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11 dec201711

So tonight I'll be your Brooklyn, so cold and yet so far away!

New York, United StatesNew York, United States
I can't exactly name the point in time when the dream to visit US appeared in my mind for the first time. It could be when I began to learn English in the first year of my high school and the learning didn't start or end at achool. It was the music, lyrics, TV series that made me want to understand more of the language but also see those places even if they weren't real.  Or maybe it was while I lived in the UK and realised that the world doesn't end on Poznań or Bishop Auckland, and that there's more to it, way more. 

When I was planning my exit from the UK I decided to apply for a tourist visa to US as a Polish citizen. The initial plan was to apply as a British citizen but after having been rejected twice for British naturalisation I decided that's the only way. I got the 10-year visa and had an idea to visit US after Canada on my way to Honduras but I anticipated I would like Biritsh Columbia so much that US went to the back burner. 

The universe intervened and after having received an invitation from Lynda, who I met in Honduras, I decided to visit East Coast on my way to Peru.

I only had 12 days but managed to see a lot of New York City and its surroundings, drink a lot of chai lattes in many different coffee shops, and got to know what the Big Apple is all about. 
The first thing I had to do (according to my awesome guide) was to try a proper bagel and see/taste why everyobdy is crazy about bagels from New York...
I admit it was pretty good damn bagel, especially with vegan tofu cream cheese. Can't remember how many I ate during that trip but when I left NYC it was the second thing I missed the most!

Later I finally saw the famous Central Park where we found a statue of Władysław Jagiełło who was a King of Poland for 48 years between 1386 - 1434. Too bad that whoever made the statue didn't have a font with Polish letters handy, especially since Władysław Jagiełło has 4 Łs, that is 23.5% of his name!
On the second day I wanted to visit the place where World Trade Center was located. My timing wasn't great as it was close to noon, which means there was plenty of tourists and even though I know there will be plenty of them I like going to places like that with minimum company. Next time I'll definitely choose middle of the night. When the atrocious cruelty happened in the 2001 I was 14, at home, after school, when all of the sudden it was all over TV. Even then I could not comprehend exactly what was happening.
All the people who were going about their daily routines, doing shopping, sipping coffee, meeting friends, and then suddenly their lives would change. Actually all our lives would change it's just most of us never really thought about it. The officials and people of New York did not wait a long time before decision of rebuilding WTC was made. In November 2001 the governor established Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, which was an official comission to ovreview the process. I stood next to One World Trade Center and was amazed. It is the tallest building in the Western Hemosphere standing at 546.2m. It is located in the place of 7WTC, as the whole World Trade Center complex had 7 towers (and all of them will be rebuilt). 
OWTC is taller than its predecessor giving out a message of strenth and unity. The landscape of Manhattan should be completed by the year of 2021, so still 4 years to wait. 
Coney Island
Saturday was a day of the "firsts". Lynda took me to Coney Island, a peninsular neighbourhood, which is a very poular leasure desintation when the weather is good. That is where I had my first ever rollercoaster ride, which was very, very exhilirating - I think it was called "Thunderbolt".

After "swimming" in the ice cold water of Lower Bay the time has come for the main attraction of the day. My first ever baseball game! The game was betwen Brooklyn Cyclones vs Staten Island Yankees played at MCU Park.
What can I say, it's definitely not the same as football game. It turned out to be a very big test of my patience with people in front of me moving constantly and doing pretty much anything but watching the game. I was told that this is the way it is and I just need to suck it up and enjoy as much as possible. I sure did! Even got my wooden mini baseball bat haha. The most time-consuming part of the experience turned out to be getting any kind of food or drink. Lynda was gone for I think at least 30 minutes and I even started getting worried as I would never assume getting a drink could take so long!
Another plus were the Star Wars related short live plays during the intervals. After the games has ended we had a full Jedi vs Sith lightsaber mob fight.
We spent Sunday on Governor's Island, which used to be called Noten Eylant, is 172-acre island between Manhattan and Brooklyn.  The luck has struck and it turned out that day there was a The 12th Jazz Age Lawn Party all over the island. Flappers dancing Charleston to great sounds of Fats Walker, Willy Smith, Sidney Bechet, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and others. Suits, rolled stockings, hats, Oxford bags - you know what was the weirdest part? It felt like home, I felt like I was in the right place. It hasn't been the first time when I thought I do not belong to this era and I know how silly it may sound coming from somebody who is surrounded by technology all the time, but it's true. Especially since I started tap dancing and the movies from 1920-50 era became my favourites. Too bad I didn't have my tweed outfit, hand-made bowtie so I could rock my old-fashioned bartender look like I did at Christmas Party few years ago:
After the Island we wandered through the streets of Brooklyn Heights and Dumbo where I took one of my favourite shots of Brooklyn
That's how I spent the first few days on US soil. Of course the first thing was the language - after having lived in the UK for over 10 years I found American accents very interesting and a little bit amusing but it's always a good learning experience! Every time I walked through Broadway I couldn't stop thinking about all the people that walked the same streets, had their big movie premieres there, whether it was Fred Astaire, Frank Sinatra, or Rita Hayworth... When I'm in places like these I always try to imagine what those places looked like 50 or 500 years ago. How these untouched pieces of land became big cities filled with thousands of people. I admire little streets and corners that sometimes still preserve the feeling of the past. Yes I am that guy - I appreciate the past more than the present.

Brooklyn has definitely become the best part of New York. I guess each part, Queens, Bronx, Manhattan, Harlem, etc. have their own styles and vibe but Breuckelen (meaning marshland in Dutch) will always have a special place in my heart.  For many reasons.

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