My first trip to the States: New York

That’s it, I can say I’ve been to New York City. After a long trip, and  waiting almost 3 years to use my 30’s birthday present, I’ve put my foot in America, in one of the most famous city of the universe.

DAY 1

First contact: border control.

Basically a bunch of assholes trained to treat people like sh/eeps/it, screaming at the first couple that dares to take a photo to celebrate the beginning of their trip almost humiliating them, threatening to throw away the camera if they don’t delete the photo “right now!”. Clearly and sadly pathetic. This woman looked and acted like a mad bulldog, and there was no need for this attitude.

Once out of the airport, after meeting with Emily’s boyfriend Jammie, the magic began. Yellow cabs. Lights, bronx houses with fragile damaged fences (nothing magic here), and after 20min, the skyscrapers landscape of Manhattan. This wasn’t a movie anymore, this was real.

Quick shower before meeting Emily and Jammie for dinner. First trip in the metro, all iconic visual elements everywhere around, all the typical people one sees in movies. Out of the station on the streets, a all drum kit, a drummer, a saxo player, and here they go for a quality jazz set.

Big trucks, big buildings, all those things I never had seen “for real” before, they’re all there, parading in front of my eyes and this stupid smile stuck on my faith.

After a nice dinner at Hundred Acres, went walking, 20min of visual pleasure, smells, heat, humidity.

Done with the first approach, bedtime, want to get up early.

DAY 2

Woke up at 7, thinking ‘get up, you’re in New York my friend!!”. Quick shower and went down for a breakfast, not sure what I was going to find, but confident, there’s all sort of food here.

Landed in a grocery store/supermarket, 150 Market on Fulton street, where they serve some bagels and stuff for breakfast. Asked for just the potatoes, charged 10$, got the bagel to, that I sadly ended up throwing away. Was nice to speak in spanish with the people from the shop.

This morning, the first step was to buy a new iPhone, and not in any store: in the fifth Avenue Apple storethe famous glass cube.

To go there, I crossed central park. It was 8:45 and it was full people I already saw before: the joggers, the dog walkers… Well that’s pretty much it actually, at this time of the day, this is what you get in central park: runners and walkers, like in the movies.

9:15, here I was: the Apple Store.

Didn’t take me more than 3 minutes, I had my brand new phone, and I was sitting in the store using the free wifi and connecting to the iCloud downloading back my apps abd pictures. Yeah… Took me bit more than 1h30… After that, finally got out of it and was ready to eat the big apple and shoot it with my small apple device.

43704722-IMG_5976

While walking on the Fifth avenue, I could hardly close my mouth, literally. Mainly because of what I was seeing, but also because of the crazy humid heat.

Grand central Stationmadison square gardenEmpire state buildingyellow cabs, hot dogs and bagels trails, everything I knew was here, plus what I didn’t know yet.

14:30: brunch at Calle Ocho – Supposed to meet with Emily Ryan, finally met with my dear Emily Melander! Big surprise, lotta weeks no seeing or talking, was great. Had some strong drinks, some ‘meh..’ food.

Then we went to the PS1, a live set organized each saturday by the MoMa, hipster mood in the heart of Brooklyn. The queue was gigantic and the tickets sold out.

We resigned. Nevermind.

Emily wanted to show me the bridge on our way to another place in Brooklyn. But on our way, I saw some guys clearly coming from the PS1 too entering the small door of a bar. Didn’t doubt it a second: “Emily, shall we?”

It was “the Creek & The Cave“.

While she finished her call, I got in. First impression: that’s small, and where are the guys that just came in? Asked the waitress, told me there is another floor downstair and a terrace behind, perfect.

I get down and I found myself all of a sudden viewing a small one man show by a totally unknown guy, that was at this moment humiliating a woman from the audience with mean jokes; shit people like. Poor woman left the room. But the show was cool.

Emily arrived, we ordered nice cider and went on the terrace. Nice, small, green, with very good music, nice people. And here we stayed chilling for about an hour.

Then, as a good guide she is, she took me to view New york from a bridge, when it was already sunset. Beautiful.

For dinner, a place called “Five leaves“. Awesome food, awesome place.

After that, she took me to a party in the backyard of a friend of hers.

Here I was, feeling so lucky to be at a private party, sitting o the grass with local people, barbecue, beers and Jack Daniels, enjoying.

After several hours of drinking and eating, we ended up in a bar, still in Brooklyn, party, dancing and stuff and at 4 headed the four of us to spend the night in the apartment of one. Walked like mad. But here I was, second night in New York sleeping “somewhere” in Brooklyn.

DAY 3

11h: everybody wakes up and we left for a brunch at “Le Baricou“. Had duck and orange juice, sitting outside at the sun. Tasted like heaven.

After that, we walked to the place of the party of the day before to meet with the owner who has a van that would take us nine people to spend the day at the beach. After hanging around watching Batman for a while (the one with Schwarzy), we left for the beach. Awesome moment walking in Brooklyn under the sun with a boombox shouting cool music. I was like a kid in Disneyfuckinland.

We met with everyone, had an Oreo ice cream – the day before I already had beer and whisky that I’m supposed to avoid for wheat intolerance, but I quickly broke the rule to focus on enjoying- and headed to the beach, crossing the no so cool streets of brooklyn.

Crazy wind on the beach, but that created huge wave that we started riding like crazy, the perfect after-party activity to refresh everything inside oneself.

End of the day, back to the van, dropped at the metro and way back to the center sharing part of the metro trip with Melander. I couldn’t find the words to express how thankful I was to her for this awesome day/night.

I was actually worried about how could this trip to NY get better now after this!? Quite a challenge.

When I got out of the metro at 9/11 memorial, sky was dark grey, wind blowing dust in the eyes of everyone, storm was starting, people running everywhere, there was a weird sensation with this feeling of panic and the dust all over the air, couldn’t help thinking of 9/11. At one point I saw a guy totally freaked out in the middle of the street screaming “is it a bomb??!”. Surprising.

When I got home, I was exhausted. I asked Perry, the landlord, if he could recommend some place to eat in the neighborhood, and this is how I end up eating in a Hawaiian fast food that wasn’t too bad, very rich. The L&L Hawaiian bar.

And final,y get some sleep…

DAY 4

Woke up at 7′ and to begin, My target was the MoMa.

I actually confused MoMa with the MET, heading toward this last one.

On my way, before getting to Central Park, I found a place called Soom Soom. It was a small and clean falafel place and had a very good critics from the New Yorker hanging on the wall, as the best veggie in town or something like this. I just had a tea, but the woman offered me a sample, which consisted in a falafel ball. Ridiculously delicious, knew I would come back.

Asking a runner in the middle of Central Park, she told that anyway all museum are closed on mondays. But at the same time, another running woman came by and said that actually the National Museum of American History was open today.

So I went, for the opening. Spent 5:30 inside, payed for every single exhibition. 2 highlights: the first thing I saw, a movie in a 360 cinema, a documentary about the birth of the sun. Mind-blowing.

The second highlight is that I saw real fishes of those that make light in the deep deep seas, lovely.

Then I met with Emily Ryan and we headed to a macrobiotic food restaurant with a friends of hers.

On the way to Emily’s, I found myself stucked between a meat ball street shop and a frozen yogurt one. Didn’t know what to choose but those were 2 things I had to taste. So I did both, first the meatballs, not very good, and the frozen yogurt, that was quite good.

But tonight the big thing was going to a special play called “sleep no more” in a building in Chelsea.

Difficult to talk about the experience to someone who hasn’t been, this is how original and freaking awesome it was. A weird but beautiful experience, great time.

After this great moment we ended up 3 of us on the rooftop of “la quinta” drinking cocktails at the feet of the empire state building.  Wonderful. When everybody was heading home at 1, I decided that it would be great to use more time of the night to do a night visit to the empire state. So I went. Amazing view on New York, as expected, but totally worth it.

Then walked back home, walked until I realize that seeing e freedom tower doesn’t mean you’re close to it. After walking for 45min and not seeing the freedom tower getting closer, I ended up calling a cab. New York is big!

DAY 5

Day will begin with art again, at the MET this time. So again, morning walk through the park to get from the west side of it where the metro leaves me, to the east side, where museums are. As I was a bit hungry, I stopped by the Soom-Soom to grab 6 balls of Falafel and a cold mint tea, lovely.

When I arrive, I start earring some sweet music. It’s a acapella band singing soul classics. Can’t avoid sitting straight away on the stairs and listen to them. It’s been years of my life listening to street bands, what I’m seeing now is high level, is “haute cuisine”.

After a while, I enter the museum. Thanks to the luck that I have of knowing local people, I was advised that although prices shown is 25$ for one ticket, the hidden reality is that one gives what is considered the correct amount, from 0 to whatever. So I gave 5$. and I was in.

I started straight away catching a one hour guided tour that was somehow interesting.

Truth is, the museum is so vast, I couldn’t know what I had or not already seen. My major focus was a special exhibition of pieces of art from Persian countries with beautiful calligraphic pieces. One interesting thing about museums in New York is that it’s authorized to take pictures if it’s without flash. Lovely, took a picture of every single piece I loved, with an extra one for the self-portrait by Van Gogh that I wasn’t expecting to find there.

I was hungry, so I called my friend FourSquare for some help.

I was sent to “Shake Schack“, apparently a quite known place for burgers, which I don’t understand since it huge oily crap, but anyway.

After I entered by curiosity in an H&M store that was right next the oily fast food, and discovered that prices were are really interesting, so I started buying stuff. Also went to Footlocker and got me some nice Nike’s for 40$, which is ridiculous compared to prices in Europe.

After that, what I felt I needed was get home, leave stuff and have a quick nap, before going out tonight for drinks in Brooklyn.

I arrived earlier so I decided to go for some food and find this place called “Tacos Santana“. This Brooklyn wasn’t so romantic as the first one I had seen few days ago. Can’t say I felt in danger, but it was quite dark… So I wasn’t expecting nothing from this tacos place. 2$ each tacos. Started with 2. Turned out to be really good. Mexican cooker, very small place with 2 tables, kebab place style, where I could speak spanish and create some kind of cool connection, at least that what I felt. I ordered 1 more and half an hour later I was done with this lovely dinner in this crappy but good place.

Got in the “Trophy bar“, Emily Ryan came, Luis too, met with Sofia, a cute football player from sweden, and Lydia, cute DJ also from sweden, both living in NY. Also had a long talk about Spain and Barça with the DJ of the place who spoke perfect spanish. I ended up having a really cool and long talk with Sofia and we all left.

We were 3 at this point: Luis, Emily and me. Luis was riding his skate, Emily her bike, and me my shoes. My idea was to take a cab; the idea of taking a metro in Brooklyn at 1:30AM didn’t thrilled me that much. But Luis convinced me that it was really ok and I trusted him. And he was right, nothing to worry about. Arrived home safely and a lot quicker and cheaper that if I had taken a cab.

DAY 6

Day five was the day I was going to meet the statue of liberty, the one and only. Took a boat, listened to “Born in the USA” by Springsteen, went there, saw the statue, got to the closest point I could get to it, and from there, put on my ipod and launched “New york, New york” by Frank Sinatra. Totally appropriate.

Spent one hour maybe, walking on the island. The last 20 minutes, I waited for the sun to be in the exact angle of the Statue’s torch to take a cool picture.

Time to go back to New York. Turns out the boat doesn’t take you to New York but to Ellis Island, access door for every single emigrant that came into the country until I’m not sure when. I said why not. Turned out to be interesting and I learned some stuff about all the process and history.

Took some nice picture.

Outside of the museum, there’s a big circle wall with a thousands of names written on them. At first I thought it was all the immigrants that had come on this island. After asking, it’s familiars of some of them that payed to have the name of their ancestors written there. Same thing, but instead of “all the immigrants”, it’s the ones of which familiar have payed to get their names engraved there. And I find Cornwall, Leon, Madge, it was cool.

After eating and a nap, I joined Emily and some friends of hers for a picnic in Central Park. The only idea itself was really exciting, since it was again something “local”. We had fun, had wine in the most illegal way, hiding the bottle and stuff, had some nice food. We stayed until night, sitting under the trees having a cool time.

Then again, when my dear local colleagues felt like going home, I took the opportunity to visit Times Square by night. Although it’s awfully crowdy and almost annoying, truth is it’s quite impressive. All those lights, screens, giant screens, noise. I’m glad I saw it. But after 10minutes I was more than done and ready to go. Before, I quickly entered the Hard Rock Café to take a look. 10 minutes after I was out with only 1 objective: getting out of this place.

And to finish the night, I decided to get out of the metro 3 station before my place and have a walk on the Brooklyn Bridge. Can’t say it was really exciting nor beautiful since it’s partly under construction, as half the city is, but It’s done.

DAY 7

Woke up and went to meet with Gathien, a friend from Marseille I hadn’t seen since 2004, and his wife Marie-Laure.

Met at the MET and went for a walk through Central Park. Sudden.y, turns out “I” was the guide! We went for a quick drink in the park and then as we were getting hungry, I recommended one of the few places I knew at the moment for food that was close: Soom Soom. This time we all had the combo pita falafel, and as promised, it was delicious. I’m very proud and happy for this treasure I found by myself.

After that, went back home for a nap and at 5PM met with another friend I hadn’t seen for long time (months), Jordi Huaman and Paloma.

We met at the museum of Art and Design, the museum was quite crap, but it was nice to meet. We then moved to the terrace of “Maison” and drank ourselves 2 bottles of quite good cider.

We got hungry, so we walk toward chelsea, stopped at a daily and grabbed some food to eat outside, sitting on the stairs of a a small building of apartments, very “movie’ish”.

After that I felt like going home. I sat and watched TV for a while and was glad to view the olympics 200m. men final, that Bolt, of course, won.

Tomorrow was this big day when I was going whale watching!

DAY 8

The boat for the whale watching thing was scheduled to leave at 12AM, so I took the metro and crossed the all city with it, took me more than 1hour.

I arrived at Rockaway, the end of the line. Here was a small town, totally different from the city, even in the way people speak, close to rednecks.

I asked a lady where was this place I’m going, and it was clear that I would have to walk, like 40minutes, which, considering it was already 11:25, was a problem in itself. I said ok, I’ll take a cab on the way and done. On top of this, it was starting to rain quite seriously. The place was after the Marine Parkway Bridge, more than 2km away from where I was.

The first thing I understood while walking is that apparently cabs are not that common in that place. Not a single one. It was starting to rain really hard and I was already socked in water, a mix of rain and sweat from how quick I was walking. After, 20 minutes, it was already 11:50 and that bridge I was heading too wasn’t getting closer. And I was drowned.

So my last chance was the good ol’ itching method, and here I was with my thumb in the air, looking desperately for help to not miss the boat. And after 3 minutes, a car actually stopped, a couple of aged, who kindly took me to the boat, explaining me that it’s very common to itch around here and that I’m lucky. Can’t stop thanking them.

11:55, I’m on the boat, ready to go and see the whales. I tried to dry my shirt with the hand cleaner, but unsuccessfully, and was glad I had brought a sweater.

No whales, shitty day, lost 1 day and 45$. Well, 35$, because “yey!” they gave us a coupon 10$ discount for the next trip…….

Back home at 7, 9 hours after leaving home.

Quick nap, quick dinner with people from the apartment and meeting with Gass in La Quinta for nice caiprinha on a rooftop with amazing view on the empire state building.

Then I met with Ellie and friends of hers, went to some kind of bar/club for some ass moving.

After that, ate some awesome pizza at Rosario and back home.

DAY 9

This day was about being american in the most topic’ish way: burgers and shopping.

Started with Century 21, some kind of amazing shop where everything is sold at prices never seen before, like Levi’s pants for 30$.

Strange thing: there’s no dress room for men. So you basically have to buy it, go home, try it, and turn back to give it back if it’s no good.

So I did, bought stuff, went home and tried them on. Unfortunately, some stuff needed to be taken back to the store…

But before, a great moment needed to happen: my first burger in New York. Following a friends recommendations, I went to The Corner Bistro, a place known for making the best burgers in New York.

Had the special Bistro Burger, was awesome…and HUGE. I wasn’t so hungry after that, but I didn’t want to leave the place without trying the cheeseburger. So I ordered it for dessert. I think it tasted even better than the first one. Now, I was full and my to-do list was checked on the “eat a burger” item.

Went back to century 21 and changed stuff. And bought a 60$ dollars jacket for 5$…

For dinner, it was Ellie’s birthday, nice people, nice to meet with Luis again, very nice food at “Lavagna“.

Went into a conversation with a girl on how Tiger Woods shouldn’t be judge for what happens in his private life. The girl didn’t agree and actually was being aggressive in her arguments, so I preferred to leave the conversation there.

After that, drinks at “Affaire” club, crowdy as shit, shitty music, but had fun. Big brawl for a short time when 2 asiatic guys started fighting in the club. Lot of noise outside when we got out since the two asiatic guys were still looking for punches.

We left. On our way, we saw how a big black guy threw a girl against a metal shop door… And rats and cockroaches the size of my fist. The dark side of New York.

My last night in New York was over…

DAY 10, last day.

After only 3h of sleep (didn’t want more), I packed up my stuff to let it done, and went to the Apple Store on Fifth avenue to get my friend Raul his iPad.

Didn’t have time for more, went back home, ate at the same Hawaiian restaurant I had dinner days before, went back home, said bye to Perry and left for the airport.

My plane was at 17h05… well at least this is what my iPhone was saying.

Well turns out my plane was 6h later, at 23h05. What happened. When I crossed the atlantic the first time, my calendar thought it would be clever to move my appointments 6 hours earlier… So here I was, in the airport, loosing a full day in New York… I was really sad… and annoyed.

Had brownies at the starbucks to forget, a sandwich, wrote stuff, sat, walked… lot of boring stuff.

After 8 hours of waiting, went on the plane and left for Madrid…

I miss New York, I miss the people I’ve met, the moment I’ve had. I’ve discovered a beautiful and crazy city, now, I know New York.

I’ve discovered that a lot of the people I talked to in the streets for information or stuff usually a light layers of coldness that it has been easy to break with few smiles and kind words. Even a black tough woman in the metro station that apparently didn’t want to help me out and who at  the first second I started talking with her was showing anger on her faith, ended up being very nice and smily.

One day I was shopping in a small supermarket, I saw this big 15meters long wall of different kinds of cereals. I thought: this is New York: you’re offered thousand of stuff, you choose what you like and make your own New York, bars, places to eat, shops, parks, streets, New York has everything, make your custom New York.

I’m so happy I got to do a mix between “tourist” and “local” way of life. Can’t thank Emily Ryan for that. She organized everything weeks before we arrived there, and everything was awesome and perfect.

Thank Emily Ryan for inviting me into your life. Thanks Emily Melander for inviting me into yours. Thanks Ellie for the same reasons. I’m ridiculously lucky that I’ve wait so long to go to New York, but knowing you guys was the first step before going there and enjoying it the way I did.

Music

Songs I’ve loved to listen while discovering New York that will from now on always be associated to my trip:

We Are Young – Fun Feat. Janelle Monae
Frank Sinatra – New York, New York
Sting – Englishman in New York
The foundations – Build me up Buttercup
Bob Dylan – Blowing in the wind
David Bowie – Heroes
Jeff Buckley – Hallelujah
Skip The use – The face / Fallin’ / Give me your life
Motor city drum ensemble – Raw cuts #3
Cold Play – Viva la vida

New York, I’ll be back.

Leave a Reply