Tuesday, 5 June 2012

New York City is off the bucket list

Last month, for my birthday, I fulfilled a long standing ambition by visiting New York City. As someone who had never been a fan of travelling, I always said that it was the only place I would make an exception for; something about it entranced me and I felt great excitement at the prospect of visiting locations that had become iconic from repeated exposure in films, TV and news coverage. It wasn't going to win me any points for originality, but so what? For a person as dull as me, it was a big deal.

The problem with having such high expectations of something is the strong possibility of being underwhelmed when you finally experience it. Pleasingly, I didn't come away with that feeling - it really is an exciting place to visit. The only surprise to me was how quickly I became accustomed to it. Within a few hours I felt at ease and at home.

I won't bang on about my findings and impressions since it probably isn't interesting to anyone else, but my brief highlights were:
  • Top of the Rock: a less famous vantage point than the Empire State Building, but the views are better and the observation deck less crowded. I went there just after sunset and took the image above.
  • Central Park: I knew it was big, but I didn't realise how beautiful it is. I spent the whole day there and saw only half of it. And if you like squirrels, it's paradise.
  • Circle Line Cruise: an improvised addition to my plans, this three hour boat trip around the whole of Manhattan was superb. Having great weather helped, but the tour commentary was fascinating.
  • New York Public Library: a stunning building in every respect.
  • Grand Central Terminal: surely the most awe inspiring station in the world. There are more people taking photos than catching trains.
  • 9/11 Memorial: what they've done with the site is very tasteful and fitting. No one is forgotten.
I took just under 1500 photographs. I agonised for a long time about what camera to take as I knew my existing set up would be too heavy and cumbersome to carry around for a week. In the end I bought a Nikon D7000 with a 17-55 lens and it served me well. In retrospect I'm disappointed with myself for not being more creative with my shots, but when you're seeing these places for the first time you tend to just snap away like the annoying tourist that you are. If I return, and I'm sure I will, I'll do it better. In the meantime I've uploaded a very small selection to my Flickr page.

My aversion to travelling has definitely been tempered. There's life outside these windows.