Where I went in New York City

I write this post in a strange situation. I’m sitting at JFK airport in New York waiting in line to rebook a flight to Iceland – I was supposed to fly out 22 hours ago but it’s likely to be at least another 8, maybe another overnight.

I find it slightly amusing to see how everyone reacts when things go astray like they have. I’ve seen tears, and as expected much disgruntled grumbling. The golden light though is that when things take a turn from the ordinary they also become memorable and a good story. You don’t listen to anyone talk about how on time their flight was do you?

But getting back to New York, this was my first visit and I stayed for 6 nights (now 7). The first two nights I couchsurfed with a local New Yorker who has been in the same Upper East side Manhattan apartment for 25 years.

He wrote me out a bit of a whirlwind tour for my first day which included visiting Wall Street, taking the free Staten Island ferry to see the Statue of Liberty, the 9/11 memorial, and walking along the endless Broadway to Times Square. All the touristy stuff.

Wall Street was really cool, the big statue of George Washington, the first US president being the centrepiece. The free ferry was also well worth the couple of hour round trip. Fantastic views of the Manhattan skyline was a bonus to the statue views.

Wall Street
Wall Street. You can see the statue of George Washington and the sharp pointed church at the end is Trinity church. Once the tallest building in New York.
There's a free way to see this icon, just take the Staten Island ferry
There’s a free way to see this icon, just take the Staten Island ferry.

The 9/11 memorial along with the Empire State Building observation deck, which I visited later, are security crazy. At the moment both sites are like a security check at an airport. At least for the memorial site it’s only temporary while the new world trade centre building is completed. I even took a photo here and the security guy came over and told me to delete it.

Both sites are quite special, so if you can deal with a crowd (and a whole lot of waiting for the ESB elevators) they are worth it. The views from the 86th floor are awesome in all directions but at sunset the crowd was bordering on ridiculous.

The south view of Manhattan from the 86th floor of the Empire State Building
The south view of Manhattan from the 86th floor of the Empire State Building

Times Square in addition to the Empire State draw the biggest crowds. Makes you feel like you’re a bug in “A Bug’s World” with the tall buildings representing the tall grass.

Times Square always super busy
Times Square is always super busy

Rounding out the “tourist hotspots” I visited is Central Park and the Brooklyn Bridge. I’d say my two favourite of the tourist attractions. Central Park is just gigantic and there’s countless paths winding in every direction. A four-lane roadway runs the perimeter and is popular with cyclists and runners.

Central Park in New York
Central Park in New York

Since I’m becoming a bit of a photographic nut the evening I spent strolling Brooklyn Bridge on sunset was the highlight of my New York sightseeing experience. The lighting was perfect and I was continually amazed every time I took another photo and it just looked like yet another gem. I couldn’t believe it.

Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn Bridge at sunset - beautiful
Brooklyn Bridge with Manhattan on the left

Some other less known but brilliant locations for me was the site of the US Open tennis championship at Flushing Meadows and taking a stroll on the Coney Island boardwalk at the very southern end of Brooklyn. I’m a big tennis fan and I play quite a bit so being at the Arthur Ashe stadium was a mini dream come true.

Arthur Ashe stadium at Flushing Meadows in New York - centre court at the US open tennis tournament.
Arthur Ashe stadium at Flushing Meadows in New York – centre court at the US open tennis tournament.
The massive 140 foot tall Unisphere at Flushing Meadows. It was built for the 1964 world fair to represent world peace.
The massive 140 foot tall Unisphere at Flushing Meadows. It was built for the 1964 world fair to represent world peace.

The Coney Island waterfront seems like it hasn’t changed since the 70’s. The Luna theme-park has got some real dodgy looking rides, but that’s whats great about it.

Coney Island boardwalk and Luna amusement park in Queens.
Coney Island boardwalk and Luna amusement park in Brooklyn.

Last but not least – the famous subway system. The most important piece of infrastructure in the city and the most extensive public transportation system in the world (by station number) at 468 stations. It literally drives the city with 5.4 million rides every weekday. I heard a stat that 75% of New Yorker’s don’t own a car and they can do that because of the subway. It’s fast, regular and goes everywhere. Only thing is it’s getting old!

New York has the most extensive subway system in the world. It's the backbone of NYC.
A typical subway station in New York

Congratulations for making it to the end of my longest post ever. I’m nearly at the front of the line now!

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9 thoughts on “Where I went in New York City”

  1. That must be a record at the sirport for you.
    We r out of florence soon then venice.
    Great details Dan – good reading.
    Pdd.

  2. How did you miss your first flight? Hope you didn’t spend a 2nd night in the airport. Great things you saw in new york and the bridge photo of you. Brilliant. You are looking strong.
    Love mum

  3. That’s an awesome blog. Heaps of info and memories in that. I loved it! Long post, very true! And c’mon, you are still australian so use meters please, or at least put ___feet (___meters) with the meters part in brackets!!

  4. Jealous jealous jealous, always wanted to go there. Loved reading about your adventure in NY, you are certainly an adventurer. Great to see photo of you, you are looking great, hope Iceland is going well too !!

  5. Hey, it’s Amanda, that Ohioan you met once.
    Excellent photos as always. Glad to see you’re still loving the US! Have fun in Iceland!!
    Also, I love the comment about people in airports. Every unexpected event is a life and death crisis whenever air travel is involved, it’s true. We always complain about bad things that happen, but what would we talk about if it never did?? I feel bad for people with perfect lives, they have no stories.
    Safe Travels!

    1. Hey Amanda, of course I remember “that Ohioan”. Thanks and I agree that whenever things go exactly to plan you end up with an ordinary predictable story. I mean how boring would it have been if I had eaten properly at the Grand Canyon haha

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