In May 2010 I decided to leave my job in Australia and travel around the world before moving to the USA. This journey ended up involving travelling in 18 countries on 4 continents (North America, Europe, Asia and Australia) and taking me around the world 1.5 times over a 12 month period! I wrote a number of travel emails from that trip and I thought it would be fun to revisit them with some additional info and photos. The following blog is Part 4 of that journey (USA – New York).
May 30th, 2010
The last 6 days have been very busy in New York City, today was a highlight. I took the train out to Long Island to Jones Beach State Park for the 2010 New York Air Show. Apparently it was a record crowd i.e. over 250,000 people. It was crazy! Because it was held along the beach and this was the first official open weekend for summer, people were absolutely everywhere, the beach was packed, I had trouble just finding a spot to sit! A heavily armed security presence was also quite noticeable!
Of course the view was pretty good as the show was mainly happening over the ocean straight in front and as a bonus they threw in a lot of aircraft to watch flying along the beach front (all for free!). There were historic aircraft, stunt flying, modern day military aircraft and the US Navy Blue Angels aerobatics team were spectacular! Watching 6 x F-18 Hornet fighter planes in formation and doing various maneuvers and stunts was pretty impressive, especially because they kept roaring straight over the crowd!
So since my first day of accommodation drama, everything else has gone pretty smoothly (I managed to find a hostel to stay in for my entire visit). I have walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, gone for the ride on the Staten Island ferry, been to Liberty Island (Statue of Liberty) and Ellis Island (over 12 million immigrants passed through the doors of Ellis Island’s immigration centre between January 1892 and November 1954 in pursuit of the “American Dream“). I met these Mexican guys at the hostel who are riding motorbikes around the world over 2.5 years and covering 75 countries – they had tickets left for this ferry ride they couldn’t use, so I got to go for free!). Sounds like they are in for one hell of an adventure!
I have taken in the spectacular night view of Manhattan from atop the Rockefeller Centre (an open aired observation deck on the roof), checked out the centre of all evil and greed….Wall street, been to Harlem (where I got to overhear a guy in Starbucks telling another that he was Jesus and that if he didn’t believe him, he would stab him! Oh and I also resisted the temptation to eat fried chicken and waffles – yes together…bizarre food combo!) and visited interestingly named areas such as Dumbo and Hells Kitchen.
Oh an added bonus was getting to say hi again to “Lips” the lead singer of heavy metal band Anvil (I had previously seen them perform in 2009 in the US and met him in Australia also). He was at Rockefeller Centre the same time as me. Cool guy, but he was with his wife, so I didn’t take up too much of his time.
On one day I went for a walk through Central Park. I paid my respects to John Lennon at Strawberry Fields and stood where he was sadly shot, just across the road from the park (outside the Dakota Building) so long ago on December 8th, 1980 by that crazed fool David Chapman.
I also visited “Ground Zero” the former World Trade Centre site. Pleased to say they have started construction of a new building, memorial etc on this site. Been a long time since Jerome and I were here in 1998 – back then we went to the top of the World Trade Centre, it has left a huge gap in the skyline since 9/11. The city itself has not changed much, busy as ever!
Another highlight is that because it is Navy Week, I got to go onboard the US Navy amphibious assault carrier “USS Iwo Jima“……I was like a kid in a toy store there! The Marines let you do just about anything…..hopped in a gun boat, got inside an Abrams tank, sat in the pilot’s seat of a Super Cobra gunship! There were lots of helicopters on the flight deck, plus a Harrier II jump jet, so I had a great time! Oh actually last night I was a kid in a toy shop – Toys R Us in Times Square is a tourist attraction in itself.
The next leg of my adventure is about to begin, I fly to Helsinki, Finland tomorrow night.