Rambles, rants and raves

A lot of opinions spilling out of my brain

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A love of two cities

People often say you cannot love more than one thing. If you’re heart truly loved the first thing, it wouldn’t love the second. I know this saying is used mainly for people but it applies here. Just because something you love isn’t human does not mean that it isn’t love.

I fell in love with New York for the first time when I watched Oliver & Company and connected the dots that this was the city my uncle lived in that I didn’t really think of. My first solid memory of New York and I must have been around six.

Regular readers of my blog may know that I had the opportunity to go to the city that never sleeps this summer as the most amazing birthday present ever which was bestowed on me by the boy. The flight was horrendous and technically speaking I never landed in New York because I am the unluckiest solo traveller in the world.

However, 48 hours later and I was standing in Times Square – my jaw on the floor from all the lights, the people, the sounds, the smells. New York was a sensory overload even when it was quiet, it wasn’t. Quiet in NY includes honking cars, and a buzzing atmosphere that is felt rather than heard like a pulsating bass line running through your veins.

Even in the middle of Central Park, completely lost and starting to become slightly manic, NY wasn’t quiet. It was still electrifying like it was plugged in and the ground itself was given you little shocks of whatever you needed in that moment.

I fell in love with New York. Even the parts I hated like the subway. And the lack of proper signs in the subway I hated with enough ferocity that could only have come from love. The opposite of love, after all, is not hatred but indifference.

London is different. For one it’s the place where I was born and I grew up. I will never forget the day my dad drove the whole family away to a town I considered the countryside. At 13, I thought the world at ended the day my family moved out of London.

London has always had a place in my heart. On moving day, my sister and I swore we would go back to London (to live) as soon as we could. I don’t plan on breaking that promise. I did become complacent about London, like when you don’t appreciate someone when they’re there but then miss them when you realise they’re gone.

Going to New York helped me appreciate London more. London is still busy but it’s like it already knows it won the race, it isn’t rushing. It expects time to wait. New York isn’t like that. London is beautiful and every part of it, every building has a history.

One of the side walls to the V&A museum is full of damage, cuts like the Hulk has punched it. It isn’t repaired because it has a story, those imperfections come from WWII. They are scars that prove survival.

London is a story. You walk through it and around it and everything is telling you something. From the bricks that make the buildings to the slabs that make the pavements.

London isn’t as obvious even when it tries. To compare the two cities is hard because London whispers while New York shouts yet neither is louder or more powerful. Both are self-assured and both are beautiful.

New York is younger, more energetic, more excited about things. London feels like it has seen it all and it believes in itself the way an eighty year old man does, in the way that comes from life experience.

I love London, I will always love London. It’s like the childhood toy that sits on my bed even though I’m working on my laptop. I would never be able to say which I prefer: New York or London. The loves are different but they are equal in strength and adoration.

But I left a little piece of my heart in New York when I left this summer. It is hidden there waiting for my return. And I will go back. I will make New York my home at some point in the future, New York is addictive. It is magical and I can see myself there, not in the way that directors and actors portray it but in a way that would be completely and utterly inspiring. For a person like me, it just seems a perfect place to blossom for a while and grow.

London will be my calm before the storm.

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A New York Adventure

New York used to be rumoured to have streets paved of gold. Although this isn’t quite the truth, you do feel like you need to own a couple of bars of gold to be able to do and buy everything you want to while you’re there. I know this firsthand. My entire stay in New York was filled with random stories that could have come out of a comedy sketch show but nothing beats mine and the boy’s first day on our own exploring the city.

It started off pretty well, very normally, or as normal as you can get when you’re walking down streets that you’ve read about for most of your life. It was beautiful, glass and cement buildings mixed in with astounding architecture that would’t look out of place in Venice or London. Although New York is always busy with pulsating crowds; the streets are so wide and there is so much to look at, that you never feel like you’re overcrowded or that you can’t stop and just stare.

I did a lot of staring whilst in New York. You can’t help it and what I loved most was that New York forces you to look up. People forget to look up. They forget that there is actually a world around them and instead just stare at their feet making their steps to the destination and avoid making eye contact with anything. Looking up is an instant way of making me feel happy and I loved that New York forced you to do that.

The boy and I went to the Empire State Building and paid a little extra to skip the queues. Time was limited and we didn’t want to wait in a two hour queue especially when my patience is limited at the best of times. I am defintely a child of the new generation. We passed the little museum after riding an awesome stimulator (which was narrated by Kevin Bacon – surreal is not the word), I feel they could have done more with the museum, it was a beautiful space and I guess to compensate for the number of people that could potentially be queuing there has to be such large spaces but there were parts that made it feel almost empty. A word I never thought I’d associate with anything in New York. I came across a huge King Kong character as we were leaving the hall/museum and obviously decided to pose with the thing. After all, I’m a tourist and I can make an awesome angry gorilla face, the moment was perfection. Until, that is King Kong moved, I noticed, screamed and my echoes were heard for the next three minutes. Great acoustics in that museum, it was like singing in the shower. King Kong was in fact a man dressed as a gorilla who was able to scare this British tourist so well that I actually ran – and I don’t exercise.

The boy and I with King Kong himself. Notice he isn’t actually touching me due to my awful, awful fear. I am traumatised.

The view from the Empire State Building is absolutely outstanding and definitely worth all the dollars you pay for it. You can see the whole city and because New York moves at such a fast pace, there’s always something to stare at. Feeling so small when you’re walking down streets lined with 100 floor buildings, you feel even smaller when you’re above them. People are dots, smaller than the typical ant description and cars are about the same size as a big handed man’s thumbnail. It’s crazy and the sun was shining while the boy and I were up there making the view all the more gorgeous.

I will never be able to justify the views and since I’m a secret fan of awful cliches and they do say a picture paints a thousand words, here are a few photos. We’re on the 86th floor, just a little FYI which is the main observation deck. There is another on the 102nd floor which we chose not to visit. It’s an additional fee to visit the 102nd floor and by all accounts it is just a room with lots of windows and you’re so high up that the detail is somewhat lost. Like a watercolour painting that has run.

After we left the Empire State Building we had a HUGE slice of pizza each which I definitely recommend trying for anyone visiting New York anytime soon. Food aplenty in New York and it would be a shame if you didn’t try as much as you could. With all the walking you’ll do as a tourist, it’s even hard to put on weight – crazy I know.

The weather was really hot and humid for most of our stay in NY. However this day, it rained. New York rain is crazy, the drops are as big and heavy as hamsters and we ran into the first store we could find and bought an umbrella for $10. I handed over the $10 bill as the man handed the boy the umbrella, with the promise that it was a big umbrella that would fit both of us in comfortably. It didn’t. We both got drenched. I have never in my life got so badly caught in the rain whilst having an umbrella over my head. It didn’t help either that I then realised after paying for a small sized umbrella that I only had $1 left. The boy, upon checking his own wallet, also had only $1 left. That was a total of $2 and we needed $5 to buy our subway tickets to get home. I became hysterical and the boy became panicky, to soothe both of us we visited the Strand Bookstore (18 miles of books, I was in total heaven. They had EVERYTHING), and whilst in this glorious little NY haven, the umbrella broke. In the boy’s hand. Whilst he was holding it through the middle. Just. Like. That.

So no umbrella and no money. We only had £20 to our name which is useless when you’re in America. So we began our huge marathon walk zigzagging across the city to find a place that would exchange our British pounds into some much needed American dollars. Banks rejected us because we didn’t have an account with them. Western Union’s exchange systems had gone down a little while before we walking into the store. A policeman instructed us to an exchange place after we explained our situation, as we ran to it to beat the closing times. It wasn’t closed. It wasn’t even there, it was actually a GUESS shop. A huge, massive, expensive GUESS shop. Pretty clothes: yes but not the possibility to change any currency.

It was at this point that I started shouting down the street, insisting with the boy that we needed to start begging. I could dance while he held his hands out. All we needed was $3. A man heard my desperate pleas and turned out to be our hero; he told us exactly where to go, wished us luck in his epic New York accent and we were off. I felt like I was in a film as we ran down NY for what felt like the 50th time, dodging all the humans, dogs, and food stalls as we did.

We got to the exchange place in an impressively quick time, a lovely girl by the name of Aida had actually closed down the tills to cash up. We explained our story and I was already preparing to get down on bended knee and beg for her mercy when she agreed. We exchanged £20 for $26 and felt like the richest people in the world. We danced outside the exchange place and I honestly felt like a queen. We went to Grand Central Station after and used our hard earned $26 on giant pretzels and the subway home. The rest was for another NY adventure.

It was a baptism of fire to be welcomed to New York in such a way. Luckily it makes a good story and I don’t hold grudges.

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New York, New York

My absence from the blogging world will be very much understood if you’ve read the title of this blog post. I assume you have as you wouldn’t be two sentences into this terrible beginning of said post if you hadn’t.

I have wanted to go to New York ever since I found out it wasn’t a movie set but a real place. This wonderful city, where so much magic was created was, to me a dream location. This year I was determined to go, and save myself a ridiculous amount of money. If anyone was reading my blog then you’ll see I set myself an impossible task that I’m proud to say I failed (but not miserably so yay!) I realised if I wanted to save money that New York would have to take a back seat, much to my disappointment. It was supposed to be a 21st birthday present to myself. But the wonderful boy decided to make one of my many dreams come true and buy me a ticket. He surprised me, I cried, called my mum and cried again. Happy tears of course.

So, for the past 10 days I have been having an incredible time in New York. I met up with family I hadn’t seen in about four years; I saw everything; I got lost; I spent all my money; I got sunburnt and bitten by mosquitoes; I got scared by a gorilla; I learnt to love air con; I listened to a two man mariachi band on the subway; I walked so much I wanted to cut my feet off and I had the most fantastic of times.

New York is honestly one of the craziest places I have ever been to. Bright, big and loud; I saw firsthand why it’s dubbed the city that never sleeps. It wasn’t all great of course, their lack of maps confuses my British mind as does their terrible signalling in the subways. My next few blog posts will be in dedication to this wonderful city and to a dream come true of being able to visit (I’ve already picked what block, and apartment I want to live in).

This little blog post is just to say thank you New York. You made it so hot I wanted to take my clothes off but then you supplied me with conveniently placed water fountains; you made me have so many adventures that I will never stop retelling my stories, no matter how many times people have heard them; thank you New York for always having at least twenty things going on at once at various costs: I like choice.

Visting New York has just determined my love for it. I didn’t kiss the sidewalks however, they were crazy dirty and I wasn’t punched by a New Yorker so yay! On that note I’m not even sure how New Yorkers got the reputation of being mean and sick of tourists. Everyone I met was really friendly and went out of their way to help us, be it when I was shouting hysterically down the Diamond district (more on that in my next post) or talking to myself about a beautiful building. I love New York and I love New Yorkers.

Three cheers for the city that never sleeps.

One of many photos I took whilst on top of the Empire State Building (86th floor).


Take me now!

It’s cold here, a bitter cold that no one really knows what it means until you experience it. It’s the type of cold that carries daggers made of ice in the wind it throws. Raindrops become bullets, it’s so cold everything hurts. This is no exaggeration. I feel the cold more than most, on an average British ‘warm’ day I’m still wearing a winter coat and scarf – the only reason for my lack of gloves is that I don’t want to be judged too harshly for metaphorically spitting on what is deemed a hot day in this country.

When it is really cold, and you’re a creature of the sun, your mind cannot help but venture off into the sweet warmth of your daydreams (even if those daydreams are of ice, they are always warm!) My daydreams have taken the natural turn to travel. It does seem to be my default mode, that and writing.

Anyway, I’ve been daydreaming about New York on this dark, cold, wet day. Ironic really considering that New York in winter is probably colder, wetter and darker. But still. I’ve dreamed of New York (in the horribly cliche manner) since I was little and realised it wasn’t actually a film set but a real place. When I decided to pursue journalism and New York was at the forefront of that industry (arguably) it felt like it was meant to be.

I know on this blog I have mentioned my love for New York before but I’m getting impatient now. I want to go already! New York to me is beautiful and busy. I am a lover of nature but there is something about that concrete jungle that has captured my heart. I feel like I know the place already because of all the TV shows, films and books set in that wonderful, crazy city. And yet, what makes me happiest of all is knowing that when I go (and I will go), it’ll be even better than anything I could have imagined – and I have high expectations!

I want to travel the world, there are so many places I want to go but New York is different. New York is where I would like to live. Where I’d like to go home to for a while. I’m pretty sure, and I’ve said this before, that when I do finally get to go I’ll probably cry for roughly six hours as soon as I come out of the airport.

I’ll be the typical tourist the New Yorkers hate, taking photos, stopping randomly on the street and just staring. I’ll be smiling consistently that my cheeks will hurt. When someone tells me to move in their fabulous accent I’ll just smile some more. Then I’ll be punched in the face. I’ll deserve it for my annoyingly-cannot-be-hidden-smugness.

So right now I’m sitting hunched over my laptop, wearing more layers than should be allowed in the month of March, trying to keep warm by sporadically rubbing my hands together and bobbing along to Whitney Houston dreaming dreams of New York City. The day doesn’t seem so grey any more…