New York, New York
New York Travel Blog› entry 1 of 8 › view all entries
The United States was one on the list for me just for the sake of visiting "the land of endless possibilities". It ended out to be a city trip, doing the most travelling by plane. A nice incidental circumstance was the low dollar-value, making it a relatively cheap trip.
We started of with the biggest city in the world, New York. For the most this is my favorite city of them all. First impression was the huge size of everything and the incredibly hot sub-way stations (anyway the perfect way to explore New York, with the week-pass). During the week Time Square station was our main base and we spend at least some nights there. I think the best place to start the New York experience, is to go over there and just walk around a bit.
Our hostel (Continental Hostel, now the Widget Hotel) turned out to be a good choice for us. It is situated in the upper west side of Manhattan on a walking distance from the subway on Broadway (just one block) and not too far from central park (I guess a 10-15 minutes walk). That makes it perfect to go out early morning and walk down the street, grab a coffee and croissant at the Starbucks on Broadway, enter Central Park near the reservoir and circle it and explore the park to experience early NY life. Early morning you are one of the few tourist and the people you find mostly are New Yorkers working out. I had the impression both the upper west side and upper east side are good neighborhoods to stay.
Afterwards I found a quote of David Letterman, "Traffic signals in New York are just rough guidelines", and I couldn't agree with him more! Especially on Time Square with too many people in too little space, everybody is walking wherever they can.
The Saturday we were in New York was one of the "car-free days" in August. This gives a whole other experience of New York. We ended up near Grand Central Terminal at around 12 noon when the street closures ended and the streets were cleared by the police. It was a perfect time to take photo's since some roads were completely empty! (Think something like "I Am Legend") In the afternoon we went to "Top of the Rock" on Rockefeller Center which, besides the Empire State, is the place to get a good overview of the city.
One of the best days we had was our visit to the Statue of Liberty (buy a ticket in advance!). After waiting a few hours (sunny weather luckily) we got to Liberty Island. In advance we heard entering the statue isn't worth it nowadays. You can't enter the statue itself (only the base), with the same view as downstairs and a small museum, after waiting hours. On the way back is a stop at Ellis Island. We had a quick look, to get a impression of the building where immigrants used to enter. The building now is a museum, mainly focused on the early history of the US.
After visiting the statue we went to Wall Street to get a look over there (walking distance) and got to the Brooklyn Bridge to pass over it into Brooklyn. This is something worth doing! When we finally were in Brooklyn it was around sunset, which gave a great view of downtown NY. It easily shows which Pizza place is recommended by Lonely Planet. We spend 30-45 minutes near the river and the waiting line outside didn't decrease much during that time... Since we didn't find a place to eat worth visiting somewhere else, we returned to our favorite place, Time Square. We found a really good pizzeria there; Famous Famiglia (worth the try). (8th Avenue between Hatton and 44th, next to the McDonalds)
We spend a day visiting the area of SoHo, Chinatown and Little Italy.
Something mandatory to visit is of course "ground zero". While you get a good impression of the sheer size of it, it's nothing more than a giant building-pit nowadays.
Thing to do: rent a bike and ride around central park. Find a rental place that gives you bikes you can use in the park as well outside the park (some limit it to the park). First we biked the park and then we went somewhat downtown. This gives a nice experience of the traffic (although you have to watch out real good). We also made a trip over Time Square which was an experience on itself. The place to arrange a rental is on 58th Street and 7th Avanue where they stand with signs.
A few other things we did: We visited a Mets game, a must-do when visiting from oversees. (We don't have baseball like this in the Netherlands.) We noticed there was such an easy-going atmosphere at the game.
We visited Madison Square Garden and did a tour there, but this was a real disappointment. To like it, you have to be a real sports fan. It is a standard tour, with standard talks, no chance to stroll around. One of the locker rooms we visited even was being used as storage. The lights were out in the main arena, so not much to see. (Although the Jonas Brothers were practicing for their show that evening. Not like we knew who they were at the time...)