Visiting cities for a short amount of time, that is what these blogs are all about! Want to get the most out of your short stay? Then this is the place to be! Every week I will post new blogs where I visit new cities and tell you all about the places you’ll need to see!
New York, the City that never sleeps is a city that has been on my bucket list for quite some time. But because I only had three days in this city I had to choose between the sights I wanted to see. In this blog I will tell you all about this city and the sights I have seen!
Before the 3 day journey
When travelling to the United States of America, it is necessary to have either a Visa or an ESTA form to enter the country. A Visa can be quite expensive (think about 150 euros) but you’ll be good to go for the upcoming 10 years. An ESTA form is a lot cheaper (think around 14 dollars) and gives you permission to enter the country for two whole years. For a Visa you need to go to the American Embassy and go through a long trial of questions and checks. With an ESTA form you only need to fill out a form online, do the payment with your credit card and you’ll have a confirmation within minutes. I chose to enter the USA on an ESTA form, simply because I didn’t want to spend 150 euros on a visa. Visit Esta.gov for more information about the ESTA forms.
Make sure you have an address enlisted in your flight booking because the USA are eager to know where you are staying during your travels. They will be asking you for this information, so do not even try to enter the country without a confirmation of staying somewhere.
Since I live close to Amsterdam, I chose to fly from this city with the Dutch airline company called KLM. Flights from Amsterdam leave daily, also with partner airline Delta so you have several options when it comes to flights. Visit KLM.com or Delta.com for prices and more information.
Hotel or AirBnB? / Hotel W New York
Usually when travelling to new places I prefer to stay in a hotel where your bed sheets can be changed every day, have a big breakfast downstairs and always know your way back without getting lost. However, the new hype that is going around online is staying in an AirBnB place. On AirBnB.com you can find apartments, rooms or even complete houses to rent. These places are owned by people like you and me and they rent their property for substantially great prices. For me I decided that staying in a Hotel was something I felt more comfortable doing, and also because I wanted to have a ready to eat breakfast everyday instead of making it yourself. The hotel I chose to stay in for the 3 day journey is the Hotel W New York, for which I paid around 350 euros. The reason I chose this hotel was because it is situated in midtown Manhattan which gave me great options to wander around the city. For more information on the W Hotel, visit their website http://www.wnewyork.com.
Because you arrive in the afternoon, the first things you’ll do is go to the hotel and freshen up. We took a taxi from JFK Airport and once the bags were unpacked it was time to head into the city and start exploring.
First stop: Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Center and Times Square
The best way to get around the city is by using the subway system. A single ride will cost you around $2,50 but you can also buy a 7 day unlimited pass for the subway and that will only cost you around $27. When considering that you’ll be going around town multiple times a day it is cheaper to buy that 7-day pass than to pay 2,50 for every single ride.
Radio City Music Hall
If you are, like me, a big fan of music from the past (names like Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr etc) you know that they performed in Radio City Music Hall. The venue is also famously known for The Radio City Rockettes and many other big performers. Today it still attracts celebrities from the worlds of entertainment, sports, the media and national life.
Close to the Radio City Music Hall is Rockefeller Center, “the city within a city”. From outdoor sculptures to architectural details and art installations, the public art at Rockefeller Center is among the best in the city. In the winter they have the biggest Christmas tree setup and there is a special ice skating rink in the middle of the Center. Walking around it gives you a pretty view of many different kinds of art and sculptures. It really feels like you’re in a different city.
Also located in midtown Manhattan is the world famous Times Square. The best time on a day to visit this place is probably in the evening when it’s dark outside. All the lights and signs will be more brightly and really give you a sensational feeling. Times Square is also referred to as the “heart of the world” since it is one of the world’s busiest pedestrian intersections. And it is the hub of the Broadway Theater District plus a major center of the world’s entertainment industry.
Empire State Building
In the center of Midtown Manhattan is the world famous Empire State Building. You can see this building towering above all the skyscrapers from far away. If you are eager to get a good view of New York City from above (with good weather of course) this is the place to go! The building has two places to observe the city, the first is the main deck (the 86th floor) and the second is the top deck (the 102nd floor). Because we had great weather on our side we chose to view the city from the main deck. The main deck is an “open” area where you are standing outside surrounded by safety gates. The view really was amazing, and because the weather was so good we could even see New Jersey from afar!
Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
When seeing the view from the Empire State Building it was hard to un-see Lady Liberty. So when we got down we took the subway to Battery Park and bought tickets to get onto the vessel that would guide us around the Statue of Liberty and gave us access to the grounds of Liberty Island and Ellis Island. The tour we bought gave us access to enter the Crown of the Statue of Liberty and gave us priority entry to board the vessel. For more information about prices and different tickets you can visit the website: www.statuecruises.com.
After spending a lot of time on the two islands and The Statue of Liberty herself it was already getting somewhat later in the afternoon. Before we headed back to the hotel we wanted to see one last item on our list and that was the Brooklyn Bridge. From the vessel we could already spot it, but we wanted to get up close and see this great bridge that has a fascinating history. The bridge is in the area of Brooklyn and there are many boutiques, nice restaurants and art galleries that you can visit here.
On the third day we were lucky enough to have the sun shining and only a few clouds in the sky. When you think about New York you automatically remember the terrorist attacks on September 11th 2001. This horrible event caused the lives of many and that was the day the world stood still. To remember the ones fallen in this tragic event they have created a beautiful memorial on the actual grounds where the twin towers were located. This place is the only place in New York City that is filled with silence and awe. After paying our respect to the ones fallen during this tragic event we decided to go somewhere to clear our heads.
American Museum of Natural History
Many of you might have seen the movie called Night at the Museum featuring Ben Stiller and the late Robin Williams. These movies took place in this actual museum so I definitely needed to visit it to see the statues and figures in person. The museum itself is quite massive and we spend several hours inside just trying to remember the scenes from the movie and putting them in perspective with the real deal. To know more about this museum and all its greatness, visit the website: www.amnh.org
After spending a lot of hours walking around it was time for a sweet break. We took a taxi to 401 Bleecker Street. This one is for all the ladies out there who have seen/binge watched Sex and the City. When visiting New York as a SATC fan it is almost compulsory to visit the famous Magnolia Bakery where Carrie (the main character on the show) always gets her cupcakes. There is always a line in front of the door but once you get inside and see all the wonderful cupcakes and other delicacies you know the wait is worth it. After getting a coffee and (of course) a cupcake we sat out in the sun and enjoyed the city life. For more information about the shop or just to look at the diversity in cupcakes, have a look on the website: www.magnoliabakery.com.
From the Magnolia Bakery we took the subway to Central Park and enjoyed the sun and the views. You can choose to take a bike tour through Central Park but we decided it would be more fun to just relax and take our time to visit the Cherry Hill fountain, Strawberry Fields and Imagine Mosaic, the Shakespeare Garden, Belvedere Caste and the Great Lawn. After seeing all these wonderful sights it was almost dark outside again so we decided to head slowly towards the hotel and stop somewhere along the way to eat a real New York Pizza.
Other places to visit when in NYC
Of course we haven’t seen everything that this city has to offer and there is so much more that are worth considering a visit:
- Wall street and the famous bull
- Federal Hall where George Washington took his oath of office
- Trinity Church, which is one of the oldest churches in America
- City Hall, has a lot of beautiful architecture and a small park
- Grand Central Terminal, the most historic train station in the world
- The Guggenheim Museum, even if its just for a picture of this remarkable building
- Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), this museum has all modern art pieces inside like our own Van Gogh’s Starry Night!
Recap of the 3-day trip
Before deciding to go to the United States it is mandatory to have an ESTA form or a Visa to enter the country. The top landmarks that are a must-see are: Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Center, Times Square, Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, the Brooklyn Bridge, 9/11 memorial, American Museum Natural History, Magnolia Bakery and Central Park. While it was a short trip I really did enjoy the vibe of this city. There is this kind of magic that surrounds this city; the history and famous places are also very exciting. Going here means you must be well rested and eager to see a lot of things in a short amount of time. For now I’m getting ready for my next journey which will take place somewhere in Central Asia!
Keep on the lookout for the next blog post where I’ll be discovering a not so familiar city!