Sunday, 13 March 2016

Weekend in New York City, NYC

I got an opportunity to visit the USA for a month on office assignment. My stay was in Stamford, Connecticut. Out of 4 weekends in USA, I was busy with office friends in Stamford for the first weekend. But latter I got a chance to explore NYC on one weekend and Niagara Fall on the next weekend. So, in this part, I would like to share my travel experience from New York City (Known as NYC).

Travelers for this trip were me and my office friend Devendra. On Sunday I was solo traveler.

New York and Statue of Liberty
New York and Statue of Liberty

About New York City:
              New York City is the most popular city in the United States. It is also known as NYC. It is located at the Southern tip of New York State. This city is known as the cultural and financial capital of the world. This place is capable to hold tourists of different interests. The city lies at the mouth of the Hudson River in the southernmost part of the state. NYC consists of 5 Regions named Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island.
              New York City is a center for media, culture, food, fashion, art, research, finance, and trade. It has one of the largest and most famous skylines on the earth, dominated by the iconic Empire State Building. The city is well connected by flights to the rest of the world. For local transport, there are multiple options available like Subways, Rail system, Buses, taxis, Ferry or even by foot. Most part of NYC is laid out in a Grid which makes it easy to explore the city.

12th March 2016: New York City:
            As our stay was in Stamford, we had to catch an early morning Metro-North. We left our hotel by 5.30 AM. Being winter in the USA, the weather outside was very cold with temperature between -2 to 4 degrees C. We were prepared for the winter.

Somewhere over Greenland during India to New York flight

              We reached at Grand central by 7 AM. I had been to this Rail terminal a week ago, hence we hardly spent any time to see the station. Grand central terminal is truly Grand and classic example of architect. The terminal consists of 67 platforms of which 44 are on a higher level and 26 are on a lower level. Considering rail yard platforms, the count goes to more than 100 platforms at Grand central terminal. The ceiling of the station is decorated with astronomical theme. Main Concourse is vast and beautiful which is always busy with tourists.

Grand central terminal
Grand central terminal

            We took Shuttle subway to the Time square. From Time square station, we took another Subway to reach the bowling park station. Our first destination was the statue of liberty. Ferry service to Island starts from Battery Park which is walking distance from the bowling park station. We booked the first ferry to Liberty Island starting at 9AM. We reached too early hence we waited for the tickets window to open.

Manhattan view

              Statue of Liberty is an iconic symbol of the USA. It represents freedom of the country. It is located below lower Manhattan. You need to do online booking to visit the Statue of Liberty. You can visit the island from two sides; one is from Liberty State Park in Jersey City and another from the Battery Park in Lower Manhattan. The Ferry stops at Ellis Island when it is open to the public. There are 3 types of tickets available online. One category allows you to visit only the island, second allows you to visit the base of the statue which is at a middle level and the last category allows you to visit crown part which is the highest point of the Statue. You need to book Crown ticket well in advance. Ticket includes the Ferry ride, visit to the Statue of Liberty and visit to the Ellis Island.
             When the tickets counter opened, we showed our online tickets and collected the ferry passes. After security check, we boarded the 9 AM Ferry. The sky was clear and the sun was shining but it was windy and freezing cold. The ferry ride was of 20-25 mins but it keeps you busy, watching the superb sky over Lower Manhattan. While I was still busy taking clicks of Manhattan, we reached the Island. category allows you to visit only the island, second allows you to visit the base of the statue which is at a middle level and the last category allows you to visit crown part which is the highest point of the Statue. You need to book Crown ticket well in advance. Ticket includes the Ferry ride, visit to the Statue of Liberty and visit to the Ellis Island.

Me one the way to Statue of Liberty

Manhattan view, NYC
Manhattan view, NYC

              As we were in the first ferry, no one was on the Island expect the staff. At the Statue of Liberty, you can collect audio guide for free. The Island area is quite huge and can be covered in 60 min including some time for photographs. We took the right side walkway to see the Statue of Liberty. It is made of copper and is a gift to the USA from France. The statue is of a female figure representing Libertas, the Roman goddess, who holds a torch and a tablet evoking the law on which is carved the date of 4th July 1976. Due to oxidation (Chemical reaction between copper and oxygen) of the outer layer of the statue it has changed green in color.

Statue of Liberty
Statue of Liberty

             We took a few photos and came to the tourist welcome center. From this place you can take the steps or the elevator to the upper floors. Bags and food items are not allowed to be taken on the upper decks. They have a locker facility for $2.00 to keep your bags and food items. There was huge line for the elevator so we climbed up. The view of Manhattan and the entire Island from the statue’s base (middle level) was amazing.

Entrance of Liberty statue

Manhattan View

              After spending more than hour, we boarded the ferry for return journey. The ferry service is a shuttle service so you can board any ferry on return. Make sure to take the right ferry as one line is for NYC and the other for NJ. Ellis Island Immigration Museum is the next destination located on Ellis Island which was also included in the ferry ticket.

Ellis Island view
Ellis Island view

              This Museum shares the information about immigrant Americans. It was used as an entry and inspection center from 1892 to 1954. It is a bit more focused on the history. It is worth a visit if you have enough time, else, you can cover other places from NYC. It is not must to visit this location and you can continue in the same ferry to reach the Battery Park.

One world center view with State Flag from Ellis Island

               After the Statue of Liberty visit, we decided to take a walk towards the newly built One World Trade Center. On our way we saw the Charging Bull which is also known as Wall Street Bull. It is a bronze statue located on the Wall Street. This Bronze statue is always surrounded by tourist. There is no line to take a photo with the bull. You just have to quickly go close to bull, ask a friend to take a photo and jump out from the crowd. When you see the preview of your photo, you will find other tourists also doing the same thing captured in your photo. It is better to visit early morning to avoid the crowd. We skipped the photo session and moved ahead.

I'm not present in this photo, Charging Bull

               We took a walk on the Wall Street which is considered as the financial center of the world. As it was a weekend day, it was not crowded but we heard from locals that this area is too crowded on week days. Most of the leading financial or corporate centers are located on the Wall Street including the New York Stock Exchange. As I work in IT, in the finance domain, a visit to the Wall Street was a wonderful experience.

New York stock exchange
New York stock exchange

               Trinity Church is another beautiful attraction close to the Wall Street. Alexander Hamilton (founding Father of the United States) rests here peacefully. The fact that it was not damaged by the 911 tragedy whilst every building surrounding it was destroyed is truly a miracle. After this visit we saw the New York Stock Exchange building which is very close to the church. It was 1 PM by the clock so we had our lunch (Tasty Biryani) followed by much needed hot coffee in the freezing weather.

Trinity Church
Trinity Church

              After a quick lunch, we continued our walk towards the One World Trade Center. We soon reached our destination. This complex consists of 3 places to visit Ground Zero Memorial, 9/11 Museum and the One World Trade Center. Ground Zero Memorial was built in the place where the WTC twin tower existed. Every person in the world knows when and what happened with the WTC in the year 2001. They were destroyed on the morning of September 11, 2001, when Al-Qaeda-affiliated hijackers glided two Boeing 767 jets into the complex as an act of terrorism. The attacks on the World Trade Center killed 2,753 people.

Ground Zero memorial
Ground Zero memorial

               Two square shaped pools filled with a beautiful water fountain are now built to honor the victims of the September 11 attacks. The surrounding wall contains the names of all victims. Even though it is built beautifully, you feel bad for this memorial as all innocent people around the globe lost their life. I saw many people busy taking selfies or group photographs whereas few praying-crying for their loved one’s lost in the incident.

One world center, NYC
One world center, NYC

             Due to long queue for the 9/11 Museum, we skipped it. There is no entry fee for Ground Zero Memorial whereas the entry fee for the museum is $25. This museum contains the memory of the WTC building, 9/11 incident memory, some left over material which was part of building, some stories of victims etc. Keeping past in memory, they have come up with new WTC which is known as One World Trade Center. The site is being rebuilt with six new skyscrapers replacing old WTC towers. Construction of One World Trade Center was completed which is the tallest building in the United States. The entire complex tells you a story of the success of WTC, the bad times of WTC and how people bounced back followed by the new era of One World Trade Center keeping its past aside.

At One world center

One world Center, NYC
One world Center, NYC

               One world Trade center also have an observatory known as One World Observatory. We were more inserted to visit the Empire State hence we skipped this. Ticket rate for the Observatory is $37. There are great views to the Statue of Liberty, Governor's Island, the Brooklyn Bridge, Greenwich Village and Midtown. The observatory is enclosed by glass and a friend told me that many photo shots are spoilt by the glare on the glass. I am not sure about it as we skipped and went towards Empire State Building

One world trade center

One world center Time Lapse

               The path is still under construction with a newly built Metro station replacing the Old World Trade Center station. The Oculus structure (designed by Calatrava) is a masterpiece and still is in incomplete phase. To enjoy the skyscraper view, we took a walk towards our next destination i.e. Empire State Building.

Empire state Building

               The Empire State Building is a 102 story tower located in midtown of Manhattan. It was world’s tallest building for nearly 40 years from 1931 till 1970. It was the first building in the world of over 100 floors. The Empire State Building is an American cultural icon. This building offers you NYC views from 2 different floors. Floor 86 is an open floor with proper railing and floor 102 which is an enclosed room with a glass floor.

Pritesh at Empire State building
On 86th Floor...Me in Brown Jacket

View from Empire state building 

               We went inside the building with excitement. It was my first experience to climb up on a skyscraper. There were 2 ticket options as per floor or combination of both but I was mainly interested to get the feel of air and height without any obstacle, hence I selected to visit 86th floor over 102nd floor. We got to know from building staff that there is no time limit for 86th floor whereas you get only 20 min to spend on 102nd floor. After clearing security check and ticket formalities, we got into the elevator. My excitement level was rising faster than the elevator’s speed and finally we reached.

North side view (Time square area) from 86th Floor
North side view (Time square area) from 86th Floor

North-East Side View from Empire State building
North-East Side View from Empire State building

Lower Manhattan View with One world center

                It is difficult to write my first reaction and the view of NYC was breathtaking. The feel of cold air and freezing temperature (feel factor was -2 degrees C) was altogether different experience. It was evening time so we decided to wait here for some time after sunset to enjoy the night view. Due to 360 degree view, you can enjoy the entire NYC. We were busy taking photos from all sides of the skyline of lower Manhattan. I tried to capture NYC video from all side which is embedded in blog.

Sunset Time

               We spent more than an hour and the city lights started glowing up the NYC. It was difficult for us to leave this place. After looking at magnificent view of Lower Manhattan in the late evening, we left this beautiful place by 7:30 PM. Images captured in the camera and by eyes will remain as sweet memorable memory forever.

Times Square area at Night

Lower Manhattan view
Lower Manhattan view

              Our next destination was the Brooklyn Bridge. Lower Manhattan skyline looks beautiful over East River. We walked for a few meters, had street food before boarding the subway towards Brooklyn Bridge. We decided to take a walk upto the center of the bridge which is built above the automobile lanes. After crossing the bridge, we went to Brooklyn Bridge Park. This area was quite lonely but view of Manhattan and Bridge was amazing. I regret not bringing tripod on this trip and hence missing the opportunity to click night view shots. We spent around an hour and then decided to leave NYC. It was 9 PM by the clock and we took the Subway for Grand central.

Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan view
Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan view

Manhattan view

               We took a walk outside the terminal and had some snacks and coffee. We boarded the 10:30 PM North metro to Stamford and reached hotel safely. Just a thought came to my mind...We (Indian / Pakistani / Bangladeshi) fight with each other on several issues. But here in NYC, I had tasty breakfast at Pakistani food joint, amazing biryani at Bangla food joint, and when I was badly in need of cup of hot coffee due to cold, I had it at cafĂ© owned by Bangla. At all places I neither asked them about citizenship nor started conversation in Hindi to tell them who I am. While giving the order, when we introduced each other, first reaction from them was "are aap toh hamare padosi hai bhai...”, "Aapake liye kya special du", “Pehli bar USA main?”, "kaha se ho..Pune/Mumbai? Close to Bollywood city of India" etc. Then at all the places either I got best service or special treatment. Are we really enemies of each other or few sick minded people act wrongly and force us to think in that way?? BTW, I heard similar stories from many friends who stay abroad and I’m not the only Indian to experience such sweet memories. Only it was my first abroad trip and thought came in mind.

  • Holiday Inn Hotel to Stamford station by taxi: $10. 
  • Return Metro Fair to NYC: $22. 
  • Statue of Liberty Ticket: $18. 
  • Locker charge: $2. 
  • Subway Card for weekend: $20. ($1 Card charge and rest amount you can use in rides) 
  • Lunch as Biryani: $15 for 2 People 
  • Empire State building Ticket: $32 per person. 
  • Dinner: $14 as street food. 
  • Taxi in Stamford: $10. 
  • Tip, shopping, coffee and light snacks chargers not mentioned

13th March 2016: New York City:
               Today my friend Devendra decided to stay back and I left alone. My cousin sister stays in New Jersey so I went there for lunch. After lunch, I came back to NYC to explore possible places. My first destination was Pennsylvania Station and Madison square. Pennsylvania Station, also known as New York Penn Station or Penn Station, is the main intercity railroad station in New York City. Madison Square Garden is a multi-purpose indoor arena in the New York City.

Madison Square Garden

              After quick visit, I started walking towards Central Park to visit American Museum of Natural History. Intension was to enjoy the skyscrapers view and NYC street life. I reached at American Museum of Natural History by 4:50 PM and it was closed for the day. It is one of largest museum in the world which contains millions of specimen of plants, humans, animals, fossils, minerals, rocks, meteorites, and human cultural artifacts etc. Famous movie “Night at the Museum” was set at the American Museum of Natural History.

American Museum of Natural History

              As it was closed, I went inside Central Park. The Park was established in 1857. Looking at the park area and greenery, I was shocked that it's nestled in the middle of New York City. It consists of Belvedere Castle, Bethesda Terrace - Fountain, Blockhouse (Small Fort), Carousel, Delacorte Theater, Zoo, Playground, lawns, Cleopatra's Needle, Wollman Rink (ice rink), Lake, walkways, cycle tracks and trails. You need an entire day to explore the Central park. Central park offers you different views in all seasons. Due to time limit, I explored it bit and left from 5th Ave- 79th St.

Central Park

               I went to see the nightlife of Times Square. Actually I had been here a week back in the evening with my friend Devendra. I will share earlier experience as 13th March visit was my quick visit due to heavy snowfall.
               On 5th of March, we came to NYC for the first time and our destination was Times Square. It was very cold evening. We reached time square after visiting Bryant Park. Times Square is a hub of the Broadway Theater District. You can't really say you've been to New York City if you haven't visited Times Square. It’s bright shiny billboards attract millions of people. I will recommend visiting at night when the lights are even more impressive. Just walk through it, with your eyes up, to see ever changing images of advertising.

Times Squares

Panorama view of Time square 

It was a fabulous experience; Energy, Light, Street food, Crowd, street performance and many more. Some of the street performances were really fun to watch. There are lots of costumed figures waiting on the green carpet to have their picture taken with you! A tip is expected. My sister’s friend Pankaj joined us in the evening as he worked in NYC for last 4-5 years. We really had a great time together.

With Friend Pankaj (In Black jacket) Thank you for joining us in NYC.

              Times Square is a site of the annual New Year's Eve ball drop. Pankaj shared the story of Time ball event which take places on New Year evening. The Time ball (incandescent light bulbs) located on the roof of One Times Square building descends 141 feet (43 m) in 60 seconds down a specially designed flagpole, beginning at 11:59:00 PM local time and resting at midnight to signal the start of the New Year. had a great time together.

New Year eve ball drop, NYC
New Year eve ball drop, NYC

               We spent more than 2 hours and enjoyed the place which was full of energy. Pankaj took us for a walk near the Time square. We visited Rockefeller Center but skipped its observatory deck. It is famous and a main attraction during Christmas, as a huge Christmas tree is placed at Rockefeller Center. We also visited Radio City Music Hall which is located in Rockefeller Center complex and is an entertainment venue from NYC. Many shows, talent hunts are performed in this place. It is one of the famous tourist destinations nowadays.

At Rockefeller Center

Me (In Brown Jacket) and Devendra (In Black Jacket) at Radio City hall

               After strolling on NYC streets, we were hungry and Pankaj suggested us The Halal Guys place. It is famous food cart serving chicken or meat with rice. The Halal Guys was founded in 1990 by Mohamed Abouelenein, from Egypt. We took the chicken gyro which cost $7 and it came with a white and red sauce and it was simply amazing. We left for Grand central terminal after coffee. Special thanks to my friend Pankaj for joining us in NYC due to which we were able to explore it in detail. We catched the late night North Metro to Stamford. Our weekend trip was simply awesome and I will never forget the lovely memories from NYC. I Love NYC.

Holiday Inn Hotel to Stamford station taxi: $10.
Return Metro Fair to NYC: $22.
Street food at Times Square: $10-12.
Dinner at Halal guys: $7.
Coffee: $4.

Places which I visited on some other day but it was quick visit
  • 5th Ave 
  • Chrysler Building 
  • Little Italy 
  • China Town 
  • Woolworth Building 
  • Federal Hall 
  • Subway 
Places which I missed due to lack of time
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art 
  • Top of the Rock Observation Deck 
  • One World Observatory 
  • New York Public Library 
  • Madame Tussauds New York 
  • Broadway Theatre Show

Blog on Niagara Fall: Coming Soon!

Thanks for reading this Travel Blog. Happy traveling.

Pritesh Kulkarni


  1. Great post! New York is my favorite city in the world so I loved all your photos.

    1. Thanks for your Comment...Happy traveling

      Pritesh Kulkarni