Saturday, June 20, 2015

Awe, a New York feeling

Awe. My first feeling when I saw NY city.

I have traveled around a bit in this small planet of ours. But rarely have I come across a place that has left me as wonder struck. London, maybe, is the closest I can recollect.

I landed up in NY after a rather comfortable bus ride from Boston. A neat and moderately crowded highway running along bustling towns. The bus deposited us right outside a rather crowded Penn station, giving me a first experience of NY's swarming crowds.

Manhattan seems like one large and bustling 'mela'  (a carnival), as we call it back home. I loved the energy of the streets. In the perpetually moving crowds, in the incredible skyscrapers, in the street artists, in the hawkers, in the painters, and even in the rushing yellow cabs.

And oh Central Park. I cannot believe that man would leave such a beautiful park alone amidst the concrete jungle of the city. The perpetual joggers, cyclers, picnickers, playing children and the verdant greenery are another world altogether. A stark contrast with the skyscrapers dotting its boundary.

Times Square. Now that's a crazy place. Despite all that is spoken about it, one can't deny a certain capitalist energy, which I found rather unique.

The Liberty Statue. I took a Staten Island ferry and got a few quick and nice pics instead of going to the island itself. Saved good time, and the ferry ride amidst an overcast weather was gorgeous. New Yorkers don't seem to rate the attraction too highly, but I thought it was a worthy view.

Atop the Empire State. Well, its ain't all as romantic as it seems in the movies, but yeah, it still would give the Burj Dubai a run for the money.

The High Line. What a beautiful way to reclaim an old railway line and create an art center out of it.

Now, there were things I was a tad disappointed with as well.

The Met. Even after spending a half day here. Maybe, it was all the build-up in the Lonely Planet articles of this place. Maybe, it was because the last Museum I visited was the Louvre, which set an incredibly high bar. But I missed the 'story' to guide me around. Yes, a great set of collections, but seemed more for the connoisseur than the bourgeois.

Wall Street. For some reason, a lot of people asked me to go here. Yes, possibly the richest square footage on the planet. Yes, busy suited people and some old architecture. But for a traveler, I missed the 'so what'.

Closing on a high note, a rather underrated but integral part of the city - the Subway. I spent the most time while in the city, in its labyrinthine maze. Local people seem to have a love-hate relationship with it (for those who say it is crowded, I would say "come see the locals in Mumbai, my friend"). Quite the artery of the city. Indispensable for the traveler. And a great place to people-watch.

I wish I could have spent more time in the city. Inspiring and awesome.

Boston, pretty Boston

There are a couple of things that stand out about Boston.

First, the University atmosphere. Guess this is because the city has so many schools. It feels as if the whole city is a large campus. And so it is beautifully welcoming even to the value conscious traveler. There are cycle paths everywhere. Food is great and affordable. Almost all around have an intellectual streak.

Second, the History. Being one of the oldest cities in the US, it has a wealth of history and culture. Very unlike a lot of other US towns I have visited in the past. So for a culture buff, there is a wealth of things to see and do. 

Third, it is very walkable city. Now this is one of the things I used to find disconcerting about the US, coming from Asia. Most other US towns I have been to are so vast and widespread that driving around becomes a necessity. In Boston, one day I started from the MIT campus in Cambridge on a morning walk, and began walking around aimlessly looking at interesting landmarks. Before I knew it I was in downtown Boston, amidst the historic landmarks, tall skyscrapers, and pretty markets and piers. 

For a traveler from India, I would consider it akin to a Pune, that isin't too far from the bustling metropolis of Mumbai (that is more akin to NY).