13 Weeks of Wandering: New York

Bangkok | Cambodia | Vietnam | Laos
New York >> Miami | Portland >> Vancouver


Where To? New York
How long? 3 days
Mode of Transport? Subway


13WoW – New York

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New York, New York! The inspiration of many; sung about by the likes of Alicia Keys and Frank Sinatra, the subject of many a story, the choice location of countless movies, programmes and TV shows, Home Alone, Friends and the Wolf of Wall Street to name a few.

I thought I knew what to expect when I arrived in New York, in reality I had no idea!

I landed in the evening and collected my backpack from the conveyor belt with the idea to connect to airport wifi & order an uber/lyft. I didn’t expect to be looking at around $60 from Newark airport to Manhattan and the public transport wasn’t looking promising either. After much deliberation, a man on the information desk offered a minivan transfer service that would drop me, and a number of other passengers, off at our hotels.

On the minivan, I took the front seat and enjoyed some great nighttime views and some interesting conversation from the driver, a strong New York accent bouncing off his tongue. He pointed out every landmark and point of interest as we passed and gave me a full history lesson which I’m pretty sure wasn’t part of the package but I enjoyed none the less.

After he dropped off the last passengers, he took the “scenic” route and pointed out some more significant buildings and streets before heading up towards northern Manhattan. He was silent for a while before he decided to let me know that it was a good thing I wasn’t getting the subway on my own at this time of night. He then proceeded to tell me all about how dangerous the neighbourhood that I’d be staying in was. What a comforting feeling when he dropped me off and I couldn’t quite figure out where my hostel was. But I wasn’t long lost on 103rd & Broadway before I spotted the “HI NYC Hostel”.

 

HI NYC Hostel

I had booked 3 nights in this Hostel but totally forgot that it wasn’t already paid for, and being used to Asia prices of around $5 a night, it came as a shock when it all came to $170 with an extra $7 a night charge just for not being a member of the YHA (Youth Hostel Association).  Shocked, I pulled out my debit card and entered my pin.

The room I shared with two other girls from Brazil was comfortable and clean, with plenty of locker room, a socket and light by the bed and a pretty snazzy key card to enter and exit the room. It also contained excessive amounts of air con which I wasn’t so keen on.

Waking up refreshed, I decided to join the free tour of Central Park that was being offered by the Hostel that morning. I had my walking shoes on and had decided, to save money, that I was going to walk the whole of Manhattan to see the sights of New York! It has been done before, and is estimated to take around 4-6 hours but here’s the map of the most efficient route to take on foot:

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Thankfully I did no such hike, as by chance I came across a gentleman who was giving away a number of subway passes that would last the 3 days I was in New York, free of charge! #winning

 

So What are the Main Sights?

Central Park

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Central park could easily be a day or even weekend trip in itself, there is so much to see in this area of around 843 acres that you could easily get lost. Unsurprisingly, I regretted choosing this location to meet my best friend and his new girlfriend (who I was going to be meeting for the first time- eek!).

But getting lost in Central Park meant an unplanned adventure as a youtube prankster asked me to feature in one of his pranks… it was worth the slight delay!

Aside from youtube pranksters and lost best friends, you can also expect to see cyclists, runners, horse and carriage tours, buskers and many other people in the park. There are a number of large lakes where you will see tourists with rowboats and if you look closely, you will see turtles swimming in the lake! One beautiful spot to enjoy a great view by the water is the Belvedere Castle.

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If you appreciate talented musicians, you can pay your respects to the esteemed John Lennon by visiting his “Strawberry Fields” where you will also find the “Imagine” mosaic. If you enjoy a piece of history you can visit Cleopatra’s needle dating as far back as 1475 BC, it’s twin can also be found in the city of Westminster in London.

For the performers, the Public Theatre hosts open-air theatre productions for free, and if you are lucky you may spot a well-known actor starring in the show. This in itself is a whole day event, with New Yorkers starting to queue for these shows at 6am when the show is due to start at 7pm.

I enjoyed a mini production without the queue when I spotted a busking family singing underneath the arches in the Bethesda terrace & fountain. A stunning performance that I’m glad I didn’t miss.

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Finally, for those die hard F.R.I.E.N.D.S fans, although Central Perk isn’t a real cafe (although word on the street is that a replica pop up will be around in NY until October 18) there is something you can visit to remind you of the popular TV series; the Friends fountain! Okay, so it’s not the actual fountain, but the actual fountain is a replica of this fountain and it lives in a studio somewhere.

Museums

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Attached to the park is the famous Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), known as one of the largest in the world, which showcases a collection of modern art from the likes of Vincent Van Gough and Pablo Picasso. Also famous for being one of the largest and most visited museums worldwide is the Metropolitan Museum of Art (or the Met) where you will find more from Van Gough as well as many other esteemed artist’s work.

Empire State Building & the Rockefeller Center

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Two of the most iconic buildings of New York, they are both must-sees if you visit the city. Take my advice, don’t go up the Empire State Building, instead take a trip up to the Top of the Rock and that way you can have an amazing view of the Empire State Building. It does cost top dolla but it’s worth it for the 360 degree views of the concrete jungle that is New York!

Radio City Music Hall

This famous hall hosts a number of concerts, shows and even TV programmes. Pop here for a very New York show-biz feel or just to see the illuminated “Radio City” sign, strangely, you can also find a number of artworks here.

Times Square

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Next up, the most famous square in the world (it must be right?!)! Times Square! Think bright lights, think sky-rise buildings, think oceans of faces – both commuter and tourist. Enormous screens advertising the latest movie, song or show. Illuminated signs advertising big label companies.

Don’t waste your time coming here during the daytime, it’s overcrowded and you can’t afford to shop here anyway (unless you are Beyonce), instead come here when it’s dark for the magical atmosphere and unique experience.

The High Line

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In this city of purely man-made structures, it couldn’t be more refreshing to take a walk along the High Line. The blurb on the website explains what it is beautifully; “The High Line is a public park built on a historic freight rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side. It runs from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street, between 10th and 12th Avenues.”

So now you know where to go when you want to escape the concrete and grab a breath of fresh air!

National September 11 Memorial

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A memorial built in place of the former Twin Towers, this commemorates the attacks on 11th September 2011 which killed many New York citizens. A non-profit institution runs the museum and memorials and they use them to raise funds for operating and running both the memorial and museum at the World Trade Center.

Staten Island Ferry & the Statue of Liberty

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Not being willing to pay big bucks to actually visit the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island, I was let into a little secret by my friends. Instead of getting a ferry to Liberty Island, get the FREE Staten Island ferry which takes you past the statue of Liberty! It’s a half an hour journey there and the same back but you get fantastic views of Lady Liberty herself and also the famous Brooklyn Bridge.

 

Food You HAVE to Eat in New York

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So New York has definitely made a name for itself in the food department for a number of different reasons. You won’t go far without spotting a food truck, cafe, restaurant or pop up! Many people claim that New York is the best city in all of the US for it’s food and with so many options, you can kind of see why.

Here are a couple of things you should make sure you try before you leave New York.

Bagels

New York bagels! I don’t know what it is about them but the whole world seems to talk about them. In every New York based programme or TV show you are sure to hear “Hey Joe, get me a cawfee and a bagel” or see a lazy police officer leaning on his car chewing on a bagel he grabbed for breakfast.

Another craze that has also made it’s way across the pond is the rainbow bagel, I didn’t get the chance to try one but have a bite for me if you spot a rainbow bagel cafe!

Pizza

Another typical food I expected to see in New York, and pizza places are everywhere! You can get a huge slice for $2 or you can find a real Italian spot and get a super tasty pizza as if you had ordered it straight from Napoli.

Being poor, I went for the cheap $2 slice that was bigger than my actual head but it was also tasty as so don’t knock it!

Cheesecake

You can’t tell me that you have never heard of the baked New York cheesecake, and I have the perfect spot for you to get a (rather large) slice.

Juniors Cheesecakes were some of the most delicious cheesecakes I have ever had, with the perfect consistency and a number of flavours to choose from.

Make sure you pop over and have a taste!

 

So that’s 3 days in New York, my next stop was to be Washington DC!

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