New York, Day One

I’ve wanted to come to New York for a long time. One of the truly iconic American cities, made even more so by the terrorist attacks, it has always held a stack of appeal – the Empire State, Central Park, getting mugged, pizzas, Times Square, Broadway – the list goes on.

I ended up at a hotel in what I believe is the upper West Side – just up and west of Central Park. It appears to be a great place, and Manhattan Island is small enough so that you can walk around most of it in a couple hours, which is great.

Day 1 consisted of some serious sleeping to get some recovery time from the last week of pain. I eventually arose at 11, grabbed a bagel (oh, the bagels) and commenced walking.

I didn’t really have a plan, other than ‘go south’. I walked a couple blocks to the park and wandered around there. I’d always assumed the park was a little dinky slot of green but it is actually a pretty massive affair. Lots of joggers, walkers, kids and squirrels. Cute little nut eating rascals.

I wandered around for maybe thirty blocks – sounds like a big haul but the blocks are pretty small – and veered west, ending up at a military museum hosted on an old World War 2 aircraft carrier – the Intrepid. This was a pleasant surprise, especially when I saw the F-14 Super Tomcat perched on the deck – I’ve always wanted to see one of these up close ever since Top Gun.

So I went aboard. It was way, way cool. Those things are massive, and I suspect the more modern nuclear powered ones are even bigger. The hangar had a bunch of exhibits, including a lot of great World War 2 memorabilia that was on loan from a private collector – the dude had some great stuff.

The deck was awesome, had a bunch of typical carrier-borne planes on it – the Tomcat, a Vietnam-era F-4, an AWACS, plus some other things that aren’t typically found on carriers – like an AR-12, which is the CIA version of the SR-71 Blackbird – the world’s fastest plane. Very hot, but smaller than I expected! There was also some cool choppers, an F-16, an AV-8C (US Marine Harrier) – heaps of stuff.

Lots of the interior of the carrier was on display as well – the bride, CIC, radar rooms, communications rooms – all very compartmentalised. Really incredible to think of that ship getting dive bombed by kamikazes – which happened to it back in World War 2.

In addition to all the military stuff, there was also an actual, real, whole Concorde. Way smaller than I expected! I walked down the aisles of it, and it was very sad to think that these awesome machines are no longer in service – the day they stopped flying was a step backwards for this whole planet.

After that, I decided to aim for Times Square. This might sound stupid, but Times Square isn’t an actual Square, but just an area of the inner city south of the park. I sure didn’t know that. It is packed with amazing shops, lights, billboards – all very impressive but probably less so if you’ve been to Tokyo :)

I basically wandered up and down the streets for a couple hours, including Broadway, just soaking it up and exploring and deciding what I should do for the rest of my time here.

Walked back through the park and got back in time for dinner, Sopranos and Big Love on HBO. Awesome.

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