After six weeks in South America I was afraid that my few days in New York would prove somewhat of an anticlimax. However, this was indeed a city of superlatives.
Arriving at 7am in Kennedy Airport after a long flight from Buenos Aires, exhaustion dictated an expensive taxi ride into Manhattan. My hotel was on the East Side, not too far from the United Nations judging by all the consulates on the street. I couldn’t check in until 3pm, but they were kind enough to allow me to have a shower and to leave my luggage with the Puerto Rican porters. After a light lunch I located the Rockefeller Center where I bought a combined ticket to the MoMA and Top of the Rock, the spot I had chosen to enjoy my first Manhattan sunset.
MOMA and Top of The Rock
The MoMA (The Museum of Modern Art) was quintessentially American. Mobbed with tourists who spent about seven seconds in front of every painting and chatted loudly, it was definitely big and brash. Just how many Picassos can you fit into one room? MoMA will probably answer this question for you. Neither the art nor the touristy atmosphere appealed to my tired eyes or senses, however, the building was a delight. Large glass windows provided splendid vistas of the city outside and the building itself was a fantastic example of modern architecture. In particular, I loved the sculpture garden with its sleepy feel on a hot and humid summer afternoon in New York City. Its calm acted as a counterpoint to the noisy atmosphere inside the building.
An afternoon in bed was the only antidote to my exhaustion and this enabled me to recover enough to enjoy the sunset over New York from the top of the Rockefeller Center (also known as Top of the Rock). From the turbo charged elevator that whisked you to the top to the views of The Empire State and Central Park, this was New York City at its best. The crowd audibly gasped as the sun set and the skyline lit up. I heard people express their admiration in a number of languages and tourists milled around having their photos taken with the stunning backdrop of the Manhattan skyline at night.
No matter how many times you’ve seen it in movies or on TV, it still manages to impress.
I had set aside the next day for a walking tour of the West Side and, being a book lover, I was also on a quest to find the legendary Strand Book Store. Leaving the hotel, I noticed a light drizzle and this was only the beginning. By the time I was halfway down the West Side, I had to quickly find a café to take shelter from the first of a number of torrential downpours. The Strand Book Store was an absolute delight, combining acres of books with an old world feel. How many thousands of book lovers have walked on those same stone floors? From there I made my way to the High Line via an assortment of bars and cafes. The truth is that I was unable to go very far because the rain was falling so hard that it seemed to be coming from the streets as well as the sky. I really had chosen the perfect occasion to visit the High Line, a disused rail line that has now been converted into a park. Despite the rain, the contrast between the green of the garden and the vertical rows of concrete in central Manhattan left me awestruck. By now I was in love with New York and I didn’t need a t-shirt to prove it! I only wished that I could stay longer and the idea of a return trip has been firmly planted. Next time it will be a standalone trip and not an addendum to a South American extravaganza.