2 French girls in NYC
The night had been short and the flight connection in Iceland, also known as the consonant paradise, when we finally landed in NYC after about 14 hours of traveling time. Then, we waited in line for an hour and a half. Then, we got interrogated by a very suspicious American customs worker (‘how much cash do you have? Have you already been arrested? Why are you staying so long in the USA? Follow me, please’)... Until the gods finally acknowledged our despair and granted us with an incredible and intense week.
Not even an hour after leaving the airport, we met Tal in the subway. He’s a young Israeli musician, super nice, who gave us a hand and some good addresses. However we could not test them right away: it took us a lot of time to figure out how car registration legislation works and to try out insurance agencies willing to cover two 24 year-old French little ladies with just a few months’ driving experience. Finally, we went to the Department of Motor Vehicles, a huge administrative monster that turned out to be incredibly efficient (French administration say cheeeese), and got an answer. It’s not impossible but… we’ll have to rent a car. It wasn’t good news as prices fly very, very high for young drivers. Thank God we could count on our friend Chang, who’s a lovely Chinese computer-freak who managed to hack the Alamo website to create a space-time breach. So we got a pretty cute Hyundai at a pretty cute price!
So this is when the adventure really begins. Now that the whole car-related stress was dealt with, we walked across whole Manhattan. It’s big, it’s beautiful, it’s powerful: skyscrapers mount up to the clouds, city smells pinch our noses, and the city lights are simply magical. At dusk, fireflies would flash in Battery Park bushes where we met the Statue of Liberty for the first time with our friends Gaëtan and Jenny.
But it’s definitely by night that New York City is the most dazzling. Our friend Tal invited us to a private traditional Indian music and jazz gig, taking place in the living room of another artist who thought it was a good idea to organize concerts through Artery at his place. We agree, it is a good idea. On the next day, we then walked all over South and West Manhattan (Chinatown, Little Italy, Soho, Noho, West Village…) and ended up in Gaia’s jam session. She’s a friend of Tal’s and the barman was a Frenchman, pretty generous (hey there Tristan), just like our British bar neighbor Nicky. One thing leading to another, we end up going to the Smalls Jazz Club, almost for free. So we basically jazzed up until dawn while patting the club’s cat. We didn’t even get the time to realize it was already our last night in NYC (nor did we get the time to sleep more than 6 hours straight, by the way). We took the Staten Island Ferry and had the best sunset view you could wish for. Later on, we headed for Williamsburg a very hipster-like area of Brooklyn. Being Alexa’s territory, who’s a Brooklynite pure-blood and knows the neighborhood like the back of her hand, she showed us all the cool places. Perfect ending to an incredible week: we joined our friends Tal and Ofri on their rooftop lit up by a million little bulbs.
And now, let’s go to Pittsburgh to meet Inventionland!
Let’s get historical
Before Europeans arrived here, the Native American Munsees used to call this place Manhattan, meaning the « Island of hills ».
An Italian guy working for the French crown was the first foreigner to visit the area in 1524, he called it « New-Angoulême » but apparently didn’t do much with it.
The first European who really unpacked his bags was Henry Hudson in 1609, an Englishman working for the Dutch East India Company. That’s were the Hudson river name comes from. A colony was setup, and the land was bought out from the Munsee. It then becam “New Amsterdam ».
We read somewhere that in 1664, New Amsterdam was given up to the British people in exchange for Suriname. That’s when New York finally got its current name, meant to honor its new landlord, the Duke of York (Charles II’s brother). The English government raised taxes which soon became unbearable for the locals. They rebelled and, thanks to General Washington and Lafayette’s support, it all led to the independence of the USA.
Lots of migrants came to New York in the XIXth century, you probably already know that part of history. The city grew and eventually was cut out in 5 counties: Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island.
Fun Fact: the word downtown comes from NYC, because the historical city center was located in the South of Manhattan. The expression spread out and that’ why American citiy centers are all called downtown, whether it is indeed in the South or up North.
> Eat a hot-dog from a foodtruck in Manhattan street: check
> Infiltrate a Brooklyn rooftop party: check
> Go to a jazz club: check
> Become lucky and happy forever for only 1$ thanks to Chinatown’s weird stores selling lucky coins (and the worte part is that it actually works!): check
> The fa(s)t-food chain Wendy’s !
> Watching the skyscrapers during night time…
> All the surprising little concerts that take place in the whole city
> West Village
We didn’t like:
> The extremely cold air conditioning (we’re this close to catching a cold during Summer!)
> New York prices but hey, that’s no surprise