Don’t you like it when something good comes from something bad?
When I learned that to renew my almost expired Slovak passport I needed to submit my application in person in New York, I couldn’t believe this was happening to me. My first reaction was “Oh, no, I don’t need a trip now, my life is already too busy with work, and the timing is simply not good!”
Then I realized that this was exactly what I needed: a quick trip to New York City, no time to think it through, not the cost, not the missed work that would need to be made up. I had to go. I needed my passport.
Fortunately, my husband Steve decided to accompany me – even better. Two personal (paid) days, an unpaid day, the weekend, the support of my principal, and the generosity of our friend Daniel, who offered his apartment as a place to stay, made the trip possible for me. Steve took a few vacation days.
First time in New York – for both of us! So many things to see. So many new impressions of this fascinating, never sleeping, you “love it or hate it” metropolis of more than 8 million people. It’s hard to imagine this number but you get a little feel for it seeing people and people and people everywhere. Out of the five districts that make up New York – Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, and Staten Island – we explored mainly Manhattan.
Daniel’s apartment is in Upper Manhattan. To get to his place we took the air train from Kennedy Airport, then transferred to the subway for the E- and A-trains. During the almost two hour ride we kept ourselves busy with people watching (the diversity is striking) and felt lucky when we finally got to sit down. We rode the subway a lot in the next five days (bought a metro card which is good for a week), walked uncountable miles (good walking shoes are a must), took the ferry, and explored part of the city while riding a bus. We did mainly the touristy stuff – visiting the famous sites (and standing in endless lines for tickets and getting in), but got a chance to have dinner with friends and walk with them in quiet parks and on busy downtown streets. And of course, there was the main business of the trip – visiting the General Consulate of the Slovak Republic.
What did we see/do in New York City? Here is the list in a nutshell:
– The Metropolitan Museum of Art – next time we will order the tickets ahead of time on the internet
– Times Square – yes, the crystal ball is already waiting to be dropped on New Year’s Eve
– The musical ONCE on Broadway – bought discounted tickets on Times Square for that night
– Empire State Building – climbed the last six floors to get to the 86th Floor Observatory
– Rockefeller Center – enjoyed the magnificent view of the city from the Top of the Rock
– Brooklyn Bridge – walked across it there and back its entire length
– The 9/11 Memorial – the lights of the site at night make you stop and think
– High Line Park – probably the best thing we did: a fantastic walk amongst
beautiful plants while enjoying the view of the city from this elevated ground (thanks Cheryl for the recommendation)
– United Nations – found our favorite flags
– Grand Central Terminal – the main train station (with a surprise chocolate store)
– Central Park – in rain, in sunshine, in evening, but not all 843 acres
– The stores on 5th Avenue – priced a hand knitted wool sweater for Steve, only $1195
– The Statue of Liberty – yes, she is huge, and really makes you think about freedom (unfortunately we didn’t get torch tickets)
– Ellis Island – I walked through the same Registry Room of the Immigrant Station my great-grandfather walked 102 years ago
– Wall Street – insert your own opinion here
– The Cloisters – art of medieval Europe in the museum, gardens overlooking the Hudson River
– Walking through Little Italy and Chinatown, eating in a Czech, a Slovak, and a Hungarian restaurant
And many more amazing and surprising views, details, moments, realizations, excitements, feelings, and happenings.
As time goes by and my experiences in New York settle down, I will write more about them. It’s a promise.