New York is a city I’ve never really had the urge to visit. In my mind, it was a place to visit with a girlfriend or wife for a romantic break away and was being saved for that very occasion. But…
One of my best pals lives in Boston and suggested we go there for the weekend while I was over on my annual America jaunt, I’m SO glad we did too! Here’s my thoughts of New York and what I got up to in a whirlwind 48 hours in the city that never sleeps.
My trip started in Boston, taking a cheap $15 Yo! bus from South Station to the heart of New York’s China town. The trip was a bit of a pain and took around 5 hours, for the price though, you can’t grumble at that.
New York is somewhere that we already know so much about and have seen so much of in movies and on TV. We approached Manhattan, and for the first time in my life I saw the iconic NYC skyline in the distance, it’s one of those moments you never forget.
The sheer size of New York was the first thing to amaze me. On a map you don’t really get a proper gauge of just how vast it is. New York is HUGE. The sheer depth of the city is immense. In major world cities I’ve found the main streets in town centres are where everything happens, a few streets back and there isn’t much going on. In New York this was not the case, every street, every side street, around ever corner, there is so much going on. Shops, offices, bars, restaurants, apartments, the city is brimming with people and things to do. No wonder the real estate is so expensive.
I stress again, the city is HUGE. In 48 hours I walked around 35 miles… mostly in flip flops (yes I’m an idiot but it was so warm!). So that is my first tip, good footwear because you will definitely be doing some serious walking if you visit NYC.
Hotels are very expensive in Manhattan so my friend and I stayed in a hostel very close to the Flatiron building. This still cost us £50 each a night, we did have a private room though and breakfast was included, plus we were downtown and not in the sticks. If you are on a budget, check out hostelworld or AirBnB to stay in a great location for a much cheaper price than a hotel.
There are different ways you can do New York, you can splash the cash or you can keep to a budget, either way you’re going to have an amazing time. With time being limited, we spent most of our time walking around the different sights, taking everything in on foot. It’s a really easy city to navigate and would be very difficult to get lost.
In my 48 hours in the city, these are the highlights..
1. Times Square. This blew me away. The neon, the people, the madness. You’ve seen it on TV but standing in the middle of it at night is breathtaking. Make sure you have a good camera because the lights and colours make for some of the most fascinating photos imaginable. It is brighter at night than in the day, the neon lights are certainly bright on Broadway.
2. The High Line. A great free 1.45 mile walk along a section of disused railway. A really peaceful walk offering great views of the city, a definite must. For details and directions check out the official website or wikipedia page.
3. Central Park. The largest park imaginable. We walked the length of the park from top to bottom on a sunny Saturday afternoon. There is so much happening in here. It’s an amazing un-spoilt green space for the residents of New York and a must visit for all tourists. We saw baseball games, kid’s birthday parties, people having picnics, joggers, roller skaters, cyclists, so much activity. There are different parts to see, including Strawberry Fields, an area that is a memorial for the late, great John Lennon. Hopefully when you visit Central Park it will be as gloriously sunny as when I did. Set some time aside and have a nice stroll taking it all in.
4. September 11th memorial. No trip to New York is complete without visiting Ground Zero. September 11th 2001 is a day etched in everyones memory for all the wrong reasons. Standing there where such atrocities happened felt like a pilgrimage, something that everyone should do to pay their respects. The 2 memorials where the towers stood are very tasteful and there is an eerie silence that fills the air with people paying their respects. One World Trade Center which is built on ground zero is a stunning building, friends tell me their observation deck offers and even better view than from the Empire State building.
5. Happy hours. Yes happy hours! Coming from Massachusetts where they are not allowed (alcohol is expensive), the Happy hours were so cheap! Lots of bars offer discounted drinks from around 5pm – 8pm, usually $3-$4 beers and spirits plus appetisers on their menus. This is a massive discount and can save you a packet, the downside was being slightly inebriated by 7pm!
6. The Lower East Side. This was recommended to my pal and I by the barman serving us the happy hour beers. We took a walk down and took in a few of the bars down there. They had a completely different feel to the bars downtown near Times Square and other big landmarks. More of a younger feel and reasonably priced drinks. The first bar had college kids playing beer pong, talk about an american cliche!
At no point during my weekend in New York did I feel unsafe. We didn’t venture too far off the beaten track but was walking the street at 3am and it was still bustling with people. We saw people playing chess on the streets at 1am, beatboxers at 2am, and batman walking the streets at 3am! The city doesn’t sleep and you won’t want to either. I can’t wait to go back again and spend more time in New York. There is so much to do that every minute can be filled exploring and enjoying everything New York has to offer.