"The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page."

New York - The Big Apple

Finally I've seen, felt and experienced real American spirit, American life and dream. New York - city that never sleeps, place like nothing else in the world..

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Our flight began at the Riga city airport. I don't know how this is possible but somehow there were no seats left in the standard class so we were moved to the business class. Now that's a shame. :) So our flight to America started with a real comfort.

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We were using "Uzbekistan Airlines" company. The plane wasn't really big or modern to be honest but at least we had a direct flight from Riga to New York. It took us about 9 hours. Whole day in a plane is exhausting. Luckily we were in a comfortable business class.

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And here we are at the JFK airport in New York.

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Our home neighborhood for the next 2 weeks.

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We didn't realize that we were in New York until we put down all our stuff and drove right to Manhattan.

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And then we realized where we really were.

New York

One of the first things we bought in New York was a camera which I put in use right away. Taking pictures of Manhattan streets in New York.

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Real America, real New York like in a movies.

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Famous Empire State Building. It's hard not to notice it since it's currently the tallest finished building in New York.

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American spirit.

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Huge "Macy" store and busy streets of Manhattan.

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It was August and average temperature was about 35C which was a lot for us but it wasn't always sunny. There were rainy days as well. Not that they were bothering us.

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Of course we couldn't miss famous Apple store on 5th Avenue.

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Checked out the subway. Comparing to the tube in London this was totally different. First of all it goes right beneath the streets and there is no need in escalators.

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Second of all it's not that modern as you would think it might be. The subway is famous for it's rats and it was really dirty as well. But the trains themselves are ok, much larger than in London, air conditioned and the most important things of all - it works 24/7. I guess New York really never sleeps after all.

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Famous Plaza Hotel. The one that took place in "Home Alone 2" movie.

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After a long long day we finally were home. Since the flight took us about 9 hours it turned out we departed from Riga at 8am and arrived to New York at about 12am. For us the day was over but we had to live this day once again in New York. So in the evening we were up for about 22 - 24 hours.

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Soon we got used to the time differences but that evening all we wanted to do is to get some sleep.

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Day 2: Washington!
The next day we planned to go to the Washington D.C. It was about 4 hours away if you go by bus. Our bus stop was in China town. So we got to see it on very early hours.

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It didn't leave much impression on us. Everything was still closed very dirty and it didn't smell very good either. Typical China town.

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But soon we were on our way to the capital of United States.

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We've seen many road works but in general roads were new and smooth.

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New York is waking up.

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A few hours later very similar view but don't think this is a New York. Now we can see Philadelphia. One of many cities we were passing. In America every city is huge with its own skyscrapers and business centers.

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Hit traffic while closing in to the Washington D.C.

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Finally we've arrived and decided to have some lunch first. Since visiting Washington is a totally separate story I'll describe it in my next topic. You can read about Washington D.C. here

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Day 3: Empire State Building!
The next day after returning from the Washington we decided to go and see the famous Empire State building. But before that grab a cup of coffee at my favorite Starbucks.

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The Empire State Building is a 102-story skyscraper located in New York City. It has a roof height of 381 meters, and with its antenna spire included, it stands a total of 443.2 m high. Its name is derived from the nickname for New York, the Empire State. It stood as the world's tallest building for 40 years, from its completion in 1931 until construction of the World Trade Center's North Tower was completed in 1972. Following the September 11 attacks in 2001, the Empire State Building was again the tallest building in New York (although it was no longer the tallest in the world).

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Main hall on the first floor.

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As expected we met lots of other tourists and just got in line. But it's moving quite fast and in just 15 minutes we were waiting for the elevator. They will offer you for additional 8 dollars to take a virtual guide, something like a microphone speaker which will tell you what are you seeing once you are on top. Usually I don't buy this stuff but this time we decided to go for it and it was worth it. Really interesting topics and stories, you just look down on New York and hear all kind of stories about each famous building and structure. So my suggestion - go for it.

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Ticket costed us about 30$ plus extra 15$ if you want to go not on the 87th floor but on 102th floor. But this time it wasn't worth it. 102th floor is very small and there is no outside space. Then you have a chance to come down to 87th floor again where you can go outside on a huge open air terrace form which you can see a stunning view on New York city.

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Here is a view from 102th floor from behind the window.

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You can see a new skyscraper that is under construction now on that place where once twin towers were located.

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And here is a view from 87th floor. You can't really see much of a difference when you are this high can you?

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Antenna above New York city.

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Famous Chrysler building. At 319 m the structure was the world's tallest building for 11 months before it was surpassed by the Empire State Building in 1931.

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Here you can see the Flatiron Building that is considered to be a groundbreaking skyscraper. Upon completion in 1902, it was one of the tallest buildings in the city and the only skyscraper north of 14th Street. The building sits on a triangular island-block formed by Fifth Avenue, Broadway and East 22nd Street, with 23rd Street grazing the triangle's northern peak.

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A don't know why has he flown so high but here it is, sitting many hundred meters above the ground. Enjoying the view I suppose.

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Streets of Manhattan.

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You can see bits of Brooklyn on the other side of the channel as well as the Roosvelt island in the middle of the channel.

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The very top of the Empire State Building.

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The terrace on the 87-th floor. As you can see very busy.

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Some buildings look much different from above.

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Business center right up front. To the right you can see a Liberty island with the Statue of Liberty.

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Here I am, pointing at the wonderful city.

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On the other side of Manhattan is Jersey city.

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For additional payment you can watch city through one of these.

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Since it's the motherland of Mc'Donalds restaurants you can find them almost on every corner.

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Right in the middle of Manhattan is a wonderful central park. The largest city park I have ever seen.

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You could just stay here all day long.

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Of course there are lots of different souvenir shops right inside the Empire State Building.

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Empire State Building, New York, United States.

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We decided to spend the rest of the day just walking by the wonderful streets of Manhattan.

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New York police departments bike.

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New York Public Library.

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Some funny toys.

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As it gets dark New York becomes even more beautiful. I'll describe a night life a little bit later, when we spent most of the night exploring the city that never sleeps.

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The same "Plaza Hotel" at night.

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Day 4: Wall street!
Our next day included seeing Manhattan financial district, including famous Wall street and of course the one and only Statue of Liberty.

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Now this is what I call concrete jungle..

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George Washington monument on Wall Street New York Stock Exchange.

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One World Trade Center, more simply known as 1 WTC and previously known as the Freedom Tower, is the lead building of the new World Trade Center complex in Lower Manhattan, New York City. The 104-story supertall skyscraper is being constructed in the northwest corner of the 16-acre World Trade Center site, occupying the location where the original 8-story 6 World Trade Center once stood. It became the tallest building in New York City on April 30, 2012, and is expected to be finished by 2013.

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Charging Bull, which is sometimes referred to as the Wall Street Bull is a 3,200-kg bronze sculpture by Arturo Di Modica that stands in Bowling Green Park near Wall Street in Manhattan, New York City. This is the symbol of aggressive financial optimism and prosperity, leaning back on its haunches and with its head lowered as if ready to charge. Also very popular place for tourists, so it's almost impossible to take a good photo with it alone without tourists.

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Sometimes you feel really tiny in this huge world of skyscrapers.

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Here's where all financial stuff going on.

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After financial district we got on a free ferry that goes over the channel to a Staten island. It doesn't stop at the Liberty island but it passes it really close and you can see the Liberty statue with all it's beauty and don't have to stay in a huge lines to a ferry to the Liberty island.

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If you have extra 900$ you can rent a chopper for 15 minutes that takes you up to the statue of liberty and back. You can see it landing by the boat.

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Statue of Liberty, New York, United States.

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Here you can see a beautiful view of lower Manhattan from a ferry. You can admire Statue of Liberty while you are going past. Once you are on the other side of the channel you can go back immediately and see it once again.

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At the end of our trip on the other side of the channel.

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Day 5 - 6: Manhattan life!
The next few days we decided to spend in the center of Manhattan, enjoying American life, visiting cafes, bars, going to the movies and of course shopping.

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Time Square, New York, United States

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This is one of my favorite places I've ever seen so far. Time Square in New York. It literally never sleeps, constantly full of tourists, positive spirit, energy, you can feel all that at once. If you are searching for a peaceful place than this is the last place in the world you would like to go :)

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But I absolutely love it.

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Times Square, iconified as "The Crossroads of the World" and the "The Great White Way" is the brightly illuminated hub of the Broadway theater district, one of the world's busiest pedestrian intersections, and a major center of the world's entertainment industry.

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According to Travel + Leisure magazine's October 2011 survey, Times Square is the world's most visited tourist attraction, bringing in over 39 million visitors annually.

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Lights and advertising at the southern end of Times Square.

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There's a great place for tourists to climb a little higher to enjoy a great view on busy streets.

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You can see this city really lives.

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You can find absolutely everything there.

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Legendary yellow taxi cabs.

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Cohan's "Give My Regards to Broadway" statue in Times Square. George Michael Cohan known professionally as George M. Cohan, was a major American entertainer, playwright, composer, lyricist, actor, singer, dancer and producer.

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Since prices in America are much more affordable then European, shopping could last for hours. This is the result of one shopping hour. :)

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Visited Imax cinema in New York as well.

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Since we were on a premiere of the "Cowboys vs Aliens" movie we even got interviewed by one magazine at the end.

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Bryant park right in the center of Manhattan. It's the middle of an ordinary day.

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Despite what everybody says about Americans it looks like a really healthy and sport caring nation. I've never seen anything like this here in Baltic countries. Maybe in London though.

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At the end we decided to chill for a while.

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Smoking isn't really popular in America. If you try to light up a cigarette somewhere on the street you will be charged 50$ fee instantly. Luckily this doesn't concern us.

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Even this small park is equipped with many stuff like table tennis, chess mate tables and..

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..a reading place. Of course everything is totally for free. Ouu and did I mention a free wifi in the park as well?

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Day 7: Brooklyn bridge!
This is the neighborhood we were living in. Here you can see the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge which I'll describe later in this post.

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Almost every morning we went to play tennis. Courts are totally free and luckily we had some tennis rackets.

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Even in the morning the temperature was about 32C. This is one of the best ways to start your day.

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Before going to the Brooklyn bridge we checked out Manhattans bridge which is very close to the Brooklyn bridge.

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These roads look very familiar. Typical Latvian road condition.

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The bridge has 7 lanes of roadway, 4 tracks of trains of the New York City Subway, pedestrians, and bicycles lane.

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Brooklyn Bridge, New York, United States.

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Unfortunately it was partly under construction so one part of it was closed.

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From this point of view you can see it shining on gorgeous Manhattans background.

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The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the United States.

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There are many different events going on by the bridge. That day for instance there was possible to take canoes for a swim. And even participate in different challenges.

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The bridge has pedestrian line on top of it and a road way one level lower.

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View from the pedestrian walkway. The bridge's cable arrangement forms a distinct weblike pattern.

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There is a map that shows all famous objects round the bridge including the Statue of Liberty that can be perfectly seen from it.

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Roadway one level lower that the pedestrian and bicycle line.

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The surface of the bridge is made out of wood so it's really interesting feeling to go on it. Feels like you're really in the past.

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Gorgeous view on Manhattan.

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In 2006, a Cold War era bunker was found by city workers near the East River shoreline of Manhattan's Lower East Side. The bunker, hidden within the masonry anchorage, still contained the emergency supplies that were being stored for a potential nuclear attack by the Soviet Union.

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Day 8: Water park!
Since it's was really hot, we decided to spend our next day in a water park. So we went to Six Flags water park in New Jersey. It consists of two parts - one is water park which we had chosen and the other is amusement park. Which I think is amazing but since it was about 35C outside - all we wanted to to is get in to the water.

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But we did managed to take some pictures of it from outside.

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And to be honest I think we would love it.

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Since I didn't take my camera with me on this trip I only took some pictures with my phone which I had to leave in a dressing room as well later on. But I'll have a little more photos and description with the same park in Dallas.

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Funny shark with no teeth at the entrance.

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Day 17: Central park & night life!
After a week in Dallas we were back to New York. And since we had only few more days in New York there was absolutely no time to loose. Here is a Great Central Station.

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Heading right for the Central park. Here you can see a main CNN building.

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Columbus Circle, named for Christopher Columbus, is the point from which all official distances from New York City are measured.

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And here is the popular central park of New York.

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The park contains several natural-looking lakes and ponds that have been created artificially, extensive walking tracks, bridle paths, two ice-skating rinks (one of which is a swimming pool in July and August), the Central Park Zoo, the Central Park Conservatory Garden, a wildlife sanctuary, a large area of natural woods, 43 ha billion-gallon reservoir with an encircling running track, and an outdoor amphitheater.

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The park is a home for many animals. Here is a little turtle on the side of a lake.

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It is 4km long and 0.8km wide right in the heart of the Manhattan.

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Beautiful view on concrete jungle. It's so peaceful out there, feels like you are far away from the city life.

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Many cliffs and huge rocks.

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Lots of free space for sport games or just lying around and hanging out with your friends.

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Photo session in central park, New York, United States.

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Some interesting signs.

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And here is New York night life.

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The city becomes even more amazing than before.

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Manhattan stars like nothing else and even at night it's really really bright.

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Time Square at night. You have to be there to feel it. No other words to describe it.

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Time Square at night, New York, United States.

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The same thing is with traffic.

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New York - city that never sleeps indeed.

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They never turn off the lights. The only exception was in August 2011 when a huge storm was approaching New York. It was just a week after we left it.

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It was really hard to get a shot so that other people wouldn't block the camera.

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You can see absolutely everything there.

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So many people - it's hard to get past them.

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After that we decided to leave Manhattan and head back to Brooklyn to see Manhattan island from the other bank.

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And here is the view.

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Brooklyn bridge at night.

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We were sitting there for an hour just admiring it and relaxing from a long day, all at the same time.

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Then, since the sub works 24/7, we easily went home.

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Day 19: Brighton beach!
After tennis we decided to have a real American breakfast at McDonald's. :) By the way it wasn't all that bad.

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Going to the beach by bus.

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We were lucky and the weather was terrific. It was so bright I couldn't even see the camera.

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It is known for its high population of Russian speaking immigrants and as a summer destination for New York City residents due to its beaches along the Atlantic Ocean.

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Heey, found some glasses.

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Stylish trash bin.

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Beach map.

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Brighton Beach, New York, United States.

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The name evoked the resort of Brighton in England.

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Beautiful view on the Coney island.

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Walking by the embankment.

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On our way back visited "Best Buy" shop. If you want to buy electronic stuff - this is the place for it.

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Then we decided to take a longer route by the river bank that goes right to the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.

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The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge is a double-decked suspension bridge that connects the boroughs of Staten Island and Brooklyn.

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It now has the eighth longest center span in the world, and its massive towers can be seen throughout a good part of the New York metropolitan area, including from spots in all five boroughs of New York City.

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It has 12 lanes - six lanes upper and six lanes lower.

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Because of the height of the towers 211 m and their distance apart 1,298 m, the curvature of the Earth's surface had to be taken into account when designing the bridge—the towers are 41.275 mm farther apart at their tops than at their bases.

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We were living just 5 minutes away from it. And even though it's still counts as close to the center part of New York it took as about an hour using subway every day to reach Manhattan.

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It has a center span of 1,298 m and was the longest suspension bridge in the world at the time of its completion in 1964, until it was surpassed by the Humber Bridge in the United Kingdom in 1981.

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Day 20: Valediction!
This was the morning when we had to leave. Whole night was raining, in the morning subways and buses didn't work. Luckily we managed to get to the airport by taxi just in time.

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Having a snack before departing. Thank you America for a wonderful trip.

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