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New York, New York

Last updated 09:30 06/07/2012

I'm sitting in an apartment in the neighbourhood locals call El Barrio and non-Spanish speakers label Spanish Harlem. Those who've lived here long enough to justify the shortening say "Spa Ha". The incessant tooting of frustrated commuters pierces the room. It's a large apartment by New York standards - the bathroom's so small you have to sit sideways on the toilet to shut the door, but the kitchen's huge and airy and a separate but sizeable bedroom-cum-lounge looks down on a greengrocer, a jeweller and a fish market. We're living marae styles with a friend who's good enough to put up with us for the next nine days. Here is New York!

taxiIs there any other city in the world we all know so well? I've watched it on the big screen (welcome to Gotham city) listened to it, read it, laughed at it (RIP Friends, welcome How I Met Your Mother) and hankered after its fashion sense forever. Walking around it is to experience a bizarre and prolonged sense of deja vu. As crowds surged and police helicopters hummed up and down the Hudson River during the 4th of July fireworks display, I turned to my friend Jack: "this is like a scene from Independence Day." "Ya think?" he replied.

When we got home Ted pleaded with me to turn off my New York soundtrack. It's made up of two tunes and I'd been thrashing it since we crossed into Manhattan over the Brooklyn Bridge. I pushed the button on the self-proclaimed "new Sinatra" Jay Z as soon as we turned the corner to see Lady Liberty standing regal over her iconic skyline. My eyes welled and my life peaked as the man himself, Frank, led me over the water and into NEW YORK CITY.

I've become addicted to listening to the two of them tell me "if I can make it here I can make it anywhere", while I roam the streets and contemplate ways to rig the green card ballot. Yup, here's another city in which I want to live. I contemplated branching out and adding Lady Gaga and Beyonce to the mix when I gazed at the roof of Grand Central Station, but I decided to remain a purist.

taxiWhat do you think a true New York experience should be? I reckon it should include shopping (I shall dedicate a post to that next week) and getting mixed up in crazed Manhattan traffic. It's difficult to understand why New Yorkers choose to raise their blood pressure to untenable levels by hopping in a car. New York has one of the best public transport systems in the world, for goodness' sake! But I'd watched enough cab honking, brake slamming and pedestrian bonnet banging to know that I had to get among it. And Ted needed the challenge of driving downtown during rush hour.

When you're tooted at for waiting too long on a green anywhere else in the world, you scream an indignant "patience" or something equally polite (the best call I've heard was from a bus driver in New Orleans was: "use your licence".) When horns blared at us here (multiple times), we giggled at one another: "OMG, we just got honked at in New York City." We'd passed our rite of passage in the international city of road rage. 

Follow Amy on Twitter and check out her book blog here

7 comments
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B.   #1   01:11 pm Jul 06 2012

I am so jealous NYC is my most favorite city in the world! Ditch the Car TED and travel everywhere in Manhattan by foot its the best way to see it. And get lost you never know what you will discover trying to find your way!

Liz   #2   01:17 pm Jul 06 2012

I did the whole carriage ride around central park, ice skating IN central park, broadway etc. Such a fantastic city, and I wish I had more than 2 days to enjoy it all. One thing I will point out, is Serendipity is not a great restaurant. We were told to go there for dinner because of how wonderful it is... yea, not so much. The waiter was rude, tried to get dessert orders when we were half way through our meals (I think it's more famous for its super huge desserts than anything else.) However, the bar across the road was awesome! haha. Oh and note that the statue of liberty has full airport security to get on the boat, and again to get up the statue, and buy your tickets in advance, because otherwise you will be waiting in line all day (we bought advance tickets and still waited 2.5 hours to get on the boat.)

Julie   #3   01:24 pm Jul 06 2012

The tooting on a green light thing - NY drivers are mega impatient. Our shuttle driver (from the airport) was honking madly at the cars in front of us at a green light (and the driver behind was honking at us), but when the intersection is blocked at the other side - where else are you supposed to? Taxi cabs also nearly try to run you over crossing the road WHILE ON A CROSS SIGNAL!

Katherine   #4   06:16 pm Jul 08 2012

Such an amazing insight to a city that never sleeps. I look forward to hearing more. One day I vow to go there and live it up large...but for now I shall live vicariously through you.

Julie   #5   10:48 am Jul 09 2012

The trick to seeing the sights like Statue of Liberty & Empire State without having to wait for hours, is to see them first thing in the morning. We got to the ferry for Liberty for the second sailing - 10 minute wait thru security and a run for the boat - by the the time we got back, the line was huge. Same with Empire - got there around 8.30am. No wait. Hubby had seen the lines the day before at mid-afternoon. They were around the block.

Steve M   #6   12:42 am Jul 10 2012

Carnegie Deli, and get the Woody Allen.

GGs mum   #7   04:55 pm Jul 14 2012

Can't believe you took on driving in NYC!!! Very courageous of you. I went to NYC with a couple of girlfriends...we too wanted to move there within the first hour of arriving. Buy some 7 Jeans...so much cheaper..and go to a show on Broadway.

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