1st July – 4th of July
My flight to New York was via Munich – for whatever reason this combination was the cheapest I could get. I left my Apartment around 6 am very early in the morning. the check-in at Stuttgart Airport was crowded and there was a long line. Did I expect it to be any different and well organised? No. With plenty of time in my bag I was fully relaxed and chatted with the first American on my journey. Sitting in the waiting area at the gate a very young dog from customs passed by and snuffed on every passenger. So cute! Lufthansa was my airline of choice this time and the Service was very good.
I arrived at JFK in the afternoon and made my way through immigration. No problems at all. With my B2 visa I could have stayed until the end of the year. What a shame I entered the US for only a week. Just in case you didn’t know: I love America!
Standing at the baggage claim I started to get nervous. When I came home from the PCT my backpack didn’t arrive in Frankfurt. I felt some relief as soon as I saw that black and green pile coming around the corner on the baggage band. I was set for a new adventure!
I stepped out of the airport and was welcomed by my friend Brad. He is currently hiking the Appalachian Trail to finish his Triple Crown (Triple Crown means hiking all big three long-distance hiking trails in the US – the PCT, CDT and AT) and took a detour to New York to meet me and see the City that never sleeps. It was great to finally meet him in person! Some of you might think it is a bit risky to meet someone you only know from “electronic conversations”, especially at a place so far away as New York. Yes it is. And as we all tend to build up an image of someone else we only know by words I can tell you it is definitely a lot different to finally meet that person in real life. Luckily in our case it was a positive surprise, I think.
We hopped on a bus to the City center. We had booked a fency hotel near Time Square. We might be here only once in our lives, so why not? After check-in at the hotel we just made it into an Irish Pub along the street for dinner. Our first beer together, cheers! Afterwards we went straight back to the Hotel. The next day was meant to be an exciting day full of exploring!
Day 2 started with a hearty breakfast. I was traveling with an all-time-hungry hiker with more than 1300 miles in his legs and so it was hard to miss out any restaurants. Normally we both don’t like turning into a usual tourist but this time we did. We jumped on a Bigbus – one of these tourist buses without a rooftop – and made our way downtown Manhattan. The tourist buses take different routes and you can hop on and off at all the attractions whenever you like. The first attraction on our plan was the 9/11 Memorial. When we got off the bus we could already see the One World Trade Center. We walked through the 9/11 Memorial and I felt sorry, that something like that had to happen at all. I think the Memorial is a good place to think back and make sure all the people, all the heros who died on that day are never forgotten.
We went on along the Hudson River and had a first glance at the Statue of Liberty. We enjoyed an eight Dollar beer at the Pier A Harbour house and made an attempt to walk over Brooklyn Bridge. Too many tourists kept us from doing so. Instead we walked through Chinatown and Brad was very happy when we could find a Malaysian Restaurant for lunch. His favourite meal is Lakhsa.
It was very hot in New York so we hopped on the bus again and made our way back to the hotel for an afternoon rest before we started our evening program. We wanted to go on top of the Empire State Building. Having purchased an New York Explorer Pass in advance, that mentioned quick access by using the express line I was convinced it wouldn’t be a big Story to get up. Well, it was. There was no express line at all and we had to wait in a long line of tourists. Twoandahalf hours later we stepped out of the Elevator on top of Empire State Building. Excited I shooted to the window to get a good view. But I was alone. I turned around: Brad was standing there with a pale white face. He couldn’t go to the windows. He was afraid of the heights. It must have been a horrible experience for him. His hands were sweaty and I was very concerned. For a reason: Underneath my feet I could feel the whole building moving a little bit. A strange feeling, even for me. After some must-have photos I took Brad by his hand and we made our way down again. He felt better as soon as we left the building. Anyway, we skipped having a fancy cocktail at one of New York’s rooftop bars and went straight back to our hotel. Later I went to sleep very tired, knowing, that we wouldn’t climb any high towers on our third day.
On our third day we took a boat around Manhattan Island. We started on the Hudson River exactly at the place where Pilot Sully landed his airplane after the collision with birds. It was great to see the Manhattan Skyline from the distance. We passed by the Statue of Liberty and couldn’t believe what we saw, when the boat passed by a huge yacht with a helicopter onboard. After our cruise we stopped for lunch at an old lightship that was modified into a Restaurant called “The Frying Pan”. A place that combines good food and a nice view of the Hudson. In the late afternoon we walked to Rockefeller Plaza and no, we didn’t climb the high Tower of Rockefeller Center.
After exploring the very touristy and crazy parts of New York we both needed a little bit more quiet times the next days. After breakfast the next day we headed towards Greenwood Lake and I was facing my short adventure on the Appalachian trail!