Where I Have Been Map

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Many Benefits of Visitors

Hold tight this is going to be a long post!

So one great thing I’ve found living in New York, is there is always someone you know visiting the city on any given weekend, If not visiting YOU. Which means … doing fun touristy things you might not have made time to do normally!  Here’s a list of some of my favorite things I’ve done in the city with my visitors.

Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island

Although it’s much more cost effective and a great view to see the Statue of Liberty by taking the Staten Island Ferry, it’s still a very cool experience to actually take the Statue of Liberty tour and listen to the history of the ol’ lady! My sister and I decided to go the tour route, and we learned all kind of facts – like the Statue of Liberty’s nose is 10 feet tall, she is hallow inside and as thin as a penny, and she is made of copper and was originally brown. We also heard a story told by a woman who remembers coming to America when she was a little girl. She said they spent days on a crowded boat, suffering on their journey in order to reach freedom, and when they finally arrived – her dad picked her up and said “Look at the pretty lady”. The site of the Statue of Liberty made her feel at home.

Then at Ellis Island, we took another headphone tour when took us through the journey of newcomers to America. There were so many steps you had to take in order to be deemed “suitable” to enter the country. If you were too old, too unhealthy, or mentally disabled – they could send you right on back to where you came from, separating you from your family possibly forever.

Cindy listen to these interesting facts
It was such an interesting experience stepping back into time. But I also found much entertainment stepping back to modern days and realizing this was a part of the movie where they filmed Hitch. Oh silly Will Smith and your quirky ways.


A place I visited with both my mother and my sister, on behalf of one of our favorite movies, Serendipity! Usually an hour long wait (with the exception of how lucky my mother is) we were so happy to get an iced cold frozen hot chocolate, and relax our exhausted legs from all the tourist walking.

9/11 Memorial

I believe I have visited this location more than any other tourist spot in the city. And every time it fills me with such an odd feeling of gravity. I think this is due to the fact we all actually lived through this tragedy, so suddenly the memorial brings personal emotion back on the table. Before we would even enter the memorial, I’d look up and see how close the new Freedom Tower felt to us on the streets of New York, and think what it must have been like to look up and see the twin towers engulfed in black smoke. 

The actual memorial consists of 2 large fountains cascading down into what looks like a bottomless hole, standing right where they two towers stood. I don’t know if this is suppose to represent the falling of the towers, or the emptiness felt by the country after the event – but whatever it represents, it’s impactful. The fountains are bordered with the names of the people who didn’t survive.

Being in New York for the Sept 11th anniversary suddenly brought me first hand right into the emotions the people felt in the city. I watched a showing of a documentary about that day, after the documentary was over – the director took questions. There in that audience were various people who had lost husbands, children, sisters, and parents in the towers. Seeing them cry instantly brought tears to my eyes and a lump in my throat. But most of them just wanted to thank the director for helping them feel a little more at peace with her documentary.

Brooklyn Bridge

The iconic, the majestic, the wonderful Brook… “BIKE ON YOUR RIGHT! MOVE, MOVE!!!!” Walking across Brooklyn Bridge is all those things, while also constantly watch your back for the insane cyclists that must be training for the Olympics for how seriously they take their daily rides.

Walking across the bridge at sunset is the absolute best time to enjoy the view, and it also means you’ll step over to the Brooklyn side right when it gets dark and the city lights come on. Which means seeing one of my favorite views of the city, the buildings of Manhattan and the Bridge lit up and reflecting in the East River.

From either the pier side or the DUMBO side – it’s an incredible sight. Plus if it’s not too cold you can get some of the best ice cream in the city at the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory!

China Town

I will say this, I am not much of a brand name shopper so I never fully experienced the adventure of shopping for fake purses, sunglasses and watches in this part of the city. But I DID walk through this area with my sister, and we honestly felt like we had stepped into a different country. Especially when we went to a post office to mail a package, and they had to find a translator for Cindy and I because no one spoke English! Haha a true other country in a city.

Central Park Biking

Central park is always such a wonderful place to enjoy nature while still seeing a pretty cool skyline of the city buildings. We wanted to see as much of the park as we could, so the best way we thought how – would be to bike! Well, now looking back and realizing how huge Central Park is, and considering my lack of cycling athleticism, this turned out to be quite the work out. Who knew New York had so many HILLS in the park?!

But it was cool to see how many things fit inside that enormous area. A zoo, a swimming pool, a few baseball diamonds, soccer fields, lakes with kayaks floating by, fountains, and mountains of rocks around every bend with fearless children running all over them.

The craziest bike ride I ever had occurred when my friend Chelsea came to visit. We rented bikes from a very cheap place, which we quickly realized was so cheap because we had to pick up the bikes in Time Square … and ride them all the way to Central Park. Dogging taxis in the middle of Time Square on bicycles is an unforgettably surreal experience I never want to have again.

Criff Dogs

My cousin and I stumbled upon this hidden gem, where the world’s best hot dog lives. You may think I am exaggerating, but I would serve this hot dog at my future wedding. A hot dog, wrapped in bacon, and slices of avocado placed snug inside the bun … ah it was a the best heart attack food I ever tasted. Not to mention our tables were Pac Man arcade games!

The other cool part about this restaurant was it doubled as a Speak Easy. If you entered the phone booth in the corner, picked up the telephone, and dialed – a secret door would open and you would find yourself in a little fancy, hidden bar! The speak easy was really awesome, but really expensive – so we enjoyed our cheap, delicious, amazing hot dogs instead.

Grand Central

It takes only a few minutes to take it all in, but it’s still a sight to see! To walk around in the main concourse and realize how many flash mobs have taken place there, and how movies have been filmed there, it’s pretty incredible.

Plus there is a hidden gem of an area right beside the main concourse, called the Whispering Room. If one person stands at one end of the room, another person stands at the very opposite end – and if you whisper into the wall … the other person can hear you as clear as day!


One of the oldest and most famous pizza places in the city. The best one is right over the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s a converted old bank and oddly looks like Gringot’s from Harry Potter (direct quote from my friend Katie). Getting any kind of this brick oven pizza accompanied with an old fashion cherry soda – such a satisfying meal.

Yankees and Mets

The very first baseball game I went to in the city was a Mets game, because it was the cheapest. When the Cubs (my FAVORITE team) absolutely demolished the Mets, I realized why the tickets were so cheap. But there is still something to say about eating a pretzel and enjoying a baseball game with friends.

The first Yankees game I went to on the other hand, wow. You could feel the energy of the stadium as soon as you stepped out of the subway! Everyone in the crowd was cheering, everyone was singing to old fashion baseball songs, the benches would rattle whenever a Yankee hit a homerun, and we saw them beat the Red Sox in one of the best baseball games I’ve ever seen! I felt like I had been apart of such a great New York tradition!


Art museums in New York are a plenty. There are tons, such as the Met, the Guggenheim, and MoMA.

MoMa, or the Museum of Modern Art, is both incredible … and confusing. For those of us that don’t really understand modern art unless it is blatantly spelled out for us, some exhibits may seem a bit odd.

But it was amazing to get to see famous pieces of art such as Starry Night up close and personal!

My absolute favorite museum however, is the Museum of Natural History. We walked through dinosaur bones, travels about different cultures, warped through galaxies, and saw a bunch of rocks (yea the geology section was one of the less exciting ones).

The exhibit I both loved and hated the most was the aquatic section. The only reason I hated this part, was because a giant life size blue whale hung above the heads of all of the visitors.

I have always had an odd terror of whales, and seeing just how big it is – I got the chills. But seeing all the fish and creatures that life in the ocean, THAT was really incredible. There was even one exhibit of a giant squid fighting a whale! I didn’t know which one to root for?

Those were just some of the fun touristy things I got to do when visitors came to town! My experience here wouldn’t have been complete without them!

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