NEW YORK CITY
The centre of commerce, culture, and Murrica, welcome to New York, New York! This is truly a city that never sleeps, as it's busy and full of life all around the clock. You’ll find enough museums, bars, clubs, and events to satisfy and even overwhelm any interest you have. New York City is a huge city, and there’s so much to do that you can stay for as long as you want and do something new everyday. From the bustling streets of Manhattan to trendy neighbourhoods in Brooklyn, you’re sure to fall involve with the city.
What to do:
Manhattan is the famous bustling island with towering skyscrapers, lively streets, and people people people. People everywhere! In Downtown Manhattan, you can visit the 9/11 Memorial, the 9/11 Museum, and the massive Freedom Tower at One World Trade Centre. There’s also a ferry station at South Ferry Station where you can take a FREE! ferry to Staten Island, with beautiful views of New York and Jersey City. I didn’t find much to do at the island, but taking the ferry there and back was definitely worth it. Head a few blocks up, and you’ll reach the famous Wall Street, where the money comes in (NYSE) to support the USA and, according to some, the world. Keep walking north and soon you will enter a whole new world, Chinatown and Little Italy. There’s a lot more to see in Midtown Manhattan, including the Flatiron Building, Empire State Building, Times Square, Chrysler Building, and a lot more. Here’s the heart of New York and it's always busy! Times Square – 42nd Street Subway Station also bustling with life, and all 3 times I entered there was something going on, including a band playing music with dozens of people full-on dancing, an opera singer with a powerful voice, and a group of girls showing off their perfectly choreographedswag dance moves. Walking around Times Square at night is a must, and at 11:57pm every night the advertisements disappear and Times Square is transformed into an art gallery. Also nearby is 5th Avenue, a grand street with lots of high-end retailers selling luxury goods. Coming here to window shop and enjoying the atmosphere is great, but no way am I paying $4500 for shoes! Someone dubbed 5th avenue as ‘Museum of Prices’, which is so funny because it’s so true. Central Park is a short walk away, where the bustling skyscraper city seems to disappear in favour of beautiful nature-filled walks. In the park you’ll find bridges, fountains, fields of grass, a zoo, and the gorgeous Met (Metropolitan Art Museum). My absolute favorite part of New York is the breathtaking view from the Top of the Rock, try to get there before sunset!
If you are staying in New York for more then a few days, I would recommend heading outside Manhattan area, and into Brooklyn. I’ve visited 3 different areas in Brooklyn, and all three times I felt like I was in a completely different world! There’s trendy Williamsburg, which is near Manhattan, and has a very ‘cool’ feeling to it. Every saturday during the summer, you can find Smorgasburg, an open-air hipster food fair. The second neighbourhood I visited is Flatbush, and the area I was in felt like I was in the heart of Israel, where nearly every single person in sight was a visible religious jew, with Hebrew letters and kosher signs on every business. The third neighbourhood I visited was Brighton Beach, which is the heart of the Russian speaking community. Everyone I walked by was speaking Russian, and nearly all the stores here have their signs primarily in Russian, with smaller english letters underneath. There’s an amazing boardwalk lining Brighton Beach, bustling with people and life on the warmer days. The amazing part of Brooklyn is the diversity with the different neighbourhoods, and I’m sure if I had more time to spend here I would discover many more ‘cultural worlds’.
Where to stay:
New York is a very expensive city, especially for Canadians due to the current exchange rate, so If you have any family or friends here, I would definitely call them up and ask if you can stay on their couch. Although I mostly did the above, I did check into a hostel called ‘International Student Residence’. This hostel was in a good location in Williamsburg (Brooklyn), a short train ride away from Central Manhattan. They have a great large common area with a PingPong Table, TV, couches, and a kitchen. The only problem I had with this hostel is that the rooms were freezing! The covers we were given are not suitable for winter, and the temperature in the room was far too cold to be comfortable. This is obviously not a problem in the summer, however. This hostel has GREAT value, especially since it was the cheapest option (at around $20USD per night), and had a good location close to the subway.
I bought a New York Explorer Pass. This pass included entrance to 4 attractions of my choice, including most of the Museums, and my favorite attraction Top of the Rock (US$32 Entrance) . Great value!
American Fast Food is a great way to save some money, at the expense of your weight and health ofcourse LOL (but once or twice won't hurt). Burger King has a $4 Meal including a Cheeseburger, 4 Nuggets, Drink, Fries, and Cookies. Crazy deal!