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Thursday 6 May 2004
New York, USA

NYC

Well youve read it here first, Im in NYC! The big bad apple!... Ive only got 15 mins left on this net terminal so Ill write a brief summary for the moment...

4th May

The trip from Toronto to Rochester was cheap and problem-free going by Amtrak rail (which is also a highly commendable mode of transport!! Very comfortable.)... that is UNTIL I got to the border crossing. There I was singled out for a FULL baggage search where HUGE intimidating men, packing automatic pistols, demanded information from me while another got his greasy fingers through EVERY item in my bags. Needless to say I kept a stern eye on the guy going through my bags, which seemed to rile them even more...

"Sir WHY are you staring at me so intently? Are you trying to hide something... EYES STRAIGHT!!"

And so on.. pretty nerve-racking to say the least... quickly though I chilled out and was answering them back in a sarcastic manner (not a necessarily good idea)... but managed to curb my tongue just enough that they wouldnt incarcerate me for not cooperating or some crap.

I was then left to repack my bags... all this was done IN THE CONFINED SPACE OF THE TRAIN!!!

Several people were chosen for similar checks.. I was chosen based solely on my guitar case!!! They saw too many reruns of Desperado - where Antonio Banderas has a machine gun built into his case... they actually asked me if I had a gun built into my case?!?!? Idiots!

The customs search in total actually delayed the train journey by another hour, so when I finally arrived at Rochester I saw Adeel waiting there for me... though he had only arrived there 30 mins before!!

Adeel (for those who dont know, he is one of my best friends from school in Bahrain), looks EXACTLY the same as I remember him! It was so cool meeting up like this again...

That night we went out with his friends, who are also training to be doctors, and it was great fun! His buds are all really down to earth.. like most Americans Ive met on this trip. They all hate Bush too.. havent met one person who supports him yet!

5th May

Adeel and I went off to Niagara Falls (finally I got to see them!!!). Despite being only 1 hour away, Adeel has never actually seen them himself so this was a first for both of us! We went on the "Maid of the Mist" trip which takes you along the river right up to the base of the main falls (on the Canadian side.. dont worry I didnt have to cross the customs AGAIN.. that would just be masochistic). They are truly an amazing sight and I got some great photos!

Had a BBQ back at Adeels house, with his housemates.

Today

Left Rochester this morning at 7am (*sniff*) and took Amtrak to NYC on a long 6 hour trip. The ticket was actually CHEAPER than the Greyhound equivalent which makes a change! Passed by some amazing scenery as we approached Penn Station, in particular a station called "Garrison", where the train line runs along the Hudson river, backed by rolling green forests on the other side. There was also a castle ruin at one point?!? Looked like something out of Ireland, but was obviously planted there on purpose cuz the US aint got any castles in its brief history, like. Its a scene of beauty and sereness that I would never have expected only 30 mins out of New York city!!

Decided to rough it and take the infamous NY subway through to NW Manhatten (where my hostel is based). I was initially dreading having to lug my huge backpack, guitar AND daypack through "the most dangerous subway in the world" (TM), yet in all my vulnerability I made it through with absolutely no problems.. I never got lost, ending up in Harlem as I dreaded... people were even really polite and helped me out, which is DEFINATELY something I wasnt expecting from New Yorkers... maybe the 9-11 disaster has had a softening effect on the society here, making people work together, rather than breed contempt (*shrug*)

by the way, just saw the finale of Friends... so long Rachael *sniff*

ooh yah! Thanks Adeel for an excellent time!! Ill hopefully be able to offer the same hospitality when you come to Eire... although most of the time Ill probably be draggin ya round the seedy bars of Dublin!

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