So just over a week ago, I was privileged to land at my final destination of JFK International.  I have always wanted to see NYC and tons of people have been surprised that I had never been there.  I guess I seem like the kind of person who would have visited NYC a long time ago whatever that means 😛

After an exhausting flight from SLC (plane left at 11:59pm and had a nearly two hour layover in Charlotte, NC), the plane landed a bit late at almost 10am.  I was meant to head to Jersey to meet up with my mate Jaf who was in the country for work (which is how and why I was in NYC) but we decided it was best that just piss about the city until he got off work and met up with me there.  Thankfully I had two people downtown I could meet up with: my big brother Todd (a close friend from my mission) and an old friend from when I lived in Miami, Christine.

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The first one I met up with was my brother.  I ended up at Grand Central which was close to where he worked and where Christine lived.  As you can tell by the picture, Grand Central is pretty big.  They have an apple store behind where I took the picture.  It was huge and ran along two of the four walls and then in an alcove where you could buy all the accessories.  It was really good seeing Todd again.  I hadn’t seen him for around a year and a half.  After we talked for a bit, we walked out and he showed me the New York Public Library before he headed back to work.

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This is the same library that was featured in the 2004 film ‘The Day After Tomorrow.’  It was very beautiful on the inside.  I toured it as quickly as I could as I needed to meet up with my other friend for lunch.  There were so many corridors and room that the tour took a bit longer than I had anticipated.  Then when I was across the street (which was where I took the picture above this paragraph), Emma Stone, whose recent film is ‘Gangster Squad,’ totally crossed my path to hail a taxi.  I was completely caught off guard as she was blond rather than red (which I prefer her as a redhead).  Kinda cool though.  Well I met up with my friend and we went to this hole-in-the-wall place between Lexington and 3rd Avenue on 41st Street called the Num Pang Sandwich Shop.  It was amazing.  I got the coconut tiger shrimp sandwich and a water (which I conveniently forgot and then remembered hours later) and it was amazing.   A bit small but packed with so much flavour.  Definitely a place to try out as it is close to Grand Central (one street south and two streets east).  We hung out and chatted for a bit before she went back to work for an hour and I cleaned myself up.  When she got back, she walked me to where Jaf had booked our hotel.  He and I were meant to go to the WTC Memorial but he was driving from Jersey and got stuck so he told me to go by myself.  I almost decided against it went anyway.

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I hailed a taxi (in true New York fashion ;)) and he almost didn’t take me.  He did though and he was cool.  He got me there with two minutes to spare.  It was a tragically beautiful sight.  I had to not think about anything as I read the names to keep myself from crying.  There are two pools where the towers had originally stood.  Along the borders are the names of those who died grouped with those in their department, group, or affiliation.  I’m really glad I went.  My mate also got to see it, he just had to wait a week.

Since I got there just before close, I made a quick round of the pools and then had to leave.  I then made the fool error of thinking it hadn’t been too far away from where the hotel was.  It was.  The WTC Memorial is just south of Tribeca and the hotel was on 24th and 6th in Chelsea.  I walked all the way back.  Don’t get me wrong, it was cool seeing NYC at night and I felt completely safe, it was just a really long walked and I was hungry.  By the time I got back, my face was windburned.  Fun times.

Well it was great seeing Jaf again.  I hadn’t seen him since sometime in 2010.  Sure we skype, but it isn’t the same as seeing someone in person.  We were meant to meet up with Todd for dinner, so shortly after I got there, we left.  He lived on two streets south of our hotel which was very convenient.  We walked around looking for places to eat and then ended up at this cafe called Hu Kitchen.  It was very good and also healthy.  We walked around for a while after dinner just chatting.  We got hot chocolate and coffee and a random cafe as well as seeing the Arch from ‘I am Legend.’  It was pretty cool.  I was just really happy that they got along.  It is always a big deal when you bring together two people you care about.

I was alone for the last day in NYC, which was great.  I took a train from Park Ridge, NJ to Penn Station.  Just a word to the wise, if you ever take a train from Jersey, be sure to buy your ticket before you get on the train.  They will charge you an extra $5 for some unknown ridiculous reason.  Anyway.  I made to Penn Station where I bought a smoothie from Planet Smoothie, which was pretty good.  From there I walked up 7th Avenue through Times Square.

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It was cool to say I’ve been there, but it was a very chaotic place and I was content to just walk through it up to Central Park.  I don’t really have a decent photo of Central Park to be honest.  I saw the Bethesda Fountain which was cool, but my picture turned out dark, but here it is anyway.

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I also saw a cool ‘castle’ called the Belvedere Castle.  It was built as a lookout and also recorded temperature and other weather stats.

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The last thing I did was say goodbye to my brother.  We were meant to meet up for lunch but I got back to the city too late.  I was walking down Fifth Avenue (which does wonders for making you feel poor) and was passing by his work when he said (we’d been texting throughout the day) he could come down.  Whilst we were chatting, four policemen showed up with a bomb sniffing dog and walked up to my bag.  We were only a few feet away from it, but someone didn’t figure it was either of ours and had called the police.  Pretty crazy.  After we said our farewells, I headed over to Grand Central to head back to the airport.  I grabbed a bite to eat at Zaro’s Bakery.  It was amazing.  I had a croissant filled with broccoli, aged cheddar and garlic, a spinach knish (which was by far my favourite), and a chocolate dipped macaroon.  So good.

Since I only had two days in NYC, there was obviously so much i didn’t get to see or do.  Next time I go I plan on going in the summertime when it is so blasted freezing.  I still need to see the Empire State and Chrysler Buildings (which I only saw from afar), the other half of Central Park, a play on Broadway, the Statue of Liberty (which I did see from afar, but the island was closed due to Hurricane Sandy), and much more of course.  I loved it though. Can’t wait to go back 😉

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