My Time In New York
NYC Collage & Skyline
Why I chose to go
I don't normally do travel stuff, but this is kinda related to tech and social media, so I am making an exception and hoping it doesn't turn into rambling nonsense or over exposure to holiday pics for everyone. Right, a bit of background, I have always wanted to visit New York City (well not always as such, but certainly since the late 1960's early 1970's) due to my liking of American TV and Movies. I was supposed to spend a couple of days there last year on my way to Las Vegas, but as it was a group trip for a friends birthday, it wasn't my decision and plans were changed and NYC was removed from the itinerary :(
"View From the Top Of The Rock"
Now the tech connection sort of jumps in a little here, traditionally Nokia, my favourite phone manufacturer had there big trade show, Nokia World in mid to late October and I was lucky to attend in 2011. Sadly things changed and last year there was no Nokia World in the traditional sense and so I met a few guys in Austria and we kinda had our own event and due to the announcement of a purchase by Microsoft of Nokias Smartphone division it was expected there would be nothing this year either, so I decided to book a week in New York around the middle of Oct to see the sights and hopefully meet up with some virtual friends. So Flights and hotel were booked at the beginning of September, I flew out on Oct 15th and was due to return Oct 22nd other than that I had planned literally nothing and simply intended to play it by ear and see and do as much as I could in the time I had in NYC
View waiting to leave Manchester Airport
First NYC Photo From Taxi From JFK
I am very lucky to have a friend who lives in NYC , Andy Hagon , who had helped me out before when visiting the USA, and once again he helped me by arranging a US sim card for my phone so I could use the web whilst on the move and not incur ridiculous roaming charges, he also gave me a bit of advice on accommodation and arranged a meet up with some American guys I had spoken to on the web, but never actually met Lenny Bonsignore and Erick Macapagal from the nokiainnovation.com website. So my plans were laid and I was looking forward to a fantastic adventure then suddenly someone threw a cat amongst the metaphorical pigeons !! On the 25th of September, I got an email from Paul Coombes at Nokia Connects inviting me to attend Nokia World in Abu Dhabi. Now I was shocked, excited and overjoyed, except the event took place the day I was flying back from NYC. I explained this to Paul via email and he said it would be possible to fly me from New York to Abu Dhabi to attend the event and then back to Manchester afterwards to collect my car in the UK an added bonus to this was that I actually got to share the flight to AD with Lenny as we were both attending. So I lost a night in NYC and gained two in Abu Dhabi, which in my opinion was a pretty good deal.
Grand Central Station
Look Before You Leap
Back to the travel theme and a couple of bits of advice to travelers to NYC, do a bit of research and a bit of planning, I did neither and think I could have fitted more in if I had and got lost less as well :) Do try and get a local sim card, it isn't the end of the world if you can't but it is extremely convenient and WiFi isn't always that easy to find. Also even if you are not a geek, take a couple of phones with you, one to use your local sim card in for web , social media etc and the other with your home sim in it but with roaming data disconnected, then if anyone at home needs to get in touch, you can still get UK calls and text messages, which aren't that expensive if there is a family emergency or if someone simply wants to get in touch, but you are not running up massive data charges.You could get a basic feature phone for very little to use your home sim and certainly it would be cheaper than ten megabites of roaming in the USA !! Also a local sim allows you to get local information and use navigation and transport apps to get around the city. Another useful thing to do is get a metro card, the local underground/subway is by far the easiest and cheapest way to get around NYC, well that and walking . The city is laid out in a grid system with Streets running across and Avenues up and down the city and once you get your bearings , it's very easy to find your way round, which is the same with the subway once you realise you just need to look for the end of the route to find the right direction and that you need to listen, as all stops and train changes are announced as you are on the train itself and after a couple of trips it is really easy to get about, it must be, I did it.
Views from The Rockefeller CentreClick thumbnail to view full-size
I managed to book a hotel with a fantastic location, it wasn't the cheapest in the city, but it was extremely close to Grand Central Station, which as the name suggests is pretty central, I stayed at the Hotel Boutique just at the junction of 45th Street and Lexington Avenue. I arrived mid afternoon on Tue 15th Oct and as my trip had been slightly shortened , decided to get straight into sightseeing.
Another friend Richard Yates, had suggested going to the top of the Rockefeller Centre to view the city instead of the Empire State Building as by doing so you could actually see the Empire State also to pay for express tickets as queues can be long, good call Richard. I had also been advised to try and hit The Top Of the Rock late afternoon and try overlap day and night for photos, but when I got may tickets it was only about $4 more to get a ticket that allowed two visits within 24 hrs one in daylight and one at night, so I took my time and a lot of photos :)
My mission for the following day was Central Park and again I walked. I think I managed to see almost everything except the Zoo within the park, but five hours plus walking kind of destroyed my feet and as I had already visit Grand Central and bought a Metro Card for the week I jumped on a downtown train, which worked great , except I ended up on Broadway instead at my hotel (this becomes a bit of a theme) so I had a quick look round , took a couple of snaps and then walked across town back to my hotel.
Central Park & Broadway
Brooklyn Bridge & Liberty
Thursdays plan was to walk as little as possible as I had over done the walking and so I decided to get the Subway down to Battery Park and catch a Ferry to Liberty Island and see the Statue of Liberty, this would be simple as there are three trains running on the green line downtown the 4,5 & 6 so I simply walked across to Grand Central and jumped on the 6 train which was an express, unfortunately, it was an express that terminated at Brooklyn Bridge ! Now this really isn't a major problem as all you need to do is cross the platform and jump on a 4 or 5 train to get down to the ferry, however I was at Brooklyn Bridge and that's famous right ? So off I wandered, and by the time I found the bridge and walked up to and onto it my feet were once again complaining, but I had got a few more holiday pics , seen another iconic sight and still had plenty of time left to get a ferry to one of the most iconic sights in the United States.
Friday was a chance to relax, I was meeting Andy at the 51st Street station and catching the E Train to Queens to meet Lenny and Eric for lunch at about 2pm so to pass the morning, after breakfast, I decided to visit Ground Zero and see the 9/11 memorial. The memorial is very simple , two huge square pools on the site of the Twin Towers with water running into them surrounded by metal frames with the names of all the victims engraved in them. I am not overly emotional, but the place feels kind of eerie and walking round bought a bit of a lump to my throat, it felt very strange and I can't really explain it, but I would sincerely recommend you visit the site if you go to New York. After visiting the memorial I headed uptown to meet Andy and then over to Queens for a much cheerier afternoon. It was great to meet the guys and put voices to avatars as it were and i really enjoyed having a few beers with them. As it got towards tea time Andy and I headed back towards Manhattan and I got off the train at Times Square to get some shots of the flourescent extravaganza that is a must for all visitors and so yet another New York box was ticked as it were
Lunch with the guys & Times Square
Coney IslandClick thumbnail to view full-size
Coney Island & UN
Saturday I decided to have a trip out to Coney Island, which just about covered all the boroughs of NYC and allowed me to see some of the Bronx as much of the Q train is overground. Coney Island has appeared in many movies and TV programmes and is a seaside boardwalk and funfair, one of the main attractions being the World Famous Nathan's Hotdog Stand. I was advised to try one and so I did :)
After a few hours at Coney Island I headed back to The Boutique Hotel, had a couple of hours rest and a coffee or two and then decided to wander down to the East River, now by coincidence sat at the end of my road at the Junction of 45th Street and 1St Avenue is the UN Headquarters, I had no idea and was quite surprised when I saw it, it isn't terribly impressive, but I still thought it was quite cool to be stood outside and Trump Towers opposite was quite impressive so it was worth the walk.
Link to photo set of NYC on Flickr HERE
Now I am sure you'll be relieved that Sunday was my final day and was spent mainly packing and preparing to leave along with charging phones , tablets and mobile chargers. However I had one final mission. I wanted to take a photo of an iconic New York sight with an Apple in the foreground, sad, but I wanted to do it and I managed to acquire an apple from the breakfast room and as the Empire State Building wasn't too far away I set off to complete my mission and I was quite pleased with the result if I do say so myself LOL. So that was my time in NYC done and dusted, I checked out and set off to JFK to start part two of my trip of a lifetime and luckily for you that story will come later, when I have more time.
If you got this far, you are a star, thanks for reading and looking at the photos .