I was bouncing up and down on my seat when the bus arrived at New York City’s Port Authority bus terminal, like a restless dog who just found out he was about to be taken for a walk. I cleaned the drool off the window as the city came into view (OK, maybe I didn’t drool, but you get the idea). Cindy and I had taken the bus all the way from Montreal, an overnighter that left from Berri-UQAM bus station in Montreal at about 10:45 at night. The 7-8 hour journey is a red-eyed, bleary and broken one, starting with a border crossing around midnight. Ahead of us at the border was a line of other buses, systematically dropping passengers off, and picking them up when the stamps were stamped. All in all, quite a smooth crossing. And only $3.
As we approached the city, clichés of American society flashed past the window. Burger king and Dunkin’Donuts and Walmart, ‘adopt-a-highway’, Stop-n-Shop. In the city’s outskirts, bad traffic. A garbage truck with the statue of liberty painted and peeling on the side. Truckers and commuters and police cars and cabs. In the distance, visible through a web of steel and concrete, Manhattan glimmered in the rising sun.
We were tired and our hotel was a bit of a walk away. The world’s most famous taxis were waiting for us at the exit of the bus station, great big yellow things with advertising on top, the most spacious boot I’ve ever seen, and a driver who’s accent was some sort of ‘generic foreign’. There were black leather seats, and a perspex divider. The taxi’s classic black and white checkered racing stripe I always imagined is actually replaced by a modernised ‘T’ logo. He got us to the hotel quickly, and, why shouldn’t he have? The genius grid-style street layout made even me feel like an expert in New Yorkian orientation.
Our hotel was called Pod 39, compact, funky and decently priced, but this was still NYC, and the price was a far cry from the old days in Asia where you could pay a week’s stay at a hotel with coins from your pocket. We were central in Manhattan, but the city centre is so massive, it’s impossible to walk around all day. Nevertheless, we tried it anyway. Day one; you name it, we saw it. And we didn’t take the subway until the second day.
We hit the streets to a dawn chorus of jackhammers and a smell of coffee wafting from 5th Avenue. Away we went, exploring. The sights of New York are just so iconic, I don’really need to describe them. So here are some photos…