New York! New York! Is, indeed, fabulous. My 1st trip to New York City was in October of 2013. We stayed in Times Square. We saw a Broadway show. We walked through Central Park. Which, is breathtakingly beautiful with all the leaves changing colors in the Fall. It was all a tourist dream come true.
This time, around we did none of that. This time, we stayed in Tribeca. This is what a true NYC neighborhood is made up of: small bagel shops, cafes, and plenty of bars all surrounded by early 19th Century buildings and cobblestone streets. It even had people offering us knock off designer purses and watches on most street corners. Most importantly, it wasn’t flooded with first-time tourists walking around with giant maps or cameras trying to capture everything that is Times Square. We spent our days walking through SoHo, Greenwich Village, Little Italy, and East Village. I got to see and experience Manhattan for what it really is, and it isn’t all bright lights and glitz that is Times Square and the Theater District.
We did manage to get some sightseeing done. Mostly things that weren’t available for us to see and do on our last trip. For starters, in 2013, One World Trade Center, was still under construction. We were able to visit the 9/11 Memorial on the ground, but not enter the building as it was not yet completed. Fortunately, it was a crappy day out. It was cold, rainy, windy, and it snowed. We paid $34 each to go up to the 100, 101, and 102nd floors of One World Observatory. Tip: if you pay using a Mastercard, you get upgraded for FREE to VIP/Express Entry, which comes in handy when there is a long line. This is a state of the art experience. The experience starts in the elevator. I won’t ruin it by saying any more about it, but it is pretty cool. On the 101st floor, there is a restaurant and bar. It was about 11 a.m., and we were ready for a beverage. Plus, it was cold out. We weren’t in a rush to go back out anytime soon. Here we were on the 101st floor of One World Trade Center. I found myself thinking about September 11, 2001. I thought about the victims, their loved ones and how the whole world changed after that. To be in the exact location drinking my cocktail, talking, laughing, surrounded by 360-degree views of Manhattan in this structurally stunning building is humbling. It made me proud as an American. It also made me feel that it was an unsaid, “F-YOU!!!” to all terrorists around the world. We are America. They may have tried to destroy us, but they never did. They didn’t break us. We rebuilt ourselves from the ground up, literally, stronger, and will always rise from the ashes. That’s what we do as Americans. Please visit the 9/11 Memorial and take the time to pay your respects, or enjoy a cocktail or two on the 101st floor of One World Trade Center. It’s something I’ll never forget.
While, I, by fortune’s favor, had the privilege of being born in the U.S.A., many people in my family did not. In fact, millions of Americans, come from other countries. My husband’s family immigrated to the U.S. in the early 1900’s through Ellis Island.
When we last visited NYC, Ellis Island, was also closed and under construction due to damage from Hurricane Sandy in 2012. This time, I wasn’t going to miss out on this experience.
We paid $18 each to take the ferry from Battery Park to Ellis Island. It also included a stop at the Statue of Liberty. It was a nicer day for a ferry ride – no snow or rain, thankfully.
We were greeted by bagpipes and a woman dancing a traditional Scottish dance in honor of Tartan Day. Ellis Island is no longer a port of entry, since 1954. It is now a wonderful museum. It is modern and interactive. I learned things without feeling as if I was being taught something. I asked my husband, “what does it feel like knowing that your ancestors stood and came through here? Your American story starts here.” He said, “it’s hard to imagine and take it all in. To know what they went through.” It’s true. For most of our ancestors, it wasn’t an easy journey coming to this country. Whether it was by chains, on foot through the desert, refugees, or by steamboat, we reap the benefits of the courage our forebear’s had before us. Which is why Ellis Island, is my new favorite must see/do American/NY experience.
The NYC experience is unique and personal for everyone. People flock to New York City to experience something different, something new, something we’re not able to experience in any other part of the world. Whatever we may be looking for is here. This is what keeps us going back. We still have more NYC experiences to discover. I love that giant concrete jungle.
What’s your favorite NYC experience?