New York- The Holiday of a Lifetime
Are you planning to go on holiday to New York? Read on, and see just how amazing it can be!
A Different World
The first thing that is to be learnt about America is that it is an entirely different culture to what we are used to back in Britain.
From the moment I stepped off the plane at J.F.K airport in New York, I sensed that this holiday would be much different to what I was used to. As you can imagine, after terrorist activity in America, no expense is spared on security measures. We had to travel through no less than five scanners
to make sure that we were not bringing anything illegal into the country, and then had to attend an interview with a police officer, in which they question your intentions for your stay in America. With this interview, you also had your fingerprints taken as well as your eyes being scanned by a sophisticated machine. It has to be experienced to be appreciated. It is hard to imagine, but this type of process can make even a perfectly innocent person feel like a criminal. I was glad when we could move on.
One of the first things that are noticeable is the mixture of ethnicities. When you have the chance to look around the airport, and even in the streets, it is so different than in Britain, in that there is no minority. Each group is represented, and most in great numbers!
It was not only the mixture of people that made the culture so different to our own. The buildings were so tall. If you were to look above you on a cloudy day, it would be difficult for you to tell where the top of the building actually was. The city towered above you, sometimes quite scarily, and everything was square. The roads were straight, and the blocks of housing were arranged in a way that favoured a noughts and crosses game board.
If you were to ask someone for directions, they would tell you where to go. If you asked them to borrow a phone, they would let you borrow it without any suspicion. Everywhere is so trusting.
After dark however, everything changes. If you were to walk around the area of Central Park at night time, you would be right to feel uneasy. It was at this time that the true potential of the darkness was taken advantage of. If you were to place a dollar note in your pocket before you walked through the park, the expert pick-pockets would make sure that you didn’t still have it when you left.
Although both the culture and the city life was very interesting, I was not there to work. I was there to perform. Being involved in the brass band movement meant that I looked forward to the performance side of the trip more than any other. We were on tour, and we wanted to shine.
The first place we visited was South Street Sea Port. The weather was dreadful, and the mist came down like a cloud to just above the bandstand, however there were sill people there to support us. No matter what the weather, American’s love their music, and the idea of a British brass band coming to play for them filled them with excitement.
The second performance was in Greeley Square, which just happened to be in the middle of a very busy street surrounded by shops. Just over the road from where we were performing was a coffee shop, in which many coffees were bought and brought back to the square in order for the buyer to listen to us for a while.
The final concert was completely different to the two previous ones. Central Park. It was an entirely different setting, the half-dome shaped band stand was hidden well between the trees; so much so that you would not realise it was there if you had not been told. The sun was beaming down on us, and the birds sang to welcome us to their homes. There was such an incredible atmosphere in this concert. The locals were clapping along, singing along, and even dancing along to our music, some even recording us on video phones. This was such an exciting experience, especially for the young musicians of our band who had never done a concert before; especially not in the middle of America!
Once the concerts had been done, there was time to enjoy the sights and sounds of the city. Of course, if you are going to go to New York, you have to go and see the Empire State building! The views from the top of the building cannot possibly be described as anything less than magnificent. If you were to go up there during the day, you would be able to see rows and rows of yellow taxis in the streets just waiting for their next passenger. If you were to go up during the night, then you would see an entirely different sight. You would see every single light of the city, everything from house lights to street lights. If you were to look in the right direction, you would be able to see the lights from Times Square, which are all brilliant colours contrasting against the black night sky.
The thing that took my breath away the most was the Statue of Liberty. Although I had read about the statue and its history many times, nothing could have prepared me for the sheer brilliance of the thing itself. We went over on a boat, and were able to look at the Manhattan skyline set against the blue sky. The colour of the water was almost the same as the sky, with a trail of small white waves where the boat had travelled. Once you get to the island, your breath is taken away. Even the platform on which the statue stands is more than twice your own height. This on its own is enough to take your breath away. Then you look at the statue. It stands majestically, looking over the city with its watchful eyes. Although you know it is a statue, there is always a small part of you that wonders if she is real..
As well as these sights, of course, there are things that must be explored of an entirely different nature. The shops. With New York hosting such shops as Bloomingdales and Macys, how could you not be drawn into doing a little shopping? Both of these are department stores which are well known for their reasons. Macys is the biggest department store in the world. You can see this when you step into the shop, when you have to study the store map for several minutes before truly understanding on which floor you are required to be.
As for Bloomingdales, this is well known for its bags. They come in three sizes; little brown bag, medium brown bag and large brown bag. I have to say, that it seems most tempting to focus on buying an item merely for the ownership of the bag rather than of the item itself.
One of the things that I learnt about New York while I was there is that in the UK, you hear people talking about how much of a different life people lead over there. It s not until you actually get there however that you fully appreciate this.
New York is not just a different city. It isn’t even just a different culture.
It is a different world.