Friday, August 20, 2010

19/8/10 - 20/8/10 - My Last Days in New York

So here I am, sitting on my bed. My bag is packed, my room is clean, and as soon as I've finished this blog, it is my last sleep in New York City. A certain feeling of sadness has washed over me. Of course I feel very lucky to have spent so much time in this amazing city, ecstatic, even. But when I leave, I will certainly miss this place...

But, I'm getting ahead of myself. What did I do over the past two days, I hear you say? Well, I'm glad you asked.

Thursday was another late start. Peta came with me for the day today, as we checked off the last few things on our "to see" list. Firstly, we headed to the Toy Shop "FAO Schwarz". It's the one from the movie "Big". It was a massive shop, with several levels worth of toys. Our main purpose was to see the famous Piano from "Big". You know, the one which is so massive that you step on the keys? Yeah, that one.

Unfortunately, there was a "line tax" involved to have a go on it, so Peta and I passed. Plus, there were four people on it at a time, so lots of kids, so it was basically a cocophany of clashing notes. No chance of belting out the good old "Heart and Soul" tune.

The store also had a great selection of Lego, including sets that you can only buy online. I was tempted to buy some, but then remembered that they wouldn't fit in my luggage, and that I haven't built the sets I have at the moment, and probably won't for some time, so there was not much point. Peta enjoyed looking at the barbies, apparently.

Our next stop was central park zoo, which was conveniently about two blocks away. The zoo itself was pretty cool, but because of the limited space, they didn't have as bigger range of animals as Melbourne Zoo, or Taronga Zoo. Apparently The Bronx Zoo is New York's proper zoo, but that will have to wait until next time.

They had a pretty decent range of animals there, such as Snow Leopards, Polar Bears and Snow Monkeys. Given the lack of snow though, these animals looked pretty sad - definitely hot! They did have some temperate and tropical animals, such as Macaws and other bird life, and they seemed to love New York's summer heat.

We then had a look through the Children's zoo, just for funsies. It was pretty average. Basically a petting zoo, except you could only pet the goats and alpacas. No spitting incidents occurred.

We then went for some Thai food, for a late lunch, early dinner... Thing... It was great. I think the ratio of American food to Thai food consumed on this trip has shifted in Thailand's favour.

We then had another look through Times Square, and went into the Hershey's store. Inside, the door greeter was a particularly colourful character.

Unlike, say, a Kmart customer greeter, where a nod and smile, or a quiet hello suffices in making the customer feel welcomed, the man at the entrance to the Hershey's store stood there, yelling at the top of his lungs, "HELLO! HI! WELCOME!" to every single person who walked through the entrance. And there was a constant stream of people entering. Peta and I theorised that he must get paid per greeting, because the noise pollution emanating from his mouth was just plain excessive.

To Hershey's credit though, the "shock and awe" greeting strategy did work. It made Peta and I laugh at his misfortune - Shadenfreude, if you will. I even ended up buying some chocolate, because I was in such a good mood after seeing how much it'd suck to be him.

That night, we went out to the East Village, to another couch surfing gig. This one was epic. Heaps and heaps of people, and plenty of cheap drinks made it a good night. Like San Francisco's meetup, everyone was very friendly, and there was that same "talk to anyone" dynamic going on, which was great.

It became apparent over the course of the night that the bartender quite liked Peta, and as such, strong and cheap drinks followed for her.

At about 2am, we left the bar, and because of the early dinner we had, we were quite hungry. The only place in the East Village that was open was a 24 hour Ukrainian diner - because at 2am in the morning, that's the first kind of food that's on my mind!

Still, to their credit, my food was quite nice, and the waiter knew exactly how to handle Peta's highly conversational drunkenness. They had free, no-fuss wifi as well, which is always a bonus.

Afterwards, we caught the subway home. The Subway's reputation for being unsafe after midnight is completely unfounded - it was just as crowded and just as safe as during the middle of the day. That being said, I can only speak for Manhattan. The Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn is probably a different story.

Friday started quite late in the day. For me, midday. For Peta, about 3pm. Hangovers must suck.

In the meantime, while Peta was sleeping off the previous night, I went downtown to the New York library. As I mentioned in my Facebook update, the place is like a temple for books! A gigantic, marble building filled with quiet reading rooms, walls lined with books from another age. All in all, it was very impressive, and certainly puts Queensland's library to shame.

I then headed a few blocks uptown to Rockefeller plaza. To be honest, I didn't see what the fuss was about. I've heard all of these great stories about it, not to mention the excellent TV show set there, but it was really just a group of buildings.

That was, until I found THE NINTENDO STORE! Now that was all kinds of cool. They had exclusive Nintendo-ey merchandise, a Nintendo DS signed by Shigeru Miyamoto himself, as well as a whole floor devoted to the Pokemon franchise. I picked up a Suicune figurine for my computer desktop back home.

After my total geek-out, I headed back to the room, to see if Peta was alive. Nope. So I went across to one of the local takeout restaurants to get her a noodle soup, as her stomach was still recovering from last night.

We then watched Dexter for a few hours, and just hung out in the room. Then, it was time for our last dinner in New York. We headed to the Olive Garden in Times Square. We got the privilege of a wonderful window booth, just heading on sunset, so we got to see the brilliant transition from day to night in Times Square.

Our food was delicious, and we both really enjoyed ourselves. A great end to an awesome trip.

And so now, my bag is packed, and I'm lying on my bed, reminiscing on all of the fantastic times I've had on this trip. It has been a life-altering experience. I feel the travel bug flowing through my veins, even stronger than before.

I sound like my trip is over, when in reality, I've got a good 48 hours left before I leave for Australia. But, this is where it more or less ends for me. I'm sure I'll have fun in LA, but I'll be on my own, as Peta is off to London to live.

Thus I won't have anyone awesome to experience my travels with. And awesome Peta is. I admire her for moving to a whole new part of the world because she can, but I'd be lying if I said that I won't miss her company and friendship. She is great. And I will miss hanging out with her alot.

The upside to this, is now I have an excuse to travel to London soon! Now I just need the spare $2,500...

And so early tomorrow morning, I am bound for Los Angeles again, where I get to spend 36 hours entertaining myself before waiting to see that Kangaroo on the red-tailed plane...

New York, San Francisco, you have shown me your endless bounties, and I love you both for it, but Australia will always be my home...

Next up: Los Angeles, and the journey home...

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