Around one year ago today, I was wandering aimlessly around New York City. Now to be honest, I have been to NYC roughly 8 times before but this trip was different for a few reasons. First, I was not there for some ‘famjam’ so my weekend didn’t consist of only family events. Secondly, I hardly told any family members that I was going to be in town by design. Thirdly, I booked my flight like 5 days before I jetted off, so there was no concrete plan, I literally opted to go to NYC randomly and I was rolling solo.
Coming from a West Indian background, when you are visiting it can be overwhelming seeing a lot of family, especially when they are spread out all over. ‘Liming’ by family consists of eating, gossip, being told I look chubbier than before, more eating, wondering why I am not married yet, more eating and being told that ‘I don’t need to see the sights its dangerous out there this isn’t like Canada’. The end result, the only thing I end up seeing is the inside of houses, living rooms and basements with an occasional backyard. This trip wasn’t for them it was for me, and if they’re reading this, sorry not sorry.
A few months before, I travelled alone out of Canada for the first time ever and while it was scary at first it was one of the best feelings of my life. This time around was easier because it was closer to home, I am familiar with NYC and no language barriers (well depending on which NYC accent you come across). Left my home at like 2pm on a Saturday for the airport and by 530pm I was in New York City. My cousin got me from LGA about an hour later and the next stop is BROOKLYN!
Okay, so there was a fourth reason I wanted to go to NYC if you’re a hip-hop head you may know why. Puff Daddy was having a concert at Barclays Center on Biggie’s birthday so ‘I had to be there’ (that’s the excuse I told myself). Honestly, it was worth it seeing the Bad Boy Family back together along with some special guests. I know later on they would tour North America but, I got a slightly different show because it was Brooklyn. My cousin and I had a ball! We were teenagers again wilding out to Bad Boy!
Having the honour of rapping along #BiggieSmalls 'Juicy' in #Brooklyn on his birthday was a #OnceInALifetime privilege! Amazing night and atmosphere #BadBoyReunion #BiggieSmallsIsTheIllest #Brooklyn!! #WhereBrooklynAt #Waynecation #IThoughtIToldYouThatWeWontStop #Latergram #PuffDaddy #BadBoyRecords #BadBoy4Life
I got to see Mary J. Blige, Busta Rhymes, Desiigner and Fabolous! Now that alone was worth it but wait…There is more! Out of nowhere DMX came on the stage and started tearing it up and we lost our minds! Also, there was another unexpected guest streamed in from Belize, it was Shyne doing the track ‘Bad Boyz’ and again we lost our minds! I am realizing this whole paragraph uses exclamation marks!
Monday and Tuesday was dedicated to wandering and exploring NYC. My past experiences were like quick trips where if we did sightseeing it was like 90 mins then back to the car. Very seldom, did I get to enjoy NYC more organically. So since my cousin works in Manhattan I would take the train into Grand Central Station with him and then I would just go on way for like 8-9 hours and meet him up afterwards. It was a GREAT! I am an avid walker and I like going at my pace so this was ideal for m
The Flatiron Building
Grand Central Station
Empire State Building
One World Trade Center
New York Stock Exchange
After making a cameo appearance in Wall Street I decided to check an item off the ol’ bucket list, walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. Sure, it’s a bridge but it is one of the most iconic bridges in North America and gives you some of the most beautiful vantage points in New York City. The walk is about 25-30 mins long if there isn’t much pedestrian traffic it took me about 40 mins because I was marveling at the view from multiple angles being a tourist. Also, I learned to stay in your lane because cyclists don’t mess around they will honk at you and cuss at you mercilessly if you are in their dedicated lane. Unless you get cussed at by a New Yorker you haven’t had the full New York experience.
Tuesday, I got to do things a bit differently. I started my day walking the High Line. For those who don’t know the High Line is public park/walkway giving pedestrians an elevated look at NYC’s industrial district and Westside. Originally it was railroad tracks then it was converted into greenspace.
The first phase opened in 2009, the third and final section opened in 2014. It runs from the Meatpacking District through Chelsea to 34th Street and you also get a nice view of the Hudson River. It runs about 2.3km and I really enjoyed taking in the views and greeting fellow tourists that passed by and also dodging rain.
After completing that walk, I ended up in midtown so of course I had to check out the most tourist-friendly stuff like Times Square, Rockefeller Center, MoMA and Carnegie Hall. After that another bucket list item was about to get checked off, walking all the way through Central Park.
To give you an idea of how big the park is, it starts at about 59th Street and when you exit at the north end of the park you are at 110th Street. In a way, I felt like I was a part of my own NYC movie moment (that was cheesy) getting to see the zoo, people eating their lunches or reading books on a bench, couples on carriage rides, friends sitting on the lawn laughing up a storm. It lived up to the boosting I kept giving it over the years.
Once I left Central Park I was in Harlem! Walked up Malcolm X Blvd. to MLK Blvd. and saw Marcus Garvey Park. The next bucket list item was about to be checked off, seeing the Apollo Theater. Being a fan of black comedians and entertainers seeing the legendary Apollo up close was soooo cool. I will freely admit that the gentrification of Harlem was mad real but still so dope to walk through Harlem. Sorry, Bronx I didn’t have enough time for you I really was hoping to see Rucker Park and Yankee Stadium maybe next time.
In a whirlwind of a few days I was able to give myself the New York experience I haven’t been able to obtain before. In the 1990’s I was bystander, in the 2000’s it was short trips which made my kind of fickle on the allure of NYC. This trip rekindled the love I had for this city through TV and movies when I was a kid. Home Alone 2 made me want to wander around NYC preferable without Daniel Stern and Joe Pesci chasing me down. Perhaps because no one was dictating my itinerary or maybe because I felt freer since it was spur of the moment instead of detailed. Sidenote, I ate far too much, so that deserves its own post. Whatever it was, I came, I walked, I conquered and I can finally say without hesitation… I LOVE NYC!
Walk it out,