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2023 - August - New York - Day One

New York – The City that never sleeps – except last night it was me that seemed to be awake. I accept full responsibility for that due to the fact I had two cups of normal caffeinated tea before climbing into bed at 9pm. I am old enough to know better, but I was gasping for a drink at the time. I paid for it all night long. Should have stuck to water.

I was up as the alarm went off at 7am. Today we had a walking tour of Lower Manhattan booked for 9.30am and we were unsure how long it would take us to get to the meeting point.

Karen’s arrival pessimism regarding breakfast was misplaced. Not only was it not crowded but it was also the full usual decent Holiday Inn Express fayre. I stuck to as much protein as possible, avoiding all sugar and carbs. It wasn’t too bad.

By 8.20am we were walking the 300 yards to the station. Today I had fathomed that we could use our watches to buy single journey tickets. I sailed through as did Karen eventually when she remembered to unlock her watch.

At 8.50am we arrived at the Bowling Green Station. As we were nicely early, we walked down to the water’s edge to get a view of the statue of liberty. We talked about our last visit when we climbed up inside her to get a view from her crown before being evacuated out. I think Norwich were playing Swansea that day under Paul Lambert.

We walked to the ‘Charging Bull’ statue which was our meeting point for the tour. Whilst waiting we took some pictures although Karen refused to have the traditional one of touching his well rubbed under carriage. I had no such qualms.

As I then sat on a bench in the Bowling Green Park, I suddenly felt sick in my stomach as a wave of something came over me and I really thought I was going to pass out in a heap on the floor. I became very light headed and a rushing in my head kind of obliterated all sounds around me. Karen said I lost all colour and I immediately was sweating all over. Within a couple of minutes though I started to recover.

I had not suffered from this since being in California in June of last year. Then it seemed to be caused by taking painkillers for my knee mixing with my blood pressure tablets. However, I have resisted painkillers for some while so it wasn’t that this time.

I have also have had when I have had a virus and again it was the combination with the blood pressure tablets that was causing my blood pressure to drop to low causing the issue. I have admittedly been suffering with a virus for the past few days.

The problem today was that I couldn’t now untake the tablet I had taken back at the hotel. We also thought the lack of sleep didn’t help nor the stress from travelling. It wasn’t until later we also wondered if my recent diagnosis of diabetes might even be a factor or perhaps my diet. The big question was would it happen again.

It did about another 7 times during the walking tour. Fortunately, each time I managed to find a seat and sweated it out without embarrassing myself.

The tour guide Renee was excellent. I knew from the start that her style of talk and level of detail was exactly at the level Karen would love, which is why I battled on rather than give in to my problems and rest for a few hours. Renee discreetly recognised I was having problems and pointed out where I could sit at every stop. We learnt so much about Manhattan itself as she was so knowledgeable. We also didn’t have anyone in the group asking stupid questions all the time which was a bonus. Renee kept up quite a tempo and I struggled with my knee walking at what she called a ‘New York pace’ so for that reason alone I was at the back of the pack all the time.

The 2 ½ hours passed quickly (well they did for me with all my episodes). I did miss out some of the information but I really enjoyed it.

The tour ended at the Twin Tower memorials. This is a strange but serene tribute. Karen didn’t like it as it felt for her that the water represented people’s lives being washed away. For me though it had a kind of beauty. People were being respectful and like us trying to take discrete photos.

Under some of the rebuilt towers there are shopping complexes, a food court and what we were now in real need of, some toilets. It was all very well designed. We found a Starbucks and bought some drinks that we sat outside on a wall and watched the world go by for a while.

A few weeks back I had purchased through Groupon tickets to go up to the One World Observatory which is at the top of the USA’s current tallest building. Our timeslot was 2pm but we were let in at 1.30pm.

The lift takes 42 seconds to get to the top. As you are whisked to the top the lift walls display Manhattan develop over the past 200 years. It was fascinating.

The view from the top was as expected amazing. We could walk freely around all sides for as long as we wanted.

I was still feeling rough but the episodes seemed to have stopped for now but I was in need of a fizzy drink. There was a café (which had standing tables only?) where I purchased a single can of Diet Pepsi. It cost $5. I will let that sink in. $5 for a single lonesome can. If I went to the supermarket, I could buy a pack of 10 for that. I know someone must bring it up in a Service lift but that is an outrageous mark up.

I was not the only one moaning. Afterwards whilst wandering around the gift shop I heard some fellow Brits complaining about the prices in hoodies, saying that at home in Primark the price would be 10% of what they were asking and far better quality.

After we felt we had seen the views for long enough we went back down and made our way out. Karen wanted to see the Memorials one more time before we headed to Trinity Church that we had been told about on the walking tour. Like many people we were not interested in the Church itself but the Graveyard as it contained Alexander Hamilton and his wife. Disappointingly there was no one rapping near the monument of possibly the best president the USA never had. Still at least his story is now immortalised in the musical.

Then we popped in a Whole Foods store to buy some decaffeinated tea bags. Normally we bring them with us but with bringing hand luggage only had managed to leave behind.

We realised that we had not eaten since breakfast. Karen fancied a sandwich from Pret. This cost over $10. I just shook my head in disbelief. There were no sandwiches to my liking so I ended up with a burger meal from good old McDonald’s. We shared the chips which didn’t really help either of our diets, although we figured we would be cutting out a meal today and a large diet coke.

I had another light headed moment after eating, we are not sure what that signified.

We were by now totally exhausted and decided to head back to our hotel in Brooklyn for an early night. Now even when tired I am usually on the ball in ensuring we get on the subway in the right direction, but today I failed. We realised almost immediately, got off on the first stop and got one back in the right direction. Apart from that it was quite smooth journey back where we both had two cups of decaffeinated tea before doing some planning for the next day.

I still don’t know if I really like New York. It is big, brash, expensive and has an edge about it. Mind you I think that about London these days. After all I’m a good old Norfolk country boy at heart. The few days here will be enough. I do hope that we find time to escape to Coney Island for a day to see the contrast and hopefully escape the big city

A terrible pun just came to me to describe today – it’s almost been a ‘New York Fainting Disaster’. For any youngsters this was a 1967 hit by the Bee Gees.

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