered all the main tourist attractions, the idea was for me to pick and choose the best bits. The whole reason I chose October to go on this particular trip was so that I could see Central Park in the autumn and get all the glorious “fall” colours to photograph. Little did I know it was still going to be warm and later summer in the city and unfortunately, New York was looking really green! So I failed on that mission but it will be a good excuse for me to go another time….in November at the earliest!
I opted to stay in the Lower East side this time round as mid-town is fine if you want to be in the centre of the tourist sites for a first trip but it is also INTENSE. I wanted to experience a bit more of the real New York and chose The Hotel on Rivington (THOR), which was in an achingly hip part of town, right round the corner from a subway stop and walking distance to Little Italy, Chinatown, Nolita etc. The location was a perfect base and reminded me of home in London as I live on the edge of Shoreditch – this has the same hip but slightly edgy vibe to it although everyone did seem to be well under the age of 30! The best bit for me was the great view of the Manhattan skyline from our room so we got to see a spectacular sunset every night which you can’t tire of, especially with the Freedom Tower in view too.
On the first night, I thought it best to get Times Square over with. Bang in the centre of mid-town, this is my idea of hell as it is full on, in your face advertising and bright lights everywhere leaving you in no doubt that you are in the heart of the world’s largest consumer market. I guess it is the equivalent of Piccadilly Circus or Leicester Square in London but the density of the city makes it all the more intense. There is nothing I like about it to be honest so we went, saw the lights, took a picture and evacuated. Despite all my years of travelling and claiming to be a street-wise Londoner, I also got conned out of US$10 when I posed for a picture with Mickey and Minnie. I genuinely thought it was free! And then when the masks came off and they insisted on payment, while holding me firmly by the coat, I realised I had made a classic rookie error and had absolutely no change so a tenner it was! We had a quick walk around the Rockefeller city and then headed back to the safety of the Lower East Side.