I wouldn’t recommend sleep deprivation but would always advocate adventure!
Our flight from London to Martinique included a very welcomed stopover in New York for the night. We had a hotel booked for us, but my friend Justin and I both agreed that we wouldn’t be sleeping. Neither of us had been to NYC before and I had never been to the USA at all so we were keen to explore.
We left our airport hotel to catch bus Q6 to Manhattan, as that’s where a lot of the attractions are. It was humid and neither of us bought a jacket despite my boyfriend checking the weather and reminding me (from the U.K.) that it would be raining that evening. And, as the weather report stated, it started to rain; we were so eager to get to Manhattan that we regretfully did not run back for our waterproofs.
Following the Q6 bus ride, we rode the subway into Manhattan where we saw the Empire State Building surrounded in city smog. We tried to go up it but were not able to after midnight, so we got a few snaps and headed to Times Square.
Just as I had heard about, steam oozed out of the drains creating white clouds trailing up to the towering skyscrapers. We took the classic NYC shot of blurred yellow cabs in front of the Hard Rock Café but the rain was really picking up at this point and time was of the essence, so we continued on our mission to see as much as possible of NYC before getting back to the airport for breakfast.
We wanted to get to the Rockefeller centre because you can go up to the 70th floor where there is a 350-degree city view, but that too was closed after midnight, so we ambled down to ground zero where the 911 attack took place. Of course, ground zero has been turned into a money making museum (which was closed) and the two buildings sites were cordoned off with security officers on standby. Thus we didn’t really get the full experience. I have read some interesting and controversial conspiracy theories around 911 so I was keen to see how the disaster was portrayed to the public in the museum and I was curious as to what they had to exhibit.
I had expected ‘ground zero’ to feel eerie, especially in the early hours of the morning where there were few people around except a handful of solo workers etching names into some metal work. It was a huge shame to have such a small exposure to ground zero as I find the whole catastrophe and surrounding media fascinating, especially as my mother was there just a week before the attack! In my eagerness to see more, I snuck under the barrier to peer down the hole where one of the buildings used to be. All I could see were a few workers wading around in a pool of water, unless they were ghosts, which would make the whole affair a lot more eerie!
Our dreams of drinks and a bite on a beautiful terraced roof bar overlooking the city were abolished as we first arrived in Manhattan, realising that not much was open and there was nothing that remotely resembled what we were after. After refusing the nondescript plane-food hours earlier we were starving, and if we were to see the Statue of Liberty, we would have at least another three hours to go. We resorted to street food from the only place that was open, Justin had a philly steak wrap and I had a slice of pizza (Oh, so The Wild Co…)!
Refuelled, we walked through the constant city noise from roadwork’s and beeping cars down to the ferry port to catch a free ferryboat which goes past the Statue of Liberty on its way to Staten Island. I was amazed that transport in NYC runs all night and that the ferry was free; I subsequently discovered that it was free in order to encourage New Yorkers to inhabit to the Island. It was dark and very foggy as we chugged across to the island and, frustratingly, visibility was extremely poor. We did manage to catch a glimpse of The Statue of Liberty, which was far in the distance (it is a lot smaller than you would imagine). Sadly, you can barely make it out in any of the photographs we took. But, at least we could tick it off the list!
We then managed to find our way back to the hotel which took a very long time, lots of waiting around, transportation issues and we were beginning to feel delirious after being awake for so many hours. I kept nodding off on the subway and a shot of adrenaline would shock me awake again. My very short impression of NYC was that there is not much nature or greenery (no wonder Central Park is such a hit in the summer – it’s the only green space!).
Sadly, I didn’t get to speak to too many locals but the bus drivers were both very friendly and one didn’t even charge us! Transport is great – runs all night; there is plenty to see in Manhattan and other unexplored (by me) areas too! We enjoyed taking photos and exploring a new citySome advice: download the NYC map on google maps before you arrive; expect a lot of poverty (maybe this was more noticeable through the night); expect to smell urine and see rats on the grotty underground. If I were to go back, I would spend a few days there ( our trip really was very rushed), probably in December over Christmas time. I didn’t love it and I am in no rush to go back but my experience was very limited! I love exploring, the street buzz, the lights and being on a new continent! I am very happy I stayed up and got to see some of the famous sites and explore another city on our incredible planet. I wouldn’t recommend sleep deprivation but would always advocate adventure!