35 Hours In New York…

The New York skyline from the Staten Island ferry.

I spent 35 glorious hours in New York City last weekend. By glorious I mean that I took the closest thing to a “Greyhound on the Hudson River line,” stayed at the YMCA hostel, went to Time Square and the 9/11 Memorial, saw my first cat-sized rat (and several of its closest friends), miraculously figured out the NY subway system, had pizza in Little Italy and arepas in the East Village, and took a walking tour through many of the city’s neighborhoods. If that’s not amazing, I don’t know what is.

Grand Central Terminal and the Chrysler Building

I’ve never felt more energized and refreshed while also physically exhausted. Turns out one can see a lot in about two days. Not everything, but a lot. Nonetheless, before I head back west, I have to go back to see the John Lennon memorial, visit Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, get a tour of the New York Times office, have chicken and waffles in Harlem (because Bobby Flay recommended it on Throwdown) and finally make my childhood dream a reality – see a Broadway show. I could also use another excuse to listen to “New York, New York,” “Empire State of Mind” and “New York State of Mind” nonstop.

In fact, that’s exactly what I did on the bus drive there. Ironically, Bolt Bus is owned by Greyhound, so Billy Joel’s lyrics seemed extraordinarily relevant. Frank Sinatra serenaded me through the Lincoln Tunnel and Alicia Keys tore it up as we went from tunnel to city where I still couldn’t see the sun. I’m loving the fact that all these songs make more sense now than they did before my trip.

The Statue of Liberty from the Staten Island ferry at sunset.

Although overly romanticized, the city isn’t over romanticized. It was everything I hoped it would be. It felt real and approachable, which makes it sound like I’m talking about a person. But in all seriousness, the authority and grandeur of D.C. makes it feel less like a city for the people and more for the powerful. New York felt like the people’s place.

Having lived in D.C. for almost 2 months now, it was interesting to see the many differences between two of the most well-known cities in the world. The obvious difference lies in cleanliness. The D.C. subway, for instance, is simple and clean. The New York subway, on the other hand, is complicated and, at times, scarily dirty. The biggest contrast, though, was in the demography. The people of D.C. are not as diverse as those in New York.  Maybe it’s because I tend to stay around the Capitol Hill area, but I tend to see mostly white males in D.C. I saw people of all races and heard who-knows-how-many languages on every corner in New York. In other words, in my mind, D.C. is the uptight, responsible older sister to New York’s fun and quirky baby of the family. I love both. In my dreams, I’d live in New York short term just to say I had that experience, but D.C. could be a more long-term residence. Neither would make my bank account happy. At the end of the day, though, I’d move anywhere where they’d pay me to report, produce or edit.

These streets will make you feel brand new. Big lights will inspire you. Let’s hear it for New York, New York… (Empire State of Mind, Alicia Keys)

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