After spending a good day with Mike, we decided to head off without the bikes and spend a couple of days in Manhattan. It was a fun couple of days, and we got to see a few of the iconic sights, the first being Grand Central Station. We’d only ever seen it in films and on TV, so to actually be there was quite surreal. And they don’t call it Grand Central Station for nothing, it really is grand. The ceiling is so high and decorated, and huge stairways go up to ground level at both ends. Sadly the iconic clock has been removed though, and people now meet at the smaller clocks in the middle.
Next stop was Times Square, which we accidentally stumbled across. It was crazy being there, I couldn’t actually believe that I was to be honest. It reminded me of Tokyo in Japan, with huge colour screens and hoards of people.
What was surprising is it was exactly what I had imagined it to be; big, colourful, and busy. I actually really liked it though for some reason, despite all the people trying to get money out of you and sell you tickets, which we totally fell for. Before we knew it we were sat at a table at a debatable comedy show, with a 2 drink minimum on overpriced drinks. To be fair though 2 out of the 6 comedians were good, but the second to last one was so cringeworthingly unfunny that it was beyond painful. It did make us laugh, just not in the intended way.
It was funny when we met up with Dan that night who we were staying with, and explained that we’d been at a comedy show. He laughed and said that it happens to everyone on their first visit. We took comfort out of the that, and felt like we’d completed a rite of passage when it comes to New York City.
We’d got in to contact with Dan via Facebook, and him and his wife Yasmin had kindly offered us a place to stay. We arranged to meet up with them again later the following day, and went off for a good wander around the city. We started in Greenwich Village, which is nicknamed ‘the village’ by the locals, and was once the place to be for music, art, and culture.
From there we wandered around the streets of Chinatown, before sitting in a park eating takeaway sushi, while watching all the weird and wonderful sights that Chinatown has to offer. There was a constant chorus of singing and instruments being played, along with people talking and laughing and enjoying themselves.
From there we went to visit the World Trade Centre memorial. We didn’t make it in to the museum because of the time, but we visited the preview centre. Reading about the devastation and the lives lost again was saddening and thought provoking, but it was when I laid my eyes on the missing persons board that I got choked up. I actually had to look away from it for a few minutes before going back to read them. It really hit home reading those posters and looking at the faces, they were someone’s mum or dad, brother or sister, husband or wife. There was so much emotion and desperation attached to those posters, they were so much more than a piece of paper with some print on. They showed desperate hope to find their loved ones alive.
Having not visited Manhattan when the towers were standing, it was hard to comprehend just how high they were. Two huge pools now sit where the towers once stood, and water cascades down the sides and down a square hole in the middle. It was weird because the memorial itself didn’t make me feel anything, but the odd white rose that was placed in some of the names round the outside really hit a chord. Someone had placed that rose, that name was someone’s loved one.
We must have walked miles that day, much to Ed’s dismay. I often caught him looking longingly at all the city bicycles that you can hire, but I wasn’t prepared to ride around Manhattan without a helmet. Luckily for Ed though we had to get a subway train to meet Dan and Yasmin, and before we knew it we were nursing our sore feet with some ice cold cocktails and some tasty food.