A while ago while travelling through Turkey I was doing a casual search of skyscanner and found some ridiculously cheap flights from Ireland to New York. I’m talking 200 Euro’s. North America had always been part of my intended route and this opportunity was just too good to miss. So after a short stopover in Norway which was hovering around minus 14 it was onto the short flight to New York.
Arriving in JFK I’d tried to stay awake for as long as possible and after only a short nap in about 30 hours I was almost a zombie when I was trying to get through customs. This is where things went south. I walked up to the passport control desk and stood there while the guy did his arbitrary data entry. It was talking a bit longer than usual so I was alrady a bit suspicious when he stood up and asked me to follow him to a side waiting room without being told what’s happening. Ahhh great. The room is full of people who I can only describe as being ‘not white.’ The kinda people you see on border control programs being marched onto the next flight home. I sit in this room for about an hour as they are slowly called up and lead away to a side corridor. I have enough time to think of every eventuality and with being so tired by the time I’m called up I don’t even care what’s happening anymore.
The guy leads me to a side room where we both sits down and he asks me a whole lot of questions about my trip so far. Where have I been? Who have I been with? What’s my job? How much money do I have? Do I know anyone in the states? Remember I still haven’t been told why I’m in there. This whole situation lasts for around an hour and I’ve almost fallen asleep when he says thanks and sends me on my way. I’m as confused as hell but not going to argue so I leave being pretty convinced that I was only flagged because I had visited Turkey. I grab all of my gear and get out of the airport before something else comes up.
After falling asleep in a couple of minutes I wake up early the next morning and get into the sightseeing as soon as possible. My first impression is just being absolutely stunned by the scale of the city centre. Manhattan just seems to stretch on forever and the list of places to see is easily the biggest of any city that I’ve been to so far. I decide to start at the bottom of the island and work my way north during the day and the first stop is seeing the view from the top of One World Trade Centre. Seeing the skyline for the first time, the one in every TV show and movie, I had to give myself a moment to make sure that I wasn’t dreaming. After this I spent the day gradually making my way North to Central Park and seeing whatever attractions were along the way.
Travelling in the low season is fairly hit and miss and the first hostel is basically deserted except for one American guy who I’d been hanging out with. I see that there is another highly recommended one in Brooklyn so I book that one for a few nights just to see if there is a few more people. I arrive that afternoon and it definitely has more people than the previous hostel, it’s probably a bit nicer as well. There is a problem here though and the only way to describe everyone in the hostel is that they are all in some way or another out of their mind or fucked up. I’ve booked myself into a hostel that seems more like a halfway house for junkies or the homeless. Over the next couple of days I come back from a hockey game and a Broadway show to find some kind of crazy situation in the living room. My favourite one was walking in to see some toothless old woman yelling at some Eminem doppelganger over who got to choose the TV show. Meanwhile I and a couple of German backpackers turn our room into a sanctuary of peace.
Over some drinks in a local Aussie bar with the first snowfall of the season outside I meet a local girl who advises me that with the mother of all blizzards due at the end of the week I should visit Boston and return to New York to wait out the storm. It would also mean that I would be back in town for Australia day and could party with her and a few friends. Sweet idea. With that I was on my way to Boston the next day with no plans or expectations. Boston is definitely worth a quick visit if you’re heading that way. It has Harvard University and MIT which are worth visiting and there is quite a lot of historical sites relating to the war for independence. It’s generally just a nice place and great for a quieter couple of days after the speed of New York.