Thursday, 7 July 2011

New York - A Review

Due to popular demand (well, one request from Anide), I'm going to talk about the places I went to in New York, and the things I definitely recommend doing. Like I mentioned, I did not get to fit in everything I wanted to, so my first recommendation is: spend more than a week there! My second is to plan what you're doing in advance, because time gets away from you quickly.

More after the jump (it's long, you've been warned)!

View from the Top of the Rock - all that green is Central Park
Saturday: Times Square. Bus tour downtown (includes Greenwich Village and SoHo), bus tour to Brooklyn (over bridge), Rockefeller Plaza and 30 Rock (GE Building) Observation Deck. I really recommend the bus tours at first, because it helps you get a sense of direction (since Manhattan is so huge) and you get to find out interesting history and facts. The highlights of the day were the Brooklyn bus tour and the Top of the Rock. The tour guide for the Brooklyn tour was a Brooklyn local and you could tell he was very passionate about where he lived. He was super informative and amusing - always saying how Brooklyn was much better than "that evil island of Manhattan". The people though did seem much friendlier around there, all waving and yelling "how you doin", whereas when I tried to wave to people on the downtown tour they just gave me looks of disdain. My two friends and I all said following the tour "I want to live in Brooklyn!". If I had more time I'd definitely go back and walk around and explore Brooklyn more, and also try to befriend the tourguide guy haha. The Top of the Rock was also awesome. It's a shorter building than the Empire State Building, but you still see heaps, including Empire State. Generally the lines aren't as huge either because less people know about it. We were all really amazed - especially seeing just how huge Central Park is. Times Square is of course flashy and impressive, but it is also where the majority of the tourists are, and that gets annoying after a while! Definitely worth going to though.

Ruby Foo's
Sunday: Uptown tour including Central Park West (where a lot of famous people live) and Harlem. Central Park & Zoo, Times Square at night. If I had a chance I'd love to look around more at Central Park West and Harlem. The zoo was very small (compared to Sydney's Taronga Zoo which is definitely a whole day thing, but you can easily do Central Park Zoo in like 2 hours) but definitely worth going to - especially for the polar bear! Had Ruby Foo's for dinner (asian cuisine - highly recommend the dessert bento box). Walked around Times Sq, including M&Ms shop. Tried to go to Empire State Building but the lines were really long and we were super tired by that point (Empire State is open til 2am and we tried to go around 11pm and it was still packed). I'd suggest not attempting it on the weekend if possible. The main thing I'm sad about is that on the bus tour we went past several museums - notably the Museum of Natural History and the Guggenheim - that we missed out on going to. When you have so many things you want to pack in a day you can't devote enough time to see all you'd want at the museums. I'd love to go back and look at these. Tip: try to book bus tours and building tours such as 30 Rock and Empire State ONLINE. That way you can just go pick up your tickets (make sure you have a printout) which saves time and you also save a bit of money.

View from Empire State @ night.
Monday: Conference, and finally went to Empire State Building that night. Also since conference (and my hotel) were on 5th Ave, did a fair bit of walking up and down and shopping. Since we'd already been to the top of the Rock during the day, it was great to see the view at night time from the Empire State Building. It is so peaceful up there, and it's cool to recall movies you've seen where people are up there. Definitely recommend.

Tues: Conference and practicing my talk, so not much happened this day. Except a little shopping in Fashion District. Oh and being woken up at 2am to this, of course.

Wed: Conference, ate @ Irish pub the Playwright (off 35th Street and 5th Ave - pretty good pub food), and then went to see Mary Poppins on Broadway. I think that seeing a play in New York is a must-do. The quality of the performances are fantastic and the whole audience really gets into it. Tickets aren't that expensive - we paid US$74 on the day and got pretty reasonable seats. Though if you're savvy you can easily get cheaper tickets if you know the right places to go. Plus - I got to cross #13 off my 30 before 30 list!

Grand Central Station
Thurs: Boat tour of Hudson River and East River, Grand Central Station, Shopping in SoHo. The boat tour was great, had fantastic views of Manhattan, as well as NJ and Long Island. The boat also goes past the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Some pics here. We didn't actually go to either island, but we were OK with that. You still got to see a lot from the boat, but again if I had more time I'd want to go particularly to Ellis Island to learn about the history of a lot of early immigrants to the US. Grand Central Station was impressive (and we whispered in the 'whispering area') and then on to a LOT of shopping. Started off in SoHo, accidentally ended up in Canal St which is a bit dodgy (a lot of people on street corners trying to sell 'Rolex' and 'Gucci'), and then went back to midtown. Also went to Macy's and Bloomingdales. I really liked Macy's - there was heaps of different stuff, and it sure is cheap compared to prices in Sydney. Save up for some shopping there! Tip: go to the visitor's desk and show your passport - they give you a 10% off voucher! Had drinks off 5th ave and also Korean for dinner. I forget the name of the place but it was on 35th St. Tip: Make sure you only eat at places which have a big 'A' sign in the window - anything less and it means it's a bit suspicious by health department standards!

This monstrous creation is called: Cookie Doughn't you want some
Fri: Last minute shopping and went back to Times Square. Went to White Castle on 8th Ave for lunch due to request from Husband (he is quite the fan of the movie Harold & Kumar go to White Castle) - I think it was a bit of a dodgy area actually and was a bit scared I'd be stabbed! Anyway, then went to Cold Stone Creamery and got something even I thought was too sweet (but awesome): cake batter ice cream with cookie dough, choc chips, caramel, and choc fudge. ohmygoodness. Then had to go back to JFK airport to go home.

Other areas I wish I got to properly look at: Wall Street, Ground Zero, and the three other boroughs of New York (Queens, the Bronx, Staten Island). I also really wanted to go to Letterman, but it seemed a bit difficult to get tickets so if you want to go I recommend you try to do that in advance (like maybe a few weeks) too. 

Have you been to New York? What did you like the best? Haven't gone yet? What are you really wanting to see?


  1. Wow, you really packed a lot into your trip!! I'm only going to be in New York for 4 days, so I really doubt we're going to be able to venture any further than Manhattan, what with all the museums I have on my to-do list!

    I think we might do the same - go up 30 Rock during the day and the Empire State Building at night. I'm starting to get stupidly excited!!!!

  2. Looks like you had a great time in the city. I wish I had stumbled upon your blog earlier and I would have told you about City Maps. Hopefully you can take advantage of it on your next day in the the city. Cheers!

  3. You picked the good boroughs. :] Not much to see elsewhere, except maybe Yankee Stadium in the Bronx and Citi Field (the Mets' stadium) in Queens.

    I'm so so so glad you had fun!

  4. Oh my gosh is sounds like you had so much fun! I'm jealous!!

  5. Wow - checked out citymaps, it's reallly cool! I do wish I had seen it before I went. Thanks anonymous person hehe.

  6. i LOVE new york! we spent a few days there almost a year ago and i can't wait to go back!

    great post!

  7. Oh, love New York. Sounds like a fun filled trip.

  8. BAHAHAHA!!! That Anide is so darn demanding! hahaha

    was told to go to the rock instead of empire state for the reasons you mentioned.

    So just copied everything you said to my little notes section. I thank you and will NOT be eating ANYWHERE there is not a big A on the window... eww.


    Many thanks for the review :D

  9. I just got to go to NYC for the first time this year! What an incredible place! Especially for foodies!!


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