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I have never been to New York in my entire life. I know it is a big city, a blended city of cultures, sights, and smells. But being able to go to New York was an interesting opportunity for me. It came with only one condition. I can explore the city, but I have to meet a couple of people in the process.
First Views of New York
We went to New York in July. I was invited along as a tag-along to some family events. I had to meet these people eventually. But at first when we touched down in New York at LaGuardia Airport, I was hesitant to meet the city as some place of wonder. The airport was massive and enjoyable, but it was easy to maneuver.
“We’re here in New York,” said my trip partner. I looked at him with a grimace. Outside the windows of the airport, there were buildings, miles and miles of skyscrapers. From the cityscape up in the airplane before touching down I saw houses side by side, cemeteries being encroached by development or by homes in general. It looked like someone enjoyed themselves on their Sims 3 games and went nutzo in development mode.
The city part of New York didn’t officially start until we had to get a metro ticket to get to the hotel we were staying at in Queens. It was jumping from line after line and it was more like the Paris trip I took a couple of years earlier. Listen to the stops, hop off and then go to the other side to get on the next one. By the time we got in Queens, our place wasn’t ready yet so we waited in a nearby park. After seeing the movie CBGB, with Alan Rickman playing the owner of the first bar in New York that helped the local punk scene get bands like Blondie, The Police, Talking Heads, and the Ramones record deals and successful music careers (okay, maybe not the Ramones part because they didn’t really have a number one album or hit). I was hoping we could go by to the old bar’s location and check out any of the local sights and sounds. It was about a few blocks from Broadway, which I didn’t think was a big deal, until I learned the hard way. You see, blocks of streets and buildings in New York are longer than the typical block in a suburban neighborhood. After every day we went out into the city, my feet ached with agony.
The biggest first time I got culture shock, was when you go to the main city everyone knows from movies and tv shows, Manhattan, and then back out into the burbs like Queens or Flushing. Flushing I was especially culture shocked because there were so many asian stores all over the place, it felt as if I walked to the other side of the world and entered China. But not all the stores were Chinese, there were some Korean and Japanese stores as well. It was just the massive explosion of asian culture and asian commodities that made my eyes bug out.
Manhattan itself was like looking in a large dragon horde for the most precious stone. Central Park was like the one little haven in the middle of a large chaotic city. There were churches and buildings that also felt like going back in time to when the city was just developing. No asphalt, just dirt roads, Edwardian clothing, and lots of horses with a little bit of the Model T and A popping up here and there.
In the end, New York was an interesting piece of the East Coast. I thought I was slightly unprepared for the navigation and the constant walking of some New York style blocks, but I survived. I even managed to meet some family and get to know some people.