I’ve finally finished my Sydney – New York series. Here I cover other bits of the New York stay, a little bit of LA, and some random thoughts on the entire experience.
In case you missed it, I have the older posts here:
- how it began
- part 1 Airlines (and legroom), customs, transfers and hotels
- part 2 Grand Central, Times Square, Food and Coffee and others
- part 3 Central Park, Buskers Museums, Empire State, Highline and others
Let’s start the blog.
SOHO, the shopping district of NYC. No trip is quite complete without swinging past Soho to check for any bargains or the latest threads.
What were my impressions of this place? Well having been here before, it’s not completely new to me. And like last time, it reminded me a lot like Oxford Street in Paddington or Chapel Street in Melbourne but on a larger scale.
You have brand, you have the eccentric and yes, you have choices. And choice is a very good thing. What I found a tad strange was the lack of options to sit and have a break (yes, like a cafe which I touched on in one of my earlier posts). There seemed to only be a couple of options these on the main drag in Broadway St, which was packed on a cold wet winter day (and it was pouring rain on this particular day so it was quite challenging trying to find a place). The only other place to take a break it appeared was under the comfort of a street vendor umbrella.
In terms of prices, there were a few items cheaper and there were others that were a little bit more expensive than Sydney.
The most eye-catching place for me was the impressive Converse shop:
Great imagination of the US flag built with Chuck Taylor’s, right?
Snap courtesy of this site (check out Q-Tip, Albert from The Strokes and Dr J in the opening).
And on the rain went. It followed us all the way to Ground Zero and it just would not relent. AND it made the entire Ground Zero experience a little bit more solemn and, kinda eerie – for there was a misty haze that formed around the place.
In my last post I referred to the infamous selfies which seems to be the rage these days. Now I can understand why people do it in museums to a degree; you want to show the world that you’re next to a famous painting or a piece of art. But I am not so sure selfies should really apply to a place like Ground Zero where people pour in to remember the victims of the attack (and there were a couple of people doing this). But I’m not about to get on a high moral horse and just leave it by saying that I respect that people can do as they please in this world.
Now unfortunately I lost the snaps I had of Ground Zero due to an unfortunate accident. I can however describe the place as surreal, mystical and haunting. It was absolutely pouring on this day, and there was the aforementioned mist that formed just above where the monuments were. That and the downpour around me is a memory I will never forget.
And I would just like to add that the memorial was fitting and well-made. The guys that designed the memorial did a really good job with the waterfalls surrounded by the names of the victims.
Here’s a snap from The Atlantic:
This was my first white Christmas (even though technically the snow didn’t arrive until after Christmas). And let me just say that I enjoyed every minute of it!
We had 10 days in NYC and the snow didn’t arrive til the very last day. In hindsight, the snow at the tail end of the trip could not have worked out any better as I did see how it could ground a city. Walking around was much more trying, traffic creeped to a crawl, and of course the cold just really bit down hard making it generally unpleasant when your walking around.
But part of the reason to visit was to see the snow. And snow it did – here’s some of the highlights:
That’s Times Square 15 minutes after the snow came pouring down. People cleared the place quick smart as no one it seemed wanted to be outdoors during this time.
The very next day since we got stranded in NYC (flights were cancelled) and so it was the perfect day to check out Central Park.
It was stunning to see Central Park transform into a winter wonderland of sorts with the ground and trees covered with the nice soft stuff. Kids brought out their toboggan, and New Yorkers started ice skating on a rink (I could not remember if this was a pond the day before).
This will definitely be the start of some holidays in the snow as I did feel short-changed with time.
Oh, notice the big snow boots and over-sized jacket. I had a fair few layers underneath to keep myself warm. It was bloody COLD!
On the way back, there was a one day stop over in LA due to the cancellation of flights from New York and the timing by which we arrived in LA (arrived in LA at close to midnight).
The opportunity presented itself to do a one day of LA and so we boarded a tour bus that drove us around the Venice Beach, Santa Monica, Hollywood Walk of Fame, Farmers Market and other places close by.
Had an opportunity to grab a quick video of some guys skating around Venice Beach.
I’ve been to LA before before so this was literally a pit stop. One of the things that I remember LA for was the transport; you really need a car here to get from A to B. LA is so long and flat that it’s impossible to get around walking (unlike New York).
Of course the weather is much warmer but that all depends on whether you favour the sun from the winter cold. As I mentioned earlier, I did not mind the snow at all, even with the winter chill blowing through layers of protection.
An appreciation of HOME
After time off, you hit the inevitable holiday wall where you miss living out of a suitcase and going out on daily adventures.
Then after a couple of days, routine sets in.
Then one day while walking around Sydney, I could not help but observe tourists in Sydney. They’re everywhere in places I take for granted – The Opera House, The Sydney Harbour Bridge, MCA, King St Wharf and other hot spots.
Then I asked myself some questions: what do tourists think of Sydney? Are they impressed? Does it stack up to their own home city? Here are some thoughts:
- weather-wise, we are better than most if you tend to enjoy the warmer climates (our winters are kind, hovering around the 16-20 degrees on average. And our Summer? Well I believe we float anywhere from 25-35 (although the propensity for much hotter days is here to stay). And the one thing we can do during is hit the beach)
- Art and Culture wise, we lag NYC
- shopping-wise we once again lag NYC. And what do they think about our shopping hours? Shops in the city shut 6 pm most nights and then it becomes a city of restaurants, bars and not much else.
- music-wise, yep – guess what?
- Beach-wise we win (I had to put that in again to make me feel good)
- cafe and coffee-wise we win again (but of course my tastes are more accustomed to what we have here)
- getting-around-town-wise, we’re comparable (we’re a walking and cycle-friendly city) so long as you don’t take the bus during peak hour AND you don’t expect a grid-like street system like NYC.
- sightseeing-wise, we have a fair few good spots from the Opera House, Bridge, Bondi yada yada yada. Horses for courses once again.
- proximity-to-other-touristee-sites-wise, Melbourne and Brisbane are an hour away by plan. You would go there for the culture (Melbourne is more European-style, laid back) and the beaches (Brisbane is sunnier even, and pace creeps to a crawl – not a bad thing mind you), the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns, Northern Territory and even New Zealand, Fiji are close by.
Isn’t that funny? A holiday overseas causes you to cast a critical eye on your home town. The comparisons were inevitable.
Odds and Ends
- ATM languages really surprised me in NYC. It’s the first thing that greets you as soon as you insert your card. It presents you with the options “Spanish, Mandarin etc.” I know we have a couple of ATM’s that have that here in Sydney BUT the message was in-your-face in NYC. Really goes to show the diversity of the city.
- Tourists. I remember a visiting New Jersey (Joisey) cousin of mine once say “There’s a lot of Asians in Sydney”. Well, last time I checked the map, we are in ASIA-PAC. But then again I remember saying “There’s a lot of Cubans in Miami – AND – there’s a lot of Mexicans in LA” when I last toured the US. But the difference was, I knew about Miami and LA going in. Just saying..
- Walking. A former native New Yorker once got off the train in Central and walked down to our house in Leichhardt. That’s about a 5 km walk. Think it took about an hour and a bit to walk. What he didn’t factor in was the Summer weather. I asked him why didn’t you catch the bus? He responded “In New York we walk everywhere. I’m used to it” After lunch I asked him if he was going to walk back. He responded “Nah, I’m taking the bus.”
- Shop attendants and acceptance in NYC should be praised. The sheer numbers of people walking through the shops would cause most of us to hide. But these kids, most of them were ‘kids’, were so incredibly patient and helpful during the crazy season.
- A further thought: Could it be that New Yorkers have been naturally conditioned to accept more human traffic and can therefore deal with the volumes?
- Outrageously large place.
- I’ve mentioned it here but it’s worth touching again: The food portions are outrageous! The pizza’s are large, the salads are huge, the pretzels were mammoth-like – in fact everything on the menu had an equivalent large serving (checked out everyone’s serving sizes). The human stomach is not that big, at least mine isn’t, so why the big portions? I feel terrible throwing excess but I would rather that than mess with my health
- The streets, the buildings, the park…everything is just so monstrous in NYC.
- Venice vs Santa Monica. Is it just me or did the neighborhood change in the space of 5 minutes from Venice to Santa Monica?
- Hollywood Walk of Fame is looking much cleaner than what it did 10 years ago.
- Neighbourly help. Came home with the fam and clearly struggling with luggage. Someone that lives in the complex shot straight past us and did not offer to even open the door. Welcome to city living.
I need another one
Easter and Anzac holidays are around the corner and I am starting to think about a small holiday somewhere.
(and another thing about Australia is that we take a LOT of holidays – 2 days off in Easter with Anzac Day usually falling around the same time. So what people tend to do is take the days in between Easter and Anzac and go off somewhere)
Definitely would want to take a small one somewhere. Another NYC would be nice but unfortunately another trip of that magnitude is off the table.
PC the Globetrotter? Hardly. More like PC the Holiday-lover as I big believer in having breaks in order to recharge batteries.
I hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed writing about it.