So we left my cousins' early this morning in somewhat of a rush to get our car to the rental place before the 12pm deadline. We made it, settled up with the rental company, put our rucksacks on our backs and headed towards our home for the next week on East 39th Street Manhattan... or so we thought...
On arrival at our hotel we found that our booking had been cancelled and then on second glance the hotel receptionist informed us that the hotel room had in fact been rescheduled for Tuesday 24th June and not Monday 23rd June. They would happily arrange a room for us for the evening, but it would be $500.
We scratched our heads... on the one hand we had been driving all morning and were tired and just wanted a place to call home for longer than a couple of days, but on the other hand nothing was worth that amount of money... just think of all the shoes I could be buying with that!
We checked a few websites and found a little place on the Upper West side which was of a reasonable price and thought, "well really what other option do we have?" Rucksacks back on our backs we hailed a cab and headed uptown.
Now I hate to sound like a snob, but when I mentioned that this place was small I don't think I gave a full and true representation of how tiny this place actually was. Firstly the bed was possibly the smallest bed we have experienced here in the States and secondly that was pretty much the entirety of the room... just the bed. No I think I do not exaggerate when I tell you that in order to get into the bathroom I had to move our luggage in front of the main door to the room and then to get out of the room we had to move the luggage back in front of the bathroom.There was certainly very little breathing space and the window opened up to a brick wall, so there was very little air in the room to breath anyway.
Not to be down heartened we decided to find the best out of the crappy situation we were in and although we could not work out how we had both overlooked such a stupid mistake, I decided to call my sister who had lived around the neighboured a few years before for a couple of years. Within five minutes we had a game plan and decided to head out onto the streets and explore some of the Upper West side.
New York has a way of hitting you the moment you step into it. I realised this as soon as we drove off the Brooklyn bridge into Manhattan and I got stuck in a right lane wanting to turn left. Outside of the tourist areas it is eat or be eaten and after 4 years of living in Israel I was certainly prepared to bite back... This English girl ain't no fool!
The Upper West side is actually a pretty cool place. I mean I had always thought of it as one of the big Jewish hang outs in New York, but after walking around I saw so many decent bars and restaurants... it made it very difficult to choose where we actually wanted to park our tired butts to eat. The second plan for the day, under my sister's recommendation, was to head to Central Park and take advantage of this oasis in the middle of the city.
On the way we were only slightly distracted by the Museum of Natural History. It was 5pm and at first we thought it too late to go into the museum as they closed at 5.40, but the lady at the door informed us that now was possibly the best time to go as it was free and fewer people were around. Free! We were sold and we headed in to get a quick tour, but really we had one thing on our mind. The Squid and the Whale.
For those of you that have never been to New York or never heard of the Squid and the Whale I will paint little picture for you. In the Oceanic area of the Museum is a Giant Blue Whale hovering mid air and the walls surrounding are alight with various displays of aquatic life. All very interesting and a little more gritty than the fluffy displays we had seen at the Museum of Natural History in DC. For example one of the displays was, at first glance, of a Polar Bear and a baby seal, however on second glance you realise that the polar bear is stood growling by the side of a hole in the ice and the baby seal has clearly been plucked from the water by the bear, leaving a trail of blood on the snow behind it. So now that you have a feel of the place, we headed downstairs to the deep sea level of the displays and somewhere under the stairs you will find the display entitled the Squid and the Whale. In darkness the giant squid is trapped between the jaws of the Whale deep under the sea. It is pretty gory, scary and fascinating to see an artist's interpretation of how these two aquatic giants meet. It really is a display you have to stand and stare at...
Anyway, back to Central Park. I have been to New York once or twice before and enjoyed Central Park in the winter, but after walking around for half an hour trying to find the area that I went to last time to show the Israeli that area I gave up and decided to enjoy what was around us... The Jackie Onassis reservoir, the Great Lawn. We walked and found ourselves outside the Shakespeare Theatre, which my sister had told me showed free performances throughout the summer, so we decided to grab some tickets and make a night of Hamlet in the park.
After running home and having a shower we headed back to the Shakespeare Theatre and found our seats. The plan was we would meet up with a friend and eat afterwards, but I clearly have not been to the theatre for a while because I did not realise that the show would go on so late. Three and a half hours later, after a thoroughly enjoyable performance, we were walking out of the park and carrying our tired asses back to the hotel. Within minutes I was out and dreaming of a squid and a whale in our real hotel room tomorrow.