This Tuesday we came back from New York, the Number One travel destination in the world. I liked the city a lot and was impressed by the scale and size a lot. This city has so much to offer in all aspects of life (if you have enough money, of course)… Right, there is a but. Some people would definitely throw the stones at me… but I didn’t like New York as much as it was expected from me. Even worse – I liked it less than I expected from myself. In fact, we had great sightseeing, delicious meals, amazing experience, had intense conversations with friends. We had luck with the weather (it was mostly sunny and we regretted we didn’t take the sunglasses with us). This trip was probably most elaborately planned and prepared for than any of the others. But the city simply didn’t blow my mind. I liked it and was impressed by the scale and size. I definitely have to come back here in summer and accomplish something we didn’t manage this time: MOMA, Central Park, a sunset view to the Manhattan from one of the observation platforms.
While planning your trip think about the following:
- at the airport allow for standing in a line for the visa check for a least an hour and a half. Currently they are introducing automated visa check, but it doesn’t work smoothly yet.
- the JFK Airtrain brings you to the subway stations (Jamaica and Howard beach) where you can directly change to the metro. You have to pay 5 dollars on exit.
- if you plan to see a lot, take an unlimited Metro Card. It costs 31 dollars for a week and you can buy it at any wending machines. One trip costs about 2,75.
- take an adapter for your charger.
- the streetlights in NYC are orange and white. Orange hand – wait, white man – go. However, the pedestrians usually ignore them and cross on any light.
- the taxes are often not included into the price. They appear afterwards in your bill.
- people working in the restaurants live on tips. It is expected that you leave at least 10-15% of the bill.
- you can pay by card almost everywhere on Manhattan. Just keep in mind that some additional taxes can apply.
- money withdrawal costs 1 – 3,5 dollars (depends on the local ATM bank), therefore it is better to withdraw bigger sums.
- it is possible to negotiate the prices for a taxi ride (at least, in the green taxi) – we drove from Brooklyn to the JFK Airport for 40 dollars.
We’ve been in the city only 4,5 days and filled in our tight schedule pretty well… We walked so much that at the end of the day our legs were buzzing and were falling asleep almost immediately the moment the head touched the pillow. However, we have seen (almost) all we planned to see.
- On the first day we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, visited Chinatown and Little Italy. In the afternoon we took a ferry to the Staten Island, won the quest and had a dinner in Katz’s.
- Second day we dedicated to the shopping – we rent a car and drove to Woodbury Outlet. In the evening we enjoyed a beautiful view from a roof in Long Island City.
- Third day was Mid- and Upper Manhattan: Greenwich Village, Chelsey, Grant Central Station, 5th Avenue and a show on Broadway.
- Last day (more precisely, half a day) we spent in Brooklyn (Brooklyn Park and Brooklyn Heights).
Here are some places, which you have to visit if you are in the Big Apple.
1. The High Line is a pedestrian park built on the former railroad. It’s a great opportunity to leave the busy buzzing city below. And it’s for free…
2. The Brooklyn Bridge is a must! Probably, everyone knows that and I don’t have to write here a lot. I will just make a note that the walk takes about half an hour. And, please, beware of the bicyclists riding on the bridge. They have all the rights and a dedicated line, but the line for the pedestrians is too narrow to accommodate all the tourists, so from time to time an unwary visitor gets hit by a bike…
3. The Times Square is another must! You better visit it at night, when the neon lights make the night to a day. This was an astonishing feeling: you know that it is after ten in the afternoon, but you see everything precisely like in the daylight.
4. The Staten Island Ferry is another gratis attraction in the city. The ferries start every 30 minutes and a ride takes about 20 minutes one way. From the ferry, you can enjoy one of the best views to the panorama of Manhattan. Besides, you can picture the Statue of Liberty from quite a close distance and observe the queues of people waiting their admittance to the top (definitely not worth it).
5. Another bucket list idea was to take a picture on the stairs of Carrie Bradshow’s house at 64 Perry Street in Greenwich. Unfortunately, there was a chain and a note “Don’t seat on the stairs”. That didn’t upset us and we shot some photos on the stairs of the neighbor’s pretty house (which was even better decorated).
6. Unluckily, the day I was thinking of climbing one of the observation points (Top of the Rock/ Empire State Building/ One World Observatory), it started to snow and the visibility was tending to zero. So this is another bucket list point which have to wait until the next time. Nevertheless, we witnessed a beautiful view from one of the buildings on the Queensboro plaza, Long Island City already on the second day of our trip. This could count as a some sort of a substitute.
7. The huge Grand Central Terminal with its sky-like ceiling and old-fashioned ticket counters, the place where so many movies were filmed, is also highly recommended for a visit.
8. During our daily walks to the subway we have seen some beautifully decorated wealthy family houses in Brooklyn. The knowing people say that they are even more spectacular during the Halloween time.
This trip granted us with some new amazing experience:
- Komnata quest “Maze of Hakaina”
I’ve already been to several escape rooms, but this quest exceeded my expectations! The idea, the plot, the decorations, the performance, the attributes (we had to wear masks) – all this was elaborately and thoughtfully done. The explanation of the team was clear and helpful; their hints during the game timely and precise but not too obvious. We had to think, guess and riddle a lot! And the mood inside the dimly lit room was very special and authentic. We were hunting ancient Japanese demons and I relly felt like Indiana Jones on one of his exotic missions trying to escape an underground maze…At some point it got so real that I had to repeat the words told us during the introduction over and over again not to let the special effects to blow my mind! By the way, this was my first game in the darkness. Probably, this added to the indelible impressions after the game. If you are living in New York and if you are only visiting, this is a great idea for having great time with your friends in an unordinary way and getting memorable experience. For more information, visit the site of the Maze of Hakaina: http://komnataquest.com/newyork/escape-room-quest-bogi-kamigaminy/
- The Illusionists. Turn of the century
We were lucky to get the tickets to the show “The Illusionists. Turn of the century” at the Palace Theatre on Broadway. On Broadway, yeah! This was one of my most desirable bucket list items for this trip. We got the tickets in a classic way – in the TKTS ticket booth on the Times Square. We arrived there at around 14:30 and without a line (they say, it’s a rare thing) bought two tickets for a matinee show with the 50% off. By the way, only on our trip I learned what a matinee is – it’s an afternoon performance (start 14-15 o’clock). The show was perfectly done and presented, the performers took the spectaculars many time by surprise!
- Christmas mood
And of course the Christmas fairytale mood on the 5th Avenue and around Rockefeller Center… Charmingly beautiful are the showcases of the Louis Vuitton and Versace; and you can walk through the enchanted forest at Lord & Taylor’s. In the evening, you can enjoy a lights show at the wall of the building at 611 5th Avenue.
Places to enjoy your meal
One afternoon you just have to drop by in Katz’s Delicatessen (205 East Houston Street (corner of Ludlow St) New York City, 10002, http://www.katzsdelicatessen.com/). They claim that their cook their corned beef and pastrami using a very slow and patient method, without artificial acceleration (30 days vs. 36 hours). We tried pastrami and can confirm that it is savory! Tender, full of taste and very satisfying. Besides, the staff here is very friendly – one of the guys decided that we definitely have to take a picture with the owner.
One day, walking in Little Italy, we were precisely aiming at the Ferrara Bakery – one of the NYC’s Best Old NY-Style Restaurants – and its famous desserts. This café is situated between Mulberry & Mott St, 195 Grand (http://www.ferraranyc.com/dessert-menu/). We enjoyed the selection of mini bakes.
Last day we had a great breakfast in Brooklyn – I would definitely recommend this place. Besides, it’s on your way if you decide to visit Brooklyn Heights or Brooklyn Park. The name of this place is Clark’s Restaurant (80 Clark Street Brooklyn, NY 11201 https://www.clarksdiner.com/store80/restaurant.php). They have an extensive choice of eggs, omelets, sandwiches and toasts. The coffee (the first time during our stay) was tasty! If you are lost in choice, I would recommend you Clark’s Poached Eggs with Avocado – two poached eggs on potato pancakes with hollandaise sauce, avocado and bacon. They are absolutely delicious. However, I have to warn you, they are very filling – we couldn’t finish the second egg.
Actually, I’m proud of us and of all the things we have done during this trip! Besides, I’m very satisfied with myself because of the fact that I have finished this blog post before our next trip which already starts in 5 days. End of the game for today, good night!