A Travellerspoint blog

July 2016

From death trap to tourist trap


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As soon as we stepped outside of the hotel it was like hitting a wall of muggy air. Now it was extreme! But the weather reports told about a hefty thunderstorm later on today, thank God!

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The day started with a visit at Intrepid Sea, Air &Space Museum. It’s a big aircraft carrier that participated in several wars; World War II, Cold War and Vietnam War among others.

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F-14 Tomcat

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MiG-21

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EnterPrise

The ship contains not only fighter jets manufactured by Grumman, Mikoyan Gurevich and McDonnell, but also a full-sized Concord aircraft and a submarine (that you can climb into) and the space shuttle Enterprise are on display. For the more adventurous one is flight simulators and a lot of other things to explore. Well worth a visit even if you’re not interested in airplanes.

After lunch we walked south along Hudson River to eventually end up at the High Line. The wind was fresh along the water but it was still muggy and humid. Unlike last time I was in New York, they now had built the High Line even longer with yet another segment.

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The High Line has its origin in the railroad which transported freight along 10th and 11th Avenue between 1846 and 1941. Annually the trains transported 3 million tons of freight (food) between cargo terminal on Beach and Hudson Street to Chamber Street. The trains were sometimes several blocks long and disrupted the intersecting traffic along the avenues. Despite the low speed at 10 km/h fatal accidents between trains and pedestrians were common. Although cowboys (so-called West Side Cowboys) were introduced early on riding in front of the train waving a red flag the accidents continued and the railroad got called Death Avenue. A report from 1908 showed that 436 people had died along the Death Avenue during a time period of 56 years, children were overrepresented among those.
So in 1929 an agreement to start building an elevated railroad system to replace the tracks on the ground was reached. The train continued to roll on the ground along the avenues until March 29th in 1941 when George Hayden on his horse Cyclone was the very last West Side Cowboy to ever ride in front of a train on Death Avenue. The elevated track wasn’t built directly above the avenues but meandering in between the buildings and linked to the fabrics and factories in the city. The need of the cargo train was reduced during the 1950ies when the trucks were popular and in the 1960ies parts of the railroad were demolished. Cargo trains kept on rolling until 1980 when the train traffic completely stopped. Today the High Line has become a 2,5 km long green park and a well-needed break from the intense traffic on the streets of New York, like a green oasis in the middle of a concrete jungle.

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When we had walked as far as we could on the High Line, we were not far away from Christopher Street and the candy store named Sockerbit (Swedish for “bit of sugar”). And yeah, they have Swedish candy. At exorbitant prices, but still ;) And Romerska Bågar, at pick and mix… which is not easy to find in Sweden nowadays. So obviously some candy was bought there. When we were on our way down to the metro to go back to our hotel a big thunder was heard and then it started to rain… YES! Finally! Well needed.

Our hotel wasn’t far away from the biggest Macy’s store at 34th Street, so we took the opportunity to visit later in the evening. An enormous department store with floor after floor filled with clothes, shoes, jewelry, accessories and so on. I can almost guarantee that anyone will find something here. And if you’re not interested in shopping the wooden escalators might be worth a visit.

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Like a magnet I was drawn to their Calvin Klein department and found a nice shirt with embroidered back. It almost also came down to a pair of shoes, but they didn’t have my size. Even my brother found clothes that he bought and he ended up leaving Macy’s with a bigger shopping bag than me, ha ha ;)

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The evening ended with a drink each up in the top roof bar at the hotel and Empire State Building was lighted up with red-white-red colors to honor Canada Day. Danny and I wanted to try out as many different drinks as possible during the week and this evening was no exception. I tried out a Chocolate Martini that was okay in the beginning but tasted mostly chocolate in the end.
The long-awaited thunderstorm appeared during the evening. From the top roof bar, it looked like some kind of strobe light was directed up towards the low clouds, but we realized pretty quickly that it was lightning. And you could barely hear the rumble of thunder due to the music played in the bar. So, we decided rather quickly to go back to the hotel room before the heavy rain started.

Posted by bejjan 09:19 Archived in USA Tagged new_york shopping empire_state_building fighter_jets the_high_line Comments (0)

Coney Island


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Woke up to a much more comfortable New York today. Although it was warm the sultry air was gone. They had forecasted super nice weather today, so what better to do than a trip to Coney Island?

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We took the metro F-train to Coney Island, which took about 50 minutes. It should be added that due to maintenance the train did not stop at all stations along the way, but it still took 50 minutes. When we got off the train it wasn’t that hard to figure out where the amusement park was with all merry-go-around and roller coasters. And just next to it is a beach-walk at Coney Island Beach. From what I’ve heard about Coney Island I expected a big amusement park, but it wasn’t really that big. I had expected more. It hadn’t opened yet so my brother and I walked out on the pier reaching out in the water.

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Here right next to Coney Island Beach is the famous Nathan’s which arrange the world-famous Hot Dog Eating Contest every year on Independence Day on 4th of July. Unfortunately, Danny and I would not be able to be there and watch the competition since our flight departed only a few hours later. But it was nothing preventing us from buying hot dogs at Nathan’s anyway ;) It would had been so cool to be there though and especially this year when they celebrated the 100th anniversary.

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Along the beach walk you’ll find New York Aquarium. A park that is just what it sounds like; a lot of aquariums with fishes, seals, sharks, otters etc. During our visit they were rebuilding and large parts were closed for us visitors. As compensation all visitors got discount on their entry ticket.
After a few hours in Coney Island we decided to take the metro back to the hotel again. We stopped at a place selling Tacos and ate. Saturday ended with a drink at the Irish Pub – a John Doe this time.

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On our way back to our hotel we see that Empire State Building is lavished with colors tonight. The new computer driven LED light system (can display up to 16 million colors) showed off a colorful show in red-white-blue colors, in honor of Independence Day. Now this we just had to see from the roof top bar at the hotel. Happy 4th of July Weekend everyone!

Posted by bejjan 09:27 Archived in USA Tagged new_york empire_state_building coney_island Comments (0)

Chillin’


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Last day in New York. We really had nothing planned for today but to chill. We took the metro to Central Park and generally discussed what we had experienced during the week.

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After a couple of hours when we were about to leave Central Park, we heard a lot of yelling and screaming. At first, we couldn’t really quite understand what it was all about, but soon Danny spotted a police officer trying to move people away from an area. Later when we passed outside the cordon, we could see that it was full capacity of media, paramedics, bomb squad and a lot of policemen. Later during the day, we found out from the news that a young man had been severely injured when accidently stepping on an undetonated firework that exploded and his foot had to be amputated. The police didn’t think it was a terrorist attack but a homemade firework that somehow never detonated during the celebration in Central Park the night before. Now afterwards you can’t stop thinking that it could have been me or Danny who stepped on that thing.

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After one pizza slice each, we got back at our hotel room but noticed that the cleaning lady had not made up our room yet. Time was pretty late in the afternoon. Well then. We left and went to Flat Iron Park instead to kill time and after an hour we walked back to the hotel room. But it still wasn’t cleaned and it was past 5 pm now. So, we ended up at Times Square to eat something. Now we were tired and all we wanted were to get back to the hotel room and start packing our bags for the trip back home tomorrow.

Posted by bejjan 09:31 Archived in USA Tagged new_york central_park Comments (0)

Flying back home


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Time to travel back home. Even though New York is one of my favorite cities I do get enough of it after one week. Maybe it’s the constant noise of traffic? Or the crowded people on the streets? I don’t know. But it’s an intense city with a lot of impressions and experiences that physically and emotionally drains your energy. But is it not just that which contributes to the charm of New York?
We got up at 8 am and packed the rest of our things in our suitcases. We checked out at 11 am and got to Penn Station and the metro. From here you take the E-train to Jamaica station and then switch to Air Train to JFK Int’l Airport. We had already checked in online for the flight, so all we had to do were to get boarding passes and baggage tags and then drop the bags at self-drop. Simple and easy, almost no queue at Delta Air Lines counters. Unfortunately, the queue to security check was long. But we had plenty of time. The last week of terrorist attacks in e.g. Istanbul, had led the US to high alert and enhanced the security at all their international airports, so we wanted to have plenty of time to clear all procedures getting home.

Then we had to kill some time before boarding started. The speaker in the departure hall called stubbornly for a passenger destined for Abu Dhabi. Danny and I happened to sit near that specific gate and could see the plane bound for Abu Dhabi. It was an Airbus 380, in other words the world’s largest passenger airplane. So, I can understand that the flight crew wanted to get a hold of that passenger. Otherwise the ground staff would be forced to identify and unload the missing passenger’s bag out of hundreds of checked-in bags (an A380 can carry up to 615 passengers) and leave that bag behind here in New York. And that was exactly what the ground staff had to do. I watched them dejectedly unloading the bag containers again to look for the bag. Not fun. Nowadays the probably know in which container the bag is, but if unlucky the container could be in the back of the plane.

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When we finally boarded the plane and sat in our seats it was nice to know you were on the way home, even though it would take more than 8 hours back home to Stockholm Arlanda Airport. When we finally touched down at Arlanda we had suddenly changed date and time to July 5th just before 8 am. You were just so-so fuddled in your body. But after refilling you stomach you came around and just wanted to get on the train and just get back home. For once the train arrived and departed as planned. That doesn’t happen very often nowadays. But suddenly it happens ;)

Posted by bejjan 09:34 Archived in USA Tagged new_york traveling Comments (0)