My favourite place on earth. Fascinating, enchanting and home to so many incredible photo ops.
There wasn’t a place on earth I wanted to see more than New York City. It’s strange for me because I get a huge thrill to visit strange and unseen places and experience things that aren’t as well known but NYC has always drawn me like no other place. I only ever feel like I’m ‘home’ when I visit my parents and never where I actually live. They could pack up and leave and I’d still find that place feels the same because it’s not so much about location as it is who’s there and how they make the place feel. That’s how New York City makes me feel too.
Travel does wonderful things for people and a large chunk of my time over the years has been to encourage people to go and see other places. I find it hard to return to any place I’ve been because there are always so many more that I want to see first. I always wonder as I leave any of those spots if I’ll see it again and mostly I know that I probably won’t. No matter how much I love it there’s always more exploring to be done! Not so in NYC. I think ultimately I’ll settle there and base myself from a penthouse apartment overlooking the city (#Dreams) but for now I’ll settle for just visiting.
Despite this being at the top of my bucket list it wasn’t until recently that I finally got the chance to actually go there. Strange right?
Part of that was because of circumstance but another was always the desire to spend enough time to see more than a regular tourist. I wanted to find out if this place really was what I thought it was and I wanted plenty of time to find out. That was a really stupid idea. The second I got off the bus from Philadelphia I realised this was the place I thought it was.
When I go back to see my parents I get this overwhelming sense of ‘home’ that I’ve never felt anywhere else. They could move a million miles away and I’d feel the same thing because it’s about who’s there and the way they make the place feel that gives me those feelings. The second place that’s ever done that for me was NYC. I don’t know if it’s because of the people, the culture or the 30 years of anticipation but I recognised those butterflies fluttering in my stomach the moment I walked down Broadway. This felt like home.
I spend most of my time on my travels doing a couple of things. I try and find crazy places to take photos and videos to show off wherever I am in the world. I’m a firm believer that no how terrible the place might be, there’s always an incredible place to sit and see a sight that amazes you. I trek around with my camera gear and find places like that or I’m talking with people from the area to find out if their story is one that should be told.
I’m not a ‘foodie’ or a culture and arts traveller. I don’t generally enjoy going to museums or galleries because every moment I’m there is time I could have spent out doing what I really love to do. I don’t tend to worry too much about the local food either. I sample what’s famous or I’m told I won’t want to miss but I’ve never been someone that cared much about this at home and that holds true when I’m on the road. Food to me keeps me going and that’s how I view it.
Saying all that as I spent more time in NYC I found myself standing in the Guggenheim and the Metropolitan Museum of Art wandering around in awe. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely checked if I could take my camera and brought it with me but for the first time I can remember I was there for the art.
I feel like that’s something this place does that no other has managed to so far. It inspires me to do more and see everything knowing full well I don’t have a chance. It’s also a city that has it’s fair share of tourist attractions and while I usually spend some time at these I tend to try and tick them off my list and go in search of other interesting places less known. Again NYC messes all that up. I spent hours and hours atop the Empire State Building and wandering around Times Square. It’s always changing and always new.
There are places like Central Park that to me feel like they shouldn’t exist. It’s a seemingly never ending oasis in the middle of the craziest place on earth. (Actually the Pushkar Camel Fair may take that prize but it’s a close race). The people are meant to be gruff and harsh, hardened by years of living there but I never saw that. Maybe it was my accent or my boyish good looks but I met the most amazing people there. It made me feel that’s part of what made Humans of New York so interesting. Expectations don’t always match up with real life.
There’s an endless supply of photo ops and stories to tell which makes me wonder if I’d ever feel satisfied living here. I probably have to find out some day!
The part that probably shocked me more than anything else is also another one of those preconceptions you get when you watch too many movies and TV and not enough actual real life. I don’t think I’ve ever felt safer than I did walking the streets (in certain areas obviously) in NYC. I wasn’t reckless or stupid but I felt like I didn’t have to be overly protective of my gear as I walked around the city. I’m not suggesting people wander the streets with their cameras and wallets in site but comparing this to other big cities around the world, this felt the safest. There’s something to be said for a city that never sleeps I guess.
I’m clearly a fanboy but I’m ok with that. I didn’t get close to seeing even just the major attractions so I can’t imagine I’ll ever feel like I’ve seen enough of the Big Apple. People often ask me if it’s all that it’s cracked up to be and without hesitation I tell them yes. No matter how much I love a place there’s generally that time in the conversation where I say “having said all that” and explain the things I don’t like. I just don’t have that with NYC. At least not yet.
Now I don’t live there and this is from the perspective of an Aussie who’s culture has been heavily influenced by the U.S. so your mileage may vary but I’m yet to meet too many people who don’t think this place is pretty damn awesome.