THE LAND OF OPPORTUNITIES
Well, USA is always on everyone’s mind, for one reason or the other. As a travel destination, USA has almost the whole world to offer. From shining blue waters of the west, to the crystal clear lakes of the north to soft fur like snowfall, majestic waterfalls and mountains or the vibrant city life, USA has got it all. We have done quite a few trips to USA and in each trip, we try to get something different and unique out of the place.
Starting with, New York has special memories… not only coz of the Manhattan and the feel of being in THE financial centre of the world, but also because it was my first trip outside Asia-Pacific… at least till date! The journey to the New York was a very comfortable Cathay Pacific flight, 15hours non-stop with some breath-taking views of the Alaskan/Russian snow-capped mountains on the way! (see pictures here)
Travelled in: 2011
Coming to the point… the first trip was all about family… touristy spots like the yes-so-famous Niagara Falls, the Central Park and the grand malls! It was all about… well…. New York! Join in!
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- New York City – Ideal for aspirants in the financial world who want to see the magic of being at the “Home of Finance”; I thought 2-3 days should be enough for the city.
- East Coast, USA – Ideal for scenic beauty lovers, weekend getaways; trek lovers, actually just about anyone… the best part about US is that it is so vast and diversified that there is a bit of everything for everyone. And hence, I would keep recommendation of days to sites which we visited rather than everything.
- Airport/transfers: So depends which airport you land… JFK or Newark. I was at JFK and well, won’t say it looks one of the best of the airports we have been to, to be honest, but it could be more to do with that particular terminal, I guess. Newark Airport is a much bigger and better airport though for if you are planning to stay in the suburbs outside NYC, this airport is more comfortable surely. Connectivity seems not bad, for most of the big cities in US, so cabs, buses are always there. Rental cars are one of the most conveniently located ones in that part of the world.
- Phone connection: Can take phone connections from any mobile phone outlets. Need a passport as identity proof for tourists. We got an AT&T prepaid sim card which was around US$45 for a month’s validity and was more than enough for us data plus local calls needs.
- Language: I would be a fool to include this “tip” coz even if you know the E of English, you can survive roaming around in this mostly, tourist-friendly country.
- Getting around: So we had the privilege of having our family there for most local sightseeing but rental cars are very easy there but except for traveling within large cities, public transport cannot always be thought of an option when traveling large distances. Taxis are convenient and safe in day time, within New York City. Traveling to suburbs would almost surely rental cars, which was a challenge for other side drivers like me. We also took tours for going to Niagara and nearby places, so we think that is a convenient option if you want to see touristy places. I thought Tours4fun is a decent and cheap option to begin with, Viator being another. More on these in our Niagara section.
- Food: Being Asians, food was a bit of a problem for us, especially when we see the calorie count on all of those burgers, waffles, breakfast combos etc. While We agree saving BigMac with large french fries and a diet coke does save some calories :P, We thought we had a bit of a problem eating out at the chains each day… I did prefer sticking to the more boutique restaurants for an Asian/ Middle Eastern delicacy every now and then after we had my quota of the American food. And yes, we didn’t mind eating boiled veggies for one day in between others for a balance.
OUR MODEL ITINERARY FOR REFERENCE
Day 1: New York City. Like we always do, just arrive and chill out at the hotel and walk around for a feel of the city.
Day 2: Visit Manhattan in day, have to see the Big Bull… and then off to Statue of Liberty which is like a half day thing and best in evening. Dinner at Times Square!
Day 3: Take a tour of the city… see the museums, Central Park etc. Shop around at the Times Square and/or see the famous Broadway shows there.
Day 4: Optional, but for the shopping freaks, there are these awesome outlet malls, which we thought offer some really cool deals. Especially for high end branded stuff! We thought Woodbury Outlet was great and is about an hour bus journey to the place. Check out this link for more info on outlet shopping options and this link for transport options to visit the Woodbury Outlet, in specific.
Day 5-6: Visit Niagara falls from New York – minimum two days due to traveling involved.
Day 7: A visit to Atlantic City is another thing we would recommend, not as strongly as the above 5-6 days though. But tastes can differ and those who like to combine shopping away their wins at the casinos, this place offers both, apart from a romantic walk at the Board Walk! Check out this link.
Day 8: Now this is a surprise trip we did, but I thought it was quite amazing coz we got to see the amazing New York landscape, scenic farms and the typical small towns of US, which kept giving me the feeling as if the movie “Cars” was made keeping one of these places in mind. The pics will show that, hopefully.
SOME LINKS WE USED TO PLAN OUR TRIP
- General info New York sightseeing
- Taking Tours for seeing Niagara falls – Tours4Fun (cheaper) and Viator (arguably, more professional).
- New York Subway – cost effective way of going places in NYC
- General info on Niagara Falls