The final stop for our three month world tour was New York. Bitterly cold, wintery New York. As it was the last few nights of our trip before returning to London and real life we decided to swap campsites and AirBnBs for a bit of luxe pampering, and stayed in a fancy hotel right next to the Empire State Building. Which was amazingly convenient for seeing the city, but if I’m honest I found Midtown Manhattan a little terrifying! And this from a woman who has been commuting across London for almost a decade. The endless skyscrapers turn the narrow streets into dark claustrophobic canyons that funnel traffic and people and dirt from one end of the island of Manhattan to the other. I was amazed at how badly maintained many of the road were, and how filthy the subway was (oh London tube, I will never trash talk you again), and by the enormous gaping chasm in circumstances between the people at the top of the skyscrapers and the people at the bottom.
As with San Francisco I probably need to plan a return trip to New York when it doesn’t represent the gateway back to London and work and real life, and I’m not pining for the beauty of the Australian wild spaces!
However, there were definite plus points to visiting the Big Apple. Fans of the sitcom 30 Rock will know why this is the most important photograph that I took in New York. No snaps of the Manhattan skyline, the Brooklyn Bridge or the Empire State Building can quite match the importance of following in Liz Lemon’s hallowed footsteps.
Returning to the UK was the most jarring experience. We both lost days to a jet-lagged zombie state, it took ages to get back into our pre-travel day to day routines, and even longer to feel that getting up on a Monday morning and going to work wasn’t a colossal waste of time. It’s a tired old cliché, but the two people who came back from New York are very different to the people who boarded the Singapore Airlines flight to Malaysia three months before. We’re a little wiser and a lot more adventurous; and our relaxed outlook on life has now become positively horizontal. I am still terrified of flying, but we’re working on it.
Would I do it again? Pack my life into a suitcase for three months and jump on a plane? Definitely. If you told me I could fly to Australia tomorrow I would race you to the airport. And would I recommend the experience to anyone else? Absolutely. In fact, why are you still reading this? Go now and have an adventure. Because life is short and the world is very, very beautiful.