Empire State of Mind
The megabus from Boston drops us on a corner in the big city at about 9pm. It's been one of our better bus trips, the free wifi even worked for the first 40 minutes, and we enjoyed a beautiful sunset.
We manage to work out the direction to a station on the 1,2,3 line (Mari had organised with some friends for us to crash with them) and start walking. We haven't gone far when we stumble upon Madison Square Garden - home to the New York Knicks.
We walk around this famous venue and tiredly catch the train to the home of Lucy, Sean and Rudy (their beautiful dog). We spend some time chatting about bikes and our trip and patting Rudy before gratefully falling asleep on their comfortable air mattress.
In the morning we join them for a walk with Rudy along the Hudson River. It's really beautiful - they're lucky their apartment is so close to this fantastic riverside park with walking paths and a bike trail.
Back in the centre of the city, and we head to Times Square to take in the atmosphere and look for half price theatre tickets for the night. We take our time walking around - watch a man chopping wood with his hand as part of a cystic fibrosis fundraiser and look in a few shops.
But the half price ticket window doesn't open until 2pm... a guy selling comedy show tickets starts chatting to us and convinces us to pay just $15 each for entry to 'one of America's best' stand-up shows at the Dangerfields club. On Sam's probing we find out that it is a minimum 2 drink purchase once you get there, but we figure we'd be thirsty and buy a drink anyway.
We walk towards the Rockefellar Centre, stop to look inside a grand church, and find ourselves drawn into the Apple shop. On a corner near Central Park we are enthralled by a homeless man drumming with scraps of boxes and buckets - he is so talented!! We are similarly impressed by a guy singing in the subway, and we buy his CD.
We wait over half an hour for the next train, and when it arrives it is predictably packed. This is after getting bad directions from the man in the info booth and figuring out ourselves that it was easier to walk to another station rather than change trains three times...
On the recommendation of Lucy and Sean we head to Pier 66 for some dinner at the Frying Pan restaurant followed by kayaking on the Hudson. We're so excited to see the city from this different angle. But after talking to a few different people, including the rude sail-boat charter people next door, we find out that the kayaking has been cancelled for the day. We're really disappointed. But dinner on the barge is delicious, the sun is warm and the view spectacular, so we can't complain too much.
We stop in a small diner to sample some New York Cheesecake, and the prices look cheap so we also get a rice pudding and something called 'egg cream' that is in the milkshakes menu. It's not a custard though, more like soda water with some vanilla flavouring... The rice pudding tastes like sugar and the cheesecake is ok, but not great... When the bill arrives and we realise tax is added on, plus a tip is required, it dawns on us that the food is not as cheap as we'd thought. All we could do is laugh and toast the fact that it's our fourth wedding anniversary, and things really aren't going to plan.
The comedy show is mostly terrific. We overcome the fact that they are trying to get us to buy two drinks each at a price of $7.50 for Orange Juice or Coke... and convince them we are only paying for one drink each. Some of the acts are really clever and funny, and we enjoy most of the night enormously. But the final act... a Texan whose entire repertoire consists of racist, sexual, religious and other offensive material ends the night... people aren't laughing... he is awkward, we're awkward... we're glad when it's over but it's a terrible way to finish.
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Sam and Shanna Evans are from Melbourne, Australia