New York (round 2) and Philadelphia

This summer I visited New York for the second time and it certainly didn’t lose its magic. We did many of the same touristy things e.g. going to the top of the Empire State etc, they’re views you just can’t tire of! Luckily we also got to do some new things too so I’ll try to concentrate on them in this post – starting with Liberty Island.

I think New York’s islands were shut to the public when we visited in 2013 due to the superstorm that had hit the city, this was the main I had to tick off my list this time around. We caught the ferry out to the island and managed to climb to the top of the Statue of Liberty, a pretty big feat – it’s harder than you’d think! From her crown you get a great view back towards the city across the Hudson River. Of course you have to have a picture taken in front of her, sadly my fringe started to take flight during the shot it seems! (New York Yankees jersey on, 100 stereotypical tourist points for me.)

For some reason we didn’t fit in a single museum or art gallery during our first trip so that had to be changed, I’m not an art fan by any stretch of the imagination but seeing some world-renowned classics impress even a philistine like myself. The Museum of Modern Art houses tonnes of impressive paintings, Van Gogh’s Starry Night was one of the highlights but for me the star of the show was Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup cans. Andy Warhol can’t be separated from the Velvet Underground in my mind, who in turn can’t be separated from New York so to see his art in the middle of New York city was very cool. We even managed to buy a tin of Campbell’s tomato soup later in the trip to keep as a souvenir!
New York is famous for its variety of neighbourhoods and we visited some on our first visit but some are harder to find than others – Little Italy seems to have shrunk to one street so unfortunately we’d missed it, on this visit we booked a tour of Soho, Little Italy and Chinatown to ensure we’d see them all! Each neighbourhood offers something different and I’d have to think long and hard about which one I’d want to live in if I was lucky enough to be offered an apartment in Manhattan! You can imagine the scale of organised crime that used to be carried on on these streets not so long ago.
On the Saturday we went on a day trip to Philadelphia, it took about 2 hours on the train. U.S. trains deserve some recognition here, they were very comfortable and the journey seemed to fly by. America lacks history but the place to find it (well, the little amount they have) is Philadelphia. Some buildings in Philadelphia date all the way back to the 1700s *gasp*. Okay I’ve made enough sarcastic comments now, I’ll be nice now.  We went on a very informative tour, which was also free, it’s definitely worth doing. The tour seemed to be entirely American apart from our group, when the guide spoke of beating the horrible British they all cheered – we felt like the outcasts it was safe to say! Apparently the chair below was sat on by George Washington.
The initial reason to visit Philadelphia wasn’t actually to learn about U.S. history, I’m ashamed to admit as a history lover – it was to fire guns. The guns I criticise America for allowing but still wanted to try out. It wasn’t my idea but I still went ahead with it, looking back it was a cool and strange experience. I couldn’t even load the bullets – I’m not cut out for this game. However, when someone had kindly loaded the gun for me the actually firing was pretty exciting, I have to admit. The first time we heard the gun fire we all jumped, we’d never heard that sound before and it took some getting used to! After we’d finished poppin’ caps we took in a bit more history and visited the Liberty Bell. Being Brits we didn’t really understand the significance of this symbol but it seems pretty important to Americans. I think it has been adopted as the symbol for many struggles e.g. civil rights, women’s rights etc. If anyone can teach my ignorant self more about the bell, please feel free!
The last new experience isn’t actually that new at all – we went to a football game. Between us (3 British guys) I would guess we’ve been to hundreds of football games but we wanted to see how Americans were treating our beloved sport. We were all set to laugh at how they just don’t understand it, how they call it ‘soccer’ and so on – we were going to feel smug and superior. However, we were pleasantly surprised – Americans were treating the game with the respect it deserves and it almost felt like an English game with fans segregated, chanting and atmosphere. I’ve adopted New York City FC as my U.S. team, come on you blues!
On top of the new things I’ve mentioned in detail I also watched Morrissey(one of my all time idols) perform at Madison Square Gardens and saw the Flatiron Building up close (see below). In conclusion, New York still has you wanting more after your second visit – I hope it’s not long before I’m back there!

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