Barely hit four hours of sleep. All good, I will try to sleep on the plane. That’s right, you heard me. Plane. I can’t believe it’s time to go. But technically my flight isn’t until early evening, so off early for one more breeze through the city.

First stop: caffeine hit at Caffe Bene on the corner of 49th Street and Broadway, where the guy behind the counter taking my order keeps declaring how dizzy he is; and together we try to work out the tax and change for my coffee and brioche. Too much math way before coffee!

But I like this place, it’s spacious enough to hold all the tourists and travelers in the front getting a quick caffeine fix before starting their day yet has a great little reading room in the back or the mezzanine for those who just want a space to chill, listen to music, whip out their laptops and write, or read from the selection of books on display.

A mixture of textures come together to create a cozy, urban vibe; wood, concrete, mosaic tiles, steel, and exposed ceilings; and an array of chairs, rattan, wood, Formica, swivel, armed, cushioned, non-cushioned. Oh, and of course the coffee is good; that goes without saying.

As I people watch, the streets are far from a lazy Sunday morning, already abuzz with activity. In front of the cafe, sightseeing ticket agents are already touting unassumingly fresh-faced tourists new to the city. Then a homeless guy stands right in front of me squaring me off. It’s our very own Mexican standoff. I break eye contact and he moves onto his next victim. Meanwhile, on the corner, a street seller sells designer bag knockoffs. And women tourists flock to him like moths to a flame.

I could sit here for hours; but I have a plane to catch; and some last minute shopping. I know, I know, how much shopping can a girl do? That is not the right question; the right question is, how much shopping can a girl do in a couple of hours? Plenty of damage, let me tell you!

So I’m on my way. And 50th Street is already alive with activity as I stumble onto yet another movie set. And outside NBC Studios is a guy selling TV and movie scripts. How funny.

On Fifth Avenue, I stop outside Saks & Company to take a photo of some Alexander McQueen designs; and a guy walking past randomly stops and tells me he could see me in those luxurious dresses; don’t think just buy, he says. We pick a favorite for me, laugh, and part ways. Tempting to dream a little. They are gorgeous dresses.

Pressing on, I come across a protest outside the Philippines Embassy. I sidestep that.

On 45th Street, I pass a guy who looks like he’d just stepped off the set of The Matrix. In New York (or LA, for that matter), you never know; maybe he really had been an extra and he’s off to an audition.

And on Broadway, throngs of people gathering are already forming lines snaking around corners for tickets.

Did someone say it was Sunday? No lazy Sunday here!

I allow myself some leisurely shopping time on Fifth Avenue, including shoe window shopping at Saks.

Then a stop to refuel right outside the Time & Life Building with front row seats to the same movie set from this morning. As they start shooting again, the crowd gathers, appearing from nowhere, drawn to the lights.

Lunch done and dusted, it’s back to the hotel to gather my belongings and call it a trip.

As the porter bids me farewell and pops me into a cab, he makes me promise to ‘come back and see us! We’ll be waiting right here!’

New York traffic is not for the faint-hearted. Traffic is insane, as the cabbie suddenly morphs into a Formula One Grand Prix race car driver who deftly maneuvers the vehicle to weave in and out of traffic!

He drives with jolts of starts and stops, braking just before we hit the car in front of us; and when we finally break free, the driver is gunning it seventy miles an hour down the highway not even sticking to any lane. But he gets me to the airport in one piece and on time, which is commendable, given the absolute nightmare on Queens Boulevard.

Soon, I am checking in to fly home via Los Angeles.

I’d give my right arm to stay. Okay, maybe not my right arm; I kinda need it. But you get the gist.

But in those three little words made famous by one very determined cyborg: ‘I’ll be back’.

But of course; I haven’t even blushed the Financial District nor Tribeca. And of course, I have yet to visit Harlem with my new friend.

Thanks for joining me on this jam-packed trip. I have walked five days around New York City, covering a radius over and between Fifth and Lexington Avenues, and 14th and 89th Streets. But like a sponge, have soaked in so much more and re-inspired my soul.

Stay tuned for more,

Text and images: Nina Mostafa

Copyright © TheAustralien 2012