My last treat before next month departure: a short trip to New York to spend Bank Holiday (Memorial Day) with my good friend Ian, in Manhattan.
The end of a cycle
As a seasoned traveler, I've been to many cities around the western world and did pretty much everything: eating small crepes in Paris, buying a water bottle for 5 pounds in Rome, getting drunk in Barcelona and passing out on the beach, exploring the nightlife of Brentford, Middlesex ... but none of these cities impressed me like New York (New York).
For my last Bank Holiday in England
, I wanted to go somewhere where I haven't been before, without my laptop (first time in years) and possibly without spending a fortune. One of my best friends, Ian, moved there last year and was recently joined by Sarah, his wife, so it seemed like a golden opportunity. I've already written a very nice and moving article about Ian when he moved away, you can read it here
There aren't many cities out there that I was so desperate to see. But New York has always been of those. Just like Los Angeles
and Las Vegas
, explored in 2004.
The weird thing was talking about my trip to other people. Almost everyone agreed that, yeah, New York is a hell of a city, but it's not the same since 9/11
, without actually seeing it prior to 2001. So, not knowing how New York was before 9/11, I thought I had good chances to enjoy it just for what is it.
9/11 obviously cast a huge, dark shadow on the city's history.
Probably for my generation (the 30-something, young and still damn sexy) only the fall of the Berlin's Wall
had such a strong impact. It seems that nothing really interesting happened around us. We didn't see the man landing on the moon, didn't participate in any world war, and didn't see the Beatles.
Every major war has been fought in countries we don't really care about it. Iraq
, East Timor
. Too far or small to care.
But the day the Berlin's Wall was down, we could finally see it happening, live, on our color television. The day 9/11 struck, the same happened again, everyone watching the CNN or reading reports off internet. The whole world stopped to follow the actions. While in 1989 joy was the common feeling, 12 years later horror replaced it.
I missed it by the way.
The day before 9/11 I had my goodbye party and got really drunk. I woke up in the afternoon when all the action was long finished. I slept a bit, prepared my luggage for the next day and stayed isolated from the rest of the world.
Even the day after, when my flight was one of the few still flying, I didn't really understand the scope of what has happened. I was leaving Italy to start a new life after all. I had too much to worry to start worrying about some crazy terrorist accident that happened in New York.
Crazy as it seems, for me was just like never happened. I moved to a country where I could barely speak and read English, and I avoided papers for the first weeks. When I started feeling more integrated with the city, all the reports were already pointing at the terrorists, with the first Al Qaeda links.
Only over the years, by reading random reports or watching documentaries I finally got the idea of the enormity of it. And, hey, it seems like a play of destiny that my last travel from London would have as destination the same city that was for a while the emotional capital of the whole world.