‘Concrete jungle where dreams are made of’ Jay Z Alicia Keys – Empire State of Mind
This was my second time visiting New York City, I first went in 2008. Oh how my perceptions have changed.
The last time I visited I was fairly young, very inexperienced in world travels and really it was my first long haul flight without my parents that didn’t consist of travelling to the Punjab, India. It was amazing, everything was so BIG, exciting, city life, the possibilities!
Skip to 9 years later, I still love NYC but it seemed smaller somehow. I’ve traveled and grown up a lot in the last 9 years, so the city is still the same, it’s just me that’s different. Not necessarily a bad thing either.
We decided to take it fairly easy on our first full day, it was Sunday 25th June. We stayed at the Holiday Inn on 8th Avenue so we were fairly central; saying that deciding to walk to the American Museum of Natural History was a mission as it’s on 79th Street and we were on 39th.
Once we’d done the museum we decided to hang out in Central Park for the afternoon. The weather was glorious so strolling around was lovely, however, we decided to row a boat on the lake, because well other people were doing it. I’d not laughed that hard in ages, it was hilarious. One of my cousins was taking us around in circles rowing for 10 minutes (we’d only paid for an hour!). I had a go rowing with my female cousin and we got a nice rhythm going. Girl power ha ha!
We decided to do the Hop On Hop Off bus tour (I had done previously and it was great) so we went with Top View, seemed like a good deal at the time (read my ‘things to avoid’ section at the bottom)*. So our plan was to go downtown and do the Statue of Liberty tour and Empire State Building on the way back. First things first, the bus we got on said ‘downtown loop’ but apparently that changes to ‘uptown loop’ occasionally so that buggered up our morning plans (nice to be advised in advance!). So we decided on visiting Lady Liberty in the afternoon.
Well, the ferry to Liberty Island was full and I refused to wait 2 hours in a queue for the next one so we went straight to the Empire State Building and get some glorious views of the city.
The night tour was also included so we did this Monday night, was a bit chilly and we went to Brooklyn and across the bridge, so got some amazing views of Manhattan at night (no pics as they’re a little blurry!) plus they didn’t do it any justice. The only thing that was a let-down is that there was no tour guide on the bus, we had to use earphones and wasn’t always easy to hear.
As we’d missed the ferry the day before we decided to get the 9.40am one today, the bus was slower than normal and we missed it by 4 MINUTES! We decided to wait this time and get the 11.25am ferry, had some breakfast at the Staten Island Ferry terminal. When we eventually got in the queue and were waiting to board, we were told it was cancelled. Not entirely going smoothly this whole trying to see Lady Liberty business.
We sacked it off as a bad morning and decided to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and to Brooklyn!! Which everyone should do…the bridge at least! We were too hot to walk back so got a water taxi for $2.75…bargain right!?
After this we walked to Chinatown and Little Italy, having gone past them on the bus the night before we had a vague idea where it was. The streets, sounds, shops and restaurants were amazing, felt like you’d left Manhattan. Hadn’t done this area first time round so that was fun.
Tuesday was a heavy walking day!!
(So first pic is of us doing some stretches to get ready for our walk across the bridge!)
The walking from the day before may have been a bit too much for me as by Wednesday I felt a bit funny. After a nice late breakfast/early lunch at the Rockefeller plaza and some pictures with some minions we made our way to Bryant Park, where I felt a little ill and fell asleep for about an hour in the park as the walk to the hotel room was too far!
We wandered over to NYC Public Library, after I’d had an ice cream and felt a little better, which is a beautiful building and bought a lovely ‘leather-bound’ copy of The Secret Garden, one of my favourite childhood books.
The evening was spent at a Broadway Comedy Club, erm, not all the acts were great, the female (I forgot her name) had the longest set and had us all in stitches. Yay girls are funnier than boys! And the last guy was funny (again sorry forgot his name!).
Also, had a wander around Grand Central Terminal and I’m in love with their board for train times!
We finally made it to the Statue of Liberty, having bought tickets online the night before (rule of thumb and I forgot I knew this, you can buy tickets at Battery Park on the day of, doesn’t cost much more than pre-booking online!). The ferry leaves every 20 minutes and includes a stop off at Ellis Island.
We decided on the free audio tour guides and that’s where I discovered my voice is on the guide telling the world I’m from Scunthorpe 9 YEARS AGO! Highlight of my whole trip!! Also, pick up some fresh lemonade before you enter it’s so tasty and refreshing!
As we came off the ferry for reasons unbeknownst to me still I decided to pay to hold a snake!!
After which we headed over to the 9/11 memorial, which was beautiful and very sad, I hadn’t known beforehand what the memorial was and I’m glad I didn’t, I think reading up on everything beforehand loses the element of surprise and beauty in something.
Decided to then get a taxi to Dunwell Donuts in the East Village (vegan friendly) as it was on our list of things to eat whilst there, found a Punjabi taxi driver (of course!) who was friendly enough and told us of his adventurous trip getting into the US.
One of my favourite and most tiring days! Me and my cousin got up early to get theatre tickets to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
We then decided to bike around Central Park, on the hottest day of the week because that’s how we roll. You can always find a bike tout at the Central Park West entrance; any of them are fairly reasonably priced so decide on the day. The park is huge and so much to see! Remember there is a swimming pool right at the top so take a bikini and chill for an hour or so to cool off!
That evening we spent watching a play, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It was incredible! Everyone should go see it.
One of my cousins’ relatives lives in New Jersey so we went across and spent the afternoon with them before our flight. It had been an incredible week and quite tiring so decided to forgo a trip of New Jersey and having an hour or so nap before we headed home! We went to a Gurdwara in New Jersey and it made me homesick so was looking forward to coming back!
Even now just a little over a week since I got back I need a beach holiday to recover!
NB…I’ve included some things to avoid, hints and tips (may update this later as and when I remember minor details) so enjoy!! Hope this post helps in some of the things to do and see! Haven’t included Times Square and all the shopping because well you know all about that.
Have a good day xo
*Things to avoid:
- Top View Hop on Hop off bus tour – complete con and I wished I’d researched beforehand the terrible reviews. It should have included free 2 hour bike hire in Central Park and we were sold it by them advising would include Statue of Liberty Island tour. It doesn’t. They go AROUND Liberty Island you don’t actually stop off. I’d recommend Gray Line and Big Bus Tours, you pay a little extra but it’s worth it. We also missed out on free bagels and coffee and if that isn’t a good enough reason to avoid them I don’t know what is!!!
Hints & Tips:
- The American Museum of Natural History is donation only you don’t have to pay $22 dollars for entry. To go get your ticket and tell them ‘donation only’ and pay $5 dollars minimum if you wish.
- If you’re vegan / vegetarian like me and 2 others I went with, look up places to eat beforehand. You’ll need a map anyway to get around so mark on the map where you want to eat in case you’re nearby at the time.
- Buy tickets online or at Battery Park for the Statue of Liberty as it includes both Liberty Island and Ellis Island tours. Make sure you’re aware of the timings back as the queues get really long!
- You can almost always buy tickets on the day for any play, will involve a little queuing but we got tickets for $40 each and got some great seats for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Would’ve been $119 each if we’d pre-booked.
- Dunwell Donuts in the East Village, the owner was so friendly and the donuts to die for.
- Holiday Inn Times Square (8th Ave) staff we’re extremely helpful providing tips and recommendations of places to visit!! You’ll probably read great reviews except that the lift does take an age to get on so only downside really. The location and staff however, make up for this.
- Charlie and the Cholate Factory whilst it’s still playing, it’s a must see musical!
- I’m bad an remembering foodie places (not a big foodie person, other than eating it) but my biggest recommendation would be to GO FOR YOURSELF!! You’ll love it.