New York City - Day One

New York Travel Blog

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On my first day in New York the first thing I had to get done was to switch hostels. I had booked at Tone on Lex for the rest of the nights but they didn't have the first night available when I made the booking so I went with Jazz on the Park for the first night.

I got up and had the basic breakfast downstairs just before it closed. After a quick shower I packed my stuff together and checked out of Jazz on the Park. I was hardly there for long at all but it seemed like a perfectly fine dorm hostel to stay at. I went outside with my bags and hailed down a taxi to take me to Tone on Lex (actually East 94th St but near the Lexington Avenue corner). The taxi was just as I had pictured it, except they have a touch screen display on the back of the front seats. The screen played a short news bulletin, then some ads, and then had Alex Trebek do some easy Jeopardy questions for the taxi passengers! Awesome.

I checked in to Tone on Lex and then made my way out to go see the city! The weather this time of year is hot, sunny, and a little bit humid, although not nearly on the scale of where I was in Colombia. My only actual plan for the day was to do a free Central Park walking tour at 2:30pm, so I had about 3 hours to spare before that. I walked up to Fifth Avenue and then walked all the way down Fifth until the end of Central Park at 59th Street. Along the way I passed the Guggenheim Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which are both very impressive buildings.

At the corner of 5th Av and 59th St is the famous Park Hotel, and across the road is the new fandangled Apple store with its transparent cube design. I walked in to the Apple store out of curiosity. The staircase going down into the store below is a constant flow of people, and inside the store it was packed with people walking around, asking questions, and looking at the display models. I was mostly curious about the iPad I had never seen in person before so I spent about 10 minutes playing with one. The thing is freaking awesome and I must buy one when I am no longer a poor traveller (woe is me).

I left the store and was a bit hungry so I decided to do the tourist thing and get a hot dog from one of the many stands in the area. It cost me $3 and it tasted just as anyone would expect it does. Box ticked.

I walked further down 5th Avenue past some incredibly expensive retail stores, and also past Trump Tower, which is actually a lot more egotistically designed around the man than I thought it could be. I got a sandwich from a cafe and walked back to Central Park and ate it on one of the park benches while watching the people go by. I then walked up to the Dairy in Central Park where the walking tour started.

There were about eight of us in the group and we walked around for about an hour and a half as the guide told us lots of big and small details about the park. It was a great introduction to it's history. After it was over I walked around the park a bit more before it started to rain and I thought I would go back to the hostel for a bit. I got on the subway at 68th St and bought a 7 day unlimited ride card for $27. The subway stations look as dark and dingy as they are usually depicted, and you even see rats running along the tracks. The trains themselves though are pretty good, at least on that line. They are clean and have informative announcements about where to get off, etc. Already I can imagine the repetitiveness to New Yorkers of the cheery announcement every time the doors close... 'stand clear of the closing doors, please!'.

Back at the hostel I did what all old people (27+) do and took an afternoon nap. I went out the back of the hostel and used the net on my laptop for a while, and talked to some of the other people staying in the hostel. I met a girl called Paula from Brazil who was leaving the next day. We decided to go to Times Square to check it out at night.

We took the subway from 96th St to Grand Central Station. The station is really massive and is heavily decorated with stone and metal walls and art on the big ceiling of the famous main area. We walked around it for a bit and then walked down to Times Square. Along the way we looked at the front of the New York Public Library, and also inside Bryant Park. At Times Square we were suitably impressed with the enormous array of gigantic electronic billboards advertising everything that is possibly consumable. I wanted a cheap dinner so I thought I would see just how big a large McDonalds meal is. I ordered that and then we went up on to the red stairs in the middle of Times Square and watched the bustle of everyone going around. Down below was a youth church choir singing, and just as we were walking down the stairs to leave a man got on his knees and proposed to his girlfriend, who said yes, and everyone in the near area cheered and clapped for them. I then took part in some serious extortion by getting the Colombian Pesos that I forgot to get rid of in Colombia changed for US Dollars at an outrageous rate.

We then walked up to the Rockefeller Center, which we discovered has many famous landmarks, then St Patrick's Cathedral, the Waldorf Astoria, and then back to Grand Central Station to get the subway back to the hostel. It was about 1:30am by then so I just went to bed.
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New York
photo by: herman_munster