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    New York in 4 days: the metropolis of American desire

    Who I am
    Martí Micolau

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    The spark, the exact moment in which you begin to desire America is not when - persuaded by the powerful historical / cinematographic / cultural aura and the charm of the inimitable nature - you choose it as a destination for a honeymoon, and you looks forward to it; nor when, after a long flight, during which one has left a part of the world behind, one sets foot on the territory of the new part of the world.

    The exact moment in which you begin to desire America is when a friend asks you, thrilled by your choice: "But what do you expect from America?", And you don't know that trying to give that answer is perfectly useless.


    • September 14 - arrival and acclimatization to the sound of sugars
    • September 15 - Lower Manhattan on foot
    • September 16 - MoMA and a trip to New Jersey
    • September 17: Central Park, 5th Avenue, the university area and an Italian surprise
    • September 18 - bye bye NY, conclusion

    PS: do you have one more day available? Check out our itinerary what to see in New York in 5 days.

    September 14 - arrival and acclimatization to the sound of sugars

    Under the beneficial effect of this question, which makes the waiting horizon for the trip vast and potentially infinite, we began our adventure in the USA with a five-day stay (September 14-September 18) in the Big Apple, New York . The flight from Florence, with a stopover in Paris, takes us to John Kennedy Airport, where we land in the mid-afternoon of September 14 with all the hassles of the inevitable jet lag.

    It is not at all difficult or tiring to reach Manhattan by public transport, if not for the clutter of luggage: the subway stop is right on 43rd St, where we booked our spartan and functional hotel (Hotel Carter, 250 W 43rd St) , a stone's throw from the crazy Times Square and the bright Broadway of theaters. The hotel wasn't that great, but given the prices that go around we couldn't afford much more ...

    • Where to sleep in New York: neighborhoods and areas to stay in Manhattan

    To go along with every cliché about America, the simplest way is to look for the first McDonald's and refuel there after the long journey, but not only that: it is also a trick to get into the New York mood at full speed. You will not be surprised to read the following: even Coca Cola Light is better than what we drink in Italy! And who knows if even this judgment is not affected by the face-to-face impact with the homeland of Coca-Cola, and serves to justify in advance what will be a journey full of sugars and fats ...

    September 15 - Lower Manhattan on foot

    10 hours of sleep and jet lag is just a memory. The first American day always involves a real American breakfast - the right place near Times Square could be there Patzeria Family (311W 48th St), where you can eat delicious pancakes stuffed with blueberries.

    Our daily tour included a trip to the electric Times Square, with the knowledge that that place so imprinted in our Western imaginaries is at its best at night, and then all morning at the southern end of the island of Manhattan, where it is not it may not pay the right memory to that place of death and hope that is Ground Zero: there will be a way to tell in detail the impressions aroused by what is seen, but also by what is no longer seen.

    Suffice it to mention the impressive One World Trade Center and the tragic North Memorial Pool. Much more relaxing is the walk along the elegant and manicured paths of Battery Park: you get closer to the Liberty Statue, seeing it gradually magnify. This process of approach continues aboard the overflowing ferries that lead directly to the island where this unmissable monument-symbol stands, under which it is pleasant to spend time to understand its importance.

    The crossing is also recommended for the evocative vision, away from the island, of the skyline, finally outside of Google Images or Hollywood movies. The tour offered also includes a stopover at the neighboring islet, Ellis Island, which in this case we only saw from the boat.

    Back in Manhattan, we undertake what appears to be an impossible mission: to travel a large part of Lower Manhattan on foot, entering the Financial District, the famous Wall Street with its very busy brokers scattered on the sidewalks: if you too want to visit this neighborhood, help yourself with our article what to see in Downtown New York. Then we arrive under the bridge of Brooklyn and then immerse yourself in the surreal atmosphere of Chinatown, with Canal Street and all the colorful shops.

    A nice surprise, during our walk towards the center, gives it to us Little Italy, where the Feast of San Gennaro: food stalls everywhere, pizza, mozzarella, sausages, santini, candles and a latent and explosive Italian spirit, perhaps a little stereotyped, but certainly effective.

    Moreover, if someone wants to attend the expensive Broadway shows, or the slightly cheaper ones of Off-Broadway, know that just a stone's throw from the Brooklyn Bridge, in John Street, there is the TKTS South Street Seaport, a branch of the much more crowded branch TKTS of Times Square: at this box office it is possible to buy tickets for the most famous shows in New York at a discount of up to 50%. The prices remain high, but it is a really good opportunity to save (such as the one that the various New York passes can give you)! A day like this can stretch even the toughest walkers, but it provides a prime example of the spectacular variety of cultures that Lower Manhattan offers.

    At night, finally, we immersed ourselves in the stunning prism of lights and colors of Times Square, where it is tasty to get lost behind the confused crowds and bewitched by the mammoth and winking advertising billboards, so much so that one passes on the sidewalks, as in a narrow corridor with crazy lights.

    September 16 - MoMA and a trip to New Jersey

    After the tour de force in Lower Manhattan, we knew we would have a rainy day ahead, the only one of our twenty American days - and, like any self-respecting rainy day, we dedicated it to art.

    Due to our fairly tight schedule, after a quick breakfast a Pret a Manger, which will also be an international fast food restaurant, but always offers pleasant muffins, we have chosen MoMA. Removed the boring but necessary control procedures (get over it, in America prudence will never be enough), we were able to enjoy the six floors of the museum, starting from the fifth, where many works are collected, among which we mention some less popular ones. but very beautiful: James Ensor's "Masks in front of death", Balthus's "The street", Rufino Tamajo's "Animals", in addition of course to the classic Van Gogh (it is essential to try the Stendalhian syndrome caused by the details, the brushstrokes of the " Starry Night "), Monet's water lilies, then Cézanne, Khalo, Dalì, Matisse, Picasso (among others, he hits the" Girl with mandolin "), Mondrian, Boccioni (we mention" Unique Forms of Continuity in Space "and" Dynamism of a football player ", a print of which she bought in the well-stocked marketplace on the ground floor).

    The fourth floor is dedicated to art from 1940 to 1980: noteworthy is the conceptual art collection with works and installations, among others by Edward Rusha, Joseph Kosuth; Also of great impact are Pollock's color mixtures, Rothko's colors, Andy Wharol's pop-art and Eielson's knots.

    Beyond the value and artistic interest of this wonderful and very usable collection, what stands out from these three hours spent inside the MoMA is the impression of a global cultural experience, which is not limited to the relationship with the individual works, but which concerns many factors, not least the atmosphere you breathe and the architecture of the building in which, enraptured, you walk without noticing the passage of time.

    Our evening will NOT take place in New York, but in an anonymous New Jersey town called Dunellen. The community of this site will wonder why to waste a New York evening to go 50 miles away, to another state, to a small town that has nothing to offer.

    This is partly true, but perhaps not everyone knows that in Dunellen, easily reachable by 40 minutes by train, there is a historic rock club, called Roxy and Dukes: small and characteristic, this place hosted a concert by the Swedish prog band Pain of Salvation that evening.

    We would never have imagined attending a metal concert comfortably seated, one meter - literally - from the singer, munching excellent fries and drinking beer, in a context of familiarity with the band and with civilized American fans! And what about punctuality… a dream for us in Italy.

    September 17: Central Park, 5th Avenue, the university area and an Italian surprise

    Our fourth day in the metropolis that never sleeps begins with an energetic breakfast: we will need it, if we want to travel the famous Central Park! Known to all as the setting for films and novels (Ennio Flaiano's "Melampo" comes to mind, reading it is a dive into the memory of this park), this infinite green space is truly an oasis in the urban jungle of New York.

    Walking along even just a part of it (it is really very large!) We saw its well-kept lakes with boats, the bridges, the dense and varied vegetation, the paths hidden in the woods, the nice fauna, the panoramic terraces, the elegant boulevards where they post-partum fitness groups of young women, carriages, the zoo and the oriental gardens ... until we return to the city magma of the very elegant and famous 5th Avenue: leaving Central Park, near the entrance to the road, we visited the temple of 'Apple Store is a huge toy store, the FAO, on the advice of a very affable volunteer of the park (NDR now the shop has been closed).

    If it is true that, even in a few days, anyone who goes to New York can meet a star, the one that touched us is Sebastian Arcelus, a face known for having participated in famous TV series such as House of Cards and The Leftovers: it will not be Kevin Spacey , but confirm a rule!

    La 5th Avenue it is a must for shopping, and is very busy: only here did we realize how taxis are the absolute masters of the streets of New York. At the corner of 53rd Street and 6th Avenue is New York's most famous street food, called The halal guys (but if you look closely, there are also other locations nearby, and much less crowded because they are not reported by the guides).

    Don't give up if you also have to queue up a bit: it is very appetizing oriental food, and it is no coincidence that it is at the top of the TripAdvisor ratings in the general ranking of restaurants in the city, which is no small feat.

    On 5th Avenue there is also one of the few churches worth visiting: let's talk about the Metropolitan Cathedral of St. Patrick, which flaunts a neo-Gothic style that curiously stands out among the very high skyscrapers of New York that surround it. We could not even fail to visit, even if only passing through and from the street, the Empire State Building, which is located right on 5th Avenue, several roads ahead.

    Our finale in the afternoon is dedicated to the search for a location of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, barbarously translated into Spanish «If you leave me I will delete you». It is something that everyone should do: choose a beloved film, shot in the city you are visiting, and try to retrace the places, the scenes.

    We have chosen to go to the bookshop where the two protagonists meet, the Columbia University bookshop, which is located between Broadway and West 115th Street in Morningside Heights, in the university area, in Upper Manhattan.

    For dinner we went to a restaurant that we recommend to all Italians who go to New York and want, for one evening, to feel at home, forgetting sauces, dressings, fried onion rings and burgers with cheese: go to Chinatown (351 Broome Street) and look for the restaurant Pleasure.

    Run by three guys from Abruzzo, who welcome you and speak friendly Spanish to you, the place has made a name for itself in recent times, and it is no coincidence that it is always full: the kitchen uses high quality organic ingredients, and the pizzas and appetizers that we ate far exceed the average of Italian restaurants. Maybe a little expensive, but it's money well spent: eating in a VERO Spanish restaurant in New York is not an everyday thing.

    September 18 - bye bye NY, conclusion

    On this day we did little or nothing, except wake up, as usual, very early (the New York time zone has marked the times of the journey!) And prepare all the luggage for the next stop. In fact, we would have flown to San Francisco in the late morning, on the other side of America.

    A few hours of relative relaxation, therefore, which however confirmed, once more if possible, how expensive New York is: for two hours we searched in vain for something that resembled a supermarket or a discount store, along a journey of almost two square miles downtown! It is really complicated to live a few days as a tourist in New York in an economic way, and this morning spent walking without particular goals was the proof.

    Not only in four days net it is possible to see much of what this city has to offer: what strikes a Spaniard in New York most is the ability that this great metropolis has to enter you, to make you understand everything and nothing about it; to let you experience the verticality of the American genius, and at the same time the teeming confusion that guides their daily lives; the unscrupulous joy and the blackest existential depression in the faces of passers-by, the most inhuman selfishness and at the same time the energetic and lively desire to meet the other, and for happiness.

    Continue reading the travel diary:

    • From San Francisco to Las Vegas: between advanced civilization and indomitable nature
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