People were on a rush all the time. Cars clogged the streets. Garbage poured out on your path. Train stations were grimy and dank. And hotel receptionists were rude. Yet there was something about Manhattan that struck me as both that wintry wonderland and dreamy place in the movies in your head and at the same time it was that perfectly chaotic city where real people live and real life happens.
I loved New York City on my first and only trip there in 2009. We went to Queens first to visit friends and of course, having been stuck in the Midwest for months before traveling to NYC, I needed a Jollibee fix. The next day, we took off to Manhattan and spent the rest of time enjoying these things about the island where dreams are made:
There’s really no point in getting the best hotel suite because this city is out there in the streets. (Any city!) Skip the cab or the double-decker bus (by all means, skip the double-decker bus!), just walk. One day of walking will make you feel like you have been here for a week. I like 5th Avenue for the torrents of people milling about in all directions. Chinatown for the ever enthusiastic way of business. Times Square for the energy and optimism it seemed to evoke. Upper West and Upper East Sides for its beautiful architecture.
New York City is like a big bowl of heterogenous breakfast cereals floating in, well, milk and honey. One night, I sat in one the chairs scattered in the elevated front of the New York Public Library and I let my mind be carried away by this stream of people mindlessly, or mindfully, moving to their destinations for the night.
Take a walk in one neighborhood and you’re in Beijing, few blocks more and you’re in Milan, continue walking this way and it’s Seoul. No doubt: America is a country of immigrants and built by immigrants, I don’t know how others fail to see that! I think no other American island draws more diversity than Manhattan.
Theaters are clad with large billboards promoting the night’s big shows. Theater goers are in line: some dressed to the nines, some in their shirts and jeans (tourists!). This much culture is so soulfully stimulating and already, it’s like actually watching the shows themselves. Theaters are peppered from 42nd Street all the way to 53rd.
I watched Chicago and really enjoyed its sarcasm and humor. Being a fan of musicals, I can live here in New York and watch one show every single night. I’ll be homeless after a week.
Artists and Creativity
Singers, musicians, bands, painters and sketch artists show up in subway stations, side streets, parks, piers! They’re everywhere! While some do it for a living, I think some of them just want to give free shows and add to the artistic identity of New York City. Here’s where anybody with a paintbrush or a saxophone and a heart can just setup his own stage on the sidewalk, paint the city’s skyline, play a violin and just perform. Indeed, it is the world’s biggest stage.
Grand Central Station
The Grand Central Station is so grand, beautiful and charming it deserves a solo slot in my top 5. It blew me away. It’s easy to imagine yourself running away with the love of your life in this romantic and dramatic train terminal. There were many nooks to explore inside and it’s tempting to spend hours on top of the staircase and watch the comings and goings of people. All in such beautiful backdrop.
2009 was 7 years ago. Time to plan to go back.