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NY Trip Report June2 -15

Nelson, New Zealand
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NY Trip Report June2 -15

My wife and I (both mid 50s) have just returned from our long anticipated first trip to New York.

We booked the trip some 9 months ago and I have spent at least the past 6 months religiously researching via travel guides and especially TA and this forum and I must say the help that I got from reading everyones advice and experiences was absolutely invaluable. I had notes for Africa and had prepared a day planner itinerary for the 14 days we were going to be in Manhattan but about a week out from our departure date I ditched the itinerary entirely and instead formulated a simple list of places and activities by neighbourhood with no set time frame to do any of it. As it turned out it was one of the best things I ever did because it gave us a flexibility that I am sure made our trip a lot less stressful. The big difficulty in planning your first trip is knowing how long everything takes and how much you can comfortably pack into a day.

As it turned out you can do far more than I imagined in a day but equally you can spend all day doing nothing but taking in the sights and sounds.

So here we go.............I will post our daily activities as replies and try to keep it as brief as I can.

Nelson, New Zealand
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1. Re: NY Trip Report June2 -15

Day 1. We finally arrived at Hotel Metro at 3am Sunday morning some 34 hours after leaving home. We hadnt eaten since breakfast on the plane to San Francisco as we wrongly assumed we would get a meal on the 5 hour flight to Newark so ended up grabbing a couple of hero sandwiches from a 24 hour deli just around the corner from the hotel and eating them on the hotel rooftop looking up at the ESB at 3.30am, quite surreal. Got to bed about 4am and up again at 8am feeling remarkably good. We then walked through Time Square to uplift our hop-on hop-off tickets we had booked and did the DownTown Tour.

Now I know the ho-ho tours get pretty mixed reviews on here but for us, having just arrived in the city it was the perfect start. That first impression was totally mindblowing and the commentary really informative.

We did the full loop, getting off again in midtown and walked to Grand Central terminal, walked Park Avenue to the Rockerfeller Centre and did TOTR. All I can say is, thank God for digital cameras.

We caught the subway back to our hotel and rested up briefly before grabbing a burger at Brendans across the road and then catching the ho-ho night tour.

To be fair, we were disappointed with the night tour. Firstly, the guide was difficult to understand and what bits we could make out werent that informative and secondly, when we got across to Brooklyn for the million dollar shots of Manhattan the bus never stopped long enough to take a decent photo.

But all in all our first day had been amazing.

Nelson, New Zealand
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2. Re: NY Trip Report June2 -15

Day 2. We woke up early Monday morning to a really gloomy day. We had booked a helicopter flight for this morning from the Downtown heliport so caught the subway down to Battery Park and walked around to the heliport hoping that they wouldnt be flying. As it turned out they werent so we rebooked for the following day and walked to Wall Street getting absolutely soaked to the skin in the process. We spotted Century 21 and so ducked in there just to get out of the rain and to hopefully dry off a bit. I dont know if it was because it was still relatively early in the morning, or perhaps because of the weather but the place was almost deserted so we managed to do a bit of unplanned shopping before re-emerging to bright sunshine.

To be honest I cant remember how we made it uptown but presume we walked. We then caught the Uptown ho-ho tour. This tour was awesome. The guide was incredibly entertaining and informative and the architecture on the Upper west side stunning. I got sunburnt on the top deck of the bus, and then, no sooner had we got off we both got soaked to the skin again in a torrential downpour. I guess its because of all the skyscrapers around you that you just dont see the weather coming.

We ducked into Macys just to escape the rain and emerged a short time later to bright sunshine again.

We then walked to Union Square and had dinner at Eataly. An excellent meal and surprisingly cheap. We couldnt get over how busy the place was on a Monday.

Walked back towards the Metro and did the observation deck of ESB on the way. The views were even better than we expected. In bed about 11pm.

new york
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3. Re: NY Trip Report June2 -15

Enjoying your report! Continue!

Nelson, New Zealand
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4. Re: NY Trip Report June2 -15

Day 3. Up again at 6.45 to head back downtown for our helicopter flight on a bright sunny day. Superlatives dont come close. We flew out past Ellis Island and SOL and up the Hudson River, over Central Park to Yankee stadium and then back again, a truly awesome experience.

We then jumped on the subway up to midtown and did a full island Manhattan cruise with CircleLine . What can I say, we werent disappointed. The commentary was very entertaining and yet more photo ops.

Did the Intrepid Museum on our return and then back to our hotel for a drink on the rooftop bar before heading to Chinatown for dinner.

One of the reasons we were packing so much into our day was that we had pre-purchased a 7 day NY Pass and so were taking advantage of the free admissions and tours. Im not sure if it was economical overall but it was certainly convenient being able to skip queues and not worry about the cost of anything.

As it turned out our dinner in Chinatown was cheaper than our drink at the Metro and an experience in its own right. Im pretty sure we were the only Europeans in the restaurant which seemed like a good recommendation in itself.

From there we caught the subway to Greenwich Village and wandered a few of the streets before stopping for a drink at the Minetta Tavern. Tuesday night and the place was shoulder to shoulder, very loud but very cool. Ended up walking back to the hotel to crash for the night.

New Jersey
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5. Re: NY Trip Report June2 -15

What a great read! Glad to hear you're enjoying the city despite the occasional downpours. Looking forward to the rest.

Melbourne, Australia
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6. Re: NY Trip Report June2 -15

Yes, great read. I think the way you did the HO HO tours is the way to do it....get a sense where everything is, stay on for the whole loop, and hopefully get a great tour guide.

We loved the 3 hour Circle Line Ferry trip around the entire island of Manhattan. I was blown away by seeing the northern end of the island and have never forgotten the ride, which was in 1994. We've been back twice - at Christmas time so felt it was too cold to enjoy, but we've recommended it to lots of friends who've also loved it for the same reasons.

This last trip we did see the Northern end twice - once on a train ride up the Hudson River to Beacon and Poughkeepsie and the other time on a visit to Fort Tyron Park. What a contrast that area of the island is to the area from ~120th Street down.

Edited: 11:18 pm, June 24, 2013
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7. Re: NY Trip Report June2 -15

Nice trip report.

Nelson, New Zealand
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8. Re: NY Trip Report June2 -15

Day 4. We actually slept in till about 8.45 am before catching the subway from Penn Station up to 110th Street to go to the Cathedral of St John the Divine. This place is enormous and well worth a visit. The architecture is impressive but there is also some amazing art exhibits that were very quirky. We then walked to the top entrance of Central Park and as Sir Edmund Hillary so famously said "we knocked the bugger off". We strolled around the reservoir, did Belvedere Castle, saw our first ever squirrel and stopped at the Boathouse Cafe for a much needed drink and grabbed a hotdog from a vendor in the park. Headed over towards strawberry fields and bought a cool portrait of John Lennon from some artist before emerging on 59th street. After the park we had to head over to Tiffanys and Saks and then back to the hotel.

It wasnt until we got back that we realised we had walked over 80 city blocks and well over 100 in the past 24 hours. It was at that point we decided to eat at the Metro Grill that night. I had a lovely NY strip steak which just melted in the mouth. A good thing seeing as I didnt have the energy to chew.

Nelson, New Zealand
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9. Re: NY Trip Report June2 -15

Jenny, we also did the train trip to Beacon, but that is till to come lol.

Nelson, New Zealand
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50 posts
18 reviews
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10. Re: NY Trip Report June2 -15

Day 5. Today we definitely needed a more laid back approach so opted for the water taxi to take us down to battery Park where it was just a short walk to the 9/11 Memorial. Very simple and understated but also very moving and humbling. From there it was back on the water taxi to Brooklyn where we had planned to have lunch at Grimaldis but the queue was just too long and too slow moving. Instead we had an icecream and a drink at an outside bar near the wharf before catching the water taxi back to Christopher Street. We had a pizza at Johns Pizzeria on Bleeker street and just wandered the neighbourhood before catching the subway back to our hotel to catch up on a bit of laundry and an early night.