“I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.” – Blanche DuBois, Streetcar Named Desire
We flew from Edmonton to New York via Toronto ten days after our wedding. We left our friends, families, jobs and home behind in the early morning twilight hours. We arrived in New York at 8:30 pm. From the airplane window, the city appeared to be an endless blanket of lights. I don’t know that I have ever seen anything so big, so intimidating.
We struggled to get directions to our hotel, but luckily New Yorkers are far nicer than their reputation would have you believe. It should have been a shuttle to a subway, to another subway, then a walk up the stairs to our hotel. Everything was fine until I decided we were on the wrong train. We jumped off at the Aqueduct Racetrack and debated our options until I realized I was an idiot and we had actually been on the right train all along. So we waited twenty embarrassing minutes for the next one to come along. We eventually found our way to the hotel and checked in without issue. After walking a few blocks in each direction looking for a place to grab some food, we finally settled on pizza. It was Broadway Pizza and Brooklyn beer, a highly recommendable combination after a long day of traveling. Or anytime really.
Day two began with Erin waking me up at 10 am saying she had already gotten coffee, called her mom, and bought us tickets to a broadway show. It was a lot to wake up to. We grabbed bagels for breakfast (because, New York), then walked south along the west edge of central park to the American Museum of Natural History (cue girlish sqeal).
The park was nice and the museum was huge. I could have spent days there if Erin would let me. We then walked down Broadway to Times Square. We briefly wandered into Macy’s, the worlds largest store (not fact checked), and it was terrifying. After Erin saw the line for the women washroom, we decided to exit Macy’s post haste. We then went to check out the Empire State Building, from the bottom and lobby only, since a ride to the top will set you back $32.
That evening, we grabbed some dinner from a street vendor, and headed off to see the Broadway show that Erin had bought tickets for that morning. The show was titled “Wicked” and based on the “Wizard of Oz”, mostly the relationship between Alphaba, the “wicked” witch of the north and Glinda the Good, witch of the west. It blew our minds. Highly recommended. We then walked the 50 ish blocks (yes) back to our hotel, stopping at a diner for a much needed late night meal.
On day three, we had bagels again and took the subway south to the Staten Island Ferry. The ferry is free and provides an excellent view of the city skyline and the Statue of Liberty. Many tourists take the ferry to Staten Island, then turn around and get on the next ferry back to Manhattan. We wandered around Staten Island for a while before heading back to Lower Manhattan to see Wall Street.
It amazed me how tall and close together the buildings were. At the end of wall street was Trinity church, complete with its weathered grave stones. From there it was a short walk to the 9/11 memorial. We then walked back to Times Square and grabbed some food from a street vendor. Erin needed it. She was losing steam fast. Next, on a whim, we walked to the Rockefellar centre, which took us right past the Time and Life building where they filmed for “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”, a personal favourite of mine. Rockefellar turned out to be quite a sight to see, complete with statues and a skating rink. We walked back to central park so I could search a candy shop for coconut M&Ms (no luck) and then to Best Buy for an external hard drive for all the pictures on our trip. From there it was a short subway ride back to our hotel, some more pizza while we got organized for our early morning departure.
Day four began at about five am when I rolled out of bed and laced on my shoes. Erin had mapped a 66 minute route to the airport via the subway and an express train. I failed to realize that the express train and the E train were two different trains, going to the same location at very different speeds. My foolishness added a half of an hour of travel via a very crowded subway. I’m talking New York Subway during morning rush hour crowded. We finally made it to the airport, but our problems weren’t entirely over yet. While checking in for our flight, we were informed that we needed proof that we intended to leave Ecuador before they would let us on the plane. Erin and I had not planned a return flight or a bus out, planning to travel on a more open ended trip. The Ecuadorian government, understandably, doesn’t care for this particular approach. Luckily, the airline bookings counter let us use their computer to book a bus ticket, talk about supporting the competition, and the lady at the airline check in let us use her personal phone to retrieve the confirmation from Erin’s email. We were finally on the plane and airborne, Ecuador bound… But thats another story for another week.
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