A few weeks ago my friend Verona Sagato and I decided that we wanted to go to New York for the day! We invited several of our friends and siblings to go with us but since it was a bit last minute, it ended up just being the two of us. We were still so excited. We had a long..long list of things we wanted to see but more importantly, places we wanted to eat! Looking back now, our list was pretty ambitious considering the time we had. Ü Here's how our day went...
Our flight was scheduled to leave at 11:30pm on Tuesday night but ended up being delayed almost an hour. We made the best of it and finally left for NYC at almost 12:30am. Thank you Jetblue for the Snooze Kit!
We finally arrived in New York. It took us forever to get out of the airport because we spent a lot of time trying to find our way, listening to a rude worker at the Welcome Desk tell us about transportation, asking for directions and finding out what the fastest way to the city would be. Am I the only one that finds a rude person working at the Welcome Desk to be conflicting?
We're riding the subway! We took the AirTrain out of the airport to the Jamaica Station where we caught the E Line. If you've ever seen a scene from a movie where there are so many people on the subway that you can barely move...that was us. It was so crowded. I couldn't even take my camera out to snap of pic of us (sardines) because there was literally ZERO elbow room. This picture was taken when the subway finally started to empty.
We walked up the stairs out of the subway and got our very first view of the city. I loved it already. The city was bustling, horns were honking and people were crossing the streets in large waves. One of the first things I noticed was how beautiful some of the buildings were! The architecture and design was amazing. Our first stop was to see the 9/11 Memorial. We came to the work site and it was surreal to think we were standing in the very spot that marked one of the greatest events in US history. We made our way to the memorial site and we were pretty disappointed to find that we had to have purchased tickets in advance. Alas, New York was waiting for us so it was goodbye disappointment and hello stop number two!9:30 am
We came across a tiny old cemetery across the street from the World Trade Center site and later came to find it was St. Paul's Chapel. History is something that sparks my interest and I looked up info on St. Paul's Chapel and learned that it was built in 1766 and is the oldest public building still in use in Manhattan. It was closed when we got there so we didn't get the chance to go in but it was amazing to look at through the iron fence. The gravestones were so old and the names barely visible if any. It was hauntingly beautiful and a wonderful find on our trip.9:37 am
As we continued to walk, we came across a park that was filled with people participating in the Occupy Wall Street rally. We didn't stay long enough to hear any of their protesting speeches but their thoughts and opinions were made clear by their signs, shouts and ironically...even by their silence.9:40 am
The Trinity Chapel and more beautiful buildings followed our stop at the protest and after walking almost 10 blocks we arrived at Battery Park. We got our tickets to board the ferry for the Liberty & Ellis Island Tours. I prayed that I wouldn't get sea sick. Thanks goodness it was a short ride!
The ferry was packed with people (no surprise there), but we got a great seat outside and I was delightfully surprised at how short the ride was. My original plan was take the ferry closer to sunset so we could see the city lights but we had to opt for an earlier ride because of time. The view of the city was magnificent as we pulled away from the dock. I can only imagine, for now, how much more beautiful it would have been at night.
Everyone scrambled to the side of the boat as we approached Liberty Island in hopes of the perfect shot of the Statue of Liberty. Patience is a virtue and I eventually snagged some absolutely amazing photos of her. We got off the ferry and made our way around Liberty Island stopping every so often for some photo ops. The Statue of Liberty was my favorite part of the whole trip. She is beautiful. We didn't have time to go any higher than ground level to see the statue but that was just fine for me. I honestly could not stop taking pictures of her...hence my upcoming overload of SOL photos. :) It was really an awe inspiring sight. Before we boarded the ferry again, I made sure to stop at the gift shop (I know-I'm a tourist sucker) to snag some souvenirs for my girls. I love you Lady Liberty!12:09 pm
After leaving Liberty Island the ferry took us over to Ellis Island and can you believe our feet were already throbbing!? We decided to stay aboard the ferry and after about 20 minutes we made our way back to the city. After the tour we walked another 10 blocks back to the subway and spent a good 30 minutes or so being lost. Being lost in a subway is twice as bad when there's no one around to ask for directions. Not fun. It's NYC for crying out loud...where did everyone go?
Miraculously it starts to feel like NY again and the subway fills up with people. We eventually get some info and head towards Chelsea Market. Chelsea Market was featured on one of the episodes of The Next Food Network Star, so I made it a point to stop there for lunch. It's a huge building that houses tons of eateries and shops-an indoor food court if you will. We window shopped at a few of the restaurants and ended up at Bar Suzette Creperie and Tuck Shop. We got the Hoisin Duck Crepe which had smoked duck, fresh herbs, fresh vegetables, hoisin and sri racha chili. I'm not a huge fan of duck but it was pretty good and the crepe was perfectly done. The ground beef meat pie from Tuck Shop was more 'my thing'. It was simple, greasy and delicious! Oh, and even better with tomato sauce.2:33 pm
After making our way towards Midtown for lunch we walked a few blocks more towards the subway again and attempted to navigate our way towards Times Square. Yep, we got lost again. But only for about 20 minutes this time. Did I mention how beautiful the buildings were?
We landed about 2 blocks away from our destination and walked the rest of the way towards Times Square. It was crazy! The billboards, the lights, the even crazier traffic and the crowds of people were just as I imagined it would be. It's true that Times Square is a bit overrated but I still considered it a great opportunity to see and it wouldn't have been an NYC trip if we didn't stop there. Verona brought along her Samoa flag and we made plans before our trip that we would take pics with it once we got to NYC in support of our awesome rugby team. Go The Manu!
We were running short on time so we skipped a ton of the shops we wanted to browse and headed for the M&M's store. That place was huge with three floors of anything-you-can-think-of M&M merchandise. $3000 M&M jacket anyone? I grabbed a few things for the girls and we headed back to the subway and journeyed towards The Museum of Natural History & Central Park.4:25 pm
If our feet could express emotion, they would be crying hysterically at this point. The pain we were feeling was ten times worse than what a full day at Disneyland could do. It was excruciating! By the way, we probably switched back and forth between our tennis shoes and our sandals about 6 times during our entire trip searching for any type of relief. It didn't last very long between changes though. We trudged onward and had originally planned to actually enter the Museum of Natural History. By the time we got there, all we wanted to do was see the outside of the building as we saw in the movie, Night At The Museum. We plopped ourselves down on the front stairs and looked across to Central Park. Once again, it was a beautiful view. Even the taxis made it all the more prettier because it was a prominent reminder that we were really in New York City. Ü Might as well have a New York hot dog from a cart while we were waiting and I hate to admit it, but it was better than what we had at Chelsea Market.5:30 pm
As much as we would have liked to sit and take in the New York atmosphere, we had to start making our way back to airport because we certainly didn't want to be a victim to the NY traffic stories everyone warned us about before our trip and how we needed more than 3 hours to make it back on time because the normally 30 minute trip would most definitely be longer. Yeah, not true that day. We left the museum at about 5:30pm and made it back to the airport before 6:30pm. Not bad. Exhausted doesn't even begin to justify how we felt on the subway. We were extremely tired and we were suddenly starving by the time we got to JFK airport. I had hoped we would have time to eat at all of the places on our list but it just wasn't the case. Does getting pizza at the airport count as "real" NY pizza? Either way...it was good!
We couldn't wait to get on the plane where some much needed sleep awaited us. Our short visit to New York was phenomenal. We tried to do as much as we could and even though we murdered our feet in the process, it was worth the first-time experience. I loved everything we saw and for everything we didn't see...well, there's always next time.