Wednesday, 5 November 2014

NYC part 1 - things to see and getting around

Last week I was lucky enough to set off from Heathrow with my good friend Becky, bound for the bright lights of New York. I last went to New York when I was about 15, and whilst I had an amazing time, I knew going back as an adult would take my love for New York to another level.

Central Park 

Our flight got us n for around midday on Tuesday and our flight home was early doors Sunday, so we had a lot to pack in a short-ish amount on time. I could have stayed at least another few days – there is just so much to see and do in the city.  There is also so much to take in – being a people watcher, I am just as content, sitting with a coffee or a glass of wine, watching the world go by!

Getting around
Unlike my dad who tour-guided us around when I was 15, I do not have a natural sense of direction or a map in built in to my head. However with a grid system of streets and avenues, it is actually pretty easy to get around (so long as you can count). Street go horizontal and avenues go vertical BTW.  

navigating the subway 

The thing we struggled with a little more is the subway – unlike the London underground, the lines are not all interconnected in the same way so plan your route before you start your journey. The stops are also a lot further apart then in London. We got even more confused when some of the stops are numbers (eg 23rd street) but then some are names (eg City Hall). Having said that, once you are used to it, with each journey only costing $2.50 it is a cheap way to get around. You can also purchase a 7 day unlimited travel card for $30 (just don’t lose it on day 2 like Becky did). Why not download a city app (like hopstop) and check where you are going with the hotel's wifi?

Failing that then there are a plethora of yellow taxi cabs that aren’t extortionate- just stick your hand out and whistle one down!  

The sights
Having been to New York before, and wanting a holiday that meant I could chill out a little more than usual, I didn’t feel the need to see every tourist sight. On my to do list was Central Park, the Rockefeller Center, Brooklyn Bridge and the Staten Island Ferry...

Central Park 

Central Park
One of my favourite parks ever, this is a huge area of 3.41 km²  stretching over 50 streets.

me (left) and Becky 

Go on a day when the weather is fine and you have plenty of time to meander the tree lines paths and open green grass – I could easily spend the day just bimbling about. After a few hours walk we decided that we deserved a well earned glass of vino by the lake at the Boat House (about $11 a glass) and watch the world go by (and helpless men fail to show off with their rowing skills to their girlfriends) for a couple of hours. 

well, we had done a lot of walking! 

You could easily use up a whole day in Central Park (and there are plenty of loos and water fountains if you were worried about that!)  If you can, hire a bike to explore the park (I can't ride a bike but I love the idea*) or even take a romantic picnic for an all day visit. I hear the conservatory and Zoo are worth a visit too! There is plenty of things to see and do to keep you out of trouble!

Alice on an Alice in Wonderland 

Rockefeller Center
I have done the Empire State Building before but not the Rockefeller Center. A few friends have told me that the Rockefeller was better than the Empire State so we ended up booking tickets for that. We went at night for a different take on the city’s sky line. Luckily it was a clear night so was gorgeous! Very peaceful although by now very cold! 

view from the Rockefeller 

Tickets to the Top of the Rock observation deck are $29. It is best to buy them online so you can save yourself the hassle of going all the way there and finding out it was at least three hours to the next slot as it was full! Ps, the staff are the happiest staff I have ever met! One particular staff member was up for the dance off we were offering, showing off with his "robot" move and then jumping out at me from behind the curtains! 

Apart from a good view, inside the building offers a place to shop and eat (and if you are my friend, pinging the button off her dress and unknowingly walking around with her bra out). Built by the Rockefeller family, it is located in the centre of Midtown Manhattan and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1987. Built at the time of the Great Depression the building of the project served to provide work.  

The Rockfeller building near the plaza 

view from the top 

Unfortunately the Rockefeller Christmas Tree wasn't up yet but the ice rink was there and in full use! The observation deck entrance was pretty easy to find but just keep your eyes peeled - we were standing right in front of it when we asked an amused police officer where it was. I thought the sign would be bigger! 

Staten Island Ferry 
For a free way to see the Statue of Liberty (not up close though) and the Manhattan skyline, take the normal commuter/passenger ferry across from South Ferry near Battery Park to Staten Island. Admittedly you don't get up close, but it will satisfy the tourist craving. Ferry services run every hour or half hour (on the hour or 30 min past) and it takes 25 minutes. Run to the back as that is the only open outdoor space for your photos (or your chance to feed the gulls which I am still not sure about). 

part two coming soon..

X x X 

*ok so slight lie - I can ride a bike, just not that well - I think I am still mentally scarred from when I rode over a cattle grid, the bike wheel went through and I was thrown off the bike!!!  

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