"NEW YORK! NEW YORK!" Travel Tips & Tales
WITH SHIRENE & MALCOLM
New York- Does It Measure Up To Our Guest Travelers' Expectations?
If you’re planning a trip to New York anytime in the future you might want to take a look at their list and see how the places and activities lived up to their expectations and if you should add them to your list.
Shirene Perry and Malcolm Hanley from Australia spent six days in New York as part of their trip to the USA.
They had done a lot of research online before they left and came up with a list of must-see places and must-do activities. Check out their evaluations and tips below.
PHOTO: Spring On Park Ave by RON COLEMAN
WHEN THEY WENT:
April. Spring season in New York.
“You could feel spring was in the air. Everywhere there were planter boxes and garden of daffodils and spring flowers. The dogwoods were flowering but we were two weeks too early for the blossoms. We did experience some very cold weather too.”
HOW THEY GOT FROM THE AIRPORT TO THEIR HOTEL:
Shared ride. Cost $43
“We tossed up the idea of a yellow cab for the ease and experience but there was an information counter at the exit doors at the airport so we asked about the best and easiest way to get to our hotel. They said ‘shared ride’ and booked it all for us. The driver then came and collected us from the desk.
We could have taken the train but it was 9 pm at night and dark and wet and we were tired. At least this way we were dropped off at the door. We chose this way to get back to the airport and the hotel booked it for us.”
WHERE THEY STAYED:
Hotel Pennsylvania - In New York City's Midtown neighborhood.
- just a short walk from many must-see NYC attractions.
“The room, although upgraded, was a bit basic. It had a king bed, but only one blanket and as the temperature was around 4 degrees, it was a bit cold. There was no fridge or kettle for tea or coffee. The hotel did have a shop which sold good coffee though.
The walls were very thin and it was difficult trying to get to sleep as the couple in the next room were in the throes of a bit of torrid lovemaking and not much was left to the imagination!
The best thing about the hotel was its location which was why we chose it.
We ended up paying US$ 203 per night for an upgraded room. The prices went up steeply from 1 April. Before that, they had started at US$ 99 per night.
PHOTO: Hotel Pennsylvania New York by SIMON LAW
THINGS TO DO! PLACES TO GO!
HOP-ON HOP-OFF BUS-
“We found three companies offering Hop-On Hop-Off bus services- Gray Line New York, Big Bus, and Top View. According to the reviews we read, Gray Line gave ‘more bang for your buck.’ For value, we chose the two day Gray Line ticket, which included three circuits:-uptown, downtown, Brooklyn and a night cruise.
Unfortunately, we did not get to do the night cruise or the Brooklyn tour. We started with the Downtown tour with one of the stops being the 9/11 memorial and museum. It was very emotional and overwhelming being there and we could have stayed for hours, but after an hour and a half decided we needed to move on."
PHOTO-New York Tour Buses by CHRIS SAMPSON
WESTFIELD WORLD TRADE CENTRE
"We went across to the new building of the Westfield World Trade Centre. It had most unusual architecture ‘with curved, steel-ribbed curved walls rise 160 feet like a pair of immense clamshells toward a ribbon of glass that is the giant hall’s skylight’(1.) and floors and floors of shops. Being lunchtime we ended up at the 'Eataly' eating delicious Italian food. The 'Eataly' was amazing and like a very upmarket food hall. Once again we could have stayed much longer, but needed to keep going. So many places! So little time!
(1. Bryan Thomas for The New York Times)
So it was back to the Gray Line bus stop. We waited for 45-minutes before a bus came along. No-one from Gray Line seemed too concerned we had had to wait all that time, and the frustrating part was that many opposition Hop-On Hop-Off Big Buses kept passing us by!"
"Yippee though! We managed to get the prime position, highly sought after front seat on the top deck. And that was just great until something, and we never found out what it was, whacked me on the back of my head and drew blood and hurt like crazy. Fortunately, there was a lovely English couple sitting behind us who gave me wet wipes and plaster and expressed lots of concern. On the other hand, the Gray Line bus guide wasn’t the slightest bit concerned!"
EMPIRE STATE BUILDING
"But we plodded on because we still had one more place to visit. Because it was a fine day and the forecast for the next day was for cold and wet weather, we decided we had time to go up the Empire State building, which was just two blocks behind our hotel. Once again, there were queues to get in and the obligatory photo, but it was certainly worth it for the views. It is indeed a beautiful building and worth going to see.”
PHOTO: Empire State Building by Daniel Mennerich
PHOTO- Roosevelt Island Tramway by DANIEL MENNERICH
(New York City Freestyle Pass - 72-hour hop on hop off and choice of 3,5,7 attractions
DAY 2 OF HOP-ON HOP-OFF BUS
THE ROOSEVELT ISLAND AERIAL TRAMWAY
“The day was freezing and we froze on the top deck of the bus. We needed all our possum and merino layers! Today was the Uptown route day. We wouldn't be getting on and off too often, as this circuit was going to take us past Central Park to Harlem, then back past Museum mile.
A tour guide had told us of three cheap must-do things in NY and one of them was the aerial gondola called The Roosevelt Island Aerial Tramway, which we had never heard of before. So we hopped off at stop 37 and took a quick walk over to the tram stop at 2nd Ave. It was so cold though that we found a deli and had some hot soup to help thaw out before going out and braving the cold again.
The tickets from a machine for the aerial gondola were $3. It was fun. If it had been a nicer day we may have explored more of Roosevelt Island. We did get off and go for a bit of a walk and took photos of the skyline but quickly got back on the tram as it was just too cold.
The ride only took four minutes and went over the river and turned around Roosevelt Island, which is a narrow island in New York City's East River. It lies between Manhattan Island in the west and the borough of Queens, on Long Island, in the east. It is the most modern aerial tramway in the world and departs every 7-15 minutes from 59th Street and Second Avenue in Manhattan to Tramway Plaza on Roosevelt Island.
After the tramway, we decided to meet up with Hop-On Hop-Off bus again with a detour through Bloomingdales to keep warm and finished the tour in Times Square.”
HELICOPTER RIDE OVER NEW YORK
“It was with great excitement we opened our eyes this morning as today was the day. We were advised to be at the heliport by 10.45 am for our 11.30 am flight and we decided to leave early as we weren’t too sure of the way. We crossed the road from the hotel to the subway and needed to catch the train to where the Staten Island ferry left from. Let me tell you Penn station is very large! After getting lost and not finding the actual place the train left from, we popped back up in daylight and headed to the underground steps around the corner, purchased a ticket, waiting a couple of minutes and we were on our way. Being the last stop it was an easy ride.
Once at our destination there were a lot of helpful folk to point the way to the heliport. So we arrived about an hour early. After going through a security check we sat inside and enjoyed watching everyone coming and going. It was a glorious day so we knew we were in for a good trip.
It was finally our turn, so after watching a safety video and having a lifejacket strapped to our waist, we boarded the helicopter. There were six of us in total- an Italian mother and daughter, a loved up older couple and us. The next 15 minutes were absolutely amazing and this is certainly the way to see NY from another perspective. After flying around the Statue of Liberty and up the river we made a turn for home and all too soon the ride was over.
We booked on a link on- newyork.com.au The total cost was AU$ 599.60. A joint birthday present for both of us and an experience we’ll never forget!”
“After the helicopter ride, we set off to the Chelsea Market, which is a neighborhood market, but reputed to have one of the best indoor food halls in the world and attracts about 6 million visitors every year. The market was on the same return subway line and only a few stops away from the heliport. Following Google maps, we walked several blocks towards 9th Ave. It was a pleasant walk and we enjoyed seeing all the gardens and pots and houses and scenes which were familiar from watching American TV shows.
We finally found the market across the road from the Google headquarters in the area of Manhatten known as the 'Meatpacking District.' Historically the area has always had a focus on food and the brick architecture of the old National Biscuit Company is ideal for a food market.
Lunch was a German sausage in a roll with sauerkraut and a beer. The market was huge, busy and very interesting. There was even a section for Artists and Fleas. This area was for all the local artists to showcase and sell their works. There were some beautiful and interesting artworks there and if I had had more room in the suitcase, I would certainly have filled it up with goodies from here.”
SEE A SHOW ON BROADWAY-
We chose “The Book of Morman”
“The theatre was the Eugene O'Neil Theatre and was reasonably small and intimate. The doors opened and to our surprise, we had front row seats. We could have reached out and touched the actors. The show was very, very funny, and when we weren't grinning, we were laughing. The show started at 7 pm and finished at 9.30 pm and when it finished we walked back through Times Square and were amazed at the number of people around. It was amazing.”
Once again we booked through a link on- newyork.com.au We paid AU$ 160 each."
Lillie's Victorian Establishment -A great find!
“We happened upon a great restaurant across the road from the Eugene O' Neil Theatre where we were going to see “The Book Of Morman,” called Lillie's Victorian Establishment”, after Lilly Langtry.
It was very unassuming from the street but once inside ‘Wow!’ It was amazing with Victorian Era decor. As it was lunchtime we had the lunch special which was $16 and a bargain. I had a Cucumber Sandwich made with wheat toast, herbed goat cheese, and tomato and a glass of wine. Just delicious!. Malcolm had the grilled chicken breast sandwich which was also delicious. The bar itself had been imported from Ireland and it was huge. We enjoyed it so much went again that night before the show.”
FINAL DAY: We stumble upon a great find!
“Our shared ride to the airport was booked for 1 pm and we were able to store our bags at the hotel ($20 each bag!) and we headed off for a final look around. We were so pleased we did, as we stumbled across Bryant Park, a little spring oasis set in the middle of high rises and shops complete with a gorgeous carousel and little shops selling fresh bread, coffee, ‘Wafles’ and ‘Dinges.’ “Wafles” is the Belgian spelling for waffles and “Dinges” are toppings or as they say "Watch-e-ma-call-its." We were still full from breakfast but we had to try one, so one "Wafle with dolce delece and banana" later we were extremely full.
According to the Bryant Park Corporation Bryant Park is a beloved, year-round New York City destination. Known as Manhattan's Town Square, the park is famous for its lush seasonal gardens, free activities, world-class restrooms, and al fresco dining. Located adjacent to the New York Public Library and surrounded by iconic skyscrapers, Bryant Park is visited by more than 12 million people each year and is one of the busiest public spaces in the world."
MOST HELPFUL PLANNING WEBSITE
“We highly recommend which had a lot of useful suggestions of things to do and hints and tips. I emailed a query at one stage and got a quick reply. It also had all the links we required to make bookings for tours, the theatre, etc.”
RECOMMENDED AIRLINE in the USA.
"JetBlue would be our airline of choice. Good service, good leg room, and free wifi."
CASH & TIPS
"Always make sure you have lots of small change for tips etc. We found that we had to use our credit card to purchase various tickets at machines, and finding cash for constant tipping was a nightmare. Having some small change on hand would have been much more convenient."
Thanks very much, Shirene and Malcolm for sharing your trip with us!
And we hope that you, the reader, enjoyed reading about Shirene and Malcolm’s trip and were able to glean some helpful tips for planning your New York experience! If so, please subscribe to our online magazine below, As a new website, we need all the support we can get to increase our audience and your help would be much appreciated!