And so I bought my ticket and landed on JFK. I finally wanted to find out whether it’s true what they say about New York. I especially remembered one quote from a movie, most likely Woody Allen saying: "The true New Yorkers understand that people living anywhere else must be, in some sense, kidding". Now I can honestly say, I totally agree.
During my first days in NY I could only be compared to a child in a huge candy store on Christmas. With my eyes wide opened and my head facing up I walked the streets of Manhattan absorbing everything I saw. After a few days of this huge cultural shock, when I was finally able to think straight, I started exploring this amazing city.
One of the things that fascinated me about NY is that every newcomer like myself fits in. Nobody cares that you’re different, that you speak another language. Nobody discriminates. On the contrary, NY favors differences and encourages individuality. Some feel as just a tiny fraction in a huge anonymous crowd, but it’s this anonymity that draws people here. It’s like a magnet for those who want to feel free and start new lives from the scratch.
What’s also incredible about New York is its amazing diversity and the fact it can generate all kinds of emotions in a single day. Starting at the busy financial district with its famous Wall Street, going through the enchanting Little Italy and trendy Greenwich Village, passing through the hectic and always crowded and bright Times Square and finishing at the relaxing Central Park, NY just overwhelms with its variety of ambiances.
During my one-month stay in New York, all I can say is that thirty days are not enough to discover what this metropolis has to offer. I stayed in a tiny flat in Brooklyn where the rent was three times more than my rent in Europe, but all I cared about was that right outside my door there was a metro station that took me straight to my Manhattan’s favorite places. Many asked me how I managed to find an apartment there from one day to another. The truth is it was kind of risky, but I just took a local paper with ads and started calling people. As apartments in NY are as fresh bread, they sell from one minute to another. As I was struggling with my huge suitcase in a subway, one extremely nice new yorker helped me and referred me to some vacation rental sites I could look at to find an apartment.
In one of my favorite books about New York, Maria Kornatowska said that there are probably thousands of people who come to NY to start a new life. They want to forget their past, their social status and discover this other part of personality that was hidden deep inside of them to become somebody completely different. It’s something about the NY freedom that is so unique. Everybody can dress however they want, live their own lives and be lost in the colorful crowd. Everything is allowed and everything is possible, especially when you are an exotic foreigner who came from another part of the world.
I went to all the standard touristy NY spots such as Ellis Island, the NY Stock Exchange, "the Met" or the Empire State Building, but what I loved the most was just walking the streets without a map or any plan and observing the real New York.
Here are some of my favorite NY pastimes:
- Stargazing in the Battery Park with the view on New Jersey
- Visiting The Frick Collection, one of the most amazing private collections of art I’ve seen
- Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge and enjoying the NY City Skyline at sunset.
- Having dinner on the roof of "the Met" (the Metropolitan Museum of Art)
The list could go on and on but let’s leave something for the next chapters.