Saturday, January 30, 2016

Mini Travel Log: New York, USA

This is my first time in New York and like any other tourists, I tried to maximize my time here because there are just so many things to do and see here. Is it possible to see the entire New York with 2 day itinerary? No it isn't. But 2 days are enough to warm up to this city and prepare you for your future visits.

My hotel is at Times Square which has the best location and starting point for sightseeing. As I arrived in the afternoon and needed a quick nap, I woke up close to evening time around 5pm. A quick recce at Times Square and then off I go to the Rockefeller Center; few blocks away from where I started. I went up to the Top of the Rock Observation Deck to catch the best sunset and night view of New York City. Entrance fee is not cheap. It costs $32. So plan your trip wisely if you want to see the best sunset view. Choose a clear day to go up. I was short on time so I had no choice but to go up even on a cloudy and drizzling day. I still had a great time up there but I'd probably return again in the future on a clear day to capture more breathtaking shots of the city.

After that, I returned to Times Square for some night shots. I couldn't stay awake much longer due to the jet lag so I called it a day afterwards. For info, Rockefeller Center is along 5th Avenue so you can actually do some night shopping there or save it for another day.

My second day was burned due to rain. The only place I managed to visit was the Central Station. After Central Station, I walked along 5th Avenue for some window shopping while trying to avoid getting soaked now and then.

Third day came with clear blue skies but chilly. I woke up early to rush down to Battery Park for the ferry to Liberty Island. From Times Square, I hopped onto subway no.1 at 50th St, South Ferry Loop. I didn't go down straight to South Ferry Station but made a detour by alighting at Chambers St. Reason being it was around 7am so I decided to see the 9/11 memorial and the new Freedom Tower. Bear in mind the memorial and tribute center only opens at 10am. I just wanted to see the 2 pools which was the former Twin Towers. It was a very sad feeling seeing the names of those sacrificed etched on the plaque around the pool.

I continued to walk south along Broadway and reached the Wall Street area. This area is heavily guarded now but is still accessible to pedestrians. The iconic New York Stock Exchange is not to be missed. Back to Broadway and continuing south, I reached the Charging Bull. Touch it for a dose of good luck perhaps? Another reason I advise others to reach here early is for you to have the whole bull to yourself. If you're here late, the Chinese armies will reach here in bus loads and I guarantee you will not have any space left to touch the bull, let alone taking pictures.

The Bull is just before the entrance to Battery Park. I bought my ferry ticket from Castle Clinton around 8am. Ferry departs at 8.30am and after going through airport styled scans, it is just about the right time. So my advise to you is to stick to your time schedule tight if you plan to do the 9/11 and Wall Street detour. Give yourself an hour for the detour starting from 7am and be at Castle Clinton ticket counter by 8am.

Do take note that normal ticket to Liberty Island and Ellis Island includes both return ferry rides. It costs $18 and includes entrance to the Pedestal only. If you want to climb to the crown of Statue of Liberty, 99.9% you won't be able to buy it at the ticket counter. Buy it online from the official operator Statue Cruises and it runs 2-4 weeks in advance reservations. Meaning anything less than 2 weeks, tickets to the crown are most likely sold out.

Also a word of caution. There are many touts operating around Battery Park entrance and South Ferry terminal station. They are trying to hard sell you tickets to the Liberty Island. My suggestion is avoid them at all costs. The only official operator is Statue Cruises and the ticket counter is right there in Castle Clinton at Battery Park.

I only spent my time on Liberty Island but skipped Ellis Island. The latter island was a former immigrant processing center which has its own histories. If you have the time, by all means visit this island after Liberty Island. It was included in the ticket anyway. By skipping Ellis Island, I was back in Manhattan by noon time.

As time was not on my side, that wraps up my short sightseeing trip in New York. As you can see, 2 days are not enough to cover this metropolis. But it does get you to the important landmarks around New York.

Click on the image for picture gallery

No comments: