Overview: We kind of thought about visiting New York for some time, despite having spent many holidays in USA over the years we never quite got around to it. The final catalyst arose out of an invitation to a special couple’s wedding – can you just imagine what a perfect day it was, beautiful sunshine at the wedding venue – Bow Bridge in Central Park, cocktails at the nearby boathouse, then a wedding breakfast served on a medium sized craft on the Hudson – watching the sun go down on the ‘lady of the harbour’ with a glass of champagne.
Get Here: Please see my USA road trip pages for details of entry requirements and all the general ‘stuff’. In 2020 and for some time beyond you will have to seek updated travel advice from your hone country and the USA due to Covid-19 In terms of flights, many operators fly to New York direct from a multitude of major cities. We took British Airways from Newcastle Upon Tyne, requiring a London Heathrow connection. The flight from London takes about 8 hours. On arrival, you could take one of the shuttle services to your hotel, we took a regulated taxi which worked very well, cost about $75. Our return journey was cheaper as we used our MTA passes – see below, we were quite used to navigating the system after the week.
Stay: Accommodation in New York can be quite pricey and quite a frenetic experience given how busy this beautiful and vibrant city is. Staying at the Q &A: https://qandahotel.com/ on 70 Pine Street was a great choice for us. This lush and cool apartment complex, situated in the Financial District, gave us space, privacy and cool atmosphere at a price (about £225 a night) that is very competitive for New York. A very upmarket grocery store, which also makes a range of dishes to takeaway, is just outside of the complex but on the same block. This meant that stocking up with items for our fully equipped kitchen was easy, and grabbing a prepared dish in lieu of going on a restaurant hunt after a long day exploring is ideal if not a cheaper option. The apartment itself is extremely clean and much more spacious than the average hotel room particularly at this price. The complex is located very close to Wall Street Subway Station, which also serves as a great breakfast option in its street level atrium – this is pretty much a hidden gem, with clean and plentiful seating with gleaming columns, a fountain and a selection of cafes made for a peaceful breakfast.
Navigating the Subway: easy enough to navigate – best buy a pass though, see http://web.mta.info/metrocard/tourism/ A 7-day unlimited MTA Card costs $32 plus $1 card fee and is available from any Subway station. This is valid on subways, buses and some ferries so makes travelling around easy. Do get hold of a network map from one of the major stations to help you make the most of it. Get yourself along to the New York Grand Central Station – the architecture is stunning and this is never quiet:
Walking the Walk – see The New York Highline Do this to get a great view of the city. Although this 1.45 mile walk can be busy there are plenty of places to take a seat. The pathway come park was established in 2009 by the residents and City of New York following a campaign to retain the former railroad spur threatened with demolition. Today this is a great way to explore at a leisurely pace and is another example of the best things in life being free – there are plenty of ways to save money in New York. Taking a picnic and resting in one of the plentiful seating areas is a superb way of spending an afternoon. There are quirky art displays as well as interesting floral arrangements along the way. One of the strangest sights was probably the quad-decker car lot – how that works I am not sure.
Al fresco Art – There is much evidence of a growing and quirky art scene around the city, not least the al fresco pop art murals. See below example of such work displayed near the 2 World Trade Center in the financial district of the city, painted directly onto corrugated metal .
9/11 Memorials and Museum – Identical pools respecting the 9/11 and 1993 tragedies are constructed in the sites once occupied by the famous twin towers in the financial district. Each and every life lost in these incidents is inscribed on bronze plates around the perimeter. We saw a number of flowers against the names inscribed, commemorating the victim’s birthdays. Each reflecting pool is around an acre in size. The architect was carefully chosen from a large number of potential providers and the result in my opinion is a monument which encourages reflection and an in-depth appreciation of the devastatingly sad reasons it was constructed.
This image of Fritz Koenig’s Sphere for Plaza Fountain was originally the centrepiece of the World Trade Centre, it is made of bronze and is over 27 feet high, its current position is in nearby Liberty Park, near the St Nicholas National Shrine.
At the other end of the spectrum, the contrast between the cool and chic atmosphere that pervades the financial district and that of Times Square and Broadway is stark. There are ticket booths where admission to major performances can be bought last minute – just be prepared for the queues or should I say long lines over here.
You won’t escape the crowds by walking over Brooklyn Bridge, with dual carriageways for people and wheels – but you do have to do it, below is taken from nearby Brooklyn, with the famous bridge in the background.
Taking the ferry over from the city to Staten Island is free of charge. If you have your Subway card, take a No. 74 bus (45 minutes) when you disembark and go to Historic Richmond Town,
https://www.historicrichmondtown.org/ a quieter option than that busier place across the river. We took a tour of the historic buildings and finished up in the interesting museum – dating back to the 18th Century. Admission $8 per adult.
Particularly intriguing, within the museum located in the visitor centre, is the bringing up baby exhibit – where we observed this delightful painting of babes enjoying a nursery tea:
Storm before the calm – The day before the wedding the weather was torrential, New York bore the tail end of a very nasty storm, the road near the famous Public Library resembled a slippery grey river
The New York Public library is an amazing experience, room after room of collections, quiet study and research areas and seating – the library has welcomed visitors from wide and far since 1911.
Bow Bridge and Central Park – the wedding day was gloriously hot as we strolled to Bow Bridge for the ceremony, like a dream come true after the atrocious storms the day before. Central Park spreads over 840 acres – with water features, walkways, wooded areas, specialist gardens – something for everyone.
Some images below as the sun set after this glorious and utterly wonderful day, spent in this most splendid of American cities