So, New York state itself. It's easy to think of the Big Apple when you think of New York, but the state itself is an interesting one, with lots of beautiful countryside and winding roads parallel to the Hudson River, which is strangely beautiful when you look at it with the NYC skyline in the background. After walking around in the city for 2 days, Ivan and I were ready to get in the car and go exploring for a day.
Armed with an excellent guide that highlighted cool stuff to explore, we navigated down some fast, tricky, winding roads, which handily had viewing points located every few miles or so.
That's one of the viewing points we stopped at - see the helicopters? About 5 massive black choppers flew past us and I tried my best to capture them. God knows where they were going. We stopped off at a few mildly interesting places, but the highlight was West Point, and their fascinating museum which was free entry. I wasn't allowed to take my bottle of Fanta in, but I could live with that. I hid it behind a bin, in case you were wondering.
For some weird reason, I didn't take any photos at West Point, I really can't think why not. Anyway, here's some photos that I've nicked from the internet.
That's quite enough of other people's pictures. And yes, that brown bin there is indeed "the bin". The museum, considering it was free, was flipping brilliant, and I recommend it to all, although I fancy blokes might enjoy it a bit more than the ladies.
As we drove back towards our hotel at the end of the day, we passed through this quaint little village: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleepy_Hollow,_New_York I regret to inform we saw no headless horsemen, but you can see why it's called "Sleepy" and it was a bit creepy. We didn't linger for long there!
I feel like I should be telling you more about New York, but if I did these entries would go on forever. So, I'll just wrap up for now by talking about our hotel, which was in New Jersey. We deliberately selected the hotel, as not only was it a billion times cheaper than hotels in the city, but it also had a fantastic little tourist bus service which you hopped on outside the hotel, and then it took you into the city for a few dollars, and then the other way round at the end of the day. That was fantastic, and the hotel was fine, however, New Jersey.....
In his excellent series about America, Stephen Fry described parts of NJ as "hell on earth", as well as their casinos as "vulgar, tasteless and desperately sad". I can't talk about any casino, but the area of New Jersey we were in scared me. Actually, scrap that, it fucking terrified me. The only time we strayed out of the hotel was when we walked about a mile down to the McDonalds to pick up some dinner, and both times we walked quickly there, quickly got our food, and quickly walked back, our heads down, not saying anything to each other.
I swear I'm not joking when I tell you that I watched each car intently, because it was the kind of place where a drive-by shooting would have been met with a shrug and casual acceptance. The delicious irony being that 10 minutes away (by bus) from this poverty stricken, wasteland of an area, was downtown NYC, with Wall Street, Tiffany's, Trump Tower etc. It was something I came to notice most about the New York area - we would drive past areas of abject deprivation, and then literally 2 minutes later you're driving along and you see the Statue of Liberty and the glamour of the Big Apple. It's a queer old place, in that respect.
Thankfully, we weren't shot/stabbed to death in New Jersey, and on our final night there we opened our hotel room door and marvelled in the best thunderstorm you could imagine. Enjoy a good bit of lightning? Try looking out at a night's sky where there's about 15 different lightning bolts crashing around, amongst the most impressive downpour of rain I've ever seen in my life. New York doesn't do things by half, in any respect.
Time to leave this place. Next time, Connecticut!