Today we decided to leave Manhattan for a little bit by going to Brooklyn. Manhattan and Brooklyn are two of the districts that New York City consists of, the other three are the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island. However, we decided to take a little trip to Brooklyn by a sightseeing bus which stopped just outside our hotel. We sat on the upper floor of the red bus and put on our headphones as the guide started to speak. Some of the famous buildings and streets the bus drove past was the Flatiron building, Fifth Avenue, the Plaza and it continued onto Brooklyn bridge, from which you could see the Statue of Liberty.

We stepped off the bus in the center of Brooklyn and walked around there for a while. It somehow felt different from Manhattan, even though they were part of the same city, in the way that it was somehow more calm here and not the same kind of rush. Suddenly we stopped to read a sign that said “We have the best cheesecakes in NYC!” outside a café where they only sold cheesecakes. On the door were different awards for ‘having the best cheesecakes in the city of New York’, displayed. This we just had to try.

When we walked inside, a sweet smell went through my nose, and by the counter behind the glass there were at least a hundred cheesecakes of different colors, sizes, shapes and flavors. We looked at the long chalkboard menu behind the cashier and tried to decide which cheesecake to pick.

Since it was, once again, such nice weather we decided to take our cheesecakes to go. We walked to Brooklyn Bridge Park and sat down on a bench by the water, where we ate these in front of a landscape view of Manhattan. Normally, I’m not big fan of cheesecakes but after I tried the classic New York cheesecake I completely changed my mind.

After looking at the map we had received from the bus driver, which showed where all the bus stops were located for that specific bus, and which would take us back to Manhattan and the hotel, we realized that it stopped just by the park. So after we finished our cheesecakes and had walked around in the park for a while, we went on the bus back.

As it drove past Times square we remembered that we hadn’t been there yet, so we hurried off the bus before it started driving again. We were now in the middle of Times Square. There were neon-signs and lights everywhere and yellow cabs were driving past all the time. People were hurrying past us with phones pressed to their ears and tourists were taking photos with their cameras. We stood there for quite a while and just studied our surroundings, I had never seen such a place like Times Square, or New York in itself for that matter.

It was quite a distance to the hotel but we had lots of time, the weather was still wonderful, there is just so much to see in New York so we would surely want to make some stops on the way, and maybe go to some shops, so we decided to walk back to the hotel.

We ate at a Thai-restaurant for dinner and when we got back to the hotel I felt how tired I was. I could feel how I was slowly falling asleep, already looking forward to our next day in New York City.

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We woke up later today and decided to go and have a classic New York brunch. We took a cab to a restaurant which my parents’ friends had recommended, and reached our destination within ten minutes. The time was 10:32 when we stepped into the brunch restaurant where it was already busy and we sat down at a free table in a corner of the big room. It was like the time had gone back to the 50’s – black and white square tiles covered the floor and pastel colors of pink, blue and yellow were all around us. There was a menu listing the different kind of brunch combinations and I chose the ‘Classic New Yorker’ - because where else would you try that? My plate consisted of scrambled eggs, pancakes, sausage, bacon, mushrooms, strawberries and blueberries and toast with cheese. To drink I had a hot chocolate with cream and an apple juice.

When we stepped out of that restaurant, my stomach felt like it does when you have eaten a little too much cookie dough – I didn’t think I would be able to walk because I was so full from the absolutely delicious food. Luckily I was and as we walked down W 29th Street my stomach-ache started to disappear.

The Empire State Building is a 381meter tall building located on Fifth Avenue with 102 stories, and let’s just say that when you stand next to it you feel very small. I could barely see the top of the skyscraper from where I was standing, but that was where we were going – to the very top.

After waiting in line for what felt like year, but really was one and half hours, it was finally our turn to take the elevator up for 102 floors and see the amazing view of New York. The enormous elevator was decorated with gold and people were whispering in excitement. On the walls of the elevator, there was some basic facts and history of the building. Apparently the building was designed by a man called William F. Lamb and it opened on the first of May 1931. The elevator kept climbing upwards, leaving many floors behind. I wasn’t exactly nervous, I have never really been afraid of heights, but felt something close to it with a mix of excitement.

Suddenly, there was a small stop. We had arrived on the very top of the fifth tallest building in America. The guide, well more like the elevator-guard or what you would call him, showed us where to go and before we knew it we were standing outside on the 102nd floor of Empire State Building. It felt insane to be so high up in the air, I had never experienced anything like it. The skyscrapers and buildings of the big city spread out beneath us and I could see the green rectangular area of Central Park. The New York harbor was glittering in sunlight and the boats floating past on it where so tiny they might just as well have been a child’s toys. The cabs looked like yellow dots and all the people like small lines. The sky had started to turn from orange to pink but the sun was still shining down on the city. This was a view I would never forget.

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So after a long trip of seven hours from Stockholm I have now arrived in The Big Apple! To be precise it was last night my family (my dad, mom, older sister and younger brother) and I actually landed on New York ground, but because I was so jetlagged I didn’t have the energy to write but had to use it on trying to stay awake. Anyways, it is now 21:00, New York time, and my first day in this city has already passed. I can promise you – it was great!

We started the day off with breakfast at the hotel, of which mine consisted of a delicious bagel with cream cheese and salami and a glass of orange juice. After that we went back to our hotel room to get our bags which were already packed with sunglasses, cameras and maps, the essential tourist material, and set off into the city. It was a great day, the sky was a clear blue, the sun was shining bright and it was a perfect spring temperature of twenty degrees.

It wasn’t far to our destination. After having walked along a street lined with cafés and shops for around ten minutes, we crossed a road and entered the place where we would spend this beautiful spring morning. Central Park.

We had found out that you could rent bikes in the park, which we thought were a great way to explore the green area of 3,41 km², so we did. Not only is Central Park one of the most popular attractions of New York, with 25 million visitors per year, but it is also the movie set for a crazy amount of movies. We biked around the park for a long time though of course stopping sometimes, to take photos, sit down to just look at the view or look at different small monuments. The time was 13:02 when we started to get hungry and thought it was time for lunch. Considering there were food carts and trucks parked all around the park this wouldn’t be very hard to find, and we ended up eating hotdogs sitting on a bench by the lake. There were trees and plants all around us, at the same time as skyscrapers and buildings created a frame around the park. It really was a fascinating place - that right in the middle of such a big city was a huge, green park.

We gave back the bikes after two hours and walked for a little more in the beautiful park. There was a long path lined with green trees and plants of different colors, and there were benches on the sides where artists were sitting, waiting for people to ask for a portrait of themselves. At the same time there was a huge group of people that had gathered around a dance battle just twenty meters or so away, and I could hear the sound of impressed ‘oohs’ and ‘wows’. That is one of the special things about New York - there is always something happening. We studied the artwork these painters had put on the ground and suddenly stopped when we saw some drawings that were very impressive. My sister, brother and I each ended up getting a portrait of ourselves – a perfect souvenir!

In the afternoon it was time for some shopping on Fifth Avenue. After an hour or so had gone, my brother started getting just a little bit bored when me and my sister ran around in a hundred stores trying twenty different clothes in each, so my dad and him went to the Museum of Natural History instead. We decided to meet them in the hotel at 17:00, and me, my mom and sister continued shopping. Let’s just say we bought quite a lot of stuff.

As it was getting closer to 17:00 we decided to start going back to the hotel. That was when we realized we didn’t really know how to get there. We didn’t feel like taking a cab because we knew that it was close by at least, so after spending a long time staring at the map, trying to figure out the way, we gave up and decided to ask someone. Considering that New York is the most populous city in the U.S. , you can imagine how the streets were crowded with people and it wouldn’t exactly be hard to find someone we could ask.

The avenue was full of people rushing past each second. We saw a man in a suit walk towards us and my sister started asking:

“Hi, excuse me but do you know where..,”

The man just shook his head and made an excusing gesture showing that he was in a hurry. Since everybody around us always seemed to be in such a hurry it was hard to ask for directions, but then we saw a couple walking slowly out of a store next to us and my mom asked them if they knew how to get to the hotel from here.

“Take a right after the ice cream shop on the corner right there, and then just continue down the street, the hotel should be on the parallel sidewalk, I think,” the man answered and his wife nodded in agreement.

We thanked them and followed the directions.

For dinner we decided to go to a pizzeria. In the hotel reception we asked about ten people where they had the best pizza in the city and all of them had different answers. We ended up in a small Italian restaurant with red and white squared table cloths, with a vase of a single rose on each table. There were two floors and we sat on the top one. The table was of that kind of old wood and there were red cushions on the chairs. As decorations there were some old windows on the walls and the edges where decorated with flowers. The place seemed to be very popular – there were guests at each table and there was a line of people by the entrance, waiting for tables to get free. Luckily we had already booked a table. Each of us ordered a pizza, and I ended up choosing a capricciosa.

I think it was one of the best pizzas I have ever tasted. The cheese was perfectly melted, the tomato sauce was amazing and the mushrooms and ham were delicious. Anyways, while we were eating our pizza we realized that people around us started looking at us weirdly. We didn’t understand what it was until the waiter came back to ask if everything tasted good, and he suddenly started laughing. We asked him what it was that was so funny and he answered:

“You’re eating your pizza with a knife and fork!”

We all looked at him like five question marks.

“That’s not how New Yorkers do it here, you’re supposed to fold it – then eat it!”

He laughed again and left to get us some more water. Well, that was something new I learned today – when in New York, fold your pizza when eating it.

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