From Canada it was down to the US of A. A bold move some may say – going from America Jnr. to America senior – but I was undaunted. My four-hour direct flight from Vancouver to New York morphed into a fifteen-hour marathon featuring an unexpected three-hour tour of the Toronto tarmac.
After a couple of hours of fitful sleep on the ground of the arrivals lounge of JFK airport I enquired about the cost of a cab into the city. With response well outside my modest budget, I walked the half hour to the bus which was followed a subway trip into Grand Central.
There I was, a hot, backpack wearing sap blearily staring through sleep-deprived eyes at the suggested accommodation board when a nice gentleman from the New York Tourism Board (so his name badge said) kindly enquired if he could be of any assistance. After discussing the pros (a bed) and cons (the cost) of the listed options it appeared I was out of options. That was until he mentioned that a mate of his ran a hostel a couple of blocks from the station. While it usually took months to get a booking he would put in a good word for me because I had “an honest face.” He made a call, sold me a voucher then walked me down and pointed out my digs for next two nights, “Just go in and give them the voucher and they will sort you out.” As it turned out, a voucher don’t get you a bed in no homeless shelter.
Within seven minutes of arriving at Grant Central Station I had been hustled out of 60 bucks (which, in light the current exchange rate, would buy a small country estate back home) by one of the smoother talking cats in New York City.
Lesson learnt, so I had a bit of a poke around. On the whole I found New York in summer to be dauntingly big, hot and angry. Central Park is very cool though