The Big Apple
Phoenix, United States
With my departure from the United States fast approaching, recent months have found me visiting friends and family in various parts of the country. One of the cities that I had an overwhelming desire to travel to was New York.
Nearly a decade had passed since my last visit to Manhattan. Wonderful memories as a teenager in the Big Apple have always left me with a longing to return for a prolonged period of time. It's truly an odd sensation for an admitted beachaholic like myself to find as much pleasure riding subways inside a bustling concrete jungle as I would laying in a hammock on an isolated island. I suppose each extreme environment satisfies different aspects of my personality.
In the mid-90s I was fortunate enough to attend a high school marketing event that enabled me to stay in Manhattan for about a week (in early December). During this time I experienced and explored many (touristy) facets of the city, including
- gazing at the skyline atop the World Trade Center, Empire State Building, and the Statue of Liberty;
- taking a tour of the New York Stock Exchange;
- visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met);
- watching the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall;
- buying a knockoff Rolex watch in China Town (which lasted me several years);
- eating the best manicotti I can remember in Little Italy;
- attending a live taping of the Late Show with David Letterman;
- falling in love with the subway infrastructure; and
- shaking hands with President Bill Clinton (running into him at an obscure shopping center).
One of the only ways that I could afford to take a trip back to New York City so close to my travels abroad was to have a place to stay during my visit. Luckily my friend (and nephew of a coworker) Marlon was gracious enough to host me for the five days that I spent there during the first week of October.
Even though the weather didn't completely cooperate (raining some days, cold and windy the others) I still had a blast venturing out into the city by myself during the day and hanging out with Marlon and his friends during the evenings. A few of my most memorable experiences include
- walking through Central Park;
- gaming at Nintendo World next to Rockefeller Center;
- spending an afternoon at the Met (a culturally overwhelming experience);
- sauntering through the streets and alleys of China Town, Little Italy, and SoHo without a map;
- dropping by a (rainy) street fair and farmers market;
- riding by rail out to Coney Island to check out the New York Aquarium (the jellyfish exhibit was my favorite);
- checking out intimate lounges, drinking tasty cocktails, and shooting flaming shots;
- watching old class/roommates reunite to celebrate the 30th birthday of one of Marlon's close friends (Sisqo);
- riding the Staten Island Ferry and noticing that nearly 3/4 of the riders were tourists taking advantage of the free view of the city (like me);
- being taken off guard after stepping out of the subway at night and into an overwhelmingly illuminated Times Square;
- watching a few innings of a Yankee baseball game with enthusiastic locals at their bar of choice;
- attending the Columbus Day parade on 5th Avenue; and above all,
- meeting new people and experiencing the sites, sounds, and smells of my U.S. metropolis of choice.
I found one of the most enjoyable aspects of walking around the city was the large amount of exposure that I had to such a variety of people. In Phoenix, it's easy to drive from home to work and back without meeting or encountering more than a handful of people along the way. I felt like walking only a few blocks in the middle of Manhattan exposed me to more folks than I would come across in a months time in Arizona–a great thing to experience.
All in all I had a fantastic time in New York. It was wonderful to explore and reconnect with both friends and the city itself.