To summarize last few days which we spent in New York City would be a quite difficult task. On the one hand we arrived in just for a while, but on the other one we wanted to get as much as possible in a short time. Even that city is quite far from San Francisco, this was a must go destination for us. In few paragraphs below I try to describe my experience from this trip.
Even we started planing our vacation quite long time ago, we bought the tickets recently. I wanted to make sure not only that my days off were going to be confirmed, but also I needed to choose everything with my girlfriend and find the things which work the best for both of us. The first thing on the list was a flight connection between San Francisco and New York City. There were lots of possibilities, but according to my experience with United airlines I wanted to be focused on a connection with a really good reputation. I had always wanted to try Virgin Airlines. I like the approach of their founder – Sir Richard Brandson and I also heard about a very good feedback for these airlines. Even we had some troubles to buy the tickets for the first time (these tickets were founded through Skyscanner, the Expedia we tried next day was all right and it was also much cheaper for both of us.
The second thing was to book an accommodation. There were also plenty of choices. To find a hotel, hostel, check the Airbnb or stay at the place of my friend Rajeev who live there. I didn’t want to complicate Rajeev’s life so much and we also wanted to be as flexible as possible, so we were mostly considering about first three possibilities. There were some nice spots in Brooklyn or New Jersey with a good subway connection to Manhattan, but the final decision was to stay at Manhattan. We found a good hostel there with a private room just for two of us. This was for a very good price and location We just wanted to sleep there and even we found some other places to stay, we decided to try that hostel.
The departure day and time from San Francisco to New York was Friday, the 12th, at 11pm. We had been prepared since Thursday and when I returned from work on Friday, we just picked up our things and went to the airport. We took a taxi, because from our apartment this is probably the best choice how to get quickly there. We had really good timing when we arrived at terminal 2 of San Francisco International Airport where Virgin Airlines were situated. We checked-in and went through the security at our gate. Everything was all right and we were on time. When we sat on plane, we really enjoyed the interior of the cabin of the plane. Nice design all around and the great thing was we could sit next to each other. The whole flight was all right. We flew through many states, Indiana included. It reminded me Matt Maudlin, one of our practice manager who lives and works there. He was probably waking up because it was early in the morning of eastern time. New York was really close.
We arrived at The Big Apple, what is a nickname of New York City, at 7.30am of the local time. The first impression was really good, we were there on time and with a good possibilities how to get to Manhattan. The JFK airport is well connected with. As the best possibility we chose the subway. You can hear many stories about this public transport system, but the fact is you can get everywhere you want. In most of the US cities you need to have a car, because the public transport services don’t cover all areas and the network is usually quite weak. There was some little mess in the NYC subway, but we were really satisfied. The only problem was the network of trains and connections was quite large and there was necessary to be very patient to orient in. On the other hand the voice from train speaker was similar as Mr. Woldfdog’s (http://www.mrwolfdog.com/) what was quite funny thing.
We found our accommodation quite easily. Another very good thing about New York City is a very simple orientation within streets. You have numbered streets and avenues and if you are able to count, you shouldn’t have any problem to walk through the city. New York is also famous for its yellow cabs and if you have some troubles for any reason you should use them. They were everywhere and we really enjoyed watching them. There was the only problem with our accommodation – we had to wait by 3pm when our room should be ready, but this was not a problem for us. We dropped our luggage there and were ready for our first walk around.
The first stop was Central Park. The entrance was really close to our apartment, so we didn’t have any problem to enter that place. We started at the North West point and kept walking down to the Southern one. We saw many nice places and really enjoyed the walk. Probably the most impressive one was the part with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir. The water observation with some skyscrapers in the background was absolutely amazing. The whole walking was really nice and we took some of very nice pictures with our camera. We had a chance to got the first impression with walking among skyscrapers. Such a coincident we found Carnegie Hall under reconstruction. There was also a place Time Warner Center and the Columbus Circle, a very famous part of the city. We were walking , but started to be very tired. A Starbuck coffee was close and we bought some stuff there. We had also seen hotel Wellington, the place where Borat Sagdiyev was accommodated. Afterwards we wanted to reach our hostel. Unfortunately the first day we were really tired and confused with the underground. We went to the right station, but took a wrong train. A series of funny event caused that we unexpectedly explored south part of Bronx. The only good thing there was probably the fact that Al Pacino grew up there. Instead of exploring Bronx we returned as quickly as we could to the right subway line and after a while we finally reached our hostel. We fully accommodated there and got a rest for the rest of the day.
On Sunday we had a lot of plans where we could walk. As the best place to start we chose The World Trade Center area. To get there was very easy, we just simply went to a subway station and after a while we really were there. We wanted to see the 9/11 memorial. It was for free, just some optional donation was appreciated. Unfortunately there was quite long queue. In the meantime I enjoyed watching skyscrapers. The building were really tall and modern. There was a guy on the street who tried to sell some stuff relevant to that unforgettable 9/11 event. We didn’t buy anything from him, just enjoyed his talk. We donated some money and were went through the security. After a long wait we could finally see the memorial. Such a nice remarkable place to remember both destroyed building of the World Trade Center – North and South Pole. The both constructions were covered with names of people who died. Not only during 9/11 events, but also from 1993 when also some terrorists attacks happened. The memorial place was nice, there were some waterfalls in the both objects.
Before we reached some other places it was time to have a great lunch. We were walking through the Financial District and we couldn’t find any good place for us. Everything changed when we found Battery park. There was a really small shop with a really good restaurant inside. We ordered some food and chilled out. After a while we went outside to observe the Statue of the Liberty. We wanted to go there as close as possible, but there was an island and at that moment no relevant trip was available, just a sightseeing tour around what we weren’t interested in. We had to have a overlook just from the quay, but it was also all right. Our next steps followed on the Broadway street where we watched the famous bull there. Probably as a symbol of Wall Street which was located near of it. There were plenty of people who wanted to take some pictures, especially from Japan. One of them was very enthusiastic and took lots of photos with the bull and other people in various positions.
Walking through the Wall Street was also a very nice moment. There were lots of banks and lots of security restrictions. The most interesting building from my point of view was New York Stock exchange. There is usually a national flag on some of its columns. I wanted to take a picture of that, but that day the flag was down. There was also a place where George Washington became the first US president. We continued with our walk and saw the Brooklyn Bridge. We sat down on a bench and had another break. Quite interesting was observing the landing helicopters there. It was probably a very popular attraction to flight Manhattan in a helicopter, because these helicopters were everywhere. We observed the Brooklyn Bridge and decided to walk through. It was a good decision, because we could observe the downtown from the other side. Brooklyn bridge is shorter than the Golden Gate one for instance, so we were at the Brooklyn side very quickly. We had a quick snack at the nearest place. Such a coincident it was a Starbuck again. Before we returned back to the Manhattan, we had a quick stop at small park where was possible to observe whole Manhattan quite easily. It was also very nice.
On our way back we saw some city halls. There were few of them. Quite interesting was to see the New York courthouse. A huge building with a well known shape best known from some movies. We were also interested in seeing New York Chinatown. The big surprise was the area was much smaller than the same neighborhood in San Francisco. Just few streets and that was it. We went there for a dinner. Found a Chinese place there. The shop assistant was surprised with my enthusiasms in food ordering and he did his best to make sure we sit down properly at a table. We ordered some noodles and enjoyed the evening. Chinatown was the last place planned for Sunday and when we finished the dinner, we bought some postcards and went back to our place with a subway. Our orientation there was much better and we enjoyed that system much better.
Before we reached our place we did a quick stop at Times Square to see that place during late evening. I heard this place is considered as the center of the Manhattan. It was probably true, because during late evening there were really plenty of people. However, the first impression from Times Square was amazing, even this is mostly an tourists attraction, there is also a really unique atmosphere. We returned to our hostel quite late, wrote our postcards afterwards and went directly to bed.
For the Monday our plan was to explore the rest of the most famous areas. First of all we went directly to Times Square again. I found problem with my memory card there. Even I did some cleaning, for any reason there was still no space there. Fortunately we were on Times Square and close to a Wallgreens there. They have open their store 24/7 and we had a great chance to buy not only a new memory card, but also some souvenirs. We will probably bring more souvenirs from New York City than San Francisco. We found some great things, but for keeping our lives better we decided to buy these souvenirs during Monday evening. We just bought that memory card and returned back to Times Square where we took some photos. Our next plan was to go close to Chrysler Skyscraper.
Before we went there we had a quick stop at a really good restaurant. It was called HB Burger and I probably never forget how good it was. Since we came in, we were simply amazed. A really good atmosphere there and lots of great food. For the first time of my life I tried a Bison burger. It was absolutely and amazingly extraordinary. Not a surprise the rest of our order was great as well. I ordered some Cider and as the final dessert we chose a shake from Belgian chocolate. Without a doubt it was the best desert we had ever had and we very both very satisfied.
The Chrysler building was quite close. We did some looked and went inside the main Railway station in the city, well known from movies. There were lots of shops and small halls. Another very nice place. Our next stop was the Empire State Building. That place was also very close. On our way there we met some guys on street who tried to sell some tickets. They were the certified sellers, but we weren’t interested in their deals so much. We just wanted to observe the city from above. Before we went up to overlook the city, we found a Post office where we drop our postcards.
We were really bit afraid of long queues there, but fortunately not many people were around. We bought a ticket and after some security controls we reach the 86th floor of the building quite easily. We went on a main overlook balcony and enjoyed the breathtaking views there. It was also extremely amazing. However, Jiri Tobolka’s question if they have nice balconies in New York City, hadn’t really been answered. I expect to check everything from above, but we were too high to see any relevant balcony at all. Just a beautiful city with an unique atmosphere.
We went down to the street and decided to see the Rockefeller center. However, we wanted to buy some things to remember this place and we wanted to buy on the 5th Avenue. The clothes seemed as the best choice. We went to the first shop, but the prices there were out of our salaries. However, the second one Quicksilver was much better choice and we bought our first t-shirts with New York theme from the 5th Avenue. Helca wanted to see Saint Patrick church close to the Rockefeller center. Unfortunately facade was under the reconstruction and the inside was restricted. There was not possible to take the photos for the most beautiful part.
There was also some security checking and I decided to stay in front of them while Helca was fully enjoying the walking there. Rockefeller center was really close and also a very nice experience. There was a square with flags of every single US state. We found the Californian one, had a quick rest and continued back to Times Square where we bought the souvenirs founded in the morning. We had also seen some of the Broadway theaters. We had a dinner and we decided to have another great experience by watching the downtown during the late evening. We used the subway and because we had already known the best connection how to get there, we had another great time.
Our last day was dedicated for shopping. We wanted to buy some new clothes and as an ideal place seemed Century 21 closed to the World Trade Center. We used subway and were there very quickly. The shopping was really good. Even we spent many hours there, we bought some good stuff there. There was also a great opportunity to eat out. We mixed a really good lunch for us. There was a man who started talked to me. He was from Greece and mentioned some troubles in his country. Troubles are everywhere man, I replied. When we finished our shopping, it was quite late. We returned back to our hostel. We were little bit in rush, because I had meeting with my friend on Times Square at 5.30 pm. I was there on time.
However, there were some technical problems on the Rajeev’s subway line and after some calling and some waiting, he was there with a small two hours delay. He apologized me for that, but I think it was all right. Sometimes things like that happen. It was worth to wait for him. I met him in Ostrava for the first time, few years ago and when I was in New Zealand, he moved to New York City. I had enjoyed Time Square before he came in. There were some bad things happened in Boston and as a result there were lots of police officers all around. With Rajeev we went to a restaurant close to the Time Square. We drank some beer and had a great conversation. His words were full of wisdom and it was really great to see him after a long time.
As an way of apologize we went to a shop near that restaurant and he bought some souvenirs for me and my girlfriend. I returned back to our hostel and together with Helca we prepared everything for the leaving. That happened on Wednesday. We ate our breakfast and I said goodbye to my old jacket which I left at that hostel. We took the subway and went to the airport. Even the more police officers were around, everything was all right and we got the plane on schedule. At 2.10pm of San Francisco time we reached the SFO airport and went to our apartment.
In a nutshell I have to say, New York city was a really great place where I wished I could stay longer. The diversity was extraordinary and I hope I will return there again. New York is aggressive, cold and definitively not relaxed as California, but on the other hand you still have a lot of opportunities to have a great time. Even San Francisco is a very great place and I also enjoy my stay here, for me New York City was the best place I had ever visited.