Date of stay: June 2012
Where you stayed: Rogers Hotel (4*)
Tour or pre planned: Pre planned
New York City, the big apple.
This city is enormous and if you are a small town boy, like me, it is easy to get lost in the hussle and bussle. There are so many things to do here, from taking an elevator 86 floors up the famous Empire state building, to a harbour cruise around the Statue of Liberty, or just taking a quiet stroll around central park while trying to escape the fast paced city.
I was short on time, but as said above, had so much to do. The best way around this is to get yourself a ‘New York City Pass’, which can be purchased as a one, two, three, or seven day pass. These passes, combined with the hop on/hop off bus are a great way to see the city and fast track yourself to the main attractions on offer.
The best way to purchase the passes seems to be via the secure online website (www.newyorkpass.com), the pass offers over 70 attractions for free or discounted prices. With the pass comes a very handy booklet which outlines all the different attractions available, with maps etc to get you on your way. For those more tech savy, there is an app you can download onto your phone with much the same information so it’s right at your fingertips.
I got a 2-day pass (retail for this is $130 USD individually, or $145 with the hop on/hop off bus package), first stop the Empire State Building, this attraction is free with the pass (saving $25) along with the New York Skyride attraction which is also at the empire state building (saving $42). Instant savings, why wouldn't you buy the pass. Not to mention a great way to get your bearings and fine tune your compass to the city.
Next I got on the hop on/hop off bus, another great way to see the city as there is a personalised tour guide on each bus to ask questions and give you local hints and tips (ie a pub on corner 44th Street/9th Ave called Rudies bar which sells $7 pitchers of beer and free hotdogs!). This bus was easy to get around and takes you to the tourist areas, there are two routes, a downtown and an uptown route, both leaving from midtown. Beware though, there are plenty of people who work for the bus company standing on corners which you could not buy tickets from, but are happy to point you in the direction to the office in Times Square.
Other attractions I visited included the Bodies exhibition ($30), Dialog In The Dark (where you experience Manhatten as a blind person, guided through pitch black rooms by a visually impaired person - $22.50), Skyline Helicopters ($30 discount), Ripleys Beleive it or Not Meusem ($32), Meusem of sex ($17.50), Shearwater harbour cruise to Statue of Liberty ($45), Maddam Tussads wax Meusem ($39) and the Rockefella Center (Top of the Rock - $25).
3 words of warning to anyone getting this pass to make the most of your stay : MAKE A PLAN. I arrived the day before and had a rough idea what I wanted to do, but because there is so much to do wish I made more of a plan as I ended up doing some attractions which were free (which I could have done the day after to save time - ie world trade center memorials, wall street, walking around central park)
After my two days with the pass, I felt like I had a good grip on the city, but there was still plenty to do. Just beware that some of the attractions you need to get tickets on a site other than where the ride/attraction starts (this is where your plan that you have made previously comes in handy)
Other things to know in NYC are the transport options. The subway seemed to run on time and was easy enough to navigate, taxis are cheap enough with helpful drivers to get around and obviously walking is a good option if you have time. If I could give you one tip for the day : do NOT take a cyclo anywhere unless you have just won lotto. There are plenty of people riding bikes with carriages who try and get you to go for a quick ride a few blocks away, but their prices are unreal. It was raining one night and I needed to get to the Rockefeller center, my cycle cost $22! As they charge $3 per street and $4 per avenue.
Finding a hotel/hostel in NY is fairly easy, I stayed at Rogers Hotel. It’s in a great location (next to the Empire State Building) and well priced. I booked the hotel through www.hotwire.com.
Overall I would definitely recommend purchasing a New York City Pass to open the gates to an amazing place. Personally I would have saved over $200 just adding up the attractions I visited, it's a no-brainer really. Combining the pass with the hop on/hop off bus is definitely a good idea also as it takes the transport dramas away that can hold you up in a busy city.
Would you recommend this destination: Yes
Would you recommend your tour: Pre planned (NY city pass recommended)
Would you recommend your hotel: Yes, Rogers Hotel (good location next to Empire State Building)
Overall destination rating: 4 out of 5
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