So having shed out £200 on our New York passes, we were obviously determined to get our monies worth and pack in as much as we could over the next 3 days. I bought Nick one of these passes in London for his Birthday a couple of years ago and they’re really good value if you don’t mind busy days. The New York one allowed us free entry to over 80 attractions across the City and covered most of the things we wanted to do anyway. Considering we don’t have wads of cash to spend on enjoying New Yorks amazing shops, the City pass seemed a cheaper way to enjoy our time here and see as much as possible.
When we checked into the YMCA we were given one free breakfast voucher, I don’t think we were suppose to get this, I think the lady was just being nice. Anyway we went over to the restaurant in Harlem where the voucher is redeemable first thing this morning. It turned out we got a huge free breakfast of 3 pancakes, bacon and eggs. Nick even said they were the best pancakes he’s ever had!
I was a bit sceptical about staying at the YMCA in Harlem but at £48 a night and in a central location, we went with it. I’m actually really impressed with it, the rooms are cleaner than 90% of the motels we’ve stayed in throughout America and it has a a free Wi-Fi, pool, steam room and sauna. There’s even access to their gym group exercise classes, maybe I can squeeze in a spin session. On the downside we are on bunk beds (if that’s a downside?) and are sharing a bathroom, but the bathrooms are really clean and modern, probably the nicest since Vegas.
On with our day, it’s been a busy one so I hope you’re sitting down…
Brooklyn Bridge bike tour
You can’t come to New York and not ride/walk the Brooklyn Bridge! So we thought we’d head here first. There was a choice of just renting bikes and riding over ourself or going on a tour for 2 hours, as it was free though we opted for the tour. The tour guide wasn’t great, we could barely hear him the whole time and he didn’t seem to tell us much about the area. We passed one building and he commented ‘I don’t know what that building is, but it must be a government building’. The bridge itself was great and gave us some nice views of Manhattan. It’s pretty manic on there though, there was thousands of people and lots of bikers get really mad with pedestrians crossing the line on to the bike lane! Quite a difference to the calmer crossing of The Golden Gate Bridge at the start of our trip.
Shearwater Classic Sailing boat
Before heading here we actually tried to go on the Statue of Liberty and Ellis island boat trip but were told the queue was around 2-3 hours. That seemed a waste of time and it was way too hot to stand around in a queue so we headed to the harbour near the 9/11 memorial to try and get on this sailing boat tour. Upon arriving we were told it was full all day which left us thinking the NYC passes were useless as everything is either booked or has a massive queue! Luckily though, we asked if we could wait around to see if there were any no shows and fortunately there was.
The tour was 90 minutes long and took us to the Statue of Liberty and back. The weather was lovely and we had a nice spot to the front of the boat with great views of Brooklyn, New Jersey and Manhattans skyline. When we reached the Statue of Liberty we were glad we didn’t spend 3 hours to go on the other boat tour. Whilst it may have been nice to stand foot on the island, I think the view we got from the sailing boat was unbeatable.
Body World exhibition
This was fascinating, thought provoking and disturbing all at once! I’d really recommend it if you’re interested in the human body and what’s going on beneath our skin. The exhibit shows off real human bodies that have gone through ‘Plastination’, this basically means they’ve been preserved in their original state and are now in a plastic like form. The detail was amazing, most of the bodies had their skin and organs removed which just left skeletons, tissue and muscles. Sounds gross I know, but it was really interesting to see how we look underneath.
It wasn’t just adult bodies on show, there was foetus’s and even a horse! Most shocking of all though was a woman, who must have died pregnant, as the exhibit was positioned with her stomach cut open showing her unborn child. The babies were actually quite disturbing, they showed a foetus in a tube at various intervals before birth. I couldn’t believe at 8 weeks it was around still only the size of a bean! The babies that were closer to the full 9 months were quite creepy but it was interesting to see the way they develop from week 1.
There was a high emphasis on how we should take care of our bodies at this exhibition. When you see a smokers lung laid next to a non smokers, it’s quite shocking, I couldn’t believe the difference, it was disgusting. Not that I’m a big drinker, but seeing an alcoholic’s liver laid in front of you is quite scary and likely to put you off reaching for the wine. I also found the joints of arthritis sufferers really interesting and got to see how tumours had taken over brains and other organs. There was a strong message that our bodies deteriorate from 30 onwards (great, I have 2 years left!) and seeing it all in action really makes you question if you’re eating and excising as well as you could.
Towards the end of the exhibition there is a cross section scan of an obese person and a healthy person. The amount of fat on top of their muscles was expected but comparing the two photos, the internal fat around the organs was really noticeable and certainly put us off buying the cupcakes that were being sold as we exited!
We wasn’t allowed to take pictures in the exhibition but there is loads on Google if you do an image search for ‘Bodies world’ you’ll get an idea of what they look like.