We arrived in New York pretty exhausted from our long flight all the way from Tallinn, Estonia. It was late, so we grabbed a cab to take us from JFK to Upper West Side to our AirBnB for the next three nights.
Our hosts were native new yorkers – a couple in their 60s (or late 50s?) who used to be in a band and travel the world together. They had a drum kit in their 19th floor apartment overlooking Central Park, which was quite bizarre but cool at the same time. There was also a piano that’d been a gift from Patty Smith’s drummer or something like that. Imagine band practice?
On our first full day in New York we woke up literally at the crack of dawn (jet lag) and decided to walk all the way to Battery Park from the 100th Street. Looking back it was a mental idea but seemed quite doable at the time and in the state we were. We ended up making some wrong turns and totalled about 140 blocks by the end of the day. A kind local explained that 20 blocks equals 1 city mile (1 mile = about 1.6km) so overall 7 miles didn’t seem that bad. After all, in London we had become accustomed to walking long distances under the heading of exploration (we once walked from Stratford to Leicester Sq = 23 km). In truth, however, we were absolutely shattered by the time we reached Greenwich Village for dinner.
During our Long Walk Through Manhattan we explored Central Park (which was across the street from our flat!) – it’s an amazing urban park where i felt like we’re in a forest most of the time. After the time spent in the calm nature in Estonia, the park was a great place to escape to. It was Charlene’s first time in New York so we were determined to do the touristy bits: Times Square, Rockefeller Centre, The Met, Empire State Building and a boat ride around Manhattan to see the Statue of Liberty. Of course, we had pizza one night for dinner (one just has to).
By the way, navigating the Subway in New York is quite tricky in comparison to the metro systems in most other cities we’ve been to. The rail map itself is quite easy to understand but why isn’t there a timer?! I thought time is money and so on. Or maybe I just couldn’t find the countdown clock for the next train?
We also met with our friend Kane for dinner one night at an awesome vegan restaurant in Greenwich Village. She took us to a drag show afterwards. My only comparison point is from this place called The George and Dragon in Blackheath, London where they occasionally had drag shows on a teeny tiny stage behind a pool hall. So it was pretty bizarre to see a whole club dedicated to the performance. The introvert in me decided to remain very still for most of time just in case. There is a difference between me and Charlene in how we manage social situations: Charlene, in most cases, plunges right in and adopts the ‘make many friends’ strategy. Which earns her the title of ‘easily approachable and friendly’. I’m exactly the opposite: i stay in the sidelines to observe the situation and assess the best approach. Many times my position is misinterpreted as ‘she’s bored’ or ‘something’s wrong with her’. Rest assured, nothing is wrong with me. I’m just being me.
After a fun and interesting night at the drag show we managed to make our way back home and climb on top of the highest bed in the world. Next stop – Washington DC. It’s been 12 years since I left that city and i was looking forward to going back.