Thoughts From Places: New York City (2010)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

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My Trip to NYC

Times Square at night!
What can I say about New York City that hasn't been said before?

Since I became a hard core bookworm I have fantasized about living in New York. It has so much literary history, amazing bookshops, so many fantastic publishing houses, and countless book signings. It is THE place to be if you love books.

However, when I went to NYC in May 2010 I didn’t get to do a single bookish thing. This is because I went with my high school’s Italian Club (I don’t speak Italian; the story behind me getting into this club is a very long story. If you’re interested in learning it just let me know). Every year the Italian Club would go to a city that had a Little Italy and my senior year they chose New York. To fund-raise for the trip I sold countless candy bars and begged for money from my parents. It was well worth it for the weekend I spent there.

I went with one of my best friends, Anne, and we had to get up at an ungodly hour of too early (I don’t remember the actual time but it was EARLY) so that we could get to school on time to make sure we were on the bus. I remember us all being way to cheery for that time in the morning but we were all too excited.

Me and Anne in Times Square!

We got to NYC earlier than expected so our driver took us for a small tour of Manhattan. We then went to Carmine’s Italian Restaurant on Broadway (they had the best chicken parm I have ever eaten). After that our driver did something probably illegal and dropped us off in Times Square so we could take pictures. It was dark and rainy but still amazing. After that we went to an Off-Broadway play at the Abingdon Theatre called “Weekend with a Killer.” It was produced by a friend of our Italian Teacher so we got tickets cheap. This is the only reason we went and I am positive that if our teacher had known what it was about he never would have agree, for it was very inappropriate for high schoolers and especially our teacher’s little kids who had come with us. I am sure that if I were to see that play today it would be fine and interesting, but I think it went a little over all of our heads at that time. After that experience we went to Fairfield, NJ to our hotel.


Ground Zero
First thing in the morning we went to visit Ground Zero. In 2010 there still wasn’t anything huge on the site. There was the memorial wall with the names of the victims was there, however, protected by scaffolding that was put up for the construction. We were allowed in the Millennium Hilton to it better. It was an extremely foggy day, so much so that while I was looking at the site all I could thing about was how even if the Twin Towers were still there we wouldn’t have been able to see them. I kept imagining that maybe the ghosts of them were still there and the only reason we couldn’t see them was the heavy fog. Being on that site was a surreal experience, one I will never forget.

Next we had some adventures in Battery Park and took a ferry to Liberty and Ellis Islands. I have decided to separate these thoughts from this post because I have a lot to say about them. (It should be posted on BWE on 5-7-14 and will be linked here as soon as it is available.)

After the Battery Park adventures, we went to the South Street Seaport, where we had lunch and did some shopping. There were a lot of ships and a nice view of the Brooklyn Bridge from the waterfront. The most exciting and memorable part of this leg of our journey was the one legged pigeon I saw. I really wanted to get a picture of this bird because I knew that our best friend Rachel would love to see him, but Anne stopped me from taking a picture for whatever reason. (Turns out Rachel DID want to see him and was disappointed that she couldn’t.  I will never let Anne live down the fact that she denied Rachel that right. That was not the last time I would see a one-legged pigeon, however, because a few months later I saw a stuffed one at the Smithsonian. I took a picture of that one and sent it to both Anne and Rachel!)

Little Italy

We then went to Chinatown and Little Italy. Most of Chinatown had a lot of scaffolding that we had to dodge in and out of so we couldn’t see much. We did have a lot of fun trying to merge into oncoming pedestrian traffic though. In Little Italy we had dinner at Puglia’s Restaurant where we at the most amazing garlic bread we had ever eaten. We still talk about that bread, even years later, that’s how good that bread was. After dinner a lot of us stopped at La Bella Ferrara Bakery at our teacher’s urging because he said it was the best in Little Italy (he was right, the cannoli was amazing!).

We ended our second day in New York by going to the Empire State Building’s 86th Floor Observatory. It was here that I had my only slightly literary moment in NYC: I checked the elevator for the 600th floor to see if I could go to Olympus like in Percy Jackson! However, since I could barely handle the elevator ride up 86 floors I probably would have had a mental breakdown on the ride to the 600th (I was afraid of elevators and hid behind people during the small ride because of it). While staring out at the beautifully lighted city spread out before me I couldn’t help thinking about how much I wanted to get a really good picture of it before my camera died. I am not lying. I had no thoughts up there other than getting a picture and concentrating on not dropping my camera off the side of the building and how much that would suck. I had no profound thoughts up there because I am afraid of heights and I really just wanted to say “did that, survived, and got the picture to prove it, now let me back down.”
View of NYC from the 86th floor of the Empire State Building

The next morning we went to the NBC-TV Studios and stood outside so we could be on the Today show! Then from 9am to 10am we were scheduled to do some shopping on Fifth Avenue. Yeah, that’s great except somehow none of the people planning our trip realized that 98% of the stores on Fifth Avenue open at 10am on Sundays, so we were only able to go to the Apple Store and walk around bits of Trump Tower (I will never get over the fact that I couldn’t go to the American Girl Place because of shoddy planning). However, I did eat a legitimate NYC soft pretzel from a vendor near Central Park so it wasn’t a complete waste of time. We then had a tour of the NBC studios including the SNL set (which honestly was not that exciting because at the time I didn’t really like any of NBC’s shows (still don’t like SNL)).

Our last adventure in NYC was an exploration of Times Square (in the daylight this time). We went to the M&M World, stopped in Toys R’ Us to see the Ferris wheel, and some of the guys dragged us into Billabong. We saw the famous naked cowboy and the 2010 New Year’s ball. I loved seeing at the gigantic posters for the musicals on Broadway and current blockbuster movies! I loved the hustle and bustle and just observing all the LIFE that was happening around us.

When it was over and we marched back to the bus that would take us home to Buffalo, I was both sad and relieved. So much had been packed into two and a half days that I just needed time to think about everything that had happened. Before this trip to NYC I was contemplating moving there, but now it’s official. I really, really want to live there for a while. There is so much more to see and do! I really hope I get to go back and experience as much as I can.