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As we entered New York in the Shuttle, I got whiplash from trying to take everything in, looking left and right and up and down again. I was very excited now, knowing that I was visiting a city full of history, a city that I had only seen on TV on shows like Friends, Seinfeld and re-runs of Welcome Back Kotter. I was in a city that every famous person I knew had some great stories to tell. I wondered where some of these people lived within the city? Would I see any of them in my journeys?
I couldn’t help smile as our driver weaved in and out of lanes. Ahh, this is what I expected the hustle and bustle of the Naked City. We dropped off the first batch of travelers. As I looked out to my right I could see what I thought was Central Park. As it turned out, I found out that it was indeed Central Park. I still didn’t have my bearings so I thought that it was pretty cool to see the famous attraction. It was just starting to get dark and I wondered if I would see someone getting mugged. Of course I didn’t, but that was what I was expecting to see. About five minutes later, it was my stop. Here I was on the Avenue of Americas (6th Ave) and 54th street in mid-town Manhattan. As the driver stopped I was so excited and opened the door nearly forgetting my luggage. I thanked the driver and tipped him $5 which seemed more than fair. I checked into my room. I was pretty tired at this point having been up for nearly 48 hours. I wanted to crash but the adrenaline was carrying me. I splashed some water on my face, changed my shoes and went out to find adventure in NYC.
I just started walking until I could get my bearings which took all of 5 minutes. I had added some directions and addresses for some destinations that I wanted to check out. Being that it was around 9:00 pm EST on a Saturday night, I decided to head down to Times Square. I walked down 6th ave and then moved over a block. As it was getting darker I could see the neon of time square. Not to mention the number of people and street traffic was getting rather congested. I tried not to look like an obvious tourist, but I couldn’t help looking up at the skyline and all of the amazing architecture. At times I would overhear conversation making me wonder if I was still in North America. There were people from all corners of the globe on the street and I could not understand anything anybody was saying. The sounds were pretty amazing though. The honking of the horns, the various accents, the whistles from traffic controllers, the music playing from various shops, the screeching of tires and the yelling of cab drivers. Yup I was definitely in NYC.
I was hungry at this point and was looking for a restaurant to grab a bite. I walked up to a few and there were some pretty long lineups. As I mentioned I was hungry and was not about to be choosy. Just then I saw a neon sign of the world famous golden arches… yup McDonalds. I thought that it would be fast, so I ordered some Chicken McNuggets, refueled and continued with my journey. I know, I know pretty boring for your first meal, but I was hungry and I needed to be able to say that I ate at a McDonalds in NYC. I did scope out some great restaurants for the duration of my week though.
So I spent a couple of hours just hanging out in Times Square. In fact I spent probably an hour in the Virgin music store which was closing for good in 9 days. With massive 50-80% off signs, I went to check it out. The store had been pretty picked over but there were some great deals on DVDs and CDs. It was after midnight local time (but only 9:00 PST) so I decided to head back to my hotel stopping on the way to pick up some fruit for breakfast from a mini grocery store and at a Starbucks to grab a Chai Tea. I ended getting back to the hotel at around 1:30 and was still excited about being in the Big Apple. As I brushed my teeth for the night, I looked in the mirror and saw that my eyes were extremely red from having not slept in a couple of days. With that I ended my first evening in New York and hit the pillows.