The third stop on our long summer trip was my favorite of all the places we visited: New York City! For anyone who loves the buzz and excitement of big cities, you can’t visit a place more alive than New York! And, if you ever get the chance to visit, you should!
As we drove across the bridge onto the island and I saw the amazing skyline of the buildings and skyscrapers up ahead of us, I could only stare on in excitement because, having been to New York in the past, I knew full well that experiencing it together with my husband and daughter was certainly going to be memorable.
A word of warning, though, if you are driving in New York, expect it to be an extremely hectic experience! Though I’d been in the city a few times before, this was the first time we were driving a car in it. Being behind the wheel in a city like New York means you’ve got to be extremely vigilant when driving so as not to run into anything or anyone. This
is especially hard in a big, bustling city like New York because there always is something to see here or there that can quickly distract your concentration! Luckily, my husband was only driving to the hotel to drop us off first before quickly returning the car to the rental office only a few further blocks away.
Checking in at the Hyatt Centric in Times Square, we had an amazing view of the buildings from our floor which was pretty high. After resting a bit in our room, we got ready to explore! As we were right next to Times Square, that is the first place we went to. The square was packed with tourists, like us, so I made sure to keep an extra close watch on my purse, in case any pickpockets were around, as they generally tend to be in touristy areas worldwide.
Taking in the beauty of all the lights around us, I took many photos. Eventually, we stumbled upon some red spinning chairs that kids and adults were sitting on and having a great time taking a turn in. I don’t know how long the city was planing on having these out for people to enjoy, but my daughter had a blast on them. I even tried them out on another day, when there happened to be a few available chairs. Laughing my head off as I spun around, it felt great to giggle like I was a little kid again!
Near the spinning chairs, there were quite a few colorful characters hanging out in the area. In that one block, we happened to run into Spiderman, the Incredible Hulk, Minnie Mouse and Iron Man. I guess super heroes and lovable characters love living in and hanging out in New York too!
Since one of my favorite Christmas movies is Miracle on 34th Street, I had to go inside the Macy’s Store as it does figure prominently in the film. The sign outside the store claimed it is the world’s largest Macy’s store and it did seem like it once we were inside. I especially loved the old escalators within the building whose steps were wooden and just gave the place even more character than it already had!
After Macy’s, we continued on to visit the Empire State
Building. Though we did go inside the building, we opted not to go to the observation deck, as it was going to cost and arm and a leg (almost $100 total) for us to simply go see the view from there. I was happy enough just to see the interior of the building, taking note of the Art Deco motif which decorated the walls and ceiling.
Leaving the Empire State Building, we continued on past the New York Public Library, the Chrysler Building, and went into Grand Central Station to take a peek inside. Again, the character of the building just jumped right out at me. I loved the brightly colored hallways with strong square panels lit up by ball-shaped chandeliers. I loved the sky blue color of the ceiling in the main hall decorated by golden characters of constellations. And I loved how the light flooded into the station through the huge windows, highlighting the busy movement of people going from one place to another. I let the atmosphere soak in before we moved on to explore elsewhere.
Going back to the hotel, we rested a bit because we were going to treat ourselves to see a Broadway show later that night. Though it wasn’t really necessary for us to get dressed up, we did, just to make the night seem even more special. Broadway was not far from our hotel. We simply crossed Times Square and found ourselves there. Going a bit early so we could find a place for dinner, we decided to eat a real New York pizza pie at a place close to our theater.
That night, we saw the Broadway musical show Aladdin which was showing at the New Amsterdam Theater! The venue, actors, music and story were great! My favorite character, however, was most definitely the Genie, whose larger than life personality just shone through
every time he was on stage. Meanwhile, my daughter loved Aladdin and my husband really liked how funny Iago was. The costumes where beautiful, especially when the women came out wearing their colorful, glittery garb. But, certainly, the most spectacular part of the show was when Aladdin and Princess Jasmine took their magic carpet ride. The whole stage was plunged into darkness and hundreds of little lights sparkled in the backdrop, like the stars they were supposed to represent. And, I have no clue how they made that carpet ride in the air while Aladdin and Jasmine were sitting atop it, especially when it twisted and turned everywhere. If it was held up by transparent ropes or stabilized up by some machine, I certainly couldn’t see it. Because of this, my mind easily could believe the couple in love were flying through the night on their magic carpet ride. It was truly magical. I wish I could have taken a photo to share it with you all, but as you would imagine, photography was not allowed during the show. But, I enjoyed reliving all those moments in my memory as I walked through the brightly lit Times Square on our way back to our hotel.
The next day held another great adventure for us. Passing by the Radio City Music Hall, we walked along a long line of food trucks and carts (which smelled amazing by the way) and walked in the direction of Hell’s Kitchen. Having watched Daredevil on Netflix this past year, Hell’s Kitchen was a must see as it is the Daredevil’s realm in the show. After seeing the area and taking a couple of photos there of the distinctive red-brick buildings adorned with black iron stairwells, we decided to take the subway to get around to other parts of New York.
I think I am quite spoiled when it comes to public transportation where I live in Holland, since the system is quite modernized. I say this, because this is exactly what went through my mind when we were attempting to get tickets for the NY subway from their old looking machines that were quite slow to use. Not only did they not have a booth with a person manning it at the stop where we were, but they only had three machines, one of which was broken too! So, as you might imagine, the line to get those tickets got long, especially when some didn’t quite understand how to use the machine. Once we finally got on the subway, I also noticed that the subway cars seemed old. I’d definitely say that New York should try to put some money into renovating and updating its public transportation system, especially since so many people use it to get around.
I didn’t know exactly where we were going, since my husband was going to surprise us with what we’d be doing next, but I was quite happy when I realized we had arrived
at Gray’s Papaya where we promptly ordered some hot dogs! Another favorite movie of ours is Fools Rush In, which features the Gray’s Papaya hot dog, so I was very happy that I was finally getting the opportunity to have one! In the end, I scarfed down two chili dogs which were delicious! The restaurant was tiny, with only a ledge by the window in which to stand to eat my hot dog while looking out onto the busy street, and I loved the quirky and colorful paper decorations hanging from the ceiling!
After this, we went past the New York Public Library and then reached the next surprise destination: the Natural History Museum (featured in another funny movie we enjoy, Night at the Museum). None of us had ever been there before and we all had a
blast exploring the museum! It was especially great to take our daughter there, as it was not only fun for her, but it was also educational. After seeing tons of dinosaur bones and the other exhibits on view, we left, crossing the street and going into Central Park where we took a stroll and then rested for a while.
The next day, we went back into the Subway and took it all the way down to the Financial District so we could check out Wall Street. My favorite part of the area was seeing the Fearless Girl statue facing down the Charging Bull of Wall Street. Passing by
the big buildings of Wall Street, Federal Hall and the New York Stock Exchange, we made our way to the more peaceful haven of Trinity Church where we rested once more. Afterwards, we walked on and passed a filming crew set-up with lots of extras milling around, as they were filming a TV show. I guess you just never know what you’ll run into in New York! Stopping there for a moment to see what was going on, we rested for a few moments before walking on.
If it sounds like we did a lot of resting, I have to tell you, we did. As exciting as New York can be, it is also very exhausting! Walking as much as we did, took quite a lot out of us! And, it was about to take even more, as we afterwards walked on to the 9/11 World Trade Center monuments. This was the first time I’d been to the monuments, and I found it to be quite emotional. The memorial was solemn and quiet. In front of me were the square holes, where the buildings would have stood. It was empty except for its water features which seemed to flow down perpetually into the emptiness of the hole where the buildings used to stand. The names inscribed surrounding both monuments, were numerous. I spent quite some time just walking around both monuments and reading the names of those who died. People were allowed to put roses on the monument in their memory.
I was so overwhelmed by the memorial, I had to sit down for a while to simply cry and catch my breath. The immense sadness that filled me over the violence of that tragedy was something I needed to just sit in silence with for a while, especially as it lead me to think of how rampant violence in general is in our world. In that somber moment, however, what gave me a glimpse of hope as I sat there and looked at the people visiting the monuments was that I could see that they were from all walks of life and differing backgrounds. The diversity of the crowd was beautiful as I saw them coming together to show their respect for those lost. I find hope and beauty in seeing such diversity coming together in solidarity, even in something as small as being silent together and something as moving as mourning together.
When we finally moved on, we could easily see the new world trade center building: the Freedom Tower. Though it is listed as the tallest skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere, it is the 6th tallest building in the world. It is quite an impressive sight, shining bright as the sun reflected off of it’s mirrored walls.
Nearby, we saw what looked like a very strange building shaped like the tail end of a cruise ship. Curious, we went in and found out it was the Westfield World Trade Center,
a new shopping center opened only last year in 2016. It certainly had a very unique look from within and without! Yet again, inside this building, we saw another film crew setup, though I wasn’t sure what they were filming.
By the time we got back to the area near our hotel, we were quite tired and were looking forward to resting in our room. But, then we saw the huge Barnes and Noble bookstore near our hotel and we knew we’d be stopping there before getting back to the hotel. What can I say? I’ve got a soft spot for bookstores, even if my feet are about to fall off!
We managed to pack in a ton of sights and activities during our stay in New York. We all had a great time in NYC and were looking forward to the next stop on our journey just across the bay: New Jersey, because from there, we’d be going to visit the Statue of Liberty, New York’s most iconic sight. So, please do check back in a while to read all about our trip to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island while we stayed in New Jersey!