It is one of the strangest feelings to visit a place you know so well, but yet you have never been before.
These were the exact sentiments I passed by my other half 10 days ago as we stood, audio guide clad in the shadow of Lady Liberty, enjoying a somewhat surreal but spectacular view of downtown Manhattan.
For this Summers adventure (and hence my brief ALBD absence), Neil and I decided upon a trip to New York to see ‘in real life’ all of those things that were previously only known to us on the television, in films, or from pictures of its infamous skyline, normally complimentary with mounting when purchasing a frame from John Lewis. Indeed, as our Shuttle Bus from the airport ducked and dived between traffic in quite an alarming fashion on the Brooklyn Bridge (indicating is ‘so last year’), we could hardly believe that right before us was the backdrop to every Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan romance as the Chrysler Building, Empire State and GE buildings swept into view.
Used to the sort of beige and brown interiors hostels of recent university field trips have presented, I was also rather bowled over by our very grand and extremely spacious hotel lobby, as well as our very comfortable hotel room located on the 17th floor. There was no mistaking we were in New York now, where everything appeared to follow the mantra ‘bigger is better’ – even the people – which goes someway to explain the dramatic lean of our tour boat when a whole host of US citizens rushed to catch the first glimpse of Liberty Island on the starboard side - the first time ever I was grateful of paying attention to the saftey announcement and took careful note of where to find a ‘life preserve’.
Indeed, another striking thing about my first real stop in America (my 5 hour transfer in Houston I don’t think really counts) is that they call things funny. More so than I had expected. I thought I had a handle on the lingo before my Heathrow depature, and I was quite excited at the opportunity to engage in more sophisticated conversation with the local population, rather than the ’2 ice lollies and a boiled egg please’ and ‘how much is that corn plaster?’ I have been able to manage in other foreign tongues. I knew, for example, that across the pond a lift is an ‘elevator’, to ask for ‘chips’ when requiring crisps as part of a balanced lunch, ‘riding the tube’ means something completely different over there, and when needing to powder my nose I was to head for the nearest ‘restroom’ or ‘bathroom’.
What I hadn’t counted on was someone asking me how many ‘pattys’ I’d like (to me this is the lady who lives at No.45), whether I’d like Grande, Vendi, skinny fat, half fat or low fat when ordering tea, if I’d like the ’check’ at the end of my meal, and once curiously whether I’d ‘busted a haul out’ or had been ‘diggin the vibe on the down low’. To the last comment I, of course being English, smiled politely at the young gentleman and nodded -much to his obvious amusement. Indeed most of the locals did seem very friendly, and one even commented I had ‘bitchin’ kicks’. I think he was referring to my shoes, and I was terribly pleased having polished them especially.
Despite these unexpected lingustic issues, New York certainly lived up to every expectation. It was tall, buzzy, exciting, dynamic and really got under your skin. We packed an incredible amount into the 6 days we were there, although we never felt rushed or were overcome with urgency as one thing flowed into another.
I’ll post evidence of our expolits on the gallery when I get my behind into gear for anyone who’d like to view my improving ability at ‘self takes’. The better framed photographs, the ones in focus and ones of me looking gormless will be Neil’s.
He is also particularly proud of his shot of Lady Liberty’s butt.
There is just no accounting for taste….