The city that never sleeps

Letter 45

…and neither did I. This captivating place worked its way under my skin just as I expected and made me fall in love with it just as many other places have done. But New York City is different. It’s an exceptionally special city.

I arrived in New York City at 2:30pm on Tuesday the 6th of September 2016; and I will never ever forget this moment. The moment I first stepped foot on a busy Manhattan sidewalk, buildings towering over me and new sights and smells engulfing my senses.

“Drinking coffee at the bus stop, buildings hanging over me. Can’t see the sky line or the high life, this is where it’s supposed to be.”

That’s a quote from Lucy Spraggon’s song ‘London Bound’, and the whole song describes my feelings in New York and for most of America. Listen here (it’s an awesome song).

The first thing I noticed in New York is how easy it is to navigate. Within a couple of minutes of disembarking my megabus I was on the subway heading uptown to 103rd Street to my hostel. The grid system of numbered streets and avenues makes it super simple to find your way – even for someone with zero sense of direction. I stayed in a Hostelling International hostel and loved it. Such a cool place! I wrote a review on the hostel here.

For my first afternoon and evening in the Big Apple I spent time settling in, getting the lay of the land and buying some food for my short stay. I sat beside a lake people and rat watching in Central Park for a while. The rats were far more interesting. I found it so peaceful and such a contrast to the bustling streets of skyscrapers that peeped above the trees in the near distance.


After a fabulously long night’s sleep on the comfiest bed of the summer I was ready to tackle New York. I had big plans. I woke at 6am and wondered into the park to check out the sunrise which was honestly highly disappointing due to the gloomy sky, but I still enjoyed a quiet sit down and read my kindle. Meet a nice copper too. I then walked all the way to Times Square – not for the faint-hearted. I stopped off for a smoothie for energy and it took about an hour all in all. I picked up my New York Pass (which I think I’ll discuss more in another post) and my Big Bus ticket and climbed aboard. The bus took me down to Battery Park at the foot of the Wall Street district and I grabbed my ticket to visit Miss Liberty. The boat trip was good but the whole thing took much longer than I wanted; we waited around a lot while they crammed as many people as they could onto the boat but the actual journey to the statue took about 10 minutes. I didn’t disembark because I was time conscious but the view of the islands and the Manhatten skyline was lovely. The boat then went on to Ellis Island which would actually have been my preference to see but once again I didn’t have time to check it out. This is a recurring theme to my trip in NYC.

 After jumping off the boat (onto land never fear) I headed to Soho to start a walking tour! The walking tour took me through Soho and Little Italy and culminating in China Town. 3 contrasting places, and some of my favourite parts of the city. The walking tour was part of the NY pass but I probably could have done a free one had I not had the pass. Either way the guide was lovely and very animated about his stomping ground and I learnt a lot about these quirky areas. If I had longer I would have spent more time wandering around the terraced streets and galleries of Soho and the wonderfully smelling restaurants of Little Italy.

I finished my walking tour Chinatown and took a short walk to the most important place I visited in New York City. The 9/11 museum and memorial. I planned to visit for a short while, walk around the museum and pay my respects in at the memorial. I ended up spending 3 hours walking around the museum, taking in all of the horrifying images, sounds and objects and then sitting for an hour outside in the afternoon sunshine absorbing the memorial around me. It’s an incredible place that so delicately remembers 2,996 people who died that day, 15 years ago. It really must be visited when in New York and you’ll spend longer there than you think. It was beautiful and heart-wrenching at the same time.

I got the Big Bus back to Times Square (I aged significantly on the bus which took an hour and a half in the peak time traffic) but the route was great and so was the guide. I finished the day with a stroll around the Square and dinner with some camp friends.

A truly magnificent day in the Big City.

From Lou


PS. If you made it to the end of this monumental post – congratulations. I don’t think I would have. It’s now been almost a month since I was even in NYC (scary!) and this letter has been being written, very slowly, for about 3 weeks. It’s been a hectic time of jet lag, moving back up to Edinburgh, starting the 2nd year of my course and sorting my life out a bit. There hasn’t been much time for my letters. I will hopefully get back to it now though as I still have 2 more days of New York to share and all the stuff that’s happened since I’ve been back! What a crazy month! Thank you for reading. xo

PPS. Happy October one and all!

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