“If you are not flying to NYC, please leave the aircraft!”, New York City, July 5th, 2011

When going to Michigan as an exchange student in 1992 the USA was still the unquestioned dreamland for most people no matter if there were from Western Europe or the East, like me. Having had a fantastic year there I came back almost every year after. Now, it had been 7 years since my last visit, 5 months of Africa and 3 of South America were behind me, the world financial crisis had happened, oil has been spilled into the Gulf of Mexico but also George Bush is replaced by Obama and so on. I was really excited on how I would perceive this country this time around.

My stop over in Fort Lauderdale already gave the first rather funny than worrying impressions. Carpet floors, endless space but also thousands of travelers, mostly locals for national destination, it’s a big county. The chaos was accordingly. Despite the fact that I had booked a connecting flight, Spirit Airways did not care if I made my connection or not. I only managed it because after waiting 45 minutes I queue jumped at immigration, ran through 3 buildings, 4 more security checks and down to gate 38. I emphasize on the total of 5 security checks, thanks to September 11, but once I was in the plane that feeling of safety fell apart: “If you are not flying to NYC, please leave the plane!!!” How can that happen??????????

The American Airline staff tried everything to live up to the image they have in terms of service and the one our wait before getting a slot did not help my fear of the western world I am entering.

Enough of critics, my heart was beating fast when finally sitting in the taxi to Upper West Side Manhatten. I love the US, I love New York, I love Angi and I love my mom and I was in the middle of seeing all of them at the same time. Let the party begin.

Our Apartment was great situated among old houses very near to Central Park and comfortable, except for the sofa bed but mom did not complain too much. We enjoyed making our own breakfast and dinner, for lunch we had the local stuff. Each day we left around midday and clicked a couple of sights of the list, all relaxed and with perfect summer weather. On this day two it was the flat iron and Empire State building.

On day 3 we visited Ground Zero and took a tour. Of course the tragedy is “celebrated” in a very American (over the top) way but as tough as I thought I would be, my tears were rolling. What happened here on that day in 2001 is far from what I am able to imagine and this nation has every right to be angry. You can discuss American politics as much as you like but personal choice, freedom and opportunity is implemented at its best in this country and nowhere in the world can people achieve so much thanks to their own motivation and effort. That deserves every respect. The nice buildings at the end of the pics are the renovated halls and floors.

We walked through lower Manhattan and crossed Brooklyn Bridge (built by a German from my home state) to relax in a park in Brooklyn. Why I love my mom? She just retired (a bit early but not too much) and look at her. It’s my mom in New York City 2011………………..

It was Monday, July 4th and therefore Independence day, the biggest holiday in the US. Many people take special trips to see the firework on this day in New York City. We got it for free as part of our 5 days here, a lucky coincidence.

The nights we used for our “Apple” experiences. When asking what time they close I got the answer: “Never, we are always open.” So I bought my new I phone at 11pm at night and when asking where I can pay for it, the young man responded: “right here.” Even 18 years after my exchange year this county still fascinates me.

We finished in style. The Grand Central and Guggenheim we visited before enjoying our last afternoon in Central Park. The city that never sleeps managed to fascinate all three of us. It is big but not uncomfortable, it is lively but not disturbing, it is what it is, New York City……………………………………..

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