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Thursday 10 November 2016

New York, New York

It doesn’t matter how many times you visit New York, there will always be something new to discover. My recent 3 night stay in the Big Apple was jam packed with activities I’d never experienced on either of my last two visits! 

I’ve lots of advice and suggestions for making the most of your Manhattan getaway.  Without a doubt number 1 on the list is get yourself a New York Explorer pass before you go.  Enjoy admission to your choice of either 3, 5 or 7 attractions from a selection of over 50 great New York options saving up to 45% off combined gate prices.  Not only will it save you money but VIP line privileges that come with the ticket will save you lots of precious time. The following are the attractions I chose on this trip:


One World Observatory

Now the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, the One World Trade Center is built on what was the Ground Zero site. I was a little apprehensive about this as I thought it would be quite an emotional journey, reliving what happened on that fateful day in 2001 but the visitor experience is completely focused on rebirth and renewal and is actually a very positive experience. During the 60 second elevator ride to the 100th floor, the floor to ceiling led screens in the lift show how Manhattan has evolved from 1600 to today.

The observatory offers a 360 degree view of the city. I particularly loved the panoramic view of the Hudson River and Brooklyn Bridge.

















The Beast

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine taking a speedboat down the Hudson River, passing the Statue of Liberty with rock music blasting through the speakers and ending with speedboat doughnuts in front of Liberty Island. Well that is exactly what The Beast entails. It was the best fun and a pretty unusual way of seeing the iconic New York Skyline. They stop within 100 feet of the Statue of Liberty giving you plenty of time to get some great close up shots. The captain and crew on The Beast aim to make sure no one gets off dry but with the temperature close to 30 degrees, it was a welcome cool down!


The Ride

Not your typical city bus tour! You board 'The Ride' at Broadway and over the next 90 minutes are part of the most surreal sightseeing tour of Midtown Manhattan. The seats on the coach are tiered and side facing with floor to ceiling glass windows. The idea is that you are the audience & the streetscape of New York is the stage. Two hosts provide a comedic commentary throughout the tour, however, what was most impressive was the street performers who appeared from nowhere specifically for our tour. One guy, dressed as a DHL Courier was casually walking along the footpath before suddenly beginning to sing & dance with his mic connected to the speakers in our coach. Since traffic moves incredibly slowly in Manhattan, most of the performers moved along with the coach. A really entertaining way of taking in Midtown….just don’t sit at the end of the row unless you enjoy audience participation!


Empire State Building

In my opinion, you can’t go to New York and not take a visit to the Empire State Building. Although it cannot any longer claim to be one of the highest buildings in the world, it's iconic structure has always been part of the New York Skyline and is a must see.

If you are having trouble deciding between the observatory at the One World or Empire State Building, I would go with the latter. There is something special about having the chance to stand outside and the location also gives you the opportunity to not only see downtown Manhattan but also Central Park. Or if for no other reason, you need to go to stand in the spot where Tom Hanks finally meets Meg Ryan!


Central Park Bicycle Tour

This was the absolute highlight of my trip. I’m not sure I can describe the feeling that comes over you cycling through Central Park (or maybe it was just me!). Skyscrapers overlook you on all sides yet it is such a peaceful and tranquil place. At every corner the guide was pointing out the location of a famous movie. There is just something so special about Central Park and throughout the couple of hours I spent there I had an overwhelming feeling of how lucky I was to be there. A really beautiful part of the park are the Strawberry Fields, in tribute to John Lennon. I sat there for while as a busker sang 'Imagine'…..sounds cheesy but you completely get sucked in!

In addition to these attractions, I have also previously taken a day trip to the famous shopping outlet of Woodbury Common and really enjoyed an audio tour to Ellis Island. These are also part of the New York Explorer Pass and definitely trips to consider!

The Show Must Go On!

Aside from the Explorer pass, we took in a show in Broadway. This is the second time I’ve been to see a show in Broadway. On another visit to New York I queued for a couple of hours only to end up with seats at the back of the Theatre at a musical I had never heard of. Granted I saved $20-30 dollars but I’ve come to realise that the precious time you have on a short break to New York is more valuable than that! Having learned my lesson, I pre-booked to see Chicago with great seats, an amazing production and I wasted none of my time standing in a queue! I would much rather spend a few euro more to have control over how I spend my time, what show I see and where I sit.


Bateaux Dinner Cruise

The most memorable evening in New York was spent on board a Bateaux Dinner Cruise sailing on the Hudson River. I cannot recommend this highly enough, it is the most perfect way to spend an evening, particularly if you are celebrating a special occasion. We boarded the Bateaux at 6.30pm and set sail about half an hour later. With cocktail in hand we enjoyed the views of the New York Skyline as the sun began setting. Throughout the evening we were served a leisurely 3 course dinner with lots of time between courses to spend out on deck soaking up the view. By the time we passed under the Brooklyn Bridge, night had fallen and the city skyline took on a different view. It was just amazing and all the while a live jazz band serenaded the guests on board. Everything about the cruise was exceptional - the views, music, staff and food. A really fabulous way to spend and evening in New York.


A few other little tips:

  • Where possible take the Subway. Traffic in Manhattan moves at a snails pace, the Subway will get you there quicker.
  • Head to Little Italy for dinner for a fantastic choice of authentic Italian restaurants. Conveniently Little Italy is just around the corner from Chinatown. All that fake designer handbag shopping will surely leave you hungry!
  • Choosing a direct flight from Dublin or Shannon will have you clearing immigration before take-off. We are the only European Country that have this facility and when you see the queues on arrival, you will see how beneficial it is to land at the airport, pick up your bags and go!
  • Take a little trip to Bryant Park in Midtown Manhattan for a little haven among the craziness. It’s a beautiful little public park tucked away between 5th & 6th Avenue. Grab a takeaway & head down for a picnic and possibly some street entertainment.
  • For someting a bit speical organise a limo transfer from the airport to your accommodation.  You will arrive in style and get your holiday off to a New York style start even if it is just for that experience of sticking your head out the sunroof!  (Travalue accepts no responsibility if you get arrested for this because you are not an actor in a movie!)



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Odilia Owens

Katrina , this blog was invaluable, as was all your sound advice and helpful hints before we left for NYC. We had a marvelous time and plan on returning. Job well done!