One of the major attractions of the big cities in the U.S. lies in the fact that all of them have their own identity. There is something in store for each and every person when you visit a big city. Chicago has definitely surprised me, and it surprises me even today. Never had I thought that visiting another big city would be so exciting. So, just a couple of days before Thanksgiving, I traveled to New York City.
"Life is full of surprises." A cliché dialogue, but it made total sense when I landed at LaGuardia Airport. Our airplane could not find a gate to offload the passengers; I believe it was because of the Thanksgiving rush. So, here I am sitting in the airplane, waiting to see my friend who had come to pick me up. I think I watched half a movie while the airplane was stationary. Finally, 45 minutes later, we started moving, found the gate, got out of the plane and, after walking out of the airport, I met my friend after close to four months. It feels so great to meet your close friend after such a long time, while also in a different city, far away from home.
So, let's talk about New York. Great place to hang out with friends…Yes… Great place to catch some lip-smacking food…Yes… Lot of places to visit…Yes… Sounds so dry when I write it this way. But on a serious note, I experienced all the above in one single day and later, I realized that I missed out on a lot of places to visit.
Let’s talk about interesting things to do in New York. For this, let me take you a step back. My friend stays in Stamford, Connecticut, so traveling to New York is a proper one-hour journey on an express train, and guess where the train terminates…You guessed that right… Grand Central Terminal. Till this day, I had only seen Grand Central Terminal in movies, and watching it live was indeed a dream come true. The information center with the clock on the top was as real as it could get -straight out of a movie scene. Once we reached there, we had to plan what all we had to cover in the entire day - the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, One World Trade Center, Empire State Building, Times Square and Central Park.
Going to all these places was a challenge, since it was lot of places to cover in a small time frame. So, keeping in mind the time frame, we decided to go with the Statue of Liberty which was about half an hour from Grand Central Terminal through the subway. Talking about subways, the network is seriously insane. It feels like they have all the alphabets in the English language plus the numbers zero through nine for the subway network, that dense is the network there. After traveling through the subway, we finally reached the port from which we had to catch the ferry to see the statue. This is the place where we faced the first challenge. We came across a person who was selling tickets for the statue and this turned out to be the most insane thing that we did. Just to tell in short: We were offered a free shuttle service, taken to New Jersey via Holland Tunnel to the port, went on a ferry, and started the ride close to sundown. The journey to the statue was very windy but it was worth in the end since not only did we see the Statue but while returning back we could see the New York Downtown skyline from the ferry all beautifully lit up. Indeed, a great view to soak into.
After coming back to New York City after the statue, we knew we had lost a lot of time and had to omit some things that we had definitely planned to visit, including two of the iconic places: Brooklyn Bridge and Central Park. "[It's] too dark to visit these places," was the reason my friend cited. So, with a heavy heart, we dragged ourselves all the way to One World Trade Center -a beautiful monument to see and to be proud of. The highlight of visiting this place was the Memorial in honor of the 9/11 victims. We decided to skip the observatory since we were critically running low on time. Then came the icing on the cake moment for us: visit Times Square.
Let me take you back in the afternoon, where I and my friend were discussing the places that he could visit in Chicago. The comparison led more to a competition. To defend Chicago, I took it as a challenge. They had the statue. We have the Bean. They have Central Park. We have Millennium Park. They have One World Trade Center and the Empire State Building. We have the Willis Tower and the John Hancock tower. They have the Brooklyn Bridge, we have many bridges with the river. But the point where I lost was the experience of going to Times Square.
Times Square is one of the most vibrant places that one should definitely visit at least once in their lifetime. The vibrancy, the lights, the atmosphere, and finally the experience is one thing that one should never miss when one goes to New York. The thing that I most liked about this place was the energy that everyone carried. If you are tired and drop yourself here, trust me, all the tiredness would disappear instantly. There are lot of shops to go around:Hershey’s, M&M’s, and finally the Disney store were awesome experiences. The festive season coupled with the lights at Times Square made the place an unforgettable experience.
Overall, it was an awesome experience to witness a beautiful city in this festive season. Although we had to miss some iconic places, it was really a tough time to complete all the destinations in one day. The challenge that I faced was it is definitely a little expensive in terms of traveling from one place to another and to visit the places, but the best part is the food. One-dollar pizza slices are the best thing that can offset the expenses that can be incurred. Another important tip: While traveling to the Statue, proceed directly to the place where they have the government-authorized ferry operators. Not only are they cheap, but they also take you to Ellis Island for a combined price of close to $20. But overall, it was a day well spent, another big city toured successfully.