Everyone deserves New York at some point of their life. I think everyone does. Strolling around the infamous Times Square of New York City at one summer night was a bliss. It was just 4 hours since I stepped down the United States ground after 21 hours of flight last July, but I felt fully recharged realizing that one more of my dream comes true. Those shining lights, sparkling billboards, and thousands of people energized you. It literally defines what people called as ‘city that never sleeps.’ I was super excited knowing that it was just the start, while I would have 3 more days to explore this city of dream.
I arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport at around 4pm and arrived at the hotel at 5.30pm. I was there with my travel-mate, Ratih Siahaan, and we both shared a small room in Broadway Hotel & Hostel, located at the Upper West Side of Manhattan. It was a pretty decent hostel with shared bathroom, but it’s clean, nice, and comfortable enough. It was hard to look for a room with a decent price on summer. So, we were lucky to get this nice place for just about $70 per night. We took a rest and cleaned ourselves for a while, then we went right away to the infamous Times Square by subway. We bought a $30 Metro Card which can be used for New York subway for 3 weeks at the hotel.
Arrived at the Times Square, we immediately forgot our fatigue and tiredness after such a long flight. We enjoyed strolling around Times Square so much. We didn’t even get hungry or want to eat that night. It was like a dream-come-true moment. All the movies scenes around this area that you ever watched suddenly came up in my mind and you just cannot believe that you are there, and it was not even a dream!
Ratih and I are quite spontaneous kind of person. Well, I didn’t usually that spontaneous though, but for this trip – although I had been looking forward to it, I didn’t manage to plan it well. We initially planned to join a local tour for the next 3 days in New York. However, none of us did the booking, thought that we can book it one-day before. It turned out that we could not. Therefore, with the power of a last-minute research, we found this information about the New York Pass which can be bought and used by people who don’t want to get a headache or spending unnecessary time to arrange which place to visit, where to go first, and how is the transportation.
At the second day, we woke up very early and went to the Madam Tussaud at Times Square to buy this pass. We bought a 1-Day pass for about $100 and we got a map, a guidance to visit all the places we want, and also a free-pass to ride New York hop-on hop-off buss for the sightseeing for 24 hours. We used this bus to go to any places we wanted in those 24 hours. It was quite a nice experience because we sat the 2nd floor since it’s a double decker and there was a tour guide who explained to us everything about the city. Luckily, the weather was also super nice that day.
Statue of Liberty
The first place that we visited was the farthest one, the Statue of Liberty. We went there using a water taxi from a harbor. The ticket price was already included in the New York Pass. We started off our trip early in the morning, so that we didn’t have to wait in a super long queue for the water taxi. It took around 30 minutes to arrive at the Liberty Island. If you come there a bit later, you will have to wait for hours just to take the water taxi. We recommend you to start as early as possible. There were quite a lot of people in the island. However, the area is quite big. So, we still manage to take good pictures!
New York Financial District
We went back to Manhattan and walked around New York Financial District which is located close by to the harbor. We walked for a quite long time around Wall Street, the Charging Bull, and 911 Monument.
The American Museum of Natural History
The moment we finished strolling around the Financial District, it was already 12pm in the noon. We skipped SOHO and Little Italy as our initial plan and went straight back to Times Square to have lunch at (of course) McDonalds and changed the bus route to the blue lines, to the Upper West Side of Manhattan. We went to the American Museum of Natural History – or also well-known as the museum of Night at the Museum movie. It is located just across the huge and famous Central Park.
Grand Central Terminal
Finished exploring the museum, we went back to the Times Square area and visited the Grand Central Terminal. It was quite back-and-forth indeed. Therefore, we suggest you to visit the American Museum of Natural History along when you plan to visit Central Park, because it’s located very close by to each other. The Grand Central Terminal is amazing! Many of you might be familiar with this place if you watch the Sex and the City series. I was amazed to see the great architecture of the building and the atmosphere of the surroundings of this place.
Empire State Building
We had been walking for almost 12 hours, but we haven’t given up yet. Lol. Our next destination for the day was the Empire State Building, the iconic place at New York City. It was opened at around 8pm. So, we spent our time ’till 8pm by shopping around the Times Square. Ratih and I have the same hobby, which is… make up! Therefore, we never got tired going to one make-up store to another, starting from drug-store make up at Walgreens, until Sephora.
The Empire State Building is very famous. It was super crowded and we waited in the line for about 2 hours to go up to the 86th floor where the observatory deck is located. When we finally arrived up there, the deck was already full of people. So, we need to sneak around to find the spot and be able to see New York City’s view at night. It was super awesome!
That sums up our Day 2 in New York! A pretty productive day for such a short time, huh? :p
The 3rd day was a bit more laid back. We woke up a bit late and went straight to Central Park which is located not that far from our hotel in Upper West Side. Central Park has a super huge area, we didn’t even know where to start. However, we really enjoyed the ambiance there. People strolling around with their furry friends, some were riding bikes, some were doing sports, and some other like us were just enjoying taking pictures and… ice cream!
Three days at New York, I think this is the most decent meal we had! We intentionally researched and followed the GPS to try the infamous burgers in New York, Shake Shack. Luckily, there is one which is located near the Central Park. We tried the burgers and of course, milk shake. I personally didn’t really like burgers, but this one is indeed different. It has light taste and very simple, yet delicious. Worth to try if you are in New York!
Bryant Park & New York Public Library
Done exploring Central Park, we were back to Times Square. Yeah, it was like the center of everything. We visited Times Square like… every day! Lol. This time, Ratih and I went separately because it is our last day here, and both of us had different things that we want to do. Ratih went to shop gifts for her nieces, while I was just strolling around the area by myself. Trying out some good coffees, and reading book at the New York Public Library. It was super nice!
What is New York without Broadway? Either you like it or not, and either you’re the kind of musical person or not, you might want to experience the real broadway show when you are at New York. It was on our must-do list there. Ratih and I met again at around 5pm to buy the broadway ticket. Initially, we wanted to watch The Lion King show, but it was sold out already. Our recommendation for you is… to buy the ticket online with regular price. It’s true that you might get a cheaper ticket if you buy directly in the ticket box. However, chances are all the tickets of the popular shows are already sold out when you were there. The location of one cinemas to another is also quite far. So, it will take a long time to go around and find the available show. We finally found one which offers us a pretty good seats location with a decent price (not too expensive) for about $81. The normal price in the website is around $125. So, although it was not the show that we really wanted, but we still watched it anyway. And turns out, the show was amazing (despite of my sleepy-head since I’m not a musical person) and the experience was great.
That was our amazing experiences at New York. We had lack of sleep, long hours walk, simple meals, but we are super satisfied! We both love the city so much and didn’t ever want to leave there. New York has its own charm, and yes, everyone indeed deserves New York at some point of their lives!
PS: All of the photos are personal archive, taken by Ratih’s Sony Alpha 5100.