The City that Never Sleeps: Neither Could I!

Nadine Haddad, Staff Writer

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The night after I opened my present under the Christmas tree and found two tickets to New York City, I could not sleep. Ever since I was in the fifth grade, I have dreamed of going to college in the Big Apple. So, as soon as I arrived, I could not stop blabbering about all the activities I was excited to do.

I found the beginning of my trip very hectic. My aunt frequently visits New York for work and recommended the Hotel Pennsylvania, a midtown hotel extremely close to many famous attractions such as Times Square and Madison Garden. After waiting almost an entire hour to check in, however, we opened the door to our bedroom and immediately knew we would regret sleeping there.

The beds were creaky and the stained, thin comforters smelled of garlic and olives — a scent I unfortunately cannot forget. Neither the television nor the air conditioning worked, and the bathroom was the size of a closet.  

Before we began to complain, we tried our best to get comfortable. I took a shower while my dad called the front desk and asked for extra pillows that never came. After my shower, I examined one of the towels before using it and found a spot of blood on it.

The next day, of course, we checked out.

We relocated to the Executive Hotel Le Soleil, a remarkably comfortable hotel with helpful people and outstanding service. To be honest, some days we were so cozy that we struggled to leave the hotel at all! After our nomadic adventure from hotel to hotel, my mind filled with anticipation knowing that the real adventure was about to begin. After considering what we were going to do first, we decided to wander around town and explore our surroundings.

I could not even see the ground with all of the shuffling feet tripping on top of one another. On New Years, there was an exceptional amount of tourists preparing to watch the ball drop. The weather was so cold that my legs became a bright red, numb color. I never imagined New York to be the way I dreamt it would be. Cars honking, people yelling. In Atlanta, I would consider that as just white noise, but up there it was music to my ears.

One day, while I was walking around with my dad, I noticed smoke coming from afar. We decided to go closer and see what was going on when we came across a fire from a tall building. There were around three firetrucks surrounding the area and a few firemen climbing the building. Fortunately, we learned later that day that there were no fatalities.

On the same evening, I visited the Empire State Building right after sunset and found the view of the city from 80 stories high remarkable. However, the line to get tickets was exceptionally long, and although my dad and I were satisfied with what we saw, we decided that a two hour wait was not worth it.

For the next couple of days, we fit time on our schedule to visit Times Square. I did not believe the streets could get any more crowded, but somehow they did. The Christmas decorations hanging from each building amazed me, especially when it started to flurry outside. Personally, I would suggest going to Times Square when it is pitch black outside, for the electronic billboards light up the night more than the moon ever could. Visiting once is definitely not enough, either. There surely is a lot to take in.

Some other places we toured include Rockefeller Center, where we ice skated and saw the giant Christmas tree, as well as Grand Central Station, where we admired the celestial ceiling. Central Park was slightly far from our hotel, so we only visited once. However, we went on the perfect day because it had just snowed the night before, making the sight even more beautiful.

While shopping for clothes and souvenirs, we went to the famous New York Macy’s — known as the largest store in the world — perched right in the middle of Herald Square. We also visited a huge Urban Outfitters as well as a few I LOVE NEW YORK shops.

We ate from many well-known restaurants such as Lazzara’s Pizza and Keens Steakhouse. There was also a small French bakery that served phenomenal chocolate croissants. We ended each evening with a cup of hot chocolate from a deli near our hotel, the perfect way to end the day.

Considering all of the places we visited and the activities each day had to offer, I believe my favorite one would be simply be walking around. That certainly is what I did the majority of the time and there was always something new to witness. You do not get too much of that feeling in Atlanta, which makes New York City even more exhilarating.