Chapter 20: New York – The city which never sleeps (part 3)

It was already around noon when we came back to Battery park. As we haven’t had much for breakfast, we were getting already hungry. We did not know where to get some great meal for a good price. Back in 2009 we did not have smart phones yet, specially not with internet. I had only a map and could ask people around. However I knew, that Chinatown might be a good place to eat something and pay an affordable price. I believe all of you are aware that New York is not the cheapest place in the World. Specially if you are a student coming from Center-East Europe.

After we decided to have lunch in Chinatown, we left Battery park. However we did not take the metro, but decided to walk and see as much sa possible from lower Manhattan. Our first stop was the famous Charging Bull located on Broadway. As you might know the Charging Bull is a symbol of Wall Street. It represents the courage and can-do spirit of Americans and New Yorker’s in particular. It supposed to show how strong the American Financial World is and New Yorker’s in particular. Leaving it out of our bucket list would be a big mistake. Unfortunately almost the same thought has every tourist visiting New York, therefore it’s almost impossible to make a picture from the statue when no-one is there. You have to be lucky or you have to come really early in the morning, otherwise it’s impossible to manage it. My picture from 2009 looks the following:

Source: My pictures

As there were really many people (as you might see on the picture above) we did not wait for a picture with the bull and continued in our trip. I just made a picture when a tourist was leaving the bull. Next stop was the World famous Wall Street, with the flag and all the buildings, where one of the oldest Stock Exchange is located.

We arrived to the Wall Street, and we were a bit surprised. Again, if you watch the US movies, the Wall Street looks huge, with many free place and big buildings everywhere. The buildings part is true. Huge historical premises, amazing architecture, specially the place with the American flag is really great, however the streets are not so huge. You have to make much effort with your camera to get the best picture captured. It’s not easy.

On the other hand, it’s definitively worth of it. You have a feeling that you are close to the people who make the biggest business overall and are part of the more than 200 years-old financial world of the United States. That’s quiet important.

We left Wall Street and went back to Broadway street. Walking up towards the Central park, we stopped by and made some pictures of the Trinity Church, sculptures and everything interesting we have seen so far.

Again, I’m not sure how familiar you are with New York, however if you walk up on Broadway starting the Battery park you will see some amazing places, e.g. Trinity church, fancy shops, and of course soon you will arrive to the City Hall. The New York City Hall is a National Historic Landmark. Did you know that the building is the oldest city hall in the United States? To be honest, I did not until I did not read about it before visiting New York. Unfortunately we couldn’t visit it (it was closed for public). It’s located between Broadway, Park Row, and Chambers Street. It’s also important to know that the World famous Brooklyn Bridge starts there.

Source: My picture

We were considering to walk through the Brooklyn Bridge, however we were really hungry. Therefore we decided to continue our walk and get some tasty lunch in Chinatown. Before entering Chinatown we just shot some pictures in front of the City Hall and the New York Country Supreme Court, which was also near by.

I haven’t been in China in 2009 or earlier, not even in any cities yet, where is a district dedicated to chinese people. This was the first time that I’ve seen something like that. Everywhere Mandarin signs (that’s the official language in China and most of the people – around 70% speaks it). Everything was really colorful, historical and cultural, of course you could see many people from chinese origin. It was like stepping to a different World. It was wonderful. You just left a Western World, and suddenly you were in East. What was even better that you could smell all those wonderful dishes everywhere. Chinatown is full with restaurants and they serve some amazing food. Another amazing thing in this part of the city is, that you can read the menu with the prices and often with pictures outside of the restaurants. Therefore you know if you want to enter or don’t. As we were only student from East-Europe, we were really trying to eat as cheap as possible, on the other hand as good and as much as possible. Therefore the option to read the menu outside and check the prices was like a fresh air out of a smoggy city. It was refreshing. Soon we have found a nice, quiet restaurant, entered and sit down to an empty table.

The restaurant was well furnished and calm. I don’t remember the name, but it was in the middle of Chinatown, on some small street. The restroom was downstairs. When the owner saw us, she immediately came to us with the menu. We were so hungry, that it did not take much time to chose something from the menu. After we ordered she brought us some tea. I was surprised, as we did not order tea. Only after that I understood, that in China is a tradition to start the food with some green tea. The tea was warm and very refreshing. You could smell and taste that it wasn’t just an ordinary tea, but it was original chinese green tea.

It did not take more than 10-15 minutes and food was already served. A big plate of chicken meat, with white rice and several types of vegetables covered with some great smelling sauce. It was like a dream. We ate it as someone who haven’t had food for days. It was so delicious. If you would visit once New York, or you have been there already, please do not miss Chinatown and the typical chinese restaurants, which are furnished in typical chinese style. Don’t go to those fast food places. Find the restaurants, which is a bit fancy, but typical for the rich and beautiful Chinese culture.

After the lunch it was time to discover a bit the neighborhood. We were just walking around, looking and the souvenir shops and buying some small presents for ourself and for home.

We decided to continue our journey in Little Italy, or Piccola Italia how it’s called by the Italians. Again, I’m not sure how familiar you are with the history, however during the late 19th century and beginning of 20th century there was a mass immigration flow, specially from Europe. In that time period so called “ethnic neighborhoods” have been created and as many Italians came, they created their own neighborhood too. Unfortunately with that the famous Italian Mafia arrived to United States as well. Currently There are five main New York City Mafia families, known as the Five Families: the Gambino, Lucchese, Genovese, Bonanno and Colombo families. The Italian-American Mafia has long dominated organized crime in the United States. However this is not the purpose of that blog, I just wanted to give you a bit bigger overview.

We were expecting little Italy a bit bigger. It has some nice streets, however the overall feeling is small. Since we came to New York, we thought many places would be much bigger, however the opposite was the truth. Little Italy was part of that truth.

Source: Google Maps – the red dot is where were just staying at the end of the story above

After Little Italy we were a bit struggling whether we should walk, or take the metro. The reason of our struggling was that we were close to the neighborhood where our hostel was located. Eva was really exhausted already. She was not used to walk such big distances. Therefore we decided to continue by the metro.

We entered the metro on the Spring Street and left it on the 33rd street. I did not mention is before, but Manhattan was built in the perfect way as it’s really hard to get lost. In general Manhattan is split by avenues and streets, therefore it’s really easy to find the places you are looking for. Of course some of the streets have names, therefore in those cases you must have a map, however the majority of the island is easy to discover. It never happened to me that I would get lost there.

Source: google maps – red dot is where we entered the metro, green is where we left it

We left the subway on the 33rd street due to one reason. We wanted to visit the Empire State Building. For sure you know it has a really nice observatory on the top, from which you can see the city, even the Statue of Liberty. We were struggling to buy entry tickets or not, at the end we decided to skip it. I came back to New York in 2016 where I visited the Empire State Building Observatory. However that’s a different story.

Leaving the Empire State Building we did continue to walk on the 34th street. Again, I’m not sure how familiar you are with New York, but there is a great movie called: “Miracle on 34th Street” from 1947 with a remake (which I think is even better) from 1994. It’s about a little girl not believing in Santa Claus. Spoiler alert: At the end of the story she will again believe in Santa, but I don’t tell you the story. You need to watch the movie. It’s definitively worth to see. I was just thinking on it walking on that street. Soon we arrived to our next destination:

Macy’s. Officially it’s called Macy’s Herald Square, and it’s the flagship of the Macy’s department store. Of course this shop is also part of several movies, tv shows, however that’s not the reason I wanted to visit it. The building’s 2.5 million square feet (230,000 m2), which includes 1.25 million square feet (116,000 m2) of retail space, makes it the largest department store in the United States and among the largest in the world. Except of that the building is really famous, has a long history and during Christmas it has one of the most beautiful shop decorations ever. It’s actually a must if you visit New York. We entered it and we got soon in a huge store of perfumes and other accessories for women. I already knew, I will buy a gift for my mom here. She loves perfumes, therefore this will be the perfect place to buy it. After leaving the perfume department we entered the clothes one. The famous brands, all at one place with really great prices. We did not spend much time with shopping as we agreed to come back, just walked through the place and enjoyed it.

We spent there approximately 1 hour. Leaving the 7th avenue, we turned right. Our next and final destination for today was the famous 42nd street and even most famous Times Square. We wanted to see it in the evening, where all the lights from several banners makes it wonderful. You can see the life and light of New York in one place. I think it’s one of the most famous tourist places on the World, specially during New Year’s Eve. Of course during that time it’s not really comfortable staying there, as you are squeezed between thousands of people on one square. However it’s a great feeling celebrating New Year in New York! Once I would like to enjoy it too.

Soon it got dark as you can see from the pictures above. We decided to enjoy the atmosphere bit longer, had few hot dogs there and decided to go back to our hostel. We were a bit tired from the whole day walk, however not so tired that we wouldn’t still go out for a drink.

Of course we did not walk back to our place. We took the metro and it did not take much and we were already in our rooms. Entering the room we met new people who just moved in. As they wanted to discover the night life of the city, we went out as a big group. We were around 10-14 people, which actually caused some issues as there were no bars open for so many people. Unfortunately the bars of New York, specially in Manhattan – Lower East side are small and mostly crowded. It took us ages when we finally found a place and had few drinks.

During the evening Eva told us that she was really exhausted and tomorrow she just wants to rest a bit. Considering she will stay in New York 1 week more than I do, I fully understood her. Therefore we decided with Adam that we will go only the 2 of us tomorrow. More of that in the next chapter. 🙂

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