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Trip report December 22 - December 29 2012

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Trip report December 22 - December 29 2012

First, let me start by thanking all the regulars here for all the help I’ve got on all questions I’ve had - and all questions you’ve answered to others as well. I’ve been picking up lots of great advice on these boards.

I haven’t had a rigid, timed, detailed itinerary for this trip. What I have done in advance though is some rough plotting and planning of areas I wanted to visit a bit more. As you can see, I like walking. I like exploring various areas, stop for coffee here and there and have some nice meals. That’s a perfect trip for me and this one to NYC surely fulfilled those desires. If you think that my evenings seem ‘blank’ it might be because I’m a morning bird. Pretty much always up early so I’ve hit the streets as the city’s coming to life (not that it really ever sleeps which all of you know already ;) ) in the mornings. By late evening, I’ve been too tired to do much at all. But I’ve had a perfect trip. NYC is a lovely city to visit on your own, which I did this time around.

Saturday 22 December

Arrived at Newark airport approx 1.30 pm. Immigration was a breeze, it took me less than ten minutes to go through immigration.

Took NJ Transit to NYC Penn Station and grabbed a cab there to get to my hotel, The Cosmopolitan in Tribeca. Much cheaper than taking a cab from Newark. It could’ve been even cheaper if I had taken the subway or a bus but I felt that I was too tired to deal with my big piece of luggage in the public transport system. The hotel is exactly as described. Small rooms but that doesn’t matter - my room is very neat and clean with a comfy bed. All I need! And the location is terrific, lovely neighborhood with superb connections with several subway lines close to the hotel.

Called and confirmed with the Big Apple Greeter I had been assigned (yay! And thanks for the tip - I heard about Big Apple Greeters here on TA!) for the following day.

Headed out, bought a metrocard and since I was in the mood for some Italian food, I went to Grano Trattoria on Greenwich Avenue at W 10th Street - a recommendation I know I’ve also found on these forums. Too bad I haven’t kept tab on who’s been mentioning what on here so I can say proper thanks individually for all the great tips I’ve picked up here. Anyhow, nice place with lovely food - this is the kind of Italian restaurant that appeals to me. And being on my own in town is a good thing, it meant I got to talk to a very nice lady from the area who were there on her own too. Nice.

Sunday 23 December

Breakfast at Gee Whiz diner. Perfect start to the day.

Met with my Big Apple Greeter who took me to Brooklyn Heights and Dumbo. Lovely areas, Brooklyn Heights in particular was truly enjoyable. Loved the fruit streets and the promenade. And the greeter was such a nice, warm and lovely person. A very good day indeed!

Since the weather became sunny and nice, I decided to hit High Line in the afternoon and I had a nice walk there. Afterwards, it was time for a very late lunch at the Chelsea Square Restaurant.

After having returned to the hotel to freshen up and rest for a bit, it was time to beat the crowds at Rockefeller Center to have a look at the Christmas tree. Then I spent some time with the other tourists, walking around the streets in midtown for some time.

Finished the evening by hanging out in one of my favourite areas in Manhattan - Union Square.

After a heavy breakfast and a heavy lunch, I actually was too tired and too full so I never went for ‘proper’ dinner anywhere but ended up having a snack in the hotel room before going to bed.

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1. Re: Trip report December 22 - December 29 2012

Monday 24 December

Monday is a good example of how things didn’t go as planned but turned out awesome anyhow. Which is why I love traveling the way I do - that is without a set, timed itinerary but more focus on ‘let’s make a wish list of things that would be nice to do if I feel like it’. Got up early today as well, and the place I originally had planned for breakfast wasn’t open - should’ve researched more I guess ;) - so instead of starting the day with activities in Lower Manhattan, I ended up taking the subway uptown for breakfast at the Skylight Diner (great brekkie btw) and then doing a few things in Midtown that I originally had planned for the afternoon instead. However, I think this turn of events made the day better than it would’ve been otherwise. I managed to get a few things done in Midtown that I had planned to do and since it was early the crowds weren’t actually crowds which they probably would’ve been later on. Ended up returning to Top of the Rock (loved the view on my previous visit) and there were no lines at all. Lovely!

Headed south to Battery Park to catch a Harbor Cruise. My original plan was to visit Liberty Island and Ellis Island, but as you all know that can’t be done at the moment because of Hurricane Sandy so I used the ticket for the Cruise instead. Nice. I usually like these kinds of boat trips, and this was no exception.

Afterwards, I had a snack from the cafe at the Museum of Jewish Heritage for lunch, before visiting the museum exhibitions. Very, very moving experience. Well worth a visit, and something I’d recommend for everyone to visit sometime.

A brief stop at the hotel to drop some things off before heading to Gramercy Park to listen to the carols.

Dinner was had at Al Bustan (on 53 Street between 1 and 2 Aveneus).

Tuesday 25 December

Breakfast: Astro Restaurant

Went to the service in St Thomas’s church. Absolutely wonderful.

Walked around in Central Park before heading downtown on 5th Avenue to have a look at the Christmas displays. After having walked down to the Flatiron building area with a few stops and detours here and there, I realised I was starving and instead of having Chinese food for dinner which was my original plan I decided I needed it for lunch instead and grabbed the subway to Chinatown for a meal. Can’t recall the name of the restaurant I ended up in but I did get some nice food anyhow.

After lunch, I ended up doing some more walking around, taking in a few more sights - you know the sort of ‘aimless walking with no particular place to go’ kind of thing that is so nice to do in NY. You end up seeing things for the first time.

I had planned to go to the movies in the evening, but was too tired to bother so I made it an early night. But before bed, since I was a bit hungry, had no dinner reservations and had no clear idea of what I really wanted to have I ended up taking the subway uptown to hit 9th Avenue since so many people here recommends restaurants there. Since I had no reservations and hadn’t made any research, I had no idea what places would be open and which would be closed. Anyhow, I found Balkanika and decided to try their food. Yummy.

Wednesday December 26

Breakfast: Pastis

Had a great time exploring West Village - Greenwhich Village. What a lovely area! Simply walking around, going down a different street here and there was such a treat. Ended up doing some shopping - found a nice record store where I found a few items I had been looking for, for example. Found a lovely spot that I can’t recall the name of to have a great latte and some ice cream too. This is definitely an area I’ll return to.

Since I had planned on doing some shopping in the Union Square area, I decided I’d head there for a meal before doing so. Which I did. Ended up at Friend of a Farmers before heading to Barnes & Noble to do some serious book shopping. Spent several hours in the area - I remember liking the surrounding streets a lot from my last visit in NYC and hit a few other stores as well.

Went back to the hotel to drop the bags and rest my feet for awhile, before going out to find some snacks to bring back to the room for the evening - too tired to do much else and not hungry enough to head out for a heavier meal.

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2. Re: Trip report December 22 - December 29 2012

Thursday December 27

Breakfast: Purity Diner

Explored Park Slope in the morning. What a lovely area! All of you here who have been talking so nicely about it, I fully understand why. Nice, residential area. I’ll be returning to explore more on a next visit.

On the way back to Manhattan, I decided to stop at Brooklyn Heights again - got such a nice impression from the visit with the Big Apple Greeter and I felt I wanted to revisit the area which was a nice move despite the slightly dull weather. This is also an area I’ll be returning to on a next visit. Decided to walk the Brooklyn Bridge back to Manhattan - on my first visit walking the bridge was one of the highlights of the trip and something I felt like doing again.

After returning to Manhattan, I felt I needed to return to the Village to explore that area some more. One of the wonderful things about New York, is how quickly the city changes if you just walk a few blocks. That’s something I love about the city. Had a meal at Monte’s - a very good, solid Italian restaurant.

Kept walking - along with using the subway, walking is something I’ve done a lot on this trip - and ended up in the East Village and hung out in that area for a bit.

After that, I didn’t have any set plans but decided that I would find a subway, take the first subway that would appear in whichever direction it went and let it take me somehwere / wherever ;) It turned out to be an uptown 6 train, so I headed north and decided I’d visit Upper East Side which is an area I hadn’t visited at all before - apart from seeing some of the houses from Central Park on my earlier visit in the Park. Walked around Madison, Park and Lexington for a bit and it was quite a different feel from the Village.

Grabbed some texmex kind of food from a place near the hotel for dinner.

Friday 28 December

Breakfast: Gene’s Coffee Shop

Started the day with taking the tram to Roosevelt Island, to get the great views of Manhattan. Strolled around the Island for a bit, before returning to Manhattan (also by tram).

Walked around on the east side of Manhattan for a bit - I guess that would count for Midtown east or perhaps there’s a different neighborhood name that I’ve missed? - before going to the UN headquarters for a guided tour. Interesting, especially since I have an emotionaly connection to the UN - my father was a UN peace keeper for a period in the 1960s. I know he has friends from that period who didn’t make it, even though he did.

Afterwards, I headed to revisit Grand Central Terminal since it’s such a lovely building. Nice architecture indeed! Decided that I felt like paying a visit to Williamsburg, which I did. Strolled around in Williamsburg for awhile. When I was in the mood for a few drinks, I decided to return to Manhattan to find a Mexican restuarant in the East Village that a friend of mine and me visited on my first visit to NYC. Mostly because I remembered that they had some yummy Frozen Margaritas, which was still the case now. Had something to eat there as well. Can’t remember the name though, except that it is a Mexican place. After the meal, what did I do? Well, in line of what I’ve been doing a lot on this trip - walk around and explore some more of course. I believe - without looking at a map to be exactly sure - that I’ve mostly stayed in East Village, made into Lower East side and did some more walking and hanging out.

Headed back to the hotel to rest and freshen up before heading uptown for a short visit to the Upper West Side simply because I liked the neighborhood on my last visit and since I hadn’t visited it at all this time around

Saturday December 29

Day of departure. Before leaving, I had reserved a pass for the 9/11 memorial to pay my respects to the victims of the attacks. Very moving experience.

Now? Hanging out at Newark while waiting for my flight back home. I really hope I’ll be able to save some money to return sometime soon.

As you may have noticed already, the main purposes of this trip has been to walk around, discover more of some NYC neighborhoods, soak in the atmosphere, people watch and eat well. All of which I’ve feel I’ve accomplished! I’m SO pleased with this visit - I have surely had a lovely time. And I do feel like returning whenever I can to explore some more. Of course, I’ve missed out a lot on this trip. No musicals, no movies, no extreme late nights... On the other hand, I’ve been getting exactly what *I* wanted and since I’ve been traveling alone I’ve been able to spend as much or as little time wherever I have felt like it at any given time. Of course there are still so many things I’ve yet to see in NYC. This is after all only my second visit here. And so many areas where I’ve just briefly scratched the surface and got a first impression of where I would love to spend more time and see more of. Being here on my own has also meant that I’ve been engaging in so many nice conversations with both tourists and locals - probabaly more so than I would have done if I would have had my friends with me. Also, since I’ve been - typical for me and probabaly even more so because of the jetlag - on an ‘getting up early - get out of the hotel room early etc’ mood - found it so easy to find great places to eat (yes I like to eat a lot. And well - no wonder I’m slightly overweight ha ha) that haven’t been crowded. Seems like I’ve mostly been on a schedule that hasn’t clashed a lot with others. It means I’ve been able to linger a bit while eating, never had a problem getting a table anywhere either. Thank you New York for the lovely time I’ve had - there are so many reasons this has to be the best city in the world to visit for a solo female traveler. Hope to be able to return sometime soon.

Atlanta, Georgia
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3. Re: Trip report December 22 - December 29 2012

So enjoyed reading your trip report. It makes me want to try it solo!!

jamesville ny
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4. Re: Trip report December 22 - December 29 2012

Really enjoyed reading your TR, you covered a lot of territory. I like B'klyn Heights too, too bad it is so expensive to rent there.

Melbourne, Australia
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5. Re: Trip report December 22 - December 29 2012

Thanks for your TR...will put the Museum of Jewish Heritage on my list...

I agree it's good to not be too overplanned...

Sydney, Australia
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6. Re: Trip report December 22 - December 29 2012

Thanks for the nice report.

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7. Re: Trip report December 22 - December 29 2012

Great report, sounds like you had a blast! And agree with the food...Sooo good in NYC!

Toronto, Canada
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8. Re: Trip report December 22 - December 29 2012

Thanks for the trip report.............it sounds like a beautifully researched plan, and doing it solo sounds really good.....

Perth, Australia
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9. Re: Trip report December 22 - December 29 2012

I really enjoyed your report. Hope I can manage to cover as much ground as you did when I get there.

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10. Re: Trip report December 22 - December 29 2012

What a fantastic trip, I am also not a planner and that sounds like the way to be in a city with so much to offer.