When you go travelling, you meet a lot of weird and wonderful people from all sorts of backgrounds. Most of these people are really friendly and try to be as nice as possible, and most of these nice people go the extra mile and mention that if you’re ever passing through their country, you should swing by and stay the night (which is always a suggestion I reciprocate). Mostly, this never happens due to either not actually passing through, or practicalities when you do visit, but from time to time, you get the opportunity to actually do this.
While in Thailand in January, I went diving in Phuket and met a fellow diver who goes by the name of Lindsey. Lindsey is one of those nice people I mentioned before. She’s also one of those nice people that offers you a place to stay when passing through. Luckily for me, Lindsey lives in New York, I had a full day (2 nights) there while passing through to Atlanta, and she had a floor for me to stay on. This situation had to be utilised!
I arrived on Tuesday night, got my airport shuttle to her place and immediately crashed on the lovely air bed she’d set up for me on the floor in preparation for the day of activities the following day.
My 1 day experience…
So after my rest, I was up at the crack of dawn (thank you time difference!), and took to the pavements to explore the vicinity while Lindsey caught up with some work she needed to do. Lindsey lives in Manhattan’s East Village, and she pointed me in the direction of Union Square Park where there was a farmers market that I could check out before meeting her back at her place a few hours later before we could undertake her super scooter tour of the city.
My morning exploration gave me a bit of an introduction into New York. I covered some serious distance, grabbed myself a bagel, and just took in the sights and sounds of the East Village in the morning.
When I got back to Lindsey’s, she was ready, and raring to go! Lindsey has a little Vespa scooter, so my day of briefly seeing the city was going to be very different from a normal one.
For me, if I’ve got just 1 day in a city like New York, I just want to briefly see the sights. Of course it’s nice to stop and have a good look at things, but in this case, all I would be doing is standing in front of each thing for a couple of minutes and saying “oooh”, getting bored and making a move again. The things that really interest me in cities are the people. And if I do want to see something for its historical factor other than knowing and seeing that it’s actually there, I’d go to a museum or read up on it.
So with the above in mind, we filled the scooter up with fuel, and hit the road. We did a couple of essentials first. The first was the Statue of Liberty. I didn’t want to actually get up close, but just see the thing, so we rode to Battery Park where we could see the statue in the background.
The second essential was the Empire State Building, so we headed off there to get me my obligatory miserable faced photo.
Beyond that, we saw quite a lot in Manhattan. We saw China Town, Little Italy, Broadway, Wall Street, Grand Central Terminal, Central Park, Soho, and probably a couple more areas that I can’t quite remember.
So all in all, my tour of Manhattan was quick, but when it comes to seeing how the land lies, it was pretty thorough.
For our trip to Brooklyn, we took the Manhattan bridge so that we could see how nice Brooklyn Bridge looked. We had a little look around the streets surrounding the waters edge and admired the beautiful buildings in the vicinity and grabbed a light snack before deciding to head back.
The trip back didn’t go quite as smoothly…
At one point we nearly got onto the Brooklyn Bridge, which is when Lindsey realised we should go on the Manhattan Bridge again so we could see the sun set behind the Manhattan skyline. Oh what a bad choice that was!
So we headed to the Manhattan Bridge to join a line of traffic. I got my picture of the beautiful sunset, that wasn’t the problem. The problem was the cause of the traffic. The traffic was caused by a police checkpoint at the far end of the bridge. Not any checkpoint, but a motorcycle and scooter checkpoint.
We arrived at the checkpoint, got ushered off the scooter, and Lindsey handed over her papers to get checked. After waiting for a time that seemed a little longer than it should have, one of the police officers approached and explained to Lindsey that she had an unpaid ticket, and that due to that, she would have to go to the station, fill out some forms and get her license suspended until everything was paid off and back to normal.
So now Lindsey didn’t have a valid license. That meant somebody else had to drive the scooter. Somebody else… But who..? That somebody else turned out to be me. Apparently my UK driving license which doesn’t permit me to drive a 150cc scooter would do, and that I was actually allowed to drive her 150cc scooter. I’m sure reading this you’re a little baffled. Me too. So not only did I have to drive Lindsey’s scooter to the police station while she did her paperwork, she also had to be handcuffed and thrown in the back of the police car!
After completely lying about haven ridden Lindsey’s scooter before, and having my obviously inadequate driving license to hand, I followed my police escort through the streets of New York and to the police station.
This is where the night became a little less exciting, and a little more mundane. After parking up the scooter and walking down the street with Lindsey’s handbag, I settled down and waited for an hour and a half for Lindsey to be processed. Fun fun fun.
After her ordeal, which she was in very high spirits from, she told me her license is still suspended, and would be for another few weeks. So under the instruction of Lindsey, the tables turned. I became the driver and her the passenger.
On the way back we stopped for some amazing sushi and a couple of drinks before deciding to head back and get our heads down after such a long day.
This was definitely not the day I expected, but to me seemed to be a brilliant way to see a place in such a short amount of time. As Ana had done in Madrid with her car, Lindsey did in New York with her scooter. I’d seen the sights in super quick timing, and got the added bonus of seeing my host getting arrested.
From this experience, and my experience of Ana showing me around Madrid when I arrived, I can recommend to anyone a brief run around any city you’re visiting by a resident there. You get a definite feel for the place, basic orientation, and an idea of which areas you’d like to cover again.