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Holiday, Vacation & Tour

 

Hello From New York City - Part 1 - First Impressions Of The Big Apple

So yesterday morning our American Airways flight (booked for free with my Airmiles) left at 7:13 am to bring us to the Big Apple, a place I had always had a fascination with, but only had visited twice very briefly in my life,and that more than 10 years ago.

Just flying in over NYC was an experience itself, seeing all the skyscrapers of Manhattan, the various bridges linking the mainland with the island, and shortly after flying over the Rykers Island prison we landed at L...

Travel, New York, Big Apple, Brooklyn

So yesterday morning our American Airways flight (booked for free with my Airmiles) left at 7:13 am to bring us to the Big Apple, a place I had always had a fascination with, but only had visited twice very briefly in my life,and that more than 10 years ago.

Just flying in over NYC was an experience itself, seeing all the skyscrapers of Manhattan, the various bridges linking the mainland with the island, and shortly after flying over the Rykers Island prison we landed at La Guardia Airport, a rather small airport actually, when compared to Toronto.

Our luggage was out in no time and we grabbed a couple of week long transit passes (a pretty good deal at US$24 for unlimited travel for a whole week) and we started our trip to Brooklyn. One bus (through a mostly Latin area in Queens) and one subway ride (through Manhattan) later, we ended up in our lovely bed and breakfast in a gorgeous neighbourhood, just south of Prospect Park in Brooklyn.

Since we didn't know the area and the website of our B&B had provided just a tiny little map, we had chosen the wrong subway line to get off from and we had to walk about 1/2 hour to find the B&B, but it gave us a good first look at this part of Brooklyn.

It is an area with stately homes and houses that are about a century old. Magnolia and cherry trees are blooming everywhere and gardens are meticulously kept around here. Our Brookly neighbourhood feels very safe and we got to meet our bed and breakfast hosts: a very hospitable and outgoing couple in their 40s by the name of Harry and Bibi. They showed us to our room, a nice room on the third floor of this spacious house, with a shared bathroom.

Actually the whole house has been turned into a B&B and there are 8 bedrooms, the 2nd and 3rd floor of the house each have their own kitchen and bedroom areas and it actually makes for a really comfortable stay since it feels more like having your own apartment, rather than just renting a room.

Before leaving I thoroughly researched accommodation options in New York City, and after looking at all the options (hotels, hostels, B&Bs), I decided the B&B option would be the most comfortable route to go. And at US$90.00 a night it's definitely turned out to be one of the most affordable options and a great base to start exploring New York City...

 

Hello From New York City - Part 2 - Exploring Mid-Town Manhattan

Since our plane landed nice and early we had virtually a whole day left to explore yesterday. The weather was pretty nice, quite sunny when we started, although it clouded over a little and was a little on the cool side, it never got much above 15 degrees Celsius.

Around noon time we hopped on the Q subway line, which is literally 5 minutes from our bed and breakfast, and we made our way into Manhattan. The subway actually emerges at the Manhattan Bridge and we got a good ...

Travel, USA, New York, Manhattan, Times Square

Since our plane landed nice and early we had virtually a whole day left to explore yesterday. The weather was pretty nice, quite sunny when we started, although it clouded over a little and was a little on the cool side, it never got much above 15 degrees Celsius.

Around noon time we hopped on the Q subway line, which is literally 5 minutes from our bed and breakfast, and we made our way into Manhattan. The subway actually emerges at the Manhattan Bridge and we got a good look at the Brooklyn Bridge and the south-eastern tip of Manhattan.

We decided to get off on Times Square, figuring that this would be pretty good place to start exploring NYC. Times Square, with all its neon advertising signs, and promotional displays is something else. The sidewalks were totally full of people strolling and tons of promoters were handing out flyers for broadway shows, comedy shows and other entertainment events. There is so much advertising in the Times Square area with lights and displays blinking everywhere, that the individual advertisements actually started to run into one another in my mind, probably not the effect the advertisers tried to achieve. Indeed, the hustle and bustle in this area is huge and can get a little overwhelming.

We strolled around that area for a while, and walked by Rockefeller Center, although we did not get to explore the whole complex. Then we tracked down Grand Central Terminal and walked through this grandiose historic train station which opened in 1913. There are over 100 commuter train platforms at Grand central and they all run off a glorious central concourse.

The east side of Grand Central opens out almost straight onto the Chrysler Building, and considering that I am a huge fan of Art Deco skyscrapers, I had to go inside this 1929 masterpiece. As a tourist you can only access the lobby, but the central area with its ceiling mural and the authentic Art Deco elevators (and their doors covered in wood marquetry) are definitely worth a little detour.

Then we snaked our way up towards Central Park, mostly on Lexington and Fifth Avenues. We walked by the (apparently just closed) famous Plaza Hotel and into the south end of Central Park, a masterpiece of landscape design and 850 acres of much-needed recreational space by the famous landscape designer Frederick Law Olmstead. We only explored the south end, including the Dairy and Sheep Meadow and headed out onto Central Park West with all its stately apartment buildings, including the Dakota Building, in front of which John Lennon was shot in 1980. The Strawberry Fields hillside garden was dedicated to his memory.

Everything is blooming here right now, and New York City is definitely a few weeks ahead of Toronto in terms of the horticultural cycle. Something was in the air, and I had to sneeze about a hundred times, and by the end of the day we both had to pick up some allergy medication since we were both battling major hayfever symptoms.

Then a brief hop on the subway later, we popped up again in Greenwich Village, a beautiful neighbourhood of brownstone townhouses and took in the ambience. We ended up at a nice little restaurant on 7th Avenue, called "Pennyfeathers" where we had a beautiful dinner in an enclosed porch so we could take in the street life.

A couple of subway rides later we came back to our temporary home in Brooklyn where we dropped into bed exhausted from all the walking, trying to catch up on a bit of rest for the next day.

 

Hello From New York City - Part 3 - Crossing The Brooklyn Bridge, Exploring Downtown Manhattan

What a full day we had yesterday. We had a delightful breakfast in our bed and breakfast at about 8:30 am and shared some nice conversations with a young couple from Sweden and an older couple from Holland, the hostess was participating as well. This is one of my favourite things about bed and breakfasts, usually they offer really tasty filling meals and a great conversation to go with it.

We got going at around noon and hopped off the subway just before the Brooklyn Bridg...

Travel, New York City, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Brooklyn Bridge, Ground Zero

What a full day we had yesterday. We had a delightful breakfast in our bed and breakfast at about 8:30 am and shared some nice conversations with a young couple from Sweden and an older couple from Holland, the hostess was participating as well. This is one of my favourite things about bed and breakfasts, usually they offer really tasty filling meals and a great conversation to go with it.

We got going at around noon and hopped off the subway just before the Brooklyn Bridge and ended up exploring the historic Brooklyn Heights neighbourhood a bit, a place with many well-preserved brownstones and expensive apartment buildings with a perfect view of downtown Manhattan. Then we started our walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, and started to soak in the vistas of the famous skyscrapers.

The Manhattan Bridge is very close to the Brooklyn Bridge and the Empire State Building is visible on the horizon. Tons of walkers and bikers were making the trekk across the bridge and the weather was pretty decent, sunny with about 16 degrees Celsius.

After the bridge we arrived at NYC City Hall which was blocked off to pedestrian traffic and there was a big congregation of media people on the front steps. Tons of people were sitting around the beautiful fountain just outside of city hall and with the blue sky, the blooming trees and the surrounding architectural arrangements this was just the perfect place to snap away with the camera. I particularly fell in love with the ornate spires of the Woolworth Building.

Then we headed further west, explored the yard of St. Paul's Cathedral which is right across from the World Trade Center location. As a first place of refuge after the tragedy, the churchyard has many plaques commemorating the events of 911 and it took more than 2 years to clear all the debris from the yard that had fallen down with the collapse of the buildings.

We then proceeded to Ground Zero. The area is fenced off with various posters showing the history of the buildings, the events of 911, and the names of the more than 2700 victims. The tragedy of 911 is very hard to grasp and when you are right there where it happened, you remember all the horrible pictures and the even more horrible events of that fateful day, now more than 31/2 years ago. It is so hard to imagine these 2 enormous buildings collapsing, surrounded on all sides by other highrise towers, and what it must have been like that day, with people running through the streets, debris raining down, rescue workers risking their lives to help the victims. The police presence, by the way, was very strong and we weren't sure if there was a special reason for that or if that was the case every day.

After reflecting for a while and absorbing the incomprehensible nature of that tragedy we walked south on Liberty Street into Battery Park. Lots of African entrepreneurs were around with suitcases and bags full of merchandise and it seems they were very careful not to be seen by the police. We had a beautiful view across the bay towards the statue of liberty and proceeded to our next destination - the Staten Island Ferry terminal, where our next adventure began...

For the entire article including photos please visit
http://www.travelandtransitions.com/stories_photos/hello_nyc_3.htm

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