Most people who have traveled on buddy passes have a very strong opinion one way or the other: either they love them, or think itís the worst idea ever. My first attempt to fly to San Francisco with my friend Ben was unsuccessful, since then I have been to Maui and New York using a buddy pass, both trips with one leg of each being first class. I bet you can guess how I feel about buddy passes. :)
My trip to NYC with my friend Ben was my first trip to The Big Apple, and quite the experience. One of the coolest parts was that we decided to do it all in one day, bringing only a backpack that contained a Hat, extra socks, a book, and camera. We left from Salt Lake City airport at midnight on Tuesday night; we flew four hours and landed in New York, around 6:00 a.m. eastern time. After we landed we got on a train and traveled across this vast city which is commonly referred to as JFK airport. I think geographically itís larger than all of Salt Lake City, unbelievable.
When we made it to one of the stops for the real subway we got on and headed towards the city. Let me briefly explain how after I sat down in the subway it took me about 2 seconds to realize Ben and I were the only white people on the train. Instantly putting me in a different state of mind, there is something to be said of actually being the minority, especially having lived my whole life being very much with the majority. This was very cool, and was something of a wake-up call, and a good, memorable part of the experience.
As we approached Manhattan we realized we had no clue where we wanted to go. Prior to the trip weíd made some very vague plans of what we wanted to see, but all of the sudden we were there, and didnít really know where to start. (Ben is a travel afficianado, and has visited NY many times) So we went right for Times Square to snap a few pictures.
Ben had heard The Todayís Show was a fun stop and it was very convenient so we headed towards Rockefeller Plaza where they film on the street every morning. As we approached the barricades we knew we were in the right place. I heard one of the reporters say something about Keith Urban being on the show that morning (Remember itís 7:30 a.m. NY time, I basically didnít sleep all night on the plane, its all a bit surreal at this point) and as I looked to my left, Keith Urban, about 5 feet from me. I have to admit, I ëm a pretty huge Keith Urban fan. It didnít take long for us to realize we didnít need tickets to go inside the barricade, so we showed the cops our backpacks that were free of bazookas and bombs and they let us walk right up to the barricade where Al Rocker was giving the weather. Before I knew it, I was waving at the camera like all of those mindless idiots you see on TV every morning; I couldnít help it, like an instant reaction. Anyway Keith Urban made his way around signing some autographs and taking pictures. He got pretty close to us and Ben snapped this picture. This was a cool part of the trip because it was totally unexpected.
After that we snapped a few pics of the famous Rockefeller plaza and made our way towards the Empire State Building.
Honestly, height aside, this wasnít a super impressive building. The Chrysler building was far more impressive, definitely in terms of aesthetics.
Then we moved on to Grand Central station, took a few more pictures and then decided to get on the subway and head towards the Staten Island Ferry. We eventually decided against going on the ferry because it was $20.00 and would take 2 hours of our time. When making a day trip to a city on the other side of the country, you have to make some sacrifices, and closer pics of the statue of Liberty was just one of those casualties.
A few pictures of the Statue of Liberty from a distance. Bengerman pictured above.
After we had walked this far we were ready for some food. It was only 11:00 a.m. but we were ready to eat. (As a side note, New Yorkers will tell you that the subway is awesome and goes everywhere, which it does, but they never tell you that you have to walk about 10 miles between stops). Anyway, back to lunch, weíd decided on a pizza place in Little Italy called Lombardiís. They claim to be the first pizzeria in the U.S. and apparently some people back them up on that. We knew we couldnít go wrong getting pizza in Little Italy.After lunch we walked around Little Italy for a while. What I really enjoyed about this part of the city was the authenticity. Times Square was awesome, but very commercial; Little Italy was tons of restaurants and apartment buildings, people walking and talking on cell phones, it wasnít nearly as busy as other parts of the city, but it felt like someone's real life.
Then we headed towards the Brooklyn Bridge. Ben just got a new camera and really wanted to get some sweet pictures of the bridge, which he did.
After that we headed towards Madison Square Garden: one of the last great NBA arenas. We took a tour and were able to see the Knicks locker room, the Rangers locker room including Wayne Gretzky's locker. We were also able to get down close to the floor. We were really hoping it would be setup for basketball, but the circus was in town. Apparently The Garden hosts over 380 events a year, yes that means two a day on several occasions. They also have a 5,000 seat auditorium, situated above the subway and below the main stage of the garden. It is completely sound proof.Nate Robinson's locker: 2009 Slam Dunk Champ(Deron Williams is in this picture hanging in the hallway of The Garden)Ok, somehow I always carry on too long about these trips. Remember though, this is all in one day, by this time itís about 4:30 p.m. eastern time and we are ready head back to the airport to catch our flight home. Just before we head back to the airport we decide to see two last places: Central Park, and an apartment building called The Dakota, famous for being the home of John Lennon and the place where he was shot and killed. Rumor has it, his wife Yoko Ono still owns an apartment in this building.Manhattan Temple:
Central Park:The subway in Manhattan at 5:00 p.m. is exactly what you would think, crowded, just absolutely packed. This is an incredible city; you canít help but be amazed by it. A place I would love to visit again, even for an extended stay, but as I always feel when I travel, Utah is the best place in the world to live.
Thanks for the awesome trip, Ben. It was in fact, epic!