January 7th to 15th 2011
Friday, January 7th
Plane tickets and accommodation is cheap this time of the year. So a week in New York is suitable. Then I will cope with the weather as it is.
I get up early in Aarhus and take bus no 913X to Billund. My flight leaves at 11.30 for Amsterdam. Here I change for another one bound for New York. I arrive at JFK at 4 pm local time. But I’m not yet there. There’s still 3½ hours to go before I arrive at my hotel. First there’s the line for Immigration, then I have to pick up my luggage, then another line for customs. I can’t find a Super-Shuttle to Downtown, so I take the air train to Howard Beach train station instead. From there I catch the “A-train” to Downtown, New York. But I don’t get off at the right station, so I must get off at 14th street and then backtrack down to Fulton Street. Now there’s a short walk to Holiday Inn at Nassau Street. I have booked a room – cheap – via Priceline.com. And then they even upgrade me to an Executive Suite – no. 1305. The “Executive”-part seems to mean that there’s an iron in my room. It’s dinnertime in the cafe at the hotel, some football on the TV – and then I go to bed.
Saturday, January 8th
Sleeping is good, but not for to long. Because I have to be at Father Dempsey Square in Greenwich Village at 10 am. That’s where my morning photo walk with photowalkabouts.com starts. A local photographer is the guide, which leads the small group through the streets of Greenwich Village. We get to see the most picturesque places and get some good photo-tips and the way. At each photo stop we have 10 minutes to take the pictures we want. The tour ends in Washington Park after 2½ hour.
After lunch its shopping-time. I have to buy some photo-gear to help me save the money I have used for the trip. So I get 2 new lenses for my camera at J&R. A 50 mm that is good in dark conditions and a masculine 70-300 mm zoom, so I can take close-ups of what’s going on at the moon. I also get myself an IPad. You have to keep up.
The gear must be tested immediately. So I head for Brooklyn Bridge where it’s getting dark and it’s snowing. This is perfect conditions for the 50 mm. And Brooklyn Bridge just happens to be the most beautiful bridge in the world.
I spend the evening in Madison Square Garden watching the Professional Bull Riding. That’s something where tough cowboys sit on crazy bulls, and try to stay on for 8 seconds. It’s a mixture of sport and circus – mostly circus – and they do a lot to entertain the crowd.
Finally I head back to my hotel by subway, where I get to bed at around midnight.
Sunday, January 9th
I am having breakfast at my local Diner – eggs, bacon, hash browns – and as much coffee as I want. This is real New York, and is a good start for the tourist-activities today.
I start off by taking the subway to 14th street. From here there’s a short walk to Meatpacking District. “The High Line” starts here. It used to be an elevated train-line, but has now been turned into a park or footpath. It runs through old industrial areas, but with nice building around it. Old industrial buildings don’t have to be ugly at all. On the High Line there are some art-things as well. For instance, there’s a place where there’s a bell ringing every minute. At 1 minute past each hour you can hear the bell from the artist’s bar – at 2 minutes past it’s the starting bell from The Aquaduct – the local racecourse. The High Mile ends at a closed gate in Chelsea. They are working on an extension, but it’s not ready yet.
In Chelsea I head down to Chelsea Piers for at a round of golf. Here you have the opportunity to practice a little. You can hit the golf balls at a driving range sticking into Hudson River. 25 $ for 90 shots – and it is ok to try to hit the small car that collects the golf balls on the driving range.
Lunch is at a local Chinese place in Chelsea, before I take the subway to Central Park. Here I do what most people do – take a long stroll in the snow-covered park. At 4 pm I head back to Holiday Inn. The rest of the day is used watching the NFL Playoffs on TV – only interrupted by a trip to Papa Johns to pick up a pizza.
Monday, January 10th
Breakfast at the Diner, and then I head off for today’s sight no. 1. That’s a tour at the Federal Reserve Bank, just opposite my hotel. The tour is free and boring, but you do get deep into the cellar, to take a look at the goldbars. As a souvenir you get some money – unfortunately cut into pieces and therefore pretty useless.
Next I head to the subway for at trip to Bleecker Street. From here I stroll around East Village. I have read a lot about this area. The area was known as the place for sub-culture back in 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. It’s a nice area to visit – a bit off the usual tourist route. I also walk through Tompkins Square Park. A huge number of homeless were thrown out of the park in 1988. By the way – how do you throw a homeless out? Back in these days East Village was dangerous with junkies and crime. It’s not so anymore. Now it’s very peaceful and it’s pretty expensive to be living here.
I continue south from East Village to Lower East Side. It reminds a bit about East Village, but doesn’t look that expensive. I find a local restaurant in an alley for lunch. It turns out to be a trendy place – and is even mentioned as such in my Local Planet Guide. But my fish’n’chips is ok anyway. Then I continue my walk around the streets, where no other tourists seem to be visiting. There are no special sights around – just an interesting neighborhood, with nice buildings and a normal life going on. This is the New York that I like.
I continue south towards Financial District – and passing Chinatown on the way. After 5 hours of walking I’m back at the hotel. The sun is shining, there are no clouds, but its dammed cold – so a cup of hot coffee at room no. 1305 makes good. A small coffee-machine is of course standard equipment at my Executive Suite.
I don’t don anything in the evening, except heading for dinner at my Diner at Nassau Street. I am a familiar customer at the place now.
Tuesday, January 11th
Breakfast is at my usual place. From here a short walk to Century 21 to bye footwear at reasonable prices. It’s way cheaper than in Denmark. Century 21 is a huge outlet just opposite Ground Zero.
Then I head down to South Street Seaport. This is a tourist trap of no interest, but I have to go there to buy cheap theater-tickets at TKTS. I get one for “American Idiot” tonight.
Then I head up Midtown with the subway. My first visit is Grand Central Station. I have never been here before. It’s very nice and stylish. They don’t do train stations like this anymore.
Then I head on to Public Library. That is nice and stylish as well. They don’t do libraries like this anymore too.
Then my plan was to visit the International Center of Photography – to take a look at Capa’s so-called original photos from the Spanish civil war, and to see another exhibition called The Mexican Suitcase – with more Capa-pictures. Unfortunately it’s close, because they are setting up a new exhibition. The person at the information-desk can see my problem, when I tell her that I have come all the way from Denmark, just to see this – but she can’t help me. And I can’t wait for the re-opening on Saturday.
Instead I head on to Rockefeller Center and up to “Top of the Rocks”. That’s a viewing platform with much better views than Empire State Building – and much less crowded. You can see Central Park and uptown from one side – and Empire State Building and downtown from the other.
Now I return for my hotel, picking up a Pizza at Papa John’s on the way. Like at the Diner – they know me as well.
After a nap I head back for Midtown, 44th Street, St. James Theater and “American Idiot”. That’s a musical – or rather a Rock opera, based on the career of Green Day. Great sound, great light, great acting – but first of all great music. I haven’t really noticed Green Day before tonight. Now I have to check them out. I am impressed. On the way back to the hotel, it starts to snow. They have promised a snowstorm during the night. It will get interesting to see what I will wake up to tomorrow.
Wednesday, January 12th
It’s been snowing all night, but not as much as expected. So I put on my new winter-footwear and head out. Another day of tourism is ahead.
The walk of the day is Broadway – or part of it – the stretch from Times Square and down to my hotel – approximately 7 km.
Broadway sounds like something classy. It is – in some parts – but other parts are more ordinary. In the Times Square area it’s classy but further down it’s just an ordinary road passing through the neighborhoods of Manhattan. You also see different parks on the way.
I start at Times Square with theaters and fancy shops. Then I head on to Herald Square. This is where you will find Macy’s. Further on down to Flatiron District, named after the triangular building Flatiron. Some say it looks like that – I'm not sure about that. Here you will also find Madison Square Park, full of people with their dogs. There’s a huge number of dogs in New York. They keep big dogs in small flats – and several of them.
Further on down to Union Square. More people – more dogs. People just remove the snow from the benches, and sit down to enjoy today sunlight. Then you pass Greenwich Village, where the really wealthy people live – and New York University. Then it’s the neighborhoods of Noho, Soho and Tribeca before you arrive at Financial District. That’s where I am staying.
The long walk calls for at break at the hotel. The TV is full of news of the memorial service for 6 people that was killed in a shooting in Tucson, where also a congresswoman was hurt. They discuss how anyone can get so crazy to do a thing like that – but no one discuss why such a lunatic can go into a shop and buy an automatic weapon.
The evening trip is a popular classic when you are in New York. Down Nassau Street to the Staten Island Ferry. Then a free, cold and windy trip back and forth to Staten Island. Dinner is Duck in peanut sauce from a local Thai take-away. It’s yummy. The take-away in New York is a little more interesting than those in Aarhus..
Thursday, January 13th
No activities are planned for the day. So I take the subway to 42nd street, and head down to Hudson River. You could try are sightseeing boat-tour with Circle Line. But we are not very much low season, so there’s 1½ hour until the next one. I don’t want to wait for that. Instead I walk through the area of Hells Kitchen back to Times Square. One part of Hells Kitchen is small businesses – the other is restaurants catering for the theater-crowds in Midtown. At Times Square it’s all tourists. I take the pictures you have to take, and head on for 5th Avenue and all the expensive shops. I am not going shopping there – but you can also take a look at all the designer-shops selling stuff without price-tags. At 53rd street I go down into the subway again and return with the E-line to World Trade Center. From there it’s a small walk to my hotel.
After a short break I decide to go down to South Street Seaport to see a photo exhibition by Alfred Stieglitz. He took a lot of pictures in New York. But I don’t have much success with my photo exhibition. This one is closed as well. Instead I hang out for a few hours in Downtown. Financial District is closing down for the day. Within an hour or so the area changes from a busy district to a pretty dull area with few people on the streets. But I do get to see the sights – The Wall Street Stock Exchange and the Federal Hall, which housed the first parliament in the United States and where George Washington signed in as the first president. Both places are highly secured. You can’t even get close to the Stock Exchange, unless you work there.
In the evening I head for Madison Square Garden for the second time on this trip. Tonight I am there to listen to some loud music and commercial breaks, now and then interrupted by a hockey game. New York Rangers and Vancouver Canucks are playing now and then. Rangers win by 1-0 – a very low score for a hockey-game, but the goaltenders had a great evening.
Then it’s back to the hotel and back to bed.
Friday, January 14th / Saturday, January 15th
It is my final day in New York. I wake up late. A tough day of travel lies ahead. But first it’s time for the final sightseeing of the trip. This takes place in the local neighborhood. I walk through Financial District down to Battery Park on the southern tip of Manhattan. Then up north along a small park at Hudson River up to the World Financial Center. That’s a mix between a shopping-mall and some office-buildings. From there I head back to the hotel.
If I have to sum of New York from this trip, it’s for sure that the financial crisis has hit the city. You see more homeless people and people holding a sign showing the way to a nearby shop, than last time I was in New York.
At 2 pm I head for the subway to Penn Station. Then I take the train to Newark International Airport. Delta Airlines leave for Amsterdam at 7.30 – one hour late. But we have tailwind, and the trip back is the fastest I have experienced so far. 6½ hours and we land in Schiphol, so I have no trouble catching the plane to Billund ad 9.40. In Billund I head for the 913X to Aarhus – and the final stretch is a local no. 8 to Aarhus Lower West Side.