After a 40-minute flight and a night of sleeping on Boston soil we arrived at La Guardia airport. Relieved that we were able to finally get into the city, with only four days to get the “Big Apple” done before Jack and Gabe left us – we got busy quick smart.
First stop…organising transport! We’d read about the different ways of getting around NYC and the subway seemed like the easiest. We got a 4-trip ticket for $10 and used it to head into the Bronx for our first night time adventure in NYC.
Baseball: We knew we wanted to see the Yankees play while in New York and got our tickets online through stubhub.com (thanks @stuartcox26). Along with seeing the actual baseball game, there were also a couple of other things we needed to check off the bucket list- such as devouring baseball hot dogs and nacho hats. We managed to do the hot dogs, but Homer lied about the nacho hat – there is no such thing! The game itself was probably one of the more exciting games we could have seen, four home runs (one of which Gabe captured on camera) and lots of rain to keep us on guard. Not ideal when you’re sitting in an open roof stadium, but we stayed strong and rugged up in our NY Yankee beanies and sweaters. So, what can you say about baseball? It’s probably ideal for summer, lots of catchy sing-a-longs to “Take me out to a ball game”, but its relatively slow paced. Dare I compare it to cricket – with the exception of the players being a little tubbier, or fluffier. I’m glad I got to see it once, but would probably leave it off the list for next time. Final score – Yankees came back from behind to win by a run! Go Yankees!
The Sights: The next day we headed out to see the sights. With so much to do we started at the No #1 attraction listed by Trip Advisor – Top of the Rock. It’s an observatory from the top of Rockefeller Centre. The views are amazing and on a windy day one might say breathtaking! The line was a hassle to get tickets, a good 30 minute wait so you might want to get them online. But once you go up 86 floors (in a lift) you can see Central Park, the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State and Chrysler buildings – makes for a pretty awesome snap of the city.
The Statue of Liberty was next on the list. We took the train to the Staten Island Ferry dock, where we were told by a security guard (and his very cute labrador) that the last ferry out to Ellis Island was at 3pm. Being that it was 3:30pm, we thought about taking the Staten Island Ferry which floats passed the side Statue of Liberty, but doesn’t stop on the island. We didn’t do either – you can still see the Statue from Manhattan so we got some photos from here. See if you think they’re any good?
From Google maps it looked like Wall Street, more importantly the Wall Street Bull was only two blocks away. This was one of the rare times Google maps let us down. It ended up being a waterbag trip and a whole 40 minutes later we arrived at a cross roads with the bull in the middle of the road. Strange location, but again a “must see” when in NYC. Try mounting the bull for a different kind of picture. It’s quite hard to stand out and get the bull to yourself with 50 people surrounding it, but Gus and I managed. While if you look closely Jack and Gabe stole the show from the poor guy on the left hand side of the Bull.
Ground Zero was a bit of a let down. There’s nothing there. Not even a monument or names of those who perished …NOTHING. There was a sign that said the swimming pool was now visible, but from where? And why is there swimming pool there? Bizarre! We did have an awesome calzone on the way to Ground Zero.
Anywho, we moved onto SOHO (which stands for South of Houston Street). Very impressed! SOHO is full of delightful coffee shops, cup cakes, boutiques and lots of art galleries. Perfect for a stroll, some coffee or shopping. We did all three – Jack and Gabe went shopping and we had a coffee. We then went for a stroll in to the East Village and found Gus’s Graceland – The Little Lebowski Shop. I have never seen Gus so excited about shopping! We managed to get some T-Shirts and a sticker that read “The Dude Abides” (which has since been lost :().
Massive day! But it wasn’t over yet – we’d worked up an appetite so we headed off to Times Square for some dinner. On Will Ferrell’s recommendation we went to the Olive Garden, which was lovely! Times Square is like nothing you’ve ever experienced before, hundreds, maybe thousands of people, massive LCD screens and lots of lights! Bright lights everywhere! While cruising down Times Square we were approached by a man yelling “You guys are miserable! You miserable bunch of humans….Do you want to see a comedy show…Do you want to see comedy!?”. We were excited, because he was so loud and had awesome neck rolls…so we said “Yeah!” and he took us to a basement. The place was called “HA!” comedy lounge and that night we saw 5 incredibly funny comedians! Like crying from laughter funny and probably the best stand up’s I have ever seen. The tickets to get into the lounge were $10, but we had to spend $20 each on drinks. They don’t tell you that before you walk in…but it’s a small price to pay for some laughs. We were on such a high from this show that we signed up the next night for another show at the Comedy Factory in the East Village. WARNING: Don’t go see this show! The comedians were NOT FUNNY…not even a bit! The highlight of the night came from Jack as he continued to heckle the host – “Why do the Australians hate me so much?”. We heard re-hashed material from the night before and were majorly disappointed, so try and avoid the Comedy Factory if you can!
Broadway Show: It’s hard to find a Broadway show that doesn’t break into song every five seconds. Things like pouring a glass of water or picking up a newspaper can generate the longest 10-minute tune that will have you ripping your hair out of your scalp by the third minute! Luckily, we found a show, called Rain – A Tribute to the Beatle on Broadway . The stage and props that they used were replicated to look exactly like the real performances on the Ed Sullivan and Yankee Stadium. The guys looked scarily similar to the Beatles and there was audience participation. It’s a great show, you’ll know the songs and you can hand sway into your neighbours face if you get restless…good times!
Somewhere in this mess we found our way to the diner they used in the Seinfeld show. It’s called Tom’s restaurant and is on on 112th and Broadway. The diner is covered in Seinfeld memorabilia from Seinfeld jackets to the Kramer painting. Pretty cool – we had some lunch here and the obvious happy snap here too! How could you not “George is in the building!!!”
Central Park: We decided to do a horse and carriage ride around central park. $50 US will buy you 20 minutes for a very short stroll around, but showed us the main attractions like the ice skating rink and the building used in the Ghostbusters film. Not much to see on this stretch, so if you can hire a bike or are a bit of a rollerblader then do it this way. You’ll see more of the park for less money!
On our second last night, Jack and Gabe went to an ice hockey game at Madison Square Garden and met us for dinner for our last supper. We went to a Korean BBQ place that served up delicious prawns, chicken, beef. It was an awesome way to finish up the five weeks travelling together.
New Jersey: The next day we wandered off to New Jersey. We had heard of the phenomenon called Cake Boss from Luis and Marianna who love this reality show of Buddy and his cake making skills. They said, “You have to go to Jersey and go to the cake shop”. New Jersey is pretty, much quieter than its neighbour – surrounded by cherry blossoms it looked very inviting. Very different to what the Sopranos would have you think.
The line to get into the shop crossed three blocks and we could see about 400 people in the line. The shop itself had about 20 people serving behind the counter, a security guard at the door and NO Buddy in sight. We gave up trying to line up after the lady who was only about 50 people away from the door said she’d been lining up for three hours. We went across the road to try and get some more pictures, when we saw these 10-year-old girls jumping on this little old lady and asking for photos. Gus jumped at the opportunity and said “She must be famous, let’s get a shot!”. So we asked the girls to take a photo of us with the little old lady. We then asked them …”Who was that lady!?” and they said “Oh that’s Buddy’s mom!” … so there you go…we finally got our celebrity shot!
New York is a vibrant city like no other! So much culture, with people from all walks of life. There is so much to do, you will never run out of shows to see, places to eat or visit. We will definitely come back for a visit!