Coney Island as a day trip

I always imagined Coney Island to be a bit of a living museum; a relic of the glory days of carnivals. Back when hot dogs were just getting popular and clowns were still funny. You know, ferris wheels for a nickel, haunted houses with a guy dressed as a ghost to scare you (boo!), winning a toy bear for your sweetie with the ring toss, crooked carnies, and little kids wearing their sunday best to eat a fairy floss.

Coney Island ferris wheel
Coney Island ferris wheel

It’s been said that Coney Island’s popularity dropped off in the second half of the 20th century, and when Cindy and I arrived, I expected a handful of dog walkers, creaky warped boardwalks interspersed with weeds, outdated roller coasters built of wood, all the old-fashioned stuff like bumper cars and ferris wheels. When we got there…well, it’s still basically like that, but it’s super popular. The shops and rides look old and hand-painted (especially when compared to modern rollercoasters, like the outrageous 240km/h Ferrari one in Abu Dhabi). There’s a few vacant lots spattered around, with unkempt and littered with long-abandoned equipment. But I should still stress this – Coney Island is a lot of fun! Read more

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New York City: A first-timers impression

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.

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The new New York City taxi, in all shapes and sizes

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.

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Liberty City garbage truck

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New York City

Matt leaned forward and squinted at the clock on the dashboard through red, hazy eyes, stinging with fatigue. The yellow digital numbers danced at him as he yawned; 4:00am. He rubbed his eyes with the back of his hand and looked outside the window of the taxi. A sign flashed past, ‘Brooklyn Bridge’. Matt yawned again. They say the city never sleeps, but Matt needed to. Derrick had been reported missing months ago and Matt had tracked him here. The Big Apple, The Metropolis, Empire City, New York.

Derrick had been leaving a trail through the city. Matt arrived at one place only to find Derrick had just left, he was continually haunted by a lingering instictive feeling that his friend was one step ahead. The last few weeks grooved to the rhythm of dark, jumping jazz clubs painted with cigarette smoke and wailing saxophones; cocktail lounges of black, red and silver crammed with movers and shakers, hip cats and squares, smelling of youth, bourbon, and money; green grass, rollerblades, joggers, all under the shadow of skyscrapers; brick walls and basketballs and music halls; flowing rivers of red brake lights, dull white headlights, amber, red, green, go, go, go; Madison Avenue, suits and ties, cell phones and hurry; tunnels, trains and stairs; billboards shouting out fast food, TV and fashion in loud, neon voices; Yankees fans wearing Yankees colours; homeless prophets; talk show hosts; graffiti artists; beat cops; hot dog shops.

Exasperated, Matt slept in the back seat. He didn’t know how long he slept, but when he awoke, a man was shaking him. The driver. The same one as in the picture, hanging above the rear-view mirror. Impossible…how had Matt not noticed until just now? He looked familiar, like an old friend he was trying to find, although his beard had grown long and tangled. “Matt, You son of a bitch, it’s really you”, said the driver through a sly smile. “You think i’d miss this party?”, Matt croaked in reply. Derrick held out his hand and Matt met it with a huge handshake.

Last stop before home: New York City!! I’ve been looking forward to this city for a long, long time! Then home! See you all soon, blog readers!