I wanted to love New York. It was one of my big bucket list cities and I’d nurtured my love for the city from afar, over years of Sex and the City reruns. I chose my university exchange program in Montreal because of its proximity to New York and when a couple of my South African friends living in New Jersey invited me to stay for a few days, I practically tripped over myself in my haste to book my ticket.
My first few days in New York were lovely. After the freezing temperatures and heavy snow I’d experienced in Montreal, New York’s weather was practically tropical.
As my train crossed the bridge onto the island and the glittering skyline came into view, I had to resist the urge to jump into the aisle and do a little wiggle of excitement.
While I was mostly in New York to catch up with friends from South Africa, we were still able to knock off some of the big attractions like The Statue of Liberty, The New York Times building, Times Square and, of course, the M&M store. We also picked up some quality knock-off designer hand bags.
The following day, with my friends returning to work, I made my way back into the city. I had big plans to hit up the major tourist attractions with my Gray Line bus tour pass and visit some of the iconic Sex and the City locations.
In retrospect, I should’ve checked the weather. But I was still in my Australian mindset where weather just didn’t factor in my day-to-day plans. At the time I didn’t realize that the news had already issues a blizzard warning.
I’d initially planned to meet up with a friend from Montreal at the American Museum of Natural History. Neither of us had phones so we just set a time where we would meet in the main lobby. I still don’t know what mistake I made, but after about an hour on the metro I realized something had gone wrong.
By now it was starting to snow heavily. Little did I know but the city was about to slammed with over 30” of snow in a Category 3 snow storm.
I hopped off the metro and looked around the deserted platform for some to ask directions from. I walked up a mountainous man smoking outside a nearby building. After being given the crazy eyes and informed that “girl, you’re in Harlem!” he then gave me directions back to the metro for the Museum.
By the time I reached the Museum, I had completely missed my friend. Disappointed, but not to be deterred – and with one of the greatest dinosaur fossil collections in the world calling – I set off to explore the Museum on my own.
Now bear with me, because the part where I almost die isn’t far away. I just have to defer quickly to talk about the Museum’s dinosaur exhibit.
I wanted to visit New York for all the reasons many woman my age do, but also who wouldn’t want to stand beneath the colossal size of a Barosaurus or peer into the mouth of a T-Rex? It was awesome!
Standing on the fourth floor of the Museum I watched as New York was prettily covered in a heavy blanket snow. The sloppy grey streets from the previous day had been transformed into a Tiffany’s Christmas ad. I loved New York!
After leaving the Museum I discovered that all the bus tours had been cancelled due to the weather. I then made some really stupid and naive plans. I decided that my best plan of action would be to spend the rest of the day safe and dry inside a museum and then finish off with a cocktail before heading back to New Jersey.
After careful consideration of my city map, I decided that my best plan would be to take a short cut (please hold your laughter) through Central Park to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, scoot down Fifth Avenue and wrap up the day with a glass of bubbly in the Plaza’s Palm Court.
I set off into the park, blissfully unconcerned about the storm and enjoying the downy flakes falling around me and the silence of the park. An hour and several wrong turns later and my optimistic mood had plummeted.
One of my lovely Nine West gum boots had a tear and icy water-soaked my socks every time I time I stepped into one of the many deep puddles hidden beneath the snow.
Around me the wind was bringing down trees and flinging branches across the pathways. Several times trees fell across my intended path (narrowly missing me) and I frequently had to turn back and find another route.
All I wanted to do was make it out of Central Park in one piece and drink some wine. I hated New York!
Braving the weather in other parts of the park were two other people, both who were struck by trees, one who was killed.
When I eventually did make it out of the park it was several hours later, I really didn’t want to give up on my evening plans. I stopped in at the Met briefly, mostly out of an urge to find shelter somewhere warm and cheap. But by this stage I had lost the urge to browse the art anyway.
After stopping in at the Met I (rather valiantly, if I do say so myself) began the hike through the snow down Fifth avenue in the direction of the Plaza. After walking for what seemed like hours in the rapidly shrinking daylight, I finally called it quits and I high tailed it out of the city on the first metro I came across.
I spent my train ride back to Montreal sulking over my time in New York. It was too short. It was too stormy. I’d risked my life in Central Park. My knock off Louis Vuitton bag broke when I snagged it on a railing. Arriving back in Montreal came as relief.
Now that I’m back in North America, I definitely want to give New York a second chance but we’re planning on a summer or fall visit. After all, we get enough snow as it is without putting our self through a snow storm when on vacation.
Have you ever experienced crazy weather when you least expected it on vacation?