Sunday, 25 May 2014
I roll out of bed and pull the curtains. Thirteen floors below, the Star-Spangled Banner is fluttering outside Madison Square Garden and there are only two yellow taxis at the intersection of Seventh Avenue and 33rd Street. This is no normal Sunday morning.
This is New York.
Yesterday was a bit of blur, really. Another early start - this time in Berkshire, our flight out of Heathrow delayed by almost three hours, and scenes of general chaos and frustration around the terminal.
Several children were wheeling around miniature suitcases called Trunkis. These come with a strap attached so kids can sit on the Trunki and be pulled along by their parents. We side-stepped one or two and then had to stop in our tracks as a father strode angrily towards his departure gate. The Trunki he was dragging behind him was fairly flying through the crowd and the little lad on board looked terrified.
Our flight eventually landed in Newark, New Jersey. At the welcome desk, one assistant told us the trains to New York weren't running, before the lady on the adjacent desk insisted they absolutely were. After further conjecture, we located a bus transfer and subsequently the train station. The trains were running.
Out of Penn Station we walked and New York City hit us like a truck. The crowds, the smells, the gigantic billboards, the taxis, the lights, the men wheeling hot dog stalls through traffic, and the branches of Dunkin' Donuts which seemed to appear on every corner.
By the time we reached Times Square, the mass of bodies was so dense you could barely move. This was like Piccadilly Circus on acid, with lines of Broadway-bound theatre-goers bisecting the queues for McDonald's, and a myriad of tourists posing for pictures with Mickey Mouse and Woody from Toy Story. We'd now been awake for the best part of 24 hours and I was starting to feel delirious. Was that really a man doing chin-ups on the traffic lights? Anything goes here, I suppose.
Burger and chips - it had to be - at Schnipper's - great name - brought down the curtain on a truly frantic day. We were anticipating a double room back at the Hotel Pennsylvania, but instead we were greeted by a suite bigger than our house in Kent. Clearly it's not just food portions which are bigger here.
There are four yellow taxis at the intersection now.
New York is waking up. Let's get out there.