Date of visit: 20th April 2017- 28th April 2017
New York City. In 2017, my Dad and I went to New York for his birthday and it was a fantastic, probably once in a lifetime, experience. It’s true what they say—the sky is starless.
It never gets truly dark, there is always a semi-grey sky rather than the pitch black that you can get in the countryside in the UK.
And the city honks all the way through the night. Here is my experience in New York.
Travelling to New York
It was a long, ‘eight-hour’ journey. We flew from Birmingham to Germany to JFK. This wasn’t too bad. Lufthansa must hold the award for the most outstanding food given to people on a plane.
They had this tablet-like thing attached to the back of each seat. So I played backgammon, played battleships and watched Passengers. I also read a lot, so the journey there didn’t feel too long.
Arrival into New York
Trouble started once we arrived at JFK. Our plane landed at
The people on our plane were long gone and we were still in the queue. I don’t know what happened but we didn’t get to the security check until
Next task: Wait for our shuttle to arrive. We used Supershuttle and it did not occur to us to look them up on Trip Advisor first. We probably should have.
When it arrived, we got in only to find it was going to stop every 5 minutes at another airport exit. Why they don’t collect passengers from the same exit, I have no idea. He then drove past our hotel 3 or 4 times, claiming he had to drop us off in the order of the list. I mean surely it would make sense to drop us off as you drive past?
It was a little worrying as we had to be at the hotel before midnight. We got to our hotel at 11:45.
My Dad and I stayed at a hotel next to the Empire State building, Executive Hotel Le Soleil. The rooms were cramped and they forgot to include wardrobes so our clothes ended up being folded on top of the bedside table rather than hanging up. But none of this spoiled the trip.
Enjoying New York
Dad and I went uptown, downtown and midtown as we visited many tourist places (all fantastic by the way).
The first two days we used our NY Pass to ride on the Big Bus, Hop on and Hop off, our first tour guide, Barnie was amazing, friendly and informative. I recommend getting the NY Pass if you go to New York – saves a lot of queueing and a lot of money.
Transport as a whole is easy to use. Us Brits have a reputation for teasing the US, but we can really learn something about transport from them. We went in the spring, so I don’t know if New York comes to a halt in an inch of snow. However, the subway trains are always on time, arriving every 3-5
The subway is great. It’s cheap, costing $3 no matter the distance and it is easy to navigate. Just look to see what letter subway stops in the street and avenue you want. Now I know the street and avenue part sounds daunting, but it really isn’t. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “Just going around the block,” after visiting New York City I now understand the phrase.
If you have ever played chess, it is like the letters and numbers on the grid. The numbers being the avenue and the letters the street.
Knight to G5! / I’m just going to W35 street
Their roads are practically square so if you are on 5th Avenue, and east 36th street but want to get to West 38th street and 7th Avenue, you walk up two streets and across two avenues. The L shape of the Knight.
It’s really great. I have Cerebral Palsy and often find walking long distances, or up and down hills tiring. I didn’t have that problem in new york. We only had to get a taxi once because we were at the bottom of Downtown and had to get to the top of Uptown to go on a cruise.
Before I went to New York, my lecturer told me to be careful of the yellow cabs and I see why. Their driving is from another planet… or maybe from the wizarding world…
Harry’s terrified face from the Knight Bus springs to mind. They really would struggle on the narrow British roads.
Easy to read maps
I also found the subway incredibly easy to navigate and figure out what train led to which street and as I said, it is super cheap. I mean, imagine only paying £2 to get from A to B in London or Manchester or Birmingham! A 10-minute train ride is £2.50 as it is!
And the streets are disabled friendly, they even have outdoor lifts if you cannot get into a building because of the stairs!
Essentially, the streets of New York are disabled friendly.
Tourist Attractions (With NY Pass)
My Dad and I had a New York Pass. This was incredibly helpful. It allowed us to use the BIG Bus Hop On—Hop Off tour in two consecutive days, which was a handy way to get to and from attractions. Our tour guide, Bernie was great and had a good sense of humour.
The pass itself can cost $150-250, but you can visit as many attractions as you like without paying extra, and often, this means at a discounted price too. Dad and I saved around $100 on a 5-day pass with all our sightseeing. We did see two-three places a day using the pass, which is kind of needed to get your money’s worth from it.
However, I found the NY Pass helpful in another way. I find queues difficult because of my cerebral palsy but the NY pass often—not always but often—allowed us to skip the long queues. There is a special queue for NY Pass holders which take about ten minutes. The long queues themselves could be an hour or two in length, stretching the length of a couple of streets!
This was helpful in making sure I didn’t get too tired while standing and made sure that most of our day wasn’t spent waiting to get into places.
Unfortunately, The Empire State Building doesn’t allow you to skip the queues, but we were given the advice to visit it early in the morning before 10am to avoid a long queue. That worked! We were one of the first people there.
We visited the Guggenheim Museum, Natural History Museum, MOMA, a Circleline Cruise, Ellis Island, Battery Park, Top of the Rock, the two 9/11 sites and so much more. We’ve probably visited things we wouldn’t have visited without the New York Pass, so I personally believe it is worth getting.
On the way back, we used the same Shuttle service and the driver participated in road rage, actually getting out of his car to do so. Honestly, avoid Supershuttle, Trip Advisor has plenty of bad reviews on them too if you want other opinions.
Thanks for Reading