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New York in June: trip report

uvr
Singapore, Singapore
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New York in June: trip report

Hi all, here is my trip report of a wonderful visit to New York City in June. We were there from June 2 to 9.. then from June 13 to 17. Lots of useful advice from the forum helped to make it a fun-filled, fruitful holiday. Thanks to everyone who responded to my many queries. I hope the report will be of some use to anyone planning a vacation to the Big Apple.

June 2

Arrived after a loooong flight at 3pm. The first pleasant surprise was getting through immigration in about 30 minutes. Yes, truly. My biggest fear had proved to be totally unfounded. It might have to do with the fact that we landed at Terminal 8, which doesn’t have too many airlines arriving there. But after sailing through immigration (though the officer gave us a scare by saying “There’s a problem with your passport” to my husband. I think he said it just to test our reaction), we emerged into the cool afternoon and headed straight for the taxi rank and were soon on our way into Manhattan, gawking through the windows.

We reached the hotel, Affinia Shelburne, on Lexington Avenue, in about 40 minutes. I had written to the hotel to warn them that we could be late because I had read reports on how it could take two hours to clear customs, but, well, I needn’t have. After checking in smoothly, we relaxed for a bit and then headed out for our first foray into Manhattan.

We made our way to Grand Central and wandered through the cavernous hall, so familiar from so many movie scenes. After exploring the station, we got out and walked on towards the United Nations. Passed the Hampton Inn and Hilton, which were also on my hotel list. In fact, we were booked to stay at Hampton on our return leg in NYC, so we popped in to check if we could leave our luggage there when we went to DC. They said we couldn’t, so that meant we would have to find another hotel because we didn’t want to carry all our bags to DC for three days. Luckily, the reservation was cancellable so I didn’t panic.

After looking at the United Nations building and wondering why all the flagpoles didn’t have any flags, we walked back to the hotel. Since we were too tired to look for a place to have dinner, we ate at the hotel’s in-house restaurant Rare, which is famous for its burgers. So burgers it was, and pretty good they were too. Ended the day on that note, sat in the lobby to make use of the free wi-fi (no free wi-fi in the room, sadly) and then went to bed.

June 3

Set off nice and early for our first full day. Had breakfast at a diner down the road – our first encounter with the huge servings in the US – honestly, three of us could have eaten what one of us ordered!! Bought our 7-day Metrocards at Grand Central, and a lovely young girl who I asked about what coins to put into the machine gave me her Metrocard as she said she was leaving town. It had some seven dollars in it, and she refused to take any money!! It was a pay-per-trip Metrocard, and eventually proved more expensive than if I had got a seven-day unlimited card, but well… it was still very kind of her.

Waited in line to ask the Metro staff how to get to Central Park, and watched her get yelled at by a man in the queue. Is this our first glimpse of the “rude New Yorker”, we wondered.

Having read the Idiot’s Guide to the Subway here, we knew about the Uptown and Downtown, so our first subway ride was spot on. Got out and spotted Bloomingdale’s, which delighted us no end, and probably why we took a wrong turn and walked a couple of blocks in the wrong direction before figuring it out and correcting course to reach Central Park.

Spent most of the day wandering in the Park, which is an absolute delight. Had lunch at the Boathouse Café, wandered some more, sat near the fountain, saw a couple in their wedding finery on a boat – the groom was doing all the rowing – I think they were posing for their wedding pictures. We weren’t surprised because it was a Chinese couple, and we see them all the time in Singapore getting professional wedding pictures taken at parks or the beach or more exotic locations.

After the park, we decided to head for Times Square, which was the polar opposite. It was chockful of people and quite an assault on the senses. We were looking for the Visitor Information Centre, and there we bought our New York City Pass. Yes, I know it’s not advised here, but the six attractions on the pass -- Empire State Building, Metropolitan Museum of Art with same-day admission to the Cloisters, American Museum of Natural History, MoMa, Top of the Rock or Guggenheim (we chose the Top of the Rock, as I read most of Guggenheim was closed for renovation), Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island /or Circle Line cruise (which we went on since the former was closed) were all on our list, so we decided to go for it. We found it value for money. It costs $106 for an adult, and $79 for 6-17 year-olds, so my 16-year-old qualified for youth price.

Passes acquired, we saw the TKTS booth and wanted to queue up for Broadway show tickets but were told we couldn’t buy them in advance for Sunday, only for that day’s shows. It had started raining, so we were headed for the subway when we spotted Madam Tussaud’s. We hadn’t really planned on going there, but gave into my daughter’s request. Had a blast posing with all my favourite celebrities!! Also got out of the worst of the rain, because when we came out again, the rain had stopped and Times Square was lit up in all its neon glory. Because we had picked Rock Of Ages as our Broadway show, and the hotel concierge quoted prices of about 140 a ticket through the resellers, we decided to try our luck at the theatre, as advised by the girl at the visitor information centre. First, the ticketing guy told us, sorry no luck, and offered tickets at the same price as the concierge. We hung around, wondering whether to buy them or not, but after a few minutes, he called me back and offered me $79 tickets for Sunday, which was the day we wanted them for. So we bought them immediately (not knowing if it was a good deal or not, but it was for the show we wanted and at a price we could afford). That done, and with the weather still gloomy, we called it a day and it was back to the hotel.

To be continued….

Melbourne
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1. Re: New York in June: trip report

Already enjoying it!

In fact, it sounds A LOT like our recent trip haha....my bf and I spent 7 nights at the Affinia Shelburne at the end of May (we were there May 27th - June 3rd, so we would have just crossed paths with you!), then went to Washington and Boston for a few nights before returning for another 4 nights in NYC.

Which reminds me, I still need to finish my last half day for my trip report. Whoops.

uvr
Singapore, Singapore
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2. Re: New York in June: trip report

Wow! Small world.. and amazingly similar trip lengths!! The mind boggles!

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3. Re: New York in June: trip report

Nice teport

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4. Re: New York in June: trip report

Great report! Waiting for the next installment.

uvr
Singapore, Singapore
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5. Re: New York in June: trip report

June 4

Another early start to the day. We had booked an All in one downtown walking tour with Free Tours by Foot, and needed to be at the meeting point near the Stock Exchange by 9.45am. Following instructions sent to me by our tour guide, we hopped on the 4 train, but suddenly, I had the feeling we weren’t on the right train. My husband and daughter were rolling their eyes. Chill, Ma…, said my daughter. But as I didn’t want to be late, I asked the lady sitting next to me, who was sweet enough to explain that though she thought I was on the right train, maybe I should check with someone else as she would get off before my stop. New Yorkers are so kind, I thought to myself. It turned out that not only were we on the right train, we reached 20 minutes ahead of time. Which is fine by me… better early than late, I always say.

Our guide Garrett was wonderful, full of energy and jokes and talking nineteen to the dozen. He managed to keep a huge group together and interested all day. The tour covered a lot of ground – the Financial District, SoHo, Little Italy, Chinatown, Chelsea – ending at the High Line Park. We did a lot of walking but it was all great fun, thanks to Garrett’s absorbing commentary. We did take the subway from Financial District to Little Italy, and from SoHo to Chelsea. Lunch was at Nolita (north of Little Italy) where we had wonderful pizza and delicious rice pudding – I forget the names of the outlets.

The tour ended as scheduled at 4pm and we bid goodbye to Garrett. There is no set price for the tours, and you can give the guide whatever amount you think is appropriate. For the whole day, we thought $25 a head was okay, but we did see others give as little as $10. It’s best to be generous, because for the guide, it is a lot of hard work.

We had the evening ahead with nothing planned, so over coffee at Starbucks, we decided to go for the Circle Line cruise, thinking it would be wonderful to be on a boat in the evening taking in the sights. We took the subway to Times Square (the number of times we were at this station to transfer to other lines, we might as well have pitched a tent there!) and walked to Pier 83 all the way past 12th Avenue for our boat. We had lots of time which we should have used to queue up but instead we sat at a café and had a cool drink. Wiser people stood in line and bagged the best seats on the boat. We were happy to just get off our feet, though my photo-taking was severely hampered by being in the middle row. Two pleasant hours relaxing and after oohing and aahing at the Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty (we got pretty close), we were back at Times Square, dazzled by all the neon. Despite my husband’s reluctance to eat in that area, we were too tired and grabbed a meal at an Italian place not too far from the subway to wrap up a long but interesting day. I blessed my comfortable black New Balance sneakers ... the best pre-trip purchase!

June 5

Finally, we had a leisurely start to the day. We had family member visitor passes to the 9/11 Memorial – my husband’s cousin was in the North Tower that tragic day. Family passes allow you to go at any time you want, so we relaxed a bit before heading to the Memorial. There were a lot of people but it didn’t feel crowded. It was quite a moving experience to stand at the site where the two towers had stood before they crumbled into dust. We found our cousin’s name on the bronze parapet edging the North Pool, one of two mammoth reflecting pools, where the water flowing endlessly into the void in the middle of the pool is a stark reminder of a day nobody will ever forget.

After lingering for some time as my husband remembered his cousin, we left in a subdued mood and headed for the Natural History Museum. By now, we were subway whizzes!

The next few hours were spent exploring the museum, leaving the dinosaurs for the last! We grabbed lunch at the food court – it was okay but on the expensive side. We were in the museum till closing time = the highlight was the Rose Center for Earth and Space and especially the show Journey to the Stars narrated by Whoopi Goldberg.

The last item on the day’s agenda was to head to the Top of The Rock. Timed tickets meant there was no need to queue, and the views were splendid. To look at Central Park from high above and know that we walked around most of it was an amazing feeling. We spent a lot of time marveling at the views… I think it was when I fell in love with New York City, finally falling under its spell.

Dinner options seemed limited but we stumbled upon 5 Guys and had delicious burgers. To our delight the next day, we discovered that it is highly recommended!

More to come...

Australia
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6. Re: New York in June: trip report

Thanks for posting your trip report - I love them!

uvr
Singapore, Singapore
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7. Re: New York in June: trip report

Thank you all for the kind comments.. enjoying reliving all the fun we had as I write my trip report...

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8. Re: New York in June: trip report

Looks like you had a great second day. Thanks for posting!

New York City, New...
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9. Re: New York in June: trip report

Enjoying your trip report! I know you were overwhelmed for a while during the planning stage, so glad to hear that the trip went so well! Well, the first couple of days anyway...waiting for more... :)

new york
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10. Re: New York in June: trip report

Great trip report... I am enjoying reading it! Looking forward to more!