I can’t believe how indecisive the weather is here, as I’m sitting here writing this post about an insanely hot day last week it’s actually SNOWING outside. Granted that it’s the first (unusually early) snowfall of the year here and the temperature is still above freezing so it’s not going to be sticking around for long but still, I did not pack for such unpredictable weather! It’s not just that the weather has changed quickly, it’s that it’s so variable jumping from warm to cool all over the place like a frog that’s had too much coffee.
The second I stepped off the train in the city I found myself in a tourist attraction – Grand Central station – one of the few sights in the city that I had not previously visited (my parents aren’t the type to visit a train station just for the perfect photograph). I’m the sort of person who would have walked the length of Manhattan just to say I’d been in Grand Central but, thankfully, it was already part of my itinerary and I felt less of a tourist while taking my obligatory photo since I had actually arrived on a train. It was a scorching hot day in New York but although the mercury was hitting higher temperatures than I had experienced all summer back in England (28c/82f) it was not hot weather for the average New Yorker. You could clearly pick out the tourists as the ones wearing shorts (I was not grouped into this category since I had strictly packed for autumn in Connecticut and not a week in the Caribbean). I don’t usually like city sightseeing in warm weather, however, the heat was actually surprisingly bearable and even pleasant in the shade of the tall buildings combined with a pleasant breeze.
From Grand Central Station we walked to Times Square past the New York Library. At first glance, Times Square was a bit underwhelming, similarly to Piccadilly Circus, as the two are always shown from the best possible angles in movies which always seem to leave out the building work and hoards of tourists that make it so difficult to get the perfect photo for Instagram. Once I got my bearings and located the tower of the Times Square Ball Drop, which I’ve wanted to see since watching the film New Year’s Eve, I managed to get a great photo!
Next we walked down to the High Line, which is a relatively new attraction that wasn’t there when I was last in New York in 2009. The High Line is an old elevated railway track which has been turned into a linear park that snakes for 1.45 miles between lots of interesting buildings in south west Manhattan. The High Line was really peaceful since it was away from the roads, a small section of tranquility in such a busy city. There were lots of people walking along enjoying the views and also lots of locals sitting and relaxing while eating their lunch. By the time we’d reached the end of the High Line I was absolutely starving so we went to a cafe in Greenwich, where the High Line ends, for lunch. After lunch, we spent some time wandering around and admiring Manhattan’s trendiest neighbourhood (where the characters of Friends lived) and walked through some of the small parks, including Washington Square Park, and the grounds of NYU. By the end of the day my legs ached so much, we must have walked so many miles and didn’t use the subway at all since it was such a nice day.
After about ten minutes of walking back up towards Central Manhattan, I realised that the Empire State Building was towering above just a little way ahead. My uncle suggested taking a spontaneous trip to the 102nd floor at the very top of the building beyond the most commonly visited 86th floor observation deck. When you’re looking up to the top of the building there doesn’t seem to be that butch distance between the 86th and 102nd floors but once you’re up there you can notice the difference in the views. There is a better view of Central Park from the 102nd floor. At an additional $20 the price of another elevator ride might be beyond some people’s budgets but it was definitely worth it as you get access to the small circular enclosed room right up at the base of the spire with fewer people, slightly better views AND you get to say you’ve been to the very top of the Empire State Building! On the 80th floor there is an exhibition area with history and facts about the design and building process. A lot of people skip by this as they’re eager to get to the views but it’s interesting and worth spending some time here. The photos really don’t do the views justice at all, it’s something you can really only appreciate in person. My favourite photo is actually one I took accidentally, it has a bit of the fence in it but I feel like it shows off the buildings at their best.