Waking up in a city that never sleeps……..
Friday 25th July 2014
Many people have told me the ‘Big Apple’ is the greatest city they have ever visited. I have never been before and having been fortunate to visit numerous incredible places down the years (many watching the Arsenal of course), it really is going to need to impress to reach the upper levels of my own particular favourites.
The majority of our previous pre-season adventures have been very much ‘tours’, ie; no sooner have you settled in one location you are packing your bags and moving onto the next. With just the one game planned this time round, my 7 day 6 night trip gives me the chance to enjoy all things ‘Gooner’ whilst leaving at least a decent chunk of time to enjoy both the city’s day and night offerings. Having been here a couple of days it is extreme clear already there are many to experience.
Proceedings commenced on Wednesday with a United Airlines flight from Heathrow. Not much to report from that apart from one particular lady travelling with two young kids just across the aisle from me. This is not a criticism or indeed judgemental, just an observation. The lady was enormous…..and I mean enormous. Not a problem as I say but before we had taken off she produced a large sack of cakes, crisps, chocolate etc. From that point both her and children ate as if their lives depended on it. Only stopping for the inflight meal and snack I genuinely felt quite nauseous throughout. I make no apologies for my comments. I paid a lot of money for my ticket. She needed help.
Immigration in the US is known as sometimes being quite a lengthy process but on this occasion the whole aspect matched the on time flight for convenience so without a fuss New York City was just a train ride away.
Baseball is not a sport I have ever seen before and consequently my knowledge of the rules is very limited. I do know however, I have a passion for the world’s stadia and the Yankee Stadium is certainly one of the most iconic.
The huge Arsenal following stateside needs to be experienced to be believed and it is extremely obvious they are both excited and dead chuffed our great club is visiting their country and continent. The New York City Gooners are particularly relishing the whole event as you can imagine and consequently they have organised numerous events.
An ‘Arsenal Day’ at the baseball was the first, pre-match beers in a tavern located near the stadium seeing the locals a tad confused as to why their ‘local’ was full of people wearing red and white! The game itself was an interesting experience but I have little more to say about it! Not really my cuppa tea to be honest. A few more beers in central Manhattan preceded us heading across the city and into New Jersey for the official Fans’ Party, a chance for the locals to wear their colours, make some noise and meet some of the first team squad. Thierry Henry making a special appearance added to that on offer.
Today I have been a proper tourist. Three eggs, potatoes and corned beef hash sounds huge. It was hot, fresh, strangely light and quite possibly the greatest breakfast I have ever consumed. A walk through the quite magnificent Grand Central station in the rush hour was awesome and guess what. It was being set up for an Arsenal/Puma takeover. The biggest cannon you have ever seen with 5-aside matches and a visit by the FA Cup on the agenda for later in the day.
A slow stroll up 5th Avenue and it was time to view the incredible New York cityscape from top of the Rockefeller.
An unforgettable view and experience followed by a walk down Broadway and into Times Square. All amazing but creating a thirst nonetheless.
Consequently I am writing these thoughts in the sun drenched rooftop bar in my hotel with a nice cool beer on the go.
My work allows me to do these trips and for that I will always be grateful. It does mean however, I need to be awake at least by 9am UK time Monday to Friday. That, in New York terms, is 4am! Not a complaint but it has meant I have needed to take it a little bit ‘easy’ for the first two nights.
Today however, is Friday and tonight the New York Gooners have arranged ’14th Street is Red’. That probably doesn’t need much explaining but as the name suggests it promises to be quite a night. A whole street in New York, closed off to traffic as Gooners take over. Anything up to 3 or 4 thousand are expecting to attend. Things could and probably will get a little bit messy.
And tomorrow I do not need to set an alarm.
I like this place.