On my third day in New York I finally sat down to write.
As late as now, because I just couldn’t get away from walking through the city. And doing it now, because my legs are so sore from walking. Jetlag got lighter too and I’m finally able to be awake at 20:45 local time (2:45 am is still what my body is used to).
Before I left Poland I didn’t read any travel guide, did no research (except booking a decent hostel), didn’t imagine, plan or predict. I wanted everything to be as spontaneous as possible, as the french say “au fil de l’eau”, which means “as the water runs”. Time is after all liquid-like. In NY my time so far has been a river of impressions and images. Once vivid with waterfalls, the other time slowly pushing through plains, but still being wide and deep and undenaiably majestic.
But let’s put things in order.
Ale po kolei.
My flight was great. Dreamliner plane fantastic, the flight crew amazingly nice and the pilots let me have a peak in the cockpit after landing, after all it’s a place I haven’t been to before. Not even a piece of a turbulence, no crying infants, everything smooth and perfect. Well, maybe except the meal, I learned that “special alimentary needs” need to be adressed before the flight, so I god a choice between chicken and pork meal. Fortunatly there were vegetables aside, so I just skipped the meat and ate all the other stuff. ?There were also cheese, breadroll, potato salad and some suprisingly good cake. As much drinks as you like, later some fruit and a sandwich (again, happily Im not fundamental and I cound eat it after removing the ham from between tomatoes and salad). Jusiest the perfect ammount of food to survive an almost 9 hour fliht. Super comfy chairs, little pillows and blankets and a separate touchscreeen for each passanger, providing us with a very decent choice of movies, series, music and the live view of the flight position. Even a fresh flower in the mathroom, handcream and a nice set of newspapers. Lovely staff didn’t stop circulating giving away drinks, sweets, smiles and taking care of ecerybody. I woudn’t say a bad word about polish LOT airlines.
At 8:45 PM (2:45 AM Warsaw time) we landed smoothly on JFK Airport. Taxi to Manhattan (fixed price of 52 dollars), about 45 minutes driving (still quite a traffic at this time of the day!). After about 20 minutes from behind the taxis widow I started seing a night image of Manhattan, the one I only knew from pictures and postcards before. I glued myself to the window and started absorbing the views of the night skyline. y
My hostel was located in a very NY-style street in Upper West Side Manhattan, Amsterdam Avenue. I will write some more about the place, because the place as well as the biulding and it’s history deserve mentioning. The chieck-in was very efficient, after a quick shower I fell asleep immediatly as my biologic clock was still convinced it was 5 AM.
I woke up at 5AM of local time. The only roommate I had that nihgt was asleep, so I slinked out quietly, had a breakfast at the hostel’s cafeteria (opened from 6am!) and went to the closest metro station, which took me to the very end of Downtown Manhattan. The last station’s name was South Ferry, so I was guessing I would find boats in there 😉
The subway (or as an european would say, the underground, metro or tube) is quite shallow under the city’s surface. It rarely has elevators or escalators. The passages and cast-iron stairs are narrow and steep. In the carriages the air-conditioning is a true blessing, after all the temperatures are around 30 C degrees (86 FF), so each metro ride is a true pleasure. The distances are big, rides are long, so an additionnal pleasure is the possibility to look at newyorkers. I can’t help myself from doing it, trying not to stare and not to be rude. I’m observing their clothing, their accessories, their hairstyles, makeup, shoes, phones (iphones only, really!), apps they are using, jewelerry, complexion, nails. Everything seems interesting and being worth looking at. From the other hand, those details tend to stick in your brain like the chemical formulas you learned at school as a kid, that you will never find useful. But I need and want to have an image of a newyorker in my head. After all images and people are the reason for traveling.
After a couple of days I can say the inhabitants of the Big Apple are terribly nice people. All those stories about their grumpiness, being rude, abrupt, pushing and bumping seem to be untrue. I’ll be spending 3 weeks all together in NY, I will see if the image will change, which now seems unlikely. They are smiling, charming, being helful and well mannered. You can’t see people shouting, magic “please, thank you, sorry” words are being used on regular basis, nobody is littering, not pushing each others, not swearing. Drivers are being fantastic, no honking even when people are crossing the streets on a red light. That’s just the first impressions, time to go to bed.
Update after 5 days
I walked tens of kilometers (or miles if you prefer), took a bus, ferry and subway. My first days in NY are going to stick in my mind forever. That’s the first time for me to experience this hudge city, vast buildings, masses of people, bikes, cars and vehicles of any kind. Signs, neons and ads everywhere, sounds, honks, streetlights, plenty of fireman trucks, cop cars and ambulances with the sirens on.Hustle and bustle, noise, rush hour, tumult and hubbub. Different, unknown and werid smells sourrounding me, sounds of people, cars, buildings, engines and machines. Even for me (being in love with my city Warsaw) it’s hard to get used to. It’s funny to think about modernist poets more than hundred years ago writing their manifesto about city-mass-machine looking at end of XIX century european cities. What would they think if they would get in the middile of Times Square nowodays? They would problably go mental. If an european city a hundred years ago impressed people in this way that NY impresses me today…what would be people thinking and seing in Bejging in one hundred years?
To be continued.