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A Sort of Trip Report with Observations

Boston
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A Sort of Trip Report with Observations

Just returned from another visit to NYC, this time accompanied by a couple relatives on their first visit to NYC. It's great to be with someone when they see NYC for the first time. Instead of a trip report, I thought I'd list some random observations and things from this and my other visits to the city that might hopefully be of some use to a future visitor. Apologies if this gets too lengthy or boring...

-If you're going to take photos with characters on the streets, they work for tips and will make that perfectly clear to you by hounding you for a tip after you take the photo. Funniest version of this was Saturday when the 3 short, yellow minions from Despicable Me surrounded a big guy and his girlfriend for a tip after the photo. It was a great visual.

-Doing an itinerary is a good idea but don't be afraid to deviate from it when you don't have time or ticketing constraints. We wouldn't have seen the cupcake ATM in action if we hadn't decided to take the longer way on our walk to Central Park. I had never seen a cupcake ATM or knew one existed until we stumbled by it Saturday next to Sprinkles cupcake store. I need that ATM in my life. My doctor (and my belt) would disagree, however.

-If you're traveling with a child who has an insulin pump attached or anyone with an electronic medical device that isn't supposed to go through a metal detector, there are currently many metal detectors at the popular sights (Intrepid Museum, SOL before getting on the ferry, again on the island if going inside the Statue, TOTR, ESB, 9/11 Memorial to name some). We didn't have any major problems but sometimes we had to repeatedly explain to the security person that my 11-year-old nephew needed a hand search because there is a chance the metal detector could affect the electronics of the insulin pump, which costs several thousand dollars and is not something you want to take a chance of messing up. There were other security people, such as the ones going into the pedestal at SOL, who were beyond great and didn't miss a beat. They fully understood and did a professional pat-down and they were very friendly, joking around with my nephew that they were going to give him a uniform and put him to work for them for the day. That's appreciated because it put him at ease as he stood aside getting searched while everyone waiting in line was staring at him.

-If you're looking to save money where you can, stop into a Duane Reade or similar store and grab a case of bottled water after you've checked into your hotel. Store the case in your room and throw a few bottles in the backpack when you're heading out each day. We grabbed a case for about $7 our first day there, saved at least $25 or more by not buying bottles one at a time. If you have a Walgreens discount shopper card from home you can use it in Duane Reade to get sale prices.

-I kept checking the Statue Cruises website in the days before our last-minute trip and tickets became available for pedestal tickets for the SOL just 2 days before our trip. So if your date says it's sold out, keep trying back, at least for pedestal tickets. I also read in some posting that there's usually greater ticket availability from the New Jersey side so if you were able to get pedestal or crown tickets leaving from the NJ side, you could take a Liberty Landing Ferry from Manhattan to Liberty State Park in NJ, take that ferry to Ellis Island/ SOL, then return to the NYC side (you'd get the NY Ferry from SOL, which stops by Ellis Island before returning to the NY side).

-There are bathrooms and a snack bar on the ferry from Battery Park to SOL.

-When you go from Battery Park to SOL, the best views of the SOL will be from the right side of the ferry. When going from SOL to Ellis Island, the best views of the SOL are from the left side of the ferry.

-When going to the pedestal at SOL the lockers you have to put your backpack in cost $2. Go to the screen first where you pay, you get assigned a locker number after paying. Make note of your locker number.

-We went to the Empire State Building just after 8am on a Friday and the lines were very short, really almost non-existent. Even by the time we were leaving around 10am the lines were starting to get pretty long.

-If you want to use the pay-binoculars at the top of the ESB, they cost 50 cents, payable in quarters. Came across many people up there with kids who were disappointed they didn't have change. I have a very small folding pair of binoculars that I always throw in the backpack when I travel, they come in handy in many places.

-We had a bunch of Starbucks gift cards at home that were just sitting around, we brought them with us and made good use of them, stopping for a drink there each day. I assume overseas gift cards would not work, but if you are in US it's a good time to use up those type of cards, Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, etc.

-It comes up repeatedly on forums when Amtrak questions come up, but if you're traveling out of Penn Station on Amtrak and have more than one person, it is absolutely worth it to use a red cap. It gets you onto the train before the general boarding call, letting you have a better chance of getting seats together. Tip as you please, usually $2 or $3 per bag seems to be the consensus. To find them, go into the Amtrak waiting area and they have a big desk, just tell them where you're going and they'll direct you from there.

-The Roosevelt Island Tram, even if it's crowded, gives a unique view as you soar above the East River. Roosevelt Island is also a nice, quiet place to walk around. The tram is part of the MTA so if you have the 7-day unlimited pass it's included in that.

-The radio-controlled sailboats in Conservatory Water in Central Park were very entertaining to watch. The place to rent the radio-controlled sailboats wasn't yet opened and there was already a waiting list according to the worker but it will be on our list for next visit. There were adults racing their personal boats and it looked like a lot of fun, would be a good spot for kids to visit.

-When you see a giant sign saying “4 T-shirts for $10” or something like that, it's usually a few lame-looking shirts on a bottom shelf.

-If people on the street are handing you a “free” CD, they want the CD back if you don't give them money.

-Walk around Manhattan on a weekend morning, it's interesting to see the stark contrast from what it's like on a weekday.

-It's a good idea during your stay to occasionally check the MTA website for subway/bus station closures or re-routing since it could affect how you get around. Only times it's been an issue for me have been on the weekend, even then any changes have been well-signed in the stations.

-And my favorite thing to do each visit is to slow down, grab a coffee or a bite to eat, and sit outside somewhere watching the city and its many occupants go about their business. You'll see everything there.

Tampico, Mexico
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11. Re: A Sort of Trip Report with Observations

Great tips, thank you!

Edinburgh
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12. Re: A Sort of Trip Report with Observations

This is great - I am going to NYC in August for the first time and to know that people are more clued up on Insulin Pumps in the USA is very reassuring. Getting more excited by the day!

Quebec
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13. Re: A Sort of Trip Report with Observations

Great tips indeed, will be tracking down that cupcake ATM.

The only tip I do not agree with is the case of water. Save the planet and either take a reusable bottle, or buy one bottle and refill. Tap water in NYC is very drinkable.

Toronto, Canada
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14. Re: A Sort of Trip Report with Observations

Thanks for posting these great tips!

Bristol, TN
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15. Re: A Sort of Trip Report with Observations

mccTripper- May I ask how you were lucky enough to get your Tonight Show tickets? We are going to NY first week in July and I would love to get tickets but the websites seems to be sold out the very second they appear each day.

Bristol, TN
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16. Re: A Sort of Trip Report with Observations

mccTripper- May I ask how you were lucky enough to get your Tonight Show tickets? We are going to NY first week in July and I would love to get tickets but the websites seems to be sold out the very second they appear each day.

Boston
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17. Re: A Sort of Trip Report with Observations

I'm on lousy cell.w/ dying battery so will detail later but I follow tonight show on twitter. They sent out thing few wks ago saying may tix avlble.went right to site kept refrshing and got lucky. June tix become available in few weeks. Sorry to be brief.

Portland, Maine
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18. Re: A Sort of Trip Report with Observations

Since NYC tap water is some of the best in the world, there's really no need to regularly buy bottled water. It might make more sense to either buy a plastic bottle, or, buy one or two bottles of water. Keep them when they're empty and just refill them from the sink the next day. The water quality is likely to be higher for the tap water (not that there are any real problems with the quality of bottled water either.)

Boston
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19. Re: A Sort of Trip Report with Observations

threedragons- to follow up on your Tonight Show tix question, on April 3 I was on twitter right when the Tonight Show sent a tweet saying tix for May were being posted. I follow the Tonight Show on twitter (@FallonTonight). I don't tweet and am not mr. social media, but I signed up for twitter to find out about things just like when tix to this and other things are available, contests, etc. I followed the link and tried for tix but they were gone. Kept refreshing and nothing. After about 5 minutes of refreshing May 15 opened up, I clicked on it for one ticket (I chose one ticket because I knew none of my friends would be able to make the trip in May and that I would be going by myself), not sure what the max # tix you can get is but I'm sure it's on their website. There are more details on the Tonight Show site about tix, but that's how I got mine, there could be other ways.

Yesterday they tweeted the following in case it's of use to you or anyone: "Looking for June tickets to see the show? We'll be releasing those around the third week of May! Here's more info:" And then it links to www.nbc.com/the-tonight-show/blogs/2766

Illinois
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20. Re: A Sort of Trip Report with Observations

Some good tips!

I'll add, if your fingerprint won't work to unlock your SoL locker (my daughter's didn't), the staff can unlock it for you. They seemed pretty used to it, so maybe it happens relatively often. They ask you to describe what's in the locker though, so try to remember!