My cousin from Arizona State University is here to visit us during his Christmas vacation. Naturally, he was very keen to see NYC, so the three of us set out for the city early yesterday morning. Now both the husband and I have been there many times – we have even worked in Manhattan for the first three months of this year – so NYC is nothing new for us. But when you work in a place, you tend to view it from a very different perspective.
The awe factor and the touristy enthusiasm are definitely missing. Our train would enter Grand Central Station at 9 AM each morning and we would be in a rush to reach office by 9:05 AM. Forget stopping to appreciate the wonderful carvings on the ceiling of the main concourse, we would get irritated by the constant stream of tourists getting in our way while trying to click their pictures.
We had been on a touristy NYC tour last summer when my parents visited us, but there was only so much walking they could/wanted to do. And I am of the firm belief that a city and it’s atmosphere can be best experienced on foot, rather than taking the subway and stopping to take snaps only at the key attractions. We tried our approach during our one day in London city last month and it was a wonderful experience.
The only problem with this technique is that it calls for both a lot of time and lot of stamina. Thankfully, both things came together beautifully for us yesterday. We started out early in the morning, were ready to walk for long stretches and the cousin had the required awe factor in abundance! He was keen to visit each and every major landmark and was ready to walk to get there.
Our day’s schedule was something like this – first stop Grand Central Station (where our train came in), then a short subway ride to downtown (we are not sadists, after all!), Trinity Church, the WTC memorial, Wall Street, NYSE, the Bull, Battery Park, the Statue of Liberty (as seen from the ferry ride to and from Staten Island – the smart way to see the statue from up close for free!), then a brief stop at Lexington Avenue for some great South Indian food, followed by the Empire State building (where the cousin stood in line for two plus hours), New York Public Library, Bryant Park, the Rockefeller Christmas tree and Times Square! Phew! I think the only major attraction we missed out on was Central Park and perhaps Chinatown.
And we still had the enthu to play cards during the train ride back home! An amazing experience, all in all! Today, we went snow-mobiling on the nearby Catskill mountains. Coming up next is a similar whirlwind tour of Boston on the 1st and of Washington D.C. next weekend. I think we are having a lot of fun on the pretext of showing the cousin around. Lucky us!