I love going on trips, especially to the US of A. We (my husband and I) are heading Stateside again in May and I thought I’d share some of my USA-memories of previous trips with you. So for the next 3 months there will be a monthly post about those, by the time the last one goes live I’ll be in Seattle, woohoo!
Our first trip to the USA was a one week city trip to New York City in 2009, keep reading if you wanna find out more…
We headed to the Big Apple on a Jet(Airways)plane from Brussels to JFK in December 2009. The trip was booked with Thomas Cook and they suggested this airline I had never heard of before. If you ever have the choice between Jet Airways and… any other, go Jet Airways, always! The service onboard is impeccable, the food is lovely (Indian!) and the inflight entertainment was quite amazing.
During our 7 day trip we stayed at Hotel Metro, in Midtown, close to the Empire State Building, Macy’s, Madison Square Garden, etc…
At this point we had already visited many a city and were quite used to “cosy”, “charming” aka small rooms, which is fine by me, as long as they’re clean and quiet. But here, in the City of all Cities, we got a huge room! Not “huge by NYC standards”, but huge for any kind of hotel room in any city. The hotel has an Art Deco vibe and we were very happy with our choice. The hotel even offered breakfast, which is not easy to find included at a midrange hotel in NYC. I was a sucker for those jelly donuts every damn morning.
We picked up our pre-ordered subway tickets in the pouring rain on our first day. We were lucky the pick up place was not too far from the hotel.
Our first full day was Statue of Liberty day. We took the ferry at Battery Park and climbed up to the crown, which had just been reopened at that time. In all honesty, I don’t think this is a must. It might be my fear of heights speaking, but I wouldn’t recommend buying tickets to go up to the crown. The view is not that spectacular and you’re already getting great views of both the Statue and Manhattan on the ferry.
After visiting the Statue of Liberty the ferry will take you to Ellis Island which is a must visit in my opinion. For many people this was the starting point of their American Dream, it’s a very interesting place if you want to find more about immigration to America.
After our return to the lovely isle of Manhattan we made our way to Wall Street, Ground Zero and the Brooklyn Bridge.
I’m not sure about the exact order in which we visited the next places on the trip, but I’m sure that won’t matter.
We spent a day on a bus for the New York TV and Movie Sites Tour and we had a great time. The bus took us to the Cosby House, the Soup Nazi, the I Am Legend House, the Friends’ building and many more. We had a great slice of pizza at Ben’s Pizza, which was a Men In Black location and we also got a black and white cookie! The tour was great fun, our guide was an actress and she told us some fun facts about NYC and making movies there. They also showed some clips on the bus for some of the locations. And we did spot a celebrity, yes, we saw Harvey Keitel in Tribeca. Imagine a bus filled with tourists on the hunt for movie and TV locations that’s stuck in NYC traffic when the guide goes “oh, I think that might be Harvey Keitel there, is it him? Yeah, it’s him alright.” Oh so much excitement.
There’s also a Sex and the City Tour, and many more, but I liked the general one, a bit more variation there.
On that same day we went to Top of the Rock to see NYC from the 30 Rock observation deck. We got a ticket that allowed 2 visits in the same day (Sun and Stars ticket). I loved this system, because this we were able to see that gorgeous view in broad daylight and again when the sun had set. I highly recommend this, it’s a whole different view at night. The Empire State Building was also an option, but Top of the Rock is cheaper and of course, if you want to actually see the Empire State Building…
Because we were there in December, NYC was in full Holiday craze and the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center was quite a treat for a Christmas loving person like me.
We also spent some time at museums. We visited the MoMa and the Met but our favourite was the American Museum of Natural History. Places like this just bring out the curious kid in me, such fun. We went to the Space Show at Hayden Planetarium, man, that was so cool. The thing is… you get a little sleepy in those chairs when you’ve been dragging yourself around Manhattan for a few days.
They actually do Night at the Museum Sleepovers now, that’s awesome.
We strolled around the Flatiron District, the Meatpacking District, Central Park, Times Square (if only briefly, you kinda have to see it)… If the weather allows it, please, try to walk around as much as possible. We planned our trip so we just had to take the subway to a certain area, walked around and took the subway back at the end of the day. There’s so much to see and discover, it’d be a real shame to waste your time underground.
Of course some (window)shopping had to be done: Barney’s, Bloomingdale’s (I bought my Marc by Marc Jacobs Classic Q Baby Groovee bag here), Tiffany’s, Bergdorf Goodman are some of New York’s finest shopping locations. Macy’s? Not so much, only for Miracle on 34th Street fans if you ask me… And on the topic of awesome Christmas movies, don’t forget about the Plaza! And while you’re there, cross the street and check out the famous Apple store.
I can’t remember any specific restaurants we went to, I just remember lots of burgers, cokes, a very dirty Wendy’s and 2 very expensive pieces of cake.
One thing I also recommend is to go see a Knicks game, even if you know absolutely nothing about basketball, like us. We had such a good time, and the Knicks even won their game against the LA Clippers. The game, Madison Square Garden, the cheerleaders, the fans commenting on the game in their juicy New York accents, the National Anthem,… A recipe for a great night in Manhattan. And get one of those foam fingers, you won’t regret it. Really.
And there you have it, our first trip to the USA, not so much NYC, but actually just Manhattan. Next month I’m revisiting our honeymoon!
P.S.: check back in two months for a few more NYC tips!