A red eye flight from Phoenix ensured we woke up in the morning to the city that never sleeps – Wading through the jam-packed gates of JFK, and trying to steal a keen look at the price list for boot polishing (10 USD for a deluxe one, just in case you are interested), we hopped onto the air train and reached the local subway station.
While we were buying our metro cards, I thought I was transported back to a local UP roadways bus adda (bust station) in India – a very old, cheesy bollywood number was playing in one of the trillion small shops owned by Indians in NYC (I even noted down the lyrics, click here for the song :P)
The ride in the local metro to our hotel in downtown Manhattan was as we had been forewarned – At 6:30 AM, people were out there already in commute - as we approached our destination we were crammed to a one-leg room space – so it was actually delightful to ascend the stinky and dirty subway pass and “arise” to the heart of the big apple. Yes, New York sub way stations, streets and roads are not only always crowded but very very filthy. Another thing, I must warn you – be it the airport or any tourist attraction – NYC is the city with the dirtiest toilets. Sorry, for the gory details, but you need to know this, don’t you?
And then commenced, what my husband quite endearingly (;)) refers to as tourist hell. Armed with a long laundry list of must-do’s, New York City Passes and a hop on – hop off bus tour package, I dragged Vish mercilessly for three days around the city from 7:30 AM to 11:00 PM, till, according to him, we ran out of all the hell holes). Aah, the satisfaction of having EVERYTHING on my list checked off! What all was on my list? Just search for Things to Do in NYC, and pretty much everything that pops up in the results was there – tadaah :D!!!
Here are the highlights of our NYC experience…
The Manhattan skyline is gorgeous from any view – you don’t have to go to Empire State and Rockefeller - we did both and did not find it worth the money, the long queues and the airport-like security). Instead, you HAVE to walk down the Brooklyn Bridge and get the most awesome views of the Manhattan Bridge and the skyline – this along with a night tour of Brooklyn via the Manhattan Bridge is a MUST.
The Statue of Liberty is a must-do. Many will tell you it’s overrated but you have to take the ferry around the island and see this French gift first-hand – and up-close.
The neon and the glamour of Times Square is quite a disappointment - apparently the most visited place in the world is just an overly crowded space with skyscrapers all around you – take a walk around – the Broadway theater district is so culturally rich – catch a musical there. The Bryant Park with its beer garden, small shops and a lot of food options is a much more enjoyable and cozy place to relax and soak the city in.
The financial district, complete with the raging bull, NYSE and the Occupy Wall Street protests was an interesting experience too.
All those top honchos in tuxedos walking out at lunch time and eating from the zillions of street food stalls gives you a fascinating insight into the life of a New Yorker – Being vegetarians we could not indulge wholeheartedly in the street food revelry all around us – however, we did binge on the so many kinds of pretzels, falafels – and American pizzas!
The gourmet scene is the best ever – what with all the little worlds that have come together – little India, little Italy, little China, little Korea, little Africa – this is NYC for you – a potpourri of countries, cultures, peoples and even religions.
Apparently, every religion in this world is practiced in New York City – you have hindu temples, gurudwaras, mosques, synagogues, churches, Buddhist temples among many others.
What you definitely need to do in the city is, leave the concrete, wax and the up-scale snobbish neighborhoods behind, and head straight to Central Park – a man-made park but a wonder in every right – This two and a half mile majestic garden in the heart of the city cannot disappoint you. We spent a few hours every single day that we were in New York strolling here. With the fall colors thrown in, this was the most enjoyable and breathtaking part of our trip.
I could go on and on, but would rather stop on this scenic note, BUT the next time you are planning a trip to NYC, you know who to contact :D.