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Towers, tours, and trains.

14 April 201504:51PMusa-2015travel

I don't always get vertigo, but when I do, it's because I'm standing at the top of the Empire State Building.

it's a long way down

In all seriousness though - I'm not normally too bad with heights. I quite happily stood on the glass floor of the Eiffel tower. Something about the top of this building, with the city stretching on and on (and on, and on and on and on...) below had me grasping frantically for something solid and taking a couple of shuffled steps back from the edge.

down down, the city is down.

At least part of it is sheer existential terror at seeing exactly how big the labyrinth of steel and concrete you've just risen out of is. It's massive. It goes as far as you can see, in every single direction. It sprawls, in the most visceral sense of the word.

A few minutes of deep breaths and weeping softly to myself fixed me up enough to take some photos though. And record this bad boy for my dad, for his birthday, much to the amusement of everyone else at the top of the tower.

The view up there is pretty incredible, and it's one of those things I'll alwast be glad I did, even if it did leave me a bit weak at the knees. Or possibly, because. I'm also a huge fan of the art deco architecture. It sort of gives the whole thing a very Bioshock/Atlas Shrugged feel - which is about right, I guess - but I'm glad they've polished it up a bit.

(Unsolicited travel advice: If you are in a situation where you want do head up this colossus of a building, I'd pretty strongly recommend getting there as soon as it opens. There were rooms and rooms of queueing areas which were empty when we arrived, but steadily filling up once we left about an hour later.)

We grabbed one hideously oversized coffee and one very weak tea in the Starbucks underneath the Empire State Building, and then grabbed the subway over to a part of town called Greenwich to do a food tour. This was a thing that was recommended to me by a coworker as part of a very long tangent, but it sounded interesting enough to mention during a planning session and we kinda sorta booked it on the spot.

The area is mostly Italian, or at least the subset of it that we visited was. We had a very loud, totally classic Noo Yawker named Sephrah takin' us to all her favorit joints, and it was totally worth it. I think this story is best told through some of Grace's painstakingly composed food photography though, so we're going to take a bit of a meal break and I'll meet you on the other side of the wall of .jpgs.

Our guide, with pizza from Joes.

Yours truly, with pizza from Joes.

Extravagant mac & cheese from Home

Faico's Italian

Cookies, from Milk & Cookies

Murray's Cheese.

I think my personal highlight was the pizza. I'm probably not going to go so far as to say I'm in love with this city's pizza, but it is definitely the best I've ever had. The secret, apparently, is the water. Something about minerals? I don't know. It's just very very good.

Staving off a food coma, we thought we might head down to the Statue of Liberty and refresh ourselves with some ocean breezes, but apparently the City That Never Sleeps has its last ferry service to its most famous monument at about half past three. So instead, we did a little bit of Geocaching.

It was around the area we'd toured yesterday - in fact, both caches were actually in spots that we'd walked straight past on that tour, which sort of made it even cooler. And it was Grace's first geocaching experience ever, which made it cooler again. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon, really.

first find!

We finished off by heading through Grand Central Station on the way home, which is just a beautiful building. And they have constellations on the roof, which is something I really appreciate in a building. Also, weirdly, an Apple store.

It's one of those places that's been in a million movies and feels oddly familiar. I tried to express this feeling by doing one of those blurry time lapses of people going past, like in said movies.

really just using the camera's night mode.

Recommended listening before visiting Grand Central is 99 Percent Invisible's Penn Station Sucks.

We leave you today with a picture of Grace looking dramatically at the United Nations building, contemplating the festering bureaucracy at the heart of the best intentions of international politics.

Her words, not mine.


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