What do Gossip Girl, Ghostbusters, and Goodfellas all have in common?
They were all set in New York City, along with other favourites, Friends, Crocodile Dundee, Law & Order, Scent of a Woman, Seinfeld, As Good as it Gets, Sex and the City, Cruel Intentions, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Boiler Room, The Apprentice, and many more.
This gives anyone travelling to New York for the first time, an advantage. You know what it’s going to be like, you’ve heard about Broadway and the lights of Times Square, you know that the taxis are yellow… yes, even the smallest things count when you’re going to a new place.
We arrived in New York Penn Train Station at 10.30pm, to be greeted with our first and last scam.
Taxi? Taxi! You need a taxi?
As soon as we walked out of the train station, a big African American guy, posing as a taxi driver, asked if we wanted a taxi. Of course we did. So he took our bags and told us to follow him to his taxi. Of course it wasn’t his taxi, and in a momentary lapse of judgement, we paid him up front, and, well, the rest (including our $12) is history. C’est la vie, hey?
I decided not to read up too much on New York, as I thought I had a pretty good grasp from all the movies and television shows. Plus we were able to get a New York CityPASS each to see the main attractions.
New York CityPASS
If you’re a traveller who enjoys museums and seeing a city from it’s best vantage points, this is the pass for you. For $79 you get VIP entry into these attractions:
- Empire State Building ($29 value)
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art ($20 value)
- American Museum of Natural History ($24 value)
- MoMA – The Museum of Modern Art ($20 value)
- You choose either Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island ($13 value) OR Circle Line Cruise ($32 value)
- You choose either Guggenheim Museum ($18 value) OR Top of the Rock ($22 value)
These things are, no doubt, the most popular attractions for first-time New York City visitors. But you really have to be committed to doing at least 4 of these things for the CityPASS to be worth it. And they all do take time, so we recommend it if you have at least 3 days to explore the city.
Bodies; The Exhibition
The Bodies Exhibit is a great addition to your itinerary, and just across the road from the Circle Line Cruise. It’s not your normal run-of-the-mill museum with historic masterpieces though. You’ve been warned. Very educational but graphic, yet still suitable for kids with an interest in science.
Scott’s Pizza Tours
Discover the secrets of real New York City pizza by foot or by bus, it’s the cheesiest tour ever with Scott’s Pizza Tours. Todd is an abysmal pizza lover, so I surprised him on Valentine’s Day (also his birthday) with this unconventional tour to remember. We spent a few hours walking around New York, in particular Little Italy where we tasted some fresh mozzarella and three very different pizza parlours. We sure got our pizza fix that day, and so did our tour guide with a present from one of the pizza restaurants.
The Ginger Man
The Ginger Man is a great pub to relax and enjoy some specialty brew, right in the middle of the city. After a long, long day shopping and walking the chilly streets of New York, we sat down to one of the best cheese platters and an arrangement of beers ever. I’m not a big beer fan, so the sweet St Louis Framboise came as a nice surprise while Todd and Norbert polished off the 8 different samplers. And talk about variety, they have a new beer menu every day!
A walk though Central Park and a stroll on Wall Street are also pleasant, but the one thing that we didn’t end up seeing was a Broadway show. This is a must for anyone who enjoys theatre or music, and a good excuse for us to return at a later date. Obviously, these are just the main things, frequent visitors and residents of New York will probably hate on me with ‘What about Brooklyn?’ comments, but it was my first time and in winter. I’ll return for Jersey Boys when it’s a tad warmer thanks.
You hear so much about the big three cities: New York, London and Paris. Our recent visit to New York ticks off all three for me, but I haven’t done London properly. I’ve visited when young, then again on business, but not so much as a proper traveller. So, maybe London is next, and this time, we’ll be a little more ‘aware’ when getting a taxi to one of the many Heathrow Hotels (see some over at HolidayExtras.co.uk).