On the streets of New York
We have done ALOT of walking whilst we've been in New York. We've found that it's a city that's much easier to navigate via walking and almost everything is within walking distance of where we were staying in midtown. For almost all of the holiday, we've both done over 10,000 steps a day but in New York, we've more than doubled that each day. I helpfully done a little graph to illustrate this. What I can't graph is what this has done to my feet, Achilles and shins which are protesting greivously. I've self medicated with a paraffin pedicure, lots of stretching and plenty of delicious New World wines.
New York is an amazing place to walk around however - there is always something happening no matter what neighbourhood you're in and no matter what time of night. Although I should point out that all of our walking was confined to Manhattan except for one accidental visit to Brooklyn so its probably more accurate to say that Manhattan is an amazing place to walk around.
Every street corner has a hot dog stand: we did try one hot dog for posterity but I wouldn't recommend them really. The vendors seem to have branched out into gyro's, kebabs and the obligatory pretzels of which there seems to be more demand and hence the culinary quality is somewhat better than the poor hot dog which was a rather limp and scarce affair.
I assume because of the cold, there wasn't nearly as many homeless people as there were in LA and not so many panhandlers as we were told to expect asides from the annoying people swarming the subway asking every single person if they could ask them a question. No-one ever said yes in my hearing so I've no idea what The Question was and, for fear of being stuck with a pushy salesperson, I never said Yes either so it's a mystery which will remain unsolved.
Our favourite neighborhood was Chelsea followed by Hell's Kitchen. Both areas feel lived in, bustling without being crazy busy and both hinted at what gems might be hidden that only locals would know. They're the neighborhoods you can imagine yourself living in. Money clearly talks in the upper east side - the streets were cleaner, the subway grates were better quality, the pavements wider and there were fewer cars which made for a very gentrified hush indeed.
We spent half a day wandering around Central Park and I think it's might be lovely if you lived there and it wasn't packed with gawping hordes of tourists but honestly, it's just a park. There's statues, ponds, trees and grassy spaces - all the things you expect from a park. I did however like the running track that very carefully made a separate space for runners away from the strolling walkers and crazy bikes.
In the course of navigating our way round, we must have crossed Times Square a dozen times.
I still don't get the attraction.
To start with, it's not a square. More of a hexagon with a waist.
It's also tiny compared to its reputation: it took me 43 steps from one side to the other. And there's nothing to see except billboards.
If I was marketing to tourists with phones then it's a dream location for a billboard but I suspect most outdoor space is purchased by the marketer's ego than their brain. However, whoever is and has been marketing Times Square as a thing has done an outstanding job because the place is rammed 24/7 with 131 million tourists Seeing Times Square. More people visit Times Square to see advertising billboards than any one the Disney Theme Parks.
We also retrospectively saw the New Years Eve ball after it's drop and that thing is so far up that we would have need binoculars to see anything. So another magical myth fails the expectation test.
We gave the subway a couple of attempts naively telling ourselves that it couldn't be terribly hard to navigate. Manhattan is laid out in a very logical way and the subway map indicated that navigating the underground rail would just require a simple application of some map reading and minimal orientation skills. I always forget in these situations that I have the directional instincts of a Skinner's Pigeon so for 3 attempts to ride the subway we had 3 fails. The final fail was somehow ending up deep in Brooklyn, Crown Heights to be specific, whilst trying to get from Wall Street to Grand Central Station.
Antoine's Content Corner
One thinks a cheap portable foot spa would have been nice and most definitely on an hourly basis.
B. F. Skinner was an American psychologist who thought free will was an illusion and that behaviour was caused only by external factors. One of his areas of studies was operant behaviour which involved studies using pigeons and food where a hungry pigeon was placed in a box that would release a food pallet at random. The pigeons developed all sorts of complex behavioural responses such as turning, bowing, dancing etc. The pigeon would receive the food pellet whilst it happened to be performing some action and rather than attributing the reward to random chance, it would attribute it to the action and start to repeat the action until it was eventually rewarded with a food pellet. So a pigeon who happened to be turning in a circle when it first got randomly rewarded, would keep turning in circles.
Incidentally, it was B.F. Skinner who first introduced the term positive reinforcement so you can thank the pigeons for that as well.