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New York exceeds every expectation

Updated: Mar 27, 2023

Our arrival in New YorkThirty minutes before the long-awaited arrival, the seat belt sign lit up again and the captain made his announcement, which, as always, echoed quite incomprehensibly from the loudspeakers of the Boeing 777: "We are starting our approach to New York...".

I didn't understand the rest because of the excitement. Soon we will have made it!

That they still haven't managed to make loud and clear announcements on planes is another story. This is about one of the most interesting cities in the world.

After just over eight hours of flying, we landed at Newark Liberty International Airport, 17 kilometres southwest of New York City. The flight in Premium Economy was great - with enough legroom in the front row and the opportunity to get some sleep, the flight actually went by faster than expected.

We had already prepared ourselves for a long immigration ordeal, as we had heard that the Americans were particularly strict about this. On this day, we must have been lucky, because after 20 minutes of waiting, it was already our turn, we had our fingerprints taken and were let into the country by an extremely friendly official. We had arrived, but how were we going to get to our hotel?

From Penn Station, we walked the streets of New York for the first time.

Our son (12) really wanted to go to the Big Apple by public transport, so we gave him the pleasure. We took the Airtrain, a monorail that has been in operation since 1990, to the airport station. After about 30 minutes on a direct train, we arrived at the Moynihan Train Hall at Penn Station in Manhattan. Finally outside, we stood on busy 8th Avenue. It was like a culture shock. Over 30 degrees Celsius, cars everywhere and many, many people, not to mention the many advertising screens on the incredibly tall buildings. We were suddenly in another world.

It was hot as we walked the blocks to our hotel with all our luggage.

It was only a few blocks from the train station to our hotel, Hotel Element New York Times Square West, 311 West 39th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues, and we decided to walk despite the long journey and all the luggage - we wanted to let this city take its toll on us. Back home in Vienna, it would have been 8 p.m., but here the clocks read 2 p.m., 2 p.m. - even though we would have liked to go to sleep, we had to hang on to adjust to the new rhythm.

On the way to the hotel we have already discovered some photo motifs.

The hotel turned out to be a stroke of luck. The location was very central and yet the room was very quiet. We had a mini-kitchenette and even a small breakfast was included, which is not necessarily standard in the US. As a European, you have to get used to the way of eating. If you are not staying in a hotel of the numerous international chains, you will have to get used to a breakfast mostly without vegetables, cheese selection and the like. What is usually available is scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages or hamburger meat, all kinds of cereals à la Kellogs as well as bagels, muffins and toast. The food and coffee are almost always served on loads of disposable crockery. Unthinkable here, but that's how it is here and the amazement wears off after a few days.

Breakfast is served on cardboard plates and with plastic cutlery. Almost everywhere, actually.

Right after checking in at the hotel, we got ready to explore the street canyons. What excitement we had! The very first step out of our hotel also gave us the first slap in the face. Most interiors are so chilled down in the States that temperature differences around 15 degrees Celsius are not uncommon, at least that's how it felt.

We marched out of our "side alley" back onto busy 8th Avenue and headed towards Time Square. On the way there, we got some hot dogs from one of the countless food stalls that are on almost every corner in New York. The chilli cheese dog even brought tears to my eyes. I think this is exactly how a New York debut should be!

Times Square is New York's most famous square and it stretches from West 42nd Street to West 47th Street and forms the centre of the theatre district of Manhattan known as Broadway. There is always something happening there and a walk through this hotspot is an absolute must on any visit to New York. At Time Square you are bombarded by an incredible number of impressions. The building fronts are full of moving neon signs, music echoes from the shops and street performers outdo each other in their performances. With a bit of luck, you might even meet the famous "Naked Cowboy" with his guitar.

There is always something going on at Time Square. Here you are in the tourist centre of New York.

As for the neon signs in Time Square, they are even specified in the building regulations of the City of New York. All new buildings must have brightly lit billboards to preserve the familiar image of Times Square. A lighting unit, LUTS (Lighting Unit for Times Square), has even been established specifically for this purpose.

When we arrived at Time Square, all hell broke loose. We had no choice but to let ourselves drift with the crowd. We stopped at a group of street performers. There must have been over 100 people watching the dancers and acrobats, and I of all people was chosen to be in the middle - on such occasions I am like a magnet and am almost always chosen, luckily I am not afraid of making a fool of myself in front of large crowds. This time I had to stand quietly next to a few other victims and was used as a high jump obstacle. The fun also cost us 20 dollars, as my wife was asked for a donation in front of all the spectators, so she didn't want to be stingy.

Times Square is home to the famous tech exchange Nasdaq, as well as many restaurants, bars and shops, e.g. the shrimp joint Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. The M&M store is also close by - a real paradise for children. Swarovski also has a shop with glittering crystal goods in Time Square.

You can find more information about shopping here:

After this unforgettable first little walk through the Big Apple, we marched back to our hotel packed with many new impressions and fell into bed dead tired. If you want to know what else we saw and experienced in New York, you have to read our next blog.

We look forward to your feedback and are open to a lively exchange. You also want to travel and like to travel often and have a question, just write us and comment.

Kind regards,

Steffi, Max and the kids

(Author of this blog: Max)

Mehr Infos zu unserem ersten Hotel in New York: Element TIMES SQUARE WEST

The Element Time Square is centrally located and has everything a city hotel needs!

This elegant hotel is located in Manhattan's theatre district, 644 metres from Times Square. It features a gourmet, open-plan kitchen and rooms with a 32-inch flat-screen TV.

The modern rooms at the Element by Westin Times Square offer a DVD player, iPod docking station and free Wi-Fi. A microwave, refrigerator and coffee maker are also provided.

This non-smoking hotel has its own fitness centre with a range of cardio equipment. You can also rent bicycles.

In the morning, you can enjoy a buffet breakfast at the Element. Snacks are sold in the 24-hour pantry kitchen.

The Times Square Element is 483 metres from Madison Square Garden. The hotel is also 1.6 km from NBC Studios and Rockefeller Center.

According to independent guest reviews, this is the most popular part of New York.

Couples particularly appreciate the location - they rated it 9.0 for a stay as a couple.

What's nearby

  • New York Times Buildin0,2 km

  • Madame Tussauds New York 0,3 km

  • Majestic Theatre 0,4 km

  • Playstation Theatre 0,5 km

  • Times Square 0.5 km

  • Restaurant Row 0.5 km

  • Minskoff Theatre 0.5 km

  • Richard Rodgers Theatre 0.6 km

Restaurants & Cafés

  • Café/Bar HK 0,2 km

  • Restaurant Casa Nonna 0,3 km

Top attractions

  • Madison Square Garden 0.6 km

  • Empire State Building 1 km

  • Rockefeller Center 1,2 km

  • Grand Central Station 1.3 km

  • Museum of Modern Art 1,4 km

  • Central Park 2,1 km

  • Metropolitan Museum of Art 3,6 km

  • Ellis Island 7,5 km

  • Statue of Liberty 8.6 km

  • Yankee Stadium 9,9 km

Landscape and nature

Hudson River Greenway 4.8 km

Public transport

  • 42nd Street Subway Station - Port Authority Bus Terminal 0.2 km

  • 34th Street Subway Station - Penn Station 0.4 km

Nearest airports

  • LaGuardia Airport 10.3 km

  • Teterboro Airport 12.6 km

We travelled from Newark Airport, which takes about an hour in public.


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