Google said it was a 45 minute drive to JFK airport (where we was dropping off the Mustang). We didn’t trust the traffic so set off with 30 minutes to spare, leaving the motel at 7:30. The drive in was actually quite pleasant and offered us really good views of Manhattan and all the skyscrapers. When we was getting our belongings out of the car the clerk greeted us with ‘there is only $607 to pay’. My stomach dropped, but fortunately I had miss heard him, phew! We felt guilty giving the car back as it was absolutley filthy, having added over 4300 miles to a car that had only done 2300 when we picked it up!
Public transport is not something we have not had to deal with yet and were quite apprehensive on purchasing a weeks rail card for $32, assuming that we would use the subway to get around the city. Thankfully there was a subway station just outside our accommodation, the Harlem YMCA (Young Mans Christian Club) but Hayley’s map had not cached properly and we got off the stop before and had to walk 11 blocks with our rucksacks and tent/sleeping roll which was a pain in the ass to carry!
It was too early to check in so we decided to leave the bags and explore the city. The obvious first stop was Times Square, which is not actually a square and more of a nightmare. thousands upon thousands of people all pushing you out the way to get that perfect selfie, I could have sworn I heard someone say “shall I go with xxpro or velicia, I want to look tanned”. All that said it was a great place, and apparently one of the most visited places in the whole world. They say that its where the world meets and if you stand still for 15 minutes to will see someone you know. Or at least someone that looks like someone you know.
After surviving the mayhem we ventured south to check out the High Line park which is a an old disused railway that is elevated from street level. Back in the 1930s a train line needed to be build to haul goods through the City but the leaders did not want the new line to run through the streets for safety and decided it should be elevated. The last train to use the railroad was in 1980 and it fell in to total disrepair. In 1999 it was set for demolition but the community, lead by a couple of guys, decided to protest and say the railway should be kept and made in to something everyone could enjoy. They won and a non profit organisation was created to see to the restoration.
The first part of the track opened up in 2006 with the final section being opened in 2015. A we always do, we just searched for it on Google maps and headed over there but this was a mistake and put us in the middle of the stretch. We ended up walking to one end and then later that day looping back round and completing it. If you are going to do it, and you should, start at the north entrance on 11th and w34rd just north of the Hudson Yard and enjoy the long meander through the city. At the far end you can relax your tired by paddling through a water feature that spills right on to the path and then relax on one of the many permanent sun beds, bliss.
The next stop on the list was free as well, the September 11th memorials. Its such a shame that we were too young to ever visit and admire the twin towers they must have been captivating. They have built a new building next to where the towers stood called One World Trade Centre, or Freedom Tower that stands a little taller than the towers and its not hard to imagine what two of them right next to each other must have looked like.
The memorials themselves are beautiful, with the water pooling at the top and then dropping off America’s tallest man made waterfall and finally coming to infinity. The large hole in the centre represents infinity. Around each tower are the names of the people that lost their lives that day, that are grouped by floor and teams so they can rest beside people they knew. We discovered flowers had been placed in peoples names and thought this may be from friends or family but later found out that a white rose indicated that it would have been that persons birthday,
Now we had done most of the free attractions we were interested in, and having a further three days in NYC, we decided to get a New York City Pass. This is essentially a card that you purchase giving you access to most of the attractions is NYC. Check back for the next blog to see what we got up to.