A group of the AYC-ers for the Swiss trip decided since our meeting place was in New York, that we should meet up a day earlier and explore the city a bit. I decided to be one of those adventurous people and I joined an awesome group of others. I met Michal and Lauren, cousins from Canada; Kara and Scott from Texas, and John from Oklahoma.
As a group we explored the city for about 9 or 10 hours. No joke.
First of all, I will admit that the subway scared me. It's definitely not glamorous. The stations smell like pee and human feces and you really would be wise not to touch anything. It was also a bit intimidating to just figure out where to go without making it too obvious that we were tourists.
The deal with New York is that people are straight up rude and have a tad of a superiority complex. The subway station ticket sales guy told us the wrong directions to Ground Zero memorial just because we were tourists and he thought it was funny. NOT so funny when you have to pay for each individual ride on the subway. New York does not sell day passes. Panhandlers are also an issue, only in NY, panhandling is an acceptable occupation. For example, on our way back from Ground Zero (which was terribly sad and beautiful at the same time...more on that later), there were two kids of about the ages of 8 or 9 who started break dancing on the subway. They were impressive, but afterwards they went around the subway demanding that people pay them for their show. I don't remember asking them to do that, so why exactly should I pay for entertainment that I didn't ask for? Kara payed them a couple of bucks because she wanted to film them for a video she is putting together of her travels. The boys were adamant that she owed them more, but ended up accepting her offer. A lot of immigrants were standing around the square in costumes, hoping that tourists would stop to take a picture and then pay them for their "creativity". It was sad what people resort to for a few dollars, but New York is an expensive place to live and that is how many people were making their living. There were men bodly asking for money to support their marijuana habits in Times Square, and plenty of exhibitionists. There was "the naked indian", "the naked cowboy" and "the naked old lady" (the old lady one is really gross, so I won't post it).
|The Naked Indian|
I think they expected people to pay them for looking gross...
Times Square is pretty cool looking both in the daytime and night-time, but there was SO much to look at. It felt like a page right out of a science fiction novel. There are moving, TV screen ads everywhere you turn. Just to operate the square for one day must cost millions. We stopped by a Sbarro pizza restaurant that looked tiny, but had a giant downstairs dining area. It was just so weird how many things in New York are literally underground, just to provide space.
Ground Zero was powerful, even just what we could see from the outside. Almost 11 years after the tragedy and things are still being rebuilt. There are memorials everywhere and flags waving high and proud for those who lost their lives in the tragedy of 9-11. It was a bitter-sweet experience.
Michal and Lauren went and saw "The Lion King" Musical and said it was absolutely spectacular! While they did that, the rest of us walked our feet raw through central park and wherever else our feet would take us. For me, New York was a fun and new adventure on my way to my adult life. I was lucky to get to spend it with such an amazing group of people. I very much enjoyed the experience of New York, but I would definitely never ever want to live in the city. It's a cool place to check out and visit and it definitely has it's own "atmosphere" and "attitude". My pictures don't do it justice. It's similar to Portland in some ways, but pushed to the extreme. The buildings are taller, the people more outrageous, and the arts more centralized.
(from left to right)
Scott Goss, Michal Pickard, Lauren Christopherson, Me, and Kara DeLaughter