"Once a year go somewhere you have never been before."
First of all, I do not intend to drag anybody through the way I find and book flights and reservations. Times and methods change. Now there are hundreds of mobile phone apps and websites available for ticket sales and hotel or event services and reservations. Shoot, when I traveled over seas the first time, I booked a ticket to India by using a booking agent, contacted via landline, connected to the ISKCON Vaisnava temples USA and received a plane ticket on Pan Am airlines. They do not even exist anymore. 🙃... So, as far as finding good deals on air flights and hotel reservations, I generally just wait for them to be advertised on sites like TripAdvisor and Skyscanner which have been very helpful for me. My favorite sites are TripAdvisor, Get Your Guide, Skyscanner, Google Maps, Booking.com, and Delta Airlines website (because I am connected with their frequent flyer sky miles program and they are a good airline). I also like Skyscanner. Of course, we have to be careful about fake reviews that can be posted by people connected to hotels, shops, and restaurants. Such posts will always give rave reviews that make a place sound perfect. Other reviews can be posted by competitors to make a place sound like a dump. I often give a review that makes a place sound wonderful but I always give real, truthful reviews because I have no personal connection to any hotel, restaurant, or shop (besides having my favorites). Such websites also announce good deals during certain times of the year. The best way to get real reviews by real customers is by using sites like OpenTable for real restaurant visits and Expedia.com or Booking.com for real stays at hotels. On my cell phone, I have the apps for each of the websites mentioned above and a combination of these will carry me through the planning of every itinerary. Oh, and it is good to follow a few professional travel bloggers on Instagram and Pinterest. Both of these sites provide lots of eye candy with plenty of information. I also watch YouTube videos about transportation options in the cities I travel to. I often watch YouTube videos that show how to use subway systems in the cities I visit. I have recently subscribed to the New York Walker YouTube channel. He walks around different neighborhoods of NYC and specific sites like Macy's Flagship store and The Vessel. Watching his videos makes me feel like a true flâneur . 😀😀
Oh, and there are the sites that send me emails every week with great offers. Three or four sites send me such discount opportunities but I have never used any of them yet. The problem is that I always have my trips booked for specific places and times, long before the trip. I do continue to receive these emails because I believe I will start taking advantage of such offers in a few years since we will be traveling spontaneously more often. Three sites I may start taking advantage of in the near future are:
Tour Radar, Hotels Combined, and Hotel Tonight; they will keep track of prices for you and send messages about price drops.
Many cities have wonderful sites that are really useful for booking and purchasing tickets for events, transportation, and reservations in the region of the city. One of the sites I have in my travel bookmarks folder is the Paris, France Tourist and Convention website that has a clear, easily navigable list of events and sites that everyone can use to choose, research, reserve, and pay for right there on the website. There are even several price ranges included for many places and events that we can choose from. What the tickets include and the prices are made clear and payment options are also straight forward. I always buy the Paris PassLib' package which includes all transportation fares (besides taxis), free entry to some 60 museums, discounts for many other places and events, and a free ride on the Hop On Hop Off bus for one day and a free ride on the Paris Bateaux which is an hour on a tour boat up and down the Seine River. We are also able to reserve a "time slot" for the Louvre Museum through the PARiS Convention and Visitors Bureau website. This is going to be a necessary requirment going into the future for Louvre Museum entry.
I have also bookmarked the Copenhagen, Danmark tourism website because it is also very useful for booking and paying for the same kind of reservations and packages we receive with the Paris PassLib' package. Paris and Copenhagen are both cities we will be visiting often in the future. This is why it is helpful for me to have their websites in my travel bookmarks folder. Many cities will have their websites that can be very useful for visitors. City maps, including metro, train, and bus lines are also included with these city card/pass packages. The Copenhagen Card is definitely worth purchasing for access to many museums and other venues and I am sure this is the case for many cities throughout the world. I just purchased my first New York Pass which is similar to the Copenhagen Card. The New York Pass is only for museums and other places and does not include a transportation pass like the Paris PassLib' package does. In fact, we can't even purchase a transportation pass for New York City on line. We have to purchase them upon arrival. I chose the digital version of the New York City Pass so it is on my cell phone with the New York City Pass app. It is great, with descriptions of all the places I will be able to use it for free admission. I will just scan it at the entrance of each place.
When I bought my plane ticket to India, it was for my very first overseas trip. I called the booking agent via landline phone because there were no mobile phones nor PCs then. The booking agent was referred to me by the temple president of ISKCON Denver, Colorado. I called, told him when I wanted to go, and where I wanted to go, and he took care of everything else for me. You can go to my page, "INDIA" if you want to read about the trip.
Things you will get with the Paris Pass Lib' package. Transportation pass, Museum pass for about 60 museums, free ride on the Hop on Hop off bus, free ride on Paris Bateaux, Map of Paris, fold out list of the museums with descriptions of each one. The cost depends on how many days you want the passes for..
NEW YORK CITY
I have been to 21 countries but never visited New York City except to pass through Queens to get from the domestic airport to the international airport and vise-a-versa (La Guardia Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport). Farida told me that she would like to see New York City and I thought that this would be a good year to finally visit a city I probably should have visited many years ago. After all, my ancestors came through New York City and lived there before moving to Hibbing, Minnesota building their houses in a section of Hibbing called Brooklyn (named after the section of New York City called Brooklyn). It is time to visit Little Italy in New York! Joe's Pizza here I come 😄🍕🍕 (although I believe Joe's Pizza is in Greenwich Village).
It is scary reading about the subway though. It seems to be deemed one of the worst in the world. It is one of the largest and oldest subways. There is overcrowding, many delays, homeless and transient people everywhere, It will be bumpy at times, smelly, and very cold in the winter and very hot in the summer. That all scares me but one really good thing about the New York City subway (or "train" as the locals call it) is that it is open 24 hours a day (Even Paris does not have that, although their subway does run untill around 0200). Maybe we can ride it really early in the morning to the areas we want to visit each day and just explore within walking distance everything we can see there and then return to the hotel rather late in the evening? I will explore that possibilty. This way we will dedicate a specific neighborhood of the city to "live in" each day. There are also commuter trains but they take commuters between the main 5 New York City boroughs of Queens, Broolyn, Manhattan, The Bronx, and Staten Island and whatever town the commuters live in such as Newark or Long Island. Oh, and Staten Island has its own railway which is not connected to the subway in the other 4 boroughs; you will have to get off at Battery Park (southwest area of Brooklyn) to ride a Staten Island Ferry which is free and payment to get on one subway carries over to the other subway. The New York City subway or "train" on the other hand, never goes further than the confines of New York City.
Another scary thing about the New York City subway is that most of the subway lines have more than one "service" or train that share part of the same track but end up in different destinations. I am thinking that the thing to do is plan out the correct subway line and correct train number or letter along with the correct subway stop and then confirm everything with a hotel staff member along with any important details about the commute for that day. We will also have to pay attention to whether we need an express train or a local train. Looking at the subway line map indicates that most of the subway lines have both express and local trains. The local trains will stop at every stop on the line of a shared track but the express trains provide faster service by passing by several stops. Also, the express will sometimes become a local train such as when it splits off from the portion of the track that it shares with another train or trains that are local trains. It may also become a local train when it is going back in the opposite direction. It looks like the express trains will have the number or letter of the train inside a diamond and the local trains will have their numbers or letters inside a circle (which are also color coded indicating what subway line it services). Wow, my head is starting to spin now. I did find a really great website called nycsubwayguide.com that explains everything about the New York City subway system in a clear and step by step approach that makes me feel that I just might survive it.
THE PLANE TICKETS:
17th of January, I managed to book the 2 tickets for my wife and myself. First I went to the 4 different price comparison sites; priceline, cheapflights, skyscanner, and kayak search sites. I was not satisfied with what I found because, although all of the first flight options were quite affordable (around $375 average), I found only multi airlines options with very little offering flights with Delta Airlines. I always look for flights that incude at least half of the flights with Delta Airlines because I belong to their frequent flyer sky-miles program. So what I did was write down the price of the flight options that included some legs of the flights that included Delta Airlines. These flights were a little higher than the average of around $375, generally around $400. Then I went to the Delta Airlines website and clicked on "Book a flight" ,filled in the Departure city firld, arrival city field, and the amount of passengers. I then brought up the calender to click on the day I was planning to depart Albuquerque. As I did this, prices came up for each day of the week and I noticed that the price for 5th of August was something like $50 less expensive than my original planned departure date of 6th of August. I changed my plan and chose 5th of August. Then I brought up the calender to chose the return date. Lo and behold, I noticed that the 15th of August was also something like $50 less expensive than my original return date of 17th of August. I chose that less expensive return date of the 15th of August and the final calculated price for each plane ticket was only $370. 65 which pleased me immensly and that ended my search right there. I booked the tickets and put this aspect of the trip planning behind me. There was one caveat though. It turns out that we will be flying into Newark, New Jersey!!??!! What are we going to do in Newark?!!? Immediatly take transport into New York City or stay one night there??!!?. I will now spend the next week researching the transportation from Newark into New York, hotel options in Newark, and possible sites to visit and restaurants in Newark might be interesting, (there are about 50,000 Spanish and Portuguese restaurants in Newark [very slight exaggeration]).
We may return to Newark for an afternoon because I think it would be interesting to see the City of Newark City Hall, GRAMMY Museum Experience Prudential Center, and the Newark Riverfront Park Boat Dock (a little boating anyone?), and about 100 Hispanic style restaurants that serve Seafood Paella. Oh, and the Newark International seems to be the oldest airfield in USA. I guess that will warrant a photo or two. We just have to see how things work out, we are in New York for 10 days after all.
Booking hotels in New York will be a little complicated because I also like to compare suggestions from my favorite professional travel bloggers on Instagram and Pinterest (I do not go to Facebook very much because it is too busy for me). I always book at least one hotel suggested by Sarah Kim (www.fromlusttilldawn.com blog). She had lived in New York for several years and always seems to have great taste. I am finding TripAdvisor quite handy in making decisions about reservations for the NYC hotels. I booked 2 nights at:
.........VICTORIAN BED AND..... BREAKFAST
After deciding what areas of Staten Island I wanted to visit (pretty much along the north east coast), I used Google Maps and TripAdvisor to choose the hotel in that general area. I made reservations at the Victorian Bed and Breakfast of Staten Island because it seems to be the coolest place in the neighborhood 😏. When I travel, I always reserve only 2 nights in each hotel unless it is a favorite hotel in a city where we have stayed before (then I would book 3 or 4 nights there). That way we can continue to experience various hotels until we have a good list of favorites around the world. All of our favorite hotels and restaurants are stared (🌟) on Google Maps and I keep their business cards. 2 nights will give us a full day in the neighborhood of each hotel. Also, when a hotel is not as nice or comfortable as we hoped it would be, then 2 nights of just sleeping there would be bearable.
Victorian Bed and Breakfast should be very good. It is a 3 🌟hotel in an old, renovated house built in 1846. Although it has been restored, it still has Victorian chandeliers, original fireplaces with marble mantels, Victorian furniture, and a professional renovation expert as the proprietor who is also a great cook.😃 (She is a former engineer from Poland). A few famous people have spent time here. 2 of those people, I am familiar with; Edward G. Robinson and Bugsey Segal. It is 1.5 miles west of Snug Harbor and the Botanical Gardens. Home cooked country style breakfast, room in private house where famous people have spent time, and only $335 for 2 nights? Absolutely!!! Their website is; http://victorianbedandbreakfast.net and the website is really nice.
...........THE JANE HOTEL .......
I decided that I wanted to visit Greenwich Village area next so I used the same method of comparison to book a 2 night reservation at Jane Hotel on Jane Street in Greenwich Village. The Jane Hotel is called a West Village landmark boutique hotel. The rooms have a maritime theme, decked out as ship cabins. In fact, the room I reserved is called a Captain's Cabin. This is a really historic hotel. Some of the survivors of the Titanic disaster were put up in this hotel while the sinking of the ship was investigated. The Senate Committee investigating the sinking were working at the Waldorf-Astoria. The Jane hotel was first built as a hotel for sailors in 1908. It was in 1912 that the Titanic hit a bit of ice and sank so that is when the survivors would have been staying there. The hotel was renovated in 2008. 113 Jane Street Greenwich Village, New York, NY 10014 is the address. 1-212-924-6700 is the phone number. The total price with taxes already included will be $523.38. I believe this is a good price for 2 nights at an iconic hotel like Jane Hotel. And www.thejanenyc.com is the website.
HOTEL INDIGO. ..............BROOKLYN.............
After we stay in Greenwich Village area for 2 days, I decided that I would like to explore Brooklyn so I compared prices and reviews of various Brooklyn hotels. I decided to reserve a room in a hotel suggested by Sarah Kim's fromlusttilldawn blog post on Pinterest. I chose the mid-range hotel called Hotel Indigo Brooklyn. The address for this hotel is 229 Duffield Street and firstname.lastname@example.org and it is with the IHG hotel group. When I made the reservation, I noticed that they have a rewards club and an affiliate program so I joined the IHG Rewards Club and I signed up for the affiliate program but I do not know what will come out of it. Anyway, the cost will be $440.76 for 2 nights which includes $62.76 in taxes. The confirmation e-mail that the hotel sent me mentions that guns (both concealed and unconcealed) are prohibited on the premises of the hotel. There is a fitness center, a rooftop terrace, and a lounge at the Hotel Indigo.
................HOTEL RIU PLAZA NYC TIMES SQUARE ...........
After making this Hotel Indigo reservation, I decided that I would like to explore the Times Square and Hells Kitchen area of New York City. Again, I chose a mid range hotel that was suggested on the Pinterest gallery posted by Sarah Kim (fromlusttilldawn travel and fashion blogger). The address of this Riu hotel is, 307-311 46th Street, Hells Kitchen, New York 10036. Phone number is, 1 646-864-1100. I booked a Deluxe Queen for $333.98 and it does include breakfast.
This Riu hotel is a 29 floor highrise hotel with a 24 hour gym and a good restaurant. They also have The Fashion Bar, The Capital Bar (which serves grab and go snacks), and The Theater Buffet. It is at the edge of Times Square and is surrounded by restaurants and theaters so for our last 2 days in NYC, we will be walking around for no more than 1 square mile (I figure).
Coronavirus 2019 has created the greatest obstacle that I have ever had to overcome in all of my lifetime in research and planning for my travels. This is the 8th of May 2020 (anniversary of Germain surrender at end of world war II) so we still have 3 more months before the departure date for our flight to New York but we have no idea if we will be able to fly there in August. I can only watch all the news about Delta Airlines and New York, what is happening and what they are doing concerning the pandemic. Most flights are still being canceled and rescheduled with delays and much fewer flights, more restrictions, and fewer passengers on each flight. Travelers in May and June are more immediately affected than we who have planned our travel later this summer so I will just wait for them to navigate this pandemic disaster, then I will start calling Delta Airlines and the hotels...
20th of June, Delta Airlines has confirmed that my flight to New York City in August is still good to go but they changed my time of departure. Instead of leaving early afternoon, now we are scheduled to leave at 0630!. That is a big difference in departure time. The good thing about it is that we will arrive in Newark Airport early afternoon instead of in the evening. The bad thing is that we have to be at Albuquerque Sunport by 0530. 😣...
Now I will have to find out what attractions are going to be open in mid August. What landmarks can be visited, and what restaurants will be open during these uncertain times. New York City is already opening up in their phase 2 of easing the restrictions from their lockdown. They are doing good. New Jersey also seems to be doing good so we should be able to do quite a bit when we arrive there. I have about 35 days to use my travel apps:
Get Your Guide
New York City Pass (A temporary app for just this next trip)
To find out what is opening up and what may still be closed in mid August. I do follow a couple of travel bloggers on Instagram and Pinterest so maybe they will be able to help me too.
I am on edge now. All of the NYC and travel apps indicate that the attractions in NYC are still closed.
It is 11th of July and I have practically nothing to book. 🤔 I even looked up hot air balloon rides (possibly down the Hudson River?). Sadly, the only hot air balloon tour companies are outside of NYC and none of them indicate that they have pick up service in the city. What to do?
Well, I figured one thing out.🙂 I can go to Google Maps, type in New York City, hit search, and look at all of the restaurants and points of interest to find which are open and which are "temporarily closed". I can go from there to start making reservations at places that may have limited seating and space.
I thought I could go to my New York City pass app and go to any attraction to see if it is open or "temporarily closed" but that information is not given. The sight just gives a warning as soon as I open it that many places may not be open so we must research each individual place to see what the status is.
I am going to check out my other travel apps to see if any of them give open or "temporarily closed" status to individual places. If none do, then I will fall back on my Google Maps plan🙂
14th of July 2020: It looks like we may not be able to go to New York City this year. I just heard on the news that New York has now added New Mexico visitors to their 2 week quarentine list. Their decision was based on how bad our 7 day rolling average of new Coronavirus cases had become. Would we be allowed to move between the various hotels I made reservations at? Even if we can do that, we would be stuck in the hotels. Tomorrow I will have to start making phone calls. My anticipation for this year's vacation is fading away quickly. I am very upset and embarrassed because I have never had to cancel a trip before but yes, I am going to cancel this one 😣
15th of July, 2020: I just spoke with a Delta Airlines representative and I found out that I could get a refund by canceling the reservations for our tickets or we can get credits that they will save for us to rebook our reservations when we are ready to fly to NYC. I told her that I will call back the first week of August to reconfirm our flights to NYC if the 2 week quarentine restriction for New Mexico visitors is dropped or to get the credits saved for our future rebooking as soon as we can if the quarentine restriction is not cancelled.
23rd of July; I completly give up on visiting NYC this year. New Mexico still has the 2 week quarentine for all visitors and for residents who leave the state and return. New York also still has the 2 week quarentine for visitors from New Mexico. Also, our governor is even suggesting that travel between counties is discouraged; she says, "We are spreading COVID". Well, we ARE going to do at least THAT. (I mean travel between New Mexico counties, not spread COVID 😏) I called Delta Airlines and received e-credit vouchers to rebook our New York City reservations as soon as I am able to rebook for next year. I have also cancelled all of the hotel reservations making it clear that I WILL rebook as soon as I can for August 2021.
So....our revised plans for travel this year are Santa Fe NM, Taos NM, Angel Fire NM, and Las Vegas NM. I will not have a website page dedicated to this trip because I have New Mexico posts throughout my website and I will just add a few photos from this trip to those pages. Most of my New Mexico posts just go to Instagram and Pinterest. A few go to my Life and Observations Facebook page.
I feel very frustrated and kind of empty. I have never had to cancel a trip before. It really feels wrong 😥....
I want to be immortal
Climb to the top
Of every mountain
In the world
Float from the beginning
To the end
Of every river
Be the blasphemy
Before all orthodoxy
Let the world burn
For all I care
It is eating itself
Or let it find love
And respect for all
Then i will live
One very nice development:
The owner of Victorian Bed and Breakfast in Staton Island New York e-mailed me and told me that she needs information to send me back the deposit that I had paid to her. When I called her, I told her that I would rather get a credit voucher for a new reservation in August 2021 if possible. She told me (she has a very pronounced European accent, I believe she is from Poland) that she would be happy to accommodate me. She will have it in her records that we have a deposit already paid by me and she will e-mail me as soon as she has the reservation made.
Another good development is that the NYC subway system will be much cleaner than it used to be before the Coronavirus outbreak. It even stops running around midnight when it undergoes a sanitized sweep. This means that the vagrants and transients are not sleeping there all night making it dirtier. Now it is getting cleaner throughout the night! 🚞
I am starting a new research project for my trip to NYC in 2021. I decided to stay at The Jane Hotel first next year because it is quite close to both NYC Penn Station and to the World Trade Center station. It is kind of halfway between those two stations. We would take the New Jersey Transit system to Penn station and be about 15 minutes from the Jane Hotel via Express line A. Or we would use PATH (Port Authority Transit-Hudson) from Newark Liberty Airport to the World Trade Center station and connect to Uptown Express line A as far as 8th Avenue and 14th Street station where we would be within 10 minutes walking distance to the Jane Hotel. There are now Google Maps apps for both of those routes on the homescreen of my cellphone. The choice can be made after arriving at the airport. The first choice will cost $12.50 or $13.00 ( I have seen both prices) for the Air Train service with the New Jersey Transit system to Penn Station. Or $2.75 for the Air train service with PATH to the World Trade Center station. PATH will take quite a bit longer because we would have to get off at Newark Penn Station to transfer onto the PATH subway to NYC Penn Station. So we may still choose the New Jersey Transit System because it would be easier and faster and only about $10.00 more for each ticket (probably worth it).
12th December 2020; I am getting a little exited and impatient now because the vaccine for COVID 19 is starting to roll out of the Laboratories. England has already started vaccinating their elderly population. I can not help thinking that I will be able to rebook my reservations for the trip to NYC any day now. I want to see a down turn in COVID 19 infections and hospitalizations in our country and in Europe so I can confidently start rebooking plane reservations and the hotel reservations. Come on, lets have at it!!
10th January 2021, I just read news that travel should start getting back to normal by this summer. I will, therefore, call Delta Airlines today and talk to them about rebooking my reservations for 10th of August. That is exactly 7 months after today.
Well, I did it. Today (13th January) I rebooked our e-credit vouchers for New York City. We will be arriving into Newark Liberty Airport late though. I will be considering a new itinerary based on the fact that we will be landing around 2230. I just might choose a hotel near the Newark airport after all. Time to research some good hotels in Newark that have hotel shuttle service.
28 January 2021; I got busy this last week. I booked a room with 2 double beds at an IHG hotel near the Newark Liberty Airport. I chose the hotel because I am a member of the IHG hotel group rewards program and also because they have a free airport shuttle service. It is the Holiday Inn Newark Airport Hotel. This way we can arrive at Newark airport and then take a free shuttle to the nearby hotel for a night of relaxing. After considering my next move, I decided the next day to book a room at the same hotel for the last night of the vacation before our return to New Mexico. I called the IHG HOTEL GROUP directly to book a room for the 19th of August. I was told that the Holiday Inn Newark Airport was full for that date! 🤔😮🤔. It is full during a Coronavirus outbreak?!? Anyway, the representative who I was talking to gave me the suggestion that I could book a room at another IHG hotel near the Newark Liberty Airport and she could book the room for me. I told her to do it and we now have a room booked at Crown Plaza Newark Airport Hotel. We had, at this point, a room booked at Holiday Inn Newark Airport for our very FIRST night and a room at Crown Plaza Newark Airport for the very LAST night of the vacation 2021. Today, I just got off the phone with the wonderful proprietor of Victorian Bed and Breakfast Staten Island. She remembered me 😍😍! We very quickly rebooked my postponed reservation for a Queen room on the second floor with a street view. So, before the end of January, I have already made the reservations for three hotel stays, covering four nights because we will be staying at Victorian Bed and Breakfast Staten Island for two nights. I described Victorian Bed and Breakfast on this website page earlier.
29th January 2021; we now have reservations at the Jane Hotel. We have two nights here that I had to book online. I called the hotel directly but the representative who answered told me that the hotel is closed now but they do have full availability in August so I can go online to book the room. I immediately went to the website of the Jane Hotel and booked the room through Booking.com. The Jane Hotel is described above.
31 January 2021; At 0330, I was online exploring NYC and somehow Booking.com popped up. The reservation page for RIU Plaza Hotel Times Square came to view and I decided to make an immediate reservation for our stay there. I believe this new reservation will be a little less expensive than the original reservation that I made for last year. I will be paying only $480 for a Deluxe Queen room (2 nights). That is significantly good because this hotel is a 4 🌟 hotel. It is described above since I had reserved a room here last year before I had to cancel my NYC 2020 vacation.
1st of February 2021; all hotel rooms that we will need have now been booked for this years vacation in New York City 🎉🎉🎉🎉. The final rebooking has now been made after I returned to the Indigo Brooklyn Hotel (on the Lower East Side) website and chose a delux king room to reserve for two nights. All nights of this upcoming vacation are now taken care of. Hotel Indigo Brooklyn has been described above. Here is the list of hotels where we will be staying in NYC in the order when we will be staying in them:
Holiday Inn Newark Airport.
The Jane Hotel Greenwich Village.
Victorian Bed and Breakfast Staten Island.
Hotel Indigo Lower East Side.
RIU Plaza Times Square.
Crown Plaza Newark Airport.
Holiday Inn belongs to the IHG hotel group which explains why I received this notice with my reservation e-mail. I chose Holiday Inn because the hotel is very close to the Newark Liberty Airport and they have airport shuttle service. I do not book all rooms in IHG hotels because I like to also stay in hotels recommended by Social Media influencers and sites like TripAdvisor and Culture Trip but I WILL book at least one room in an IHG hotel each trip.
Plane reservations rebooked, all hotel reservations rebooked, New York Pass app still on my cell phone home screen, what do I do now? Just wait for 6 months until the date of departure? Absolutely not; I will spend the next few months finding at least 10 most interesting and recommended places to visit within each of the neighborhoods that our hotel stays are located.
9th February 2021; studying the north east coast area of Staten Island, close to the Victorian bed and breakfast, I came up with a nice 2 days of exploration:
Garibaldi Meucci Museum
Shake Shack (we do not have any Shake Shacks in Albuquerque)
Staten Island Museum
Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden 🌟
National Lighthouse Museum
Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art.
St. George Theater.
And of course, we will be using the Staten Island Ferry. 🌟
The Jane Hotel is in Greenwich Village so I put together a list of activities in and around this neighborhood:
Bleecker Street has several interesting places:
Bitter End Bar 🌟
160 Bleecker Street was called Mills House when Allen Ginsburg lived there 🌟
Paul Smith Store
7 For All Mankind Shop
Zadig and Voltaire Shop
113-121 Macdougal Street where several hang out places were located that hosted many of the Beat Poets as well as Bob Dylan, Andy Warhol, Ernest Hemingway, and John Dos Pasos. 🌟
UMA Raquel Davidowicz Store
John's of Bleecker Street
JG Melon Restaurant
We could also visit:
Witney Museum of American Art
Washington Square Park 🌟
Joe's Pizza 🌟
Stikys Finger Joint
The Uncommons Café
The Stonewall Inn Bar 🌟
Also within easy walking distance to the Jane Hotel are:
Chelsea Market because Chelsea neighborhood is just north of Greenwich Village and Soho because Soho is just south of Greenwich Village.
We could even walk up to the Flatiron Building if we decide to.
If we do walk up to Chelsea to visit Chelsea Market, we could also visit:
The Highline Park 🌟
Ground Zero Museum Workshop
Or, if we walk south to SOHO, we could visit:
American Two Shot
It all seems that there are way too many places to go while staying at the Jane Hotel for two nights but we can also use the subway system if it means we can visit a majority of these places.
I would like to take a photo of the section of the Berlin Wall that is located near the 9/11 memorial site. So I think it would be nice to walk south from the Jane Hotel, along the Hudson River, past the Tribeca neighborhood, to the Berlin Wall section. The wall piece is at 520 Madison Avenue. I would walk through Tribeca while returning to the hotel. I would take a few photos of iconic buildings along Park Place. The Woolworths Building is also in Tribeca. Silverstein Family Park would be a good place to take a few photos. The Federal Office Building is next to this park.
While staying in the Lower East Side neighborhood, we will visit:
Ma Non Troppo
The Bun Hut
9/11 Memorial 🌟
One World Trade Center 🌟
Irish Hunger Memorial
Fraunces Tavern 🌟
New York City Hall and the Jacob Wrey Mould Fountain
Wall Street area with that big Bull Statue (Raging Bull or Charging Bull)? 🌟
We would also take the subway from here to visit Brooklyn and Queens. In Brooklyn, I want to eat at Da Nonna Rosa and relax at Harriet's in the DUMBO area on top of 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge. In Queens, I want to visit The Nourish Spot in the Jamaica neighborhood and visit the Bronx Botanical Gardens as well as the Socrates Sculpture Park.
It should also be easy to visit Little Italy and Chinatown while staying in the Lower East Side area. In Chinatown, I would like to visit:
Pearl River Mart
New Kam Man
In Little Italy, I want to look for some gelato. 🍨🍧 It is an easy walk from Hotel Indigo to Little Italy and Chinatown. Walk west a few minutes longer and you can find the Ice Cream Museum of New York and the Basilica of St. Patrick's Old Cathedral. 15 to 30 minutes and you can arrive at any of these places. Even closer to the hotel are:
Katz's Delicatessen 🌟
Gnoccheria di Luzzos' 🌟
The apartment building where Allen Ginsburg once lived
Nuyorican Poets Cafe
Early morning photo walks while staying at Hotel Indigo Lower East Side can include most of the above mentioned places such as Chinatown and Little Italy. The Former Small Pox Hospital Building would be great to photograph also. I definitely would go there during one of the walks. It is on Roosevelt Island which is in the East River. The Roosevelt Island Tramway is open by 0600. And of course, when I find some place I want to enter and it is not yet open, I know exactly how to arrive there with Farida later in the day.
I know I want to go to Roosevelt Island to take a photo of the Ruins of Small Pox Hospital but I do not know what else I can visit there. I went to the New York City Pass app and looked up Roosevelt Island and found "No Results" so I just Googled Roosevelt Island. I came up with a few places that I could include in this photo walk:
Franklin D Roosevelt Four Freedoms State Park
Roosevelt Island Boardwalk
There is also a lighthouse on the island but it is on the opposite end of the island from the Franklin D Roosevelt Four Freedoms State Park so I probably will not see that on this first visit to NYC.
While we are staying at the Riu Plaza Hotel, we will definitely take one or two evening walks in Times Square since it will be right outside our front door. 😃 . We will spend one or two hours in Central Park during both days that we will be staying here. Central Park is huge so we can spend time in different areas of the park each day. I want to go see the Apollo Theater, La Fonda Restaurant, Joy Burger Bar, Patsy's Pizzeria, and Malcolm Shabazz Harlem Market in Harlem so it should be convenient to visit Harlem and the north side of Central Park on the same day.
The south side of Central Park and Museum Mile can be visited on the other day. In the area of Museum Mile I would like to visit:
Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum and its shop.
City of New York Museum and its shop.
Metropolitan Museum of Art.
American Museum of Natural History.
Museum of Modern Art. 🌟
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. 🌟
E. J.s' Luncheonette.
Giovanni Venticinque. 🌟
James Wood Foundry.🌟
ONE POSSIBLE EARLY MORNING PHOTO WALK WHILE STAYING AT THE RIU PLAZA HOTEL:
The main destination would be Grand Central Station. Still, I might bring Farida here also because I read that we could go down to the lower concourse and stand under the corners of the arches. We should be able to speak with each other in our normal voices and hear each other perfectly although we are on opposite sides of the concourse. In the meantime, I am planning Grand Central Station along with the Chrysler Building as a focus on one of my early morning photo walks during our stay at Riu Plaza NYC Hotel. There is also a Glass Waterfall Tunnel that can easily be visited. It is on the side of the McGraw-Hill building which is just 4 minutes walking from Times Square. Also to be included in one of the photo walks while we are staying in the Times Square area will be the Times Square Sound Installation. I will have to look for the pedestrian triangle between 45th street and 46th street. The humming sounds will emanate from underneath a metal grating on the pedestrian island in the middle of Broadway.
When I travel to different cities, I like to walk around some of the streets which are considered the most quaint, prettiest, and historic in the cities. I found two Pinterest articles that dealt with this exact subject for NYC. I have a list of streets to visit. I did not include a few streets that are gated. Here are the streets that I hope to photograph:
Greenway Terrace/Forrest Hills
Minetta Street/Greenwich Village 🌟 (I 🌟 this street because it is a must visit street for this trip. Panchitos Mexican Restaurant is here. Around 1970, this was Fat Black Pussycat Café. This is where Bob Dylan wrote his song "Blowing In The Wind" so I plan to take a photo of the building and patronize the restaurant since I will be there anyway).
Washington Street/Dumbo 🌟 Everyone has seen the photos from this street that have part of the Brooklyn Bridge at the end of it.
Riverside Drive/Upper Westside (especially between 90th street and 95th street where the Joan of Arc Island can be found).
Cranberry Street/Brooklyn Heights
47th Street and Skillman Avenue/Sunnyside Gardens
Convent Avenue/Harlem (Alexander Hamilton, who had an estate in the area of Convent and 141st Street, Duke Ellington, Jimmy Rushing, and the fictional Royal Tenenbaum lived here).
West 10th Street at 5th and 6th/Greenwich Village 🌟 (Mark Twain lived here).
Stuyvesant Street/East Village (Saint Marks Church-In -The-Bowery and Hamilton Fish House are located here).
Jaralemon Street/Brooklyn Heights
Bank Street/West Village
Barrow Street/West Village
Irving Place and Gramercy Park/ (Pete's Tavern is here)
The suggestions here for romantic places to do are on a Pinterest article created by Natalie and Jackson who have a travel blog called "A Pair of Travel Pants" and it is worth saving because it has some very useful links on it. Their favorite places I would like to visit with Farida are:
Central Park for romantic walks and photos at Belvedere Castle, Harlem Meer at the north east corner of the park, Bethesda Fountain, and the area of the park near the Metropolitan Art Museum for a picnic.
Relaxing on a bench at Gentry Plaza State Park.
Brooklyn Bridge walking at dawn or dusk. If we can be there at dusk, we will watch the sun go down and the lights turn on. (This sounds romantic already 😍).
A jazz club for drinks and music. The jazz clubs mentioned in this article are Village Vanguard and Dizzys' and there are links to the clubs' websites.
Rooftop views from Top of The Rock, Freedom Tower, Empire State Building, Bar 54, and 🌟Mr. Purple. Mr. Purple is 🌟ed because it is on top of Hotel Indigo Lower East Side which is one of the hotels we will be staying at.
Coney Island Boardwalk. There are fireworks here in the summer on Fridays. I will have to research this possibility because I have no idea where the iconic Coney Island is at.
The Bronx Botanical Gardens which is free on Wednesdays. This is already on my list of places to visit while staying at Hotel Indigo Lower East Side.
3rd of April; I started to watch YouTube videos about New York City. I subscribed to a channel called walking NYC. Having watched about 10 videos so far, I enthusiastically placed the High Line Park, the complete length of the park, and The Vessel at the top of my absolutely must visit places during our first trip to NYC. Chelsea Market ( Los Tacos #1 is here) can also be visited very easily from the High Line Park since it passes right by it.
OUR ITINERARY HAS CHANGED AGAIN. WE WILL BE FLYING INTO LA GUARDIA AIRPORT RATHER THAN NEWARK LIBERTY.
Now we will be flying into La Guardia Airport which is in North Queens. What happened was, I invited Rayhend to join us for the weekend in NYC and he accepted the offer. I immediately called Delta Airlines by 📱 to talk to a Delta Airlines representative. I told her I wanted the least expensive ticket to NYC and she told me that the least expensive ticket would fly him into La Guardia airport rather than Newark where we were flying into. I told her that the cheapest price was more important than the location of arrival. She booked Rayhends' ticket then she told me that we should, then, fly into La Guardia Airport rather than Newark so we could get some money refunded. I agreed to this which resulted in my receiving a refund of approximately$90 and Farida receiving several thousand Sky Miles rewards points back into her account. Now I will be looking for a good Spanish restaurant in NYC itself rather than in Newark. 🤔🧐 Although we could take a quick trip into Newark for dinner.
I have already gotten busy cancelling the Newark hotels and looking for La Guardia Airport hotels. I chose the Aloft Hotel because it is right at the airport and we will be able to walk to it in about 10 minutes. Aloft Hotel is a Marriott hotel.
I also got busy with the Get Your Guide app these last few days. I do not have to book anything for myself because I have the New York City pass but I do still have to book things for Farida and Rayhend. I have already booked e-voucher tickets for the guided tour of Battery Park, Liberty Island, and Ellis Island. Then I booked e-voucher tickets for The Edge Observation Deck which is in the Hudson Yards area (10 Hudson yards) so we can do that at the same time we do The Vessel.
21st of May, I went directly to the Top of the Rock website and booked reservations for Farida and Rayhend. This is at the top of Rockefeller Center and it is a 360° view of NYC. I will be able to use the New York City Pass app for my own reservation. I called Top of the Rock and I was told that I could not make my reservation ahead of time with my NYC Pass. In order to make sure I can enter Top of the Rock Observation levels at the time that I reserved for Farida and Rayhend, I should arrive early that same morning to check in with my NYC Pass app.
7th July 2021:
A roaming event called Immersive Vincent Van Gogh exhibition is now booked for myself with my wife.
Top of the Rock Observation Deck has been booked for myself, Farida, and Rayhend.
The Edge Observation Deck has been booked for myself, Farida, and Rayhend.
Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island with Battery Park Guided Tour has been booked for myself, Farida, and Rayhend.
I used Get Your Guide app to book these tours, except for the Vincent Van Gogh exhibition which I booked directly from their website.. I also booked a free guide directly from NYC guides' website, New York City Greeters. I contacted them and asked them what the suggested tip would be and I was told, "Our greeters do not accept tips but you can donate to our group through the website." 🤔. We will decide later what time the guide (his name is Bob) will meet us and what neighborhood to explore. I asked for a guide to show us a Queens neighborhood or a Brooklyn neighborhood.
I then booked time slot reservations ( yes, that is necessary), for The Met, MoMA, and Guggenheim Museum. I booked these reservations directly from their websites because I wanted to ask their representatives questions when necessary. It is really easy to connect with them and responses come the very next day (at least for me the responses came that quickly)🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
21 July 2021, Only 20 days before the trip to New York City and I am pretty much finished with the reservation process. I did just make a reservation at a small museum and its ajoining restaurant. It is the Fraunces Museum and restaurant. It is a famous place because it is one of the oldest taverns in the USA. In fact, George Washington had frequented this location.
28th of July: I just made three more reservations. One is for a storage unit for our luggage. Although it is generally possible to bring your luggage to the hotel you are staying at before check in time if you want to do something before you can check in ( we are doing that with The Jane Hotel), we will be storing our luggage during our visits at MoMA and Rockefeller Center area before we check into the Riu Plaza Times Square Hotel. I made reservations at LuggageHero because I had a "First Two Hours Free" deal with my New York City Pass. They have a location only five minutes walking distance to the Riu Plaza Times Square Hotel.
Another reservation I just made was with The Frick Collection. It is called Frick Madison right now because they are renovating their usual building. Right now, the Frick Collection is located at 945 Madison Avenue which is only five streets away from their usual building.
The third reservation I just made is for the American Museum of Natural History. This is actually the only reservation I have for the 18th of August.
This should be all the reservations I need to make because all my other plans are neighborhood explorations. It is possible, though, that I may have to make a reservation for Garibaldi Meucci Museum on Staten Island because I would like to visit there also. I will investigate that next.
The Vessel is now closed 😔... A teenage boy just committed suicide by jumping off of The Vessel. The authorities must now decide if they will be closing The Vessel permanently because several other people have committed suicide there. Therefore, we may not be climbing The Vessel.
Since we can not do anything at The Vessel (besides take a few photos there), I decided to replace it with The Eataly which is in the same location as the 9/11 Memorial Museum (4 World Trade Center) which would now be our next destination after The Edge Observation Deck. I also made reservations at Staten Island Museum and the Snug Harbor Cultural Center, Botanical Gardens, and Chinese Scholars Garden. These will be done the first day we spend on Staten Island. I tried to make reservations at La Pizza & Pasta Colori at Eataly but their website keeps sending me to Open Table which tells me that I can not make reservations"this far in advance".
I still want to try and make reservations at a Spanish Restaurant on Staten Island, La Pizza & Pasta Colori, and Whitney Museum of American Art. That should do it.👍
The reservations at Whitney Museum of American Art and a reservation made at a Spanish Restaurant (Socarrat Paella Bar) within walking distance of the Jane Hotel, we are ready to go. I could not make reservations at La Pizza & Pasta Colori but that is all right because there are many choices there and Colori has a deli type place where we can get some of their menu items.
9 August; Delta Airlines is now sending me an email about checking in with my cell phone. When I went to the Fly Delta app, there were two "Your Booking" fields for me to click on. The first field was for my reservation and the second field was for my wife's reservation.
This is probably enough for "practical things" so I will continue with a few photos from NYC itself on the Arrived in NYC page.