I went to NYC for the first time, for 9 nights these last few weeks. I went alone, armed with some research and a city/subway map. I stayed at The New Yorker on 8th Ave, 34th st. Cost me £1300 for flight and hotel on Expedia. It is a very good hotel. I dined at local diners.. nothing snazzy.
Overall, I had a great time. The weather was too hot at times though.. 90-110 degrees isn't my normal tolerance level of heat ;) At least the humidity wasn't 100%. I can't believe you guys can tolerate the heat and humidity when it REALLY kicks in for the summer months. I couldn't cope with it after 3 days!
So anyway, I visited a few attractions, using my New York Pass, which I purchased online for a discount. I recommend this pass for 7 day+ stays, if you plan on visiting a lot of the attractions. Otherwise, I'd give it a miss, as you'd just be rushing around to get value from it during shorter stays. Longer stays allow you the luxury of visiting a few attractions a day at leisure with a 7 day pass ($155 online, with discount).
My days went something like this (NYP indicates usage of The New York Pass).
1) Guggenheim Museum (NYP), Metropolitan Museum of Art (NYP) & American Museum of Natural History (NYP). Sunbathing in Central Park.
Spent the day leisurely exploring these places, and the Upper East Side area.
2) Grand Central Terminal. Empire State Building (NYP). Skyride (NYP). King Tut Exhibition (NYP). Times Square.
More exploring. Plenty of photo's and video recorded from atop the ESB. Go from 8:00am to avoid queues. Have got to laugh at the "New York Skyride" inside the ESB though. $36 for this?!? I went in free on my pass and still felt shortchanged. People.. please do NOT go on the Skyride. Please. I beg you. It was insultingly inept. I wept for the poor people paying for a family of five.. $150+ for what amounts to a sub standard amusement park ride.
3) Top of the Rock (NYP). USS Intrepid Museum (NYP). Broadway Show: Wicked ($61.70 @ Ticketmaster).
I felt "The Rock" was more laid back and spacious than the ESB. It's closer to Central Park, so better video and photo's of that region as well. The USS Intrepid comes HIGHLY recommended for military/history buffs. Large collection of planes and helicopters as well as the actual Aircraft Carrier, Submarine and Concorde itself (which you can go on and walk down the aisles between the perspex covered seats). Wicked was really good fun. Katie Rose Clarke (as Glinda) totally stole the show. Her comedy performance was top notch. Great singing as well of course! I was sat in the rear Mezzanine.
4) South Street Sea Port. Bodies: The Exhibition (NYP). Financial District. WTC.
The Sea Port was very lively, with lots of shops open. I was surprised.. I thought it would be a tacky place. However, there were lot's of shops and food emporium's open on three floors. Excellent outdoor area as well. Bodies: The Exhibition was good fun as well. I almost threw up, but what the hey! Somebody had stolen one of the exhibit's testicles.. I like a joke, but I almost wept at that disgraceful "prank". Some people can't show any respect! A stroll through Wall St & the WTC area was leisurely and respectful.
5) Liberty helicopter ride ($150 online, plus $30 fee on the day). Yankees game ($40.50 @ Ticketmaster). Walk over the Brooklyn Bridge.
My online booking said go to the 30th Street Heliport.. the rep there laughed at me and sent me to the only location they fly from now i.e. Pier 6 by the Staten Island Ferry complex. I got a 13 minute ride, and some great video footage. I really enjoyed it, and it went very smoothly overall.
The Yankees game was really good. I had/still have no idea exactly what's going on, but the overall experience was astounding. You guys really know how to put on a spectactle. I went on the Friday, versus the Toronto Blue Jays. I was sat in section 424. The Yankees got beat, but it was still a great 3+ hours experience! My tourist trip into The Bronx after the game didn't last long though. I lasted 10 minutes before heading back to the subway. A gang of youths were following me shouting things, and a load of guys sitting in the local little park all stood up and glared at me from across the road. Was it because I was a nosey tourist with a camera? I felt it was time to leave the area anyway ;)
I got the subway to the first stop in Brooklyn and walked back to the DUMBO area. The park underneath the Manhattan bridge was a shambles (Empire Fulton Ferry Park?). And what a noise from the trains above! How anyone can tolerate that noise all day is beyond me. But the park to the left of the Brooklyn Bridge was a lot better (Brooklyn Bridge Park?). I had to laugh at the queue outside Grimaldi's. Everyone had a serious face on them.. what's so good about queueing up for an hour just to get a slice of pizza? It may be nice, but so is most pizza. Some people were sitting at the tables outside, having clearly finished eating hours ago, and were sitting there looking at everyone as if to say "Yes, we queued for hours for a piece of pizza, aren't we so cool?" ;) The walk across the bridge was great.. a shame the sun sets behind Manhattan though, as my camera wasn't up to the job with the sun facing me.
6) Lower East Side walkabout. "Bike and Roll" 4 hour rental (NYP) (at Battery Park).
I basically checked the Little Italy and Chinatown area out. I love the old tenements.. the ironwork on the front, the history etc.. Some tenements even had the main door open and I was tempted to sneak inside for a peek. That's a little intrusive, so I just had a quick peek as I walked by. I took a lot of photo's of this old area. The half day bike rental was great. I slowly worked my way up the western Greenway up to about 100th street or so, before heading back to Battery Park.
7) Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island (NYP). 4th July fireworks.
The SoL and Ellis Island were fantastic. Get there VERY early.. as the queues build up easily. I waited maybe 20 minutes to get through to the ferry. I really recommend getting off at the SoL, and not give it a miss like some people say. The ferry is every 10/20 minutes to Ellis Island, so you don't have to stay long if you can't. Ellis Island was a great museum. The way it's been restored is amazing. There is loads to see there and took a few hours to really get around it all properly.
The 4th July fireworks in the night were very good. I made my way down 39th street from 8th Ave about 8:50pm, expecting to go down the side of the convention center on 11th Ave and get to the front. Oh no.. the police herded us south on 11th Ave until about 50,000 of us were crammed behind the convention center and on the corner of 34th st. We were penned in like cattle.. although they widened the barriers to allow us more room. I had a good view of 3 out of 4 sets of fireworks in front of us. The convention center partially blocked the furthest right fireworks. Was this the whole show i.e. just these 4 sets of identical fireworks? It was really good and I caught it all on video. When it was over, there must have been a few million people in the streets surrounding us, as we all made our way back up to midtown. What a sight. So hot as well.. some people had inevitably fainted in the heat/crush.
8) Full day "Bike and Roll" rental ($43 all day). Lady Gaga concert ($67.90 @ Ticketmaster).
Rode up west Manhattan on the Greenway path, to about 125th st, then rode back down to 77th st and across to Central Park. I was out for 5+hours. Cycling with the traffic was fun.. I hadn't ridden a bike in 20 years before this trip! The stop/start nature of NYC traffic helps though, as there's no way for cars to build up a head of steam and knock you off by going too fast. The Lady Gaga concert was good fun. Going to Madison Square Garden was great.. it was only across the road from my hotel. I was sat to the rear of the stage, in section 316. She was pretty emotional at the start, but overall it was a good show.
9) Soprano's Location Tour.
Led by Marc Baron (part time actor, played various extras roles in The Soprano's and other programs). Met the guy who played "Vito Spatafore" before it started. Our guide told us to go down the street a little and meet an actor from the show who was in his car. I thought it would be a little known extra or somesuch. Oh my.. it was poor old Vito himself! He had showed up to flog Soprano's merchandise from the back of his SUV on 39th St on 7th Ave. For $20 you could buy an item (a book, novelty car plate, picture etc..) and get a picture taken with him, with your own camera. I got him to sign a picture of the cast for me, and got a photo as well. He wasn't very friendly and kept looking around, maybe so others not on the tour wouldn't recognise him and come over for free pictures?
Anyway, I really recommend this tour for any passing Soprano's fan. We got taken all over New Jersey to various filming locations. Lot's of good photo opportunities. We went to Holsten's (where the final scene was shot) and got to sit in Tony's seat :) Also, we went to the Bada Bing (actually called Satin Dolls). We were allocated 25 minutes there by the management. No photo's! We all bought drinks and ogled the few dancers. I thought it would be good (for research of course) to partake of a dancer's service in the private booth ;) Unbeknownst to me though, the law states that if a place is selling alcohol, then the girls can't strip naked. Bah! Oh well. It was good anyway and is a highlight for those wanting to go on the tour.
Overall, the tour could have been tacky, but it was really good fun.
So, my 10 days/9 nights came and went. I really enjoyed New York City. I felt I sampled a lot of what the place has to offer (as a solo, non drinking - apart from Satin Dolls - traveller) and really recommend the city to anyone. It's very hectic though.. so as the old saying goes... "New York.. a great place to visit.. but I wouldn't want to live there" ! :)