Updated: Mar 19
New York, New York, the city they named twice, is located on the East coast of the United States of America and consists of five boroughs sitting where the Hudson River meets the Atlantic Ocean. It is among the worlds major commercial, financial and cultural centres.
POPULATION - 8.419 MILLION ( 2019 )
CURRENCY - $ - U.S DOLLARS
TIME DIFFERENCE - - 5 HOURS OF ( GMT )
It's March 2nd 2017, time for the second stage of my 40th birthday, and this has been a trip I have been dreaming of since I was a child, wanting to power walk down the Manhatten streets with a mission like Cagney and Lacey, I wanted to slam a car bonnet in the road and shout " IM WALKING HERE!!" in a broad New Yorkian accent.
As a child, I loved everything American, staying up late watching the baseball world series with hotdogs or figuring out American Football rules.
Excited was an understatement, in a few hours, we will be in the city that all kinds of famous T.v shows and movies that I grew up with were filmed.
We had decided to go with a couple of friends, one of them a school friend who had also turned 40 the November before, so at least I wasn't alone feeling old on this Birthday 😂.
SOME FACTS ABOUT NEW YORK
• NYC is home to the first pizzeria in the U.S
• More than 800 languages are spoken in NYC
• It is illegal to honk your horn in the city
• New York was the first capital of the U.S.A
• It is not illegal to go topless in NYC, wouldn't recommend it though!!!
• It is illegal to fart in a church
• If Brooklyn was its own city instead of a borough it would be the fourth largest city in the U.S
Donna and I's flights cost a total of £550, which was with no extra baggage and no seat allocation. Our friends paid for baggage and extra legroom seats, which cost £100 more.
We knew the weather would be cold but managed to fit our winter clothing into a rucksack each and think we wore about 2 layers on the plane, not saying we are stingy but more economical with our funds 😉.
We flew from Gatwick, and the flight was at 17.10, so it gave us plenty of time to travel up on the day and get to the airport early so we could grab a drink. The arrival time in New York will be around 19.30 ( Eastern Time).
Time to board, and was surprised to find that the aeroplane was a new Dreamliner, a lovely comfortable plane with brand new entertainment systems and top it off had mood lighting that we had never seen before, which excited us, as they say, small things!!
With all the entertainment options, the 8-hour flight went quickly, and before we knew it, we were landing on U.S soil.
If your travelling to the U.S from the U.K, don't forget to apply for your Esta, which is your Visa, you won't be able to get in the country without one.
A few sites offer you the Esta at a cost more than what you should have to pay, but it will be around $14. This is the site that we used to get our ESTA.
After departing the plane, we arrived in a huge security area. It was so crowded this would take a while, slowly but surely seeing our friends get through, which was a bonus really as they had baggage to collect.
After an hour, we proceeded out of security, found our friends and headed for a pre-booked taxi. I still can never get used to the cars being opposite to us, so I tried to get in the driver's side of the cab, it wasn't the first time, and I'm sure it won't be the last!
Hearing that New York is expensive, and especially around the Manhatten area, we found a hotel on the opposite side of the river from Manhatten in Long Island at a hotel called Wyndham Garden, Long Island, through booking.com. It was a cosy little hotel, easy checking in and comfortable, decent sized rooms. The rooms cost us $470 for 5 nights.
It is now about 10 pm, and we thought we would head out for a beer and found a little bar nearby called L.I.C bar.
We had a couple of drinks, but our bodies were a little confused about why we were out at 5 am even though it was only midnight, being 40 should have been tucked up in bed hours ago.
Its 6 am; we had a good few hours of sleep and time for breakfast, which we didn't include with the rooms. Still, there was a bakery not far away, so we had a pastry and a coffee and headed to the Subway, which we could have got a free shuttle with the hotel but decided to walk, now we have to say it was so, so cold, hitting -10 and with wind chill looking at -18 so we had to wrap up well. On the positive side, it was sunshine and blue skies with not a cloud to be seen.
We caught the subway from Court Square Station to Times Square 42nd st. to visit the famous Times Square.
We absolutely recommend that you purchase a MetroCard as New York is huge. The subway is the best way to get around, we bought the 7-day unlimited metro card for around $30, and you can buy these from any metro machine or kiosk.
Time Square was bustling and exciting, just seeing the simple things like the New York cops, the high buildings and even mickey mouse and friends. We are in New York!!
We enjoyed being at Times Square but thought it would look a lot better at night, so we didn't stay too long, and being like little children wanted to get going and get everything done in one day, which isn't possible.
The next stop was to head over to the Rockafeller, as we were collecting our New York City Passes, which will save you a little money on all the main sights that are typically touristy; these are a great idea. There are a few different options on passes you can read here at 22places.com, and you can decide which pass is best for you. Ours cost us $116 each ( as of 2017), and you can collect the booklet from the number of attractions you are visiting.
Into the building, we went and headed into the lift to get to Top of the Rock; make sure you lookup in the elevator!. After a speedy ride in the lift, we stepped out. There are 3 levels 2 are inside with great views but on the 70th is the open-air top floor. It was absolutely freezing, but WOW, that didn't matter when you saw the blue skies and the views across the city it was so amazing, this is a view you don't want to miss.
After an hour or so here, we wanted to see more great views, so we headed over to the iconic Empire State Building, which was about a twenty-minute walk.
Heading up to the observation deck on the 86th floor, it was as spectacular as the views we had just seen.
There is an option to go to a higher observation deck on the 102nd floor, but that is an extra cost.
If you were interested in going higher, you could purchase tickets on sight, but the 86th floor is included with your pass, not sure how much extra you have to pay with your pass.
JUST A LITTLE NOTE
We couldn't document everything we did in these 5 days. We walked a lot, shopped in places like Macy's ( when we say shopping, we just looked around) and ate, but it would be a novel if I went into detail 😂.
Wandering the streets, we decided to visit Grand central station and grand it is, beautiful architecture and the best train station we have ever seen such a vast space and great photo opportunities.
This was top of our list to visit to pay our respects to the victims of this terrible act of September 2001. We wanted to be in a place that changed the course of history.
Walking down through Wall Street, past the bronze bull, which represents the aggressive nature of financial capitalism and the optimism of prosperity.
We came to the end of the street after a 10-minute walk, we turned the corner to see hundreds of people but not a sound, and there was an air of sorrow.
We then noticed the twin bronze memorial pools with the names of nearly 3000 people inscribed around the edges; these huge, acre big areas are the footprints of the Twin Towers.
On entering the museum, we headed down the stairs; there were parts of a crumpled pillar from the original buildings, also seeing the survivor staircases and a motorbike that was donated to the museum from a firefighter's family, he was restoring it but never got to finish as he never made it home from that day ( It has been fully restored in his memory )
Motorbike of the Fallen Firefighter and Survivors Staircase
There are tons of relics from that day, including crushed emergency service vehicles to personal items from victims and survivors, but what hit us the most was the wall of the victims and the individual stories of each person, who they were in life and how the end came for them, absolutely heartbreaking but also respectful to learn about them so they will never be forgotten. A must visit!!
Crumpled Ruins from the towers, including the Ladder 3 Fire Engine
STATUE OF LIBERTY AND ELLIS ISLAND
One of the most famous sights of New York and the symbol of America's freedom and hope is the Statue of Liberty.
To get the ferry, head down to Battery Park and the ferry terminal, where the staff will usher you through, but it gets jam-packed and crowded, so like us go early ( even then, it was busy ). Once you get onto the ferry, grab a good spot for photo opportunities as its amazing on a clear day. We were lucky enough to get to the back, to be able to see Manhatten get smaller and smaller as we got closer to the statue's island.
Leaving Manhatten Behind and The Sphere that used to be near the entrance of the WTC.
Departing off the ferry, we had landed, and the statue was there standing 93 metres above us. She had been standing here since October 28th 1886, and has seen many changes in her time.
The little island was beautiful. There was a place to grab some food and drinks but very expensive, we would recommend taking your own, pack lunch, walk around, find a nice spot to have yourself a little picnic, and take in the surroundings.
Back onto the ferry and a short trip to Ellis Island, this was the place that all immigrants had to stay first to be processed before they could head onto their American dream.
Ellis island started taking the first of 12 million immigrants in 1892, and the last left in 1954 ( although from 1924, the island was used less for immigration).
This was an interesting place. We walked around knowing this is where peoples dreams were made but, in many cases, dashed.
Families were separated here, some members made it through, and others sent home never to see their family ever again.
Time to head back to Long Island as it is very tiring hiking around Manhatten, so make sure you have yourself comfortable pairs of shoes. The cold weather also makes you exhausted.
In the evening, we had amazing views of Manhatten from our side of the river, which made our choice even better, so we thought we would celebrate with a beautiful cocktail in Sweetleaf Coffee Cocktail Bar, a stunning little place and gorgeous cocktails.
By now, we were pros with using public transport ...well not quiet we needed to google a lot.
Still, we navigated around the city well; we headed over to Chinatown and visited Little Italy, which was a bit of relief to venture away from the high rise buildings and see a little more of New York; we went during the day. Still, I think the evening would have been much more enticing and lively.
Little Italy and Chinatown
Another must do is to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge and have a venture around Brooklyn itself. During the walk over the bridge, you must stay out of the cycle lanes, or the cyclists will shout you to get out of the way as locals will not slow down and would rather run you down than have you in their lane 😂. We also saw a rear-end collision on the road just below us on the bridge; it was all going on that bridge 😂.
On the other side in Brooklyn, we walked to the area where the famous photo at Brooklyn bridge park was taken and tried to get our own version. Brooklyn to us had a cool vibe to it, and we wandered around for a good hour or so before we headed back over the bridge. If we get back to New York, we will try and find a place to stay in Brooklyn.
NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM AND CENTRAL PARK
The next landmark we headed to was the Natural History Museum. This place was quite interesting. We are both into history but wasn't blown away here. We think this would be better if you had kids who would enjoy it a lot more, that is just our view. Still, if you have a city pass, I would say go here to experience it yourself; it might be your thing.
Outside the museum is Central Park which we loved even though we didn't walk into it as far we would have liked; it was peaceful and stunning. If it weren't so cold, we would have spent more time just relaxing around that area.
5 days in New York, it's a good amount of time. Still, we would have loved longer to be able to explore the outskirts of the city a bit more, which we will do when we go back someday also will go when it isn't as cold as -18 and can enjoy the sunshine in the parks and grab ice creams as we go. Still, we can't complain we had gorgeous sunshine, and Hey, we were in NEW YORK !!!