New York - my first visit to God's own country

Impressions & photos from one of the world's biggest metropoles

Text & photos : Erik Pontoppidan
Copyright: Erik Pontoppidan

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Rarely have I been so excited to visit a new place. New York is a city, which many Europeans feel they know, even if they have never been there. The streets, the houses, the sound of emergency sirens – everything seems familiar from the numerous American Hollywood movies and TV shows. And the older generations, including me (I was born in 1947) is full of memories from Donald Duck and Walt Disney in the 1950-ies and early 1960-ies: Morality, values of life , houses, water tanks, fire escapes, political views and all kinds of American life style. I loved Disney's comic strips, but the quality of the stories was much better than today. They were filled with good and thoughtful points that appealed to your imagination in a completely different way than today.

Exclusive lunch in River Café with a breathtaking restaurant-view. You find The River Café right under Brooklyn Bridge.

One of my very high expectations was the first view of the Manhattan skyline. And it looked exactly as I had expected, when the light from the skyscrapers turned up in the taxi, crossing one of the many bridges to the city center. It was a warm September evening, and when we left the highway and entered the streets of Manhattan, plenty of people were seen at the numerous outdoor cafes and restaurants. Our hotel in the Tribeca quarter in Lower Manhattan was by no means a luxury hotel, but we always prefer exciting experience instead of comfort. The hotel (Cosmopolitan Hotel at West Broadway) was in a very old building, probably about 100 years old, but good and clean. And on the stairs from our room down to the reception, there was a strong smell of the good coffee from the Starbuck café just on the other side of the wall!

Times Square i central Manhattan never sleeps!

New York is the epitome of the West and Western culture. Therefore, you feel at home in the city in a completely different way than, for example, in many of the new skyscraper cities of China and Southeast Asia.Try to find something common, which identifies Western culture. Some of your first propositions will probably be classic Hollywood movies, Wall Street, the Statue of Liberty or the World Trade Center!

Unlike what most people think, New York has deep, visible historical roots. Not as deep as in Europe, but below the gigantic, new skyscrapers, you find an older generation of tall buildings from the great migration period or even further back.

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The visit to New York in September 2012 was my first to the United States. Apart from a transit stopover on the way home from Guatemala in Miami Airport in 2008, which by no means encouraged you to visit God's own country. Personally, my relation to the United States has been very ambivalent, primarily for political reasons. Unlike what I thought, I met a lot of kindness from of the native New Yorkers.

The view from Empire State Building is awesome.

We used the subway during our sightseeing. I have used subways in several cities in the world, and this kind of transport has always fascinated me. The subway is a place where you get very close to the locals. And the smell down there is the same whether you are in Paris, London or New York. It's a mixture of the smell of hot metal due to the electric sparks and Copenhagen Central Station at the time of the steam locomotives in the 1950-ies!

From Harlem i Manhattan's Uptown.

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