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With two children in New York - our first day in the Big Apple

Updated: Mar 27, 2023

In our last blog, I wrote about our arrival and our very first evening in New York. We flew to the most famous US metropolis at the beginning of July 2022 with our two children, aged seven and twelve. It was also our first trip to North America. Boy, were we excited. And rightly so!

Our first full day in New York got off to a great start.

We planned to spend three full days in the Big Apple and fly to Orlando on the fourth day. There we started our three-week Florida round trip. After Florida, we spent two more nights in the Big Apple before flying back home. In this blog, however, I only want to tell you what we experienced in New York - I already wrote about our arrival and the first evening last time. One of the most interesting moments of every trip was still to come: waking up for the first time in the destination country, or in a foreign country, as it sounds better. I love the feeling when I realise that I have arrived where I have wanted to go for so long. In New York, this moment was even more special than anywhere else. The morning view of the New York Times building from our hotel room window gave me goosebumps. All I wanted to do was have breakfast and explore the canyons of this extreme city.

Breakfast at Elements Times Square was OK by US standards. Only the accumulation of plastic waste took some getting used to. Other countries, other customs. I suggest all visitors to New York to really fill up their stomachs at the breakfast buffet, because eating out is really expensive in the States - New York goes one better. The prices in the supermarket are also an estimated 25 - 50 per cent higher than ours for most products. We had the misfortune to be blessed with an extremely high dollar exchange rate. What a nasty blessing!

Saturday, 2 July:

It was about 8.00 am when we left the hotel and we decided to walk to the famous Highline Park. We were confident of getting through the heavy walking load we had set ourselves, even with the children. We were sure that we would create a new walking record in this city if we visited our highlights.

On our way to Highline Park, a disused goods train track about two and a half kilometres long and 7.5 metres above the ground in western Manhattan that was converted into a great recreational oasis for locals and tourists from 2006 to 2019, we walked through a part of New York where we met few people. Maybe it was just the time of day. Along the way, we also passed "The Vessel".

The Vessel, strange but worth seeing. Unfortunately, access was closed.

The Vessel is an impressive building in the Hudson Yards district that consists entirely of stairs connecting several levels. This building can best be understood as a work of art or a monument, because it has no practical use. First and foremost, the structure by British designer Thomas Heatherwick is an eye-catcher in Hudson Yards, a new district on the western edge of Manhattan.

Almost directly next to this peculiar building is the entrance to Highline Park, and it was here at the latest that we learned to love New York.

The Highline is another world, as if a lifeline has been drawn through the city. A walk along the former railway line gives you the opportunity to take a deep breath and see New York from a different perspective. At the Chelsea Market there are several small bars where you can buy something to drink. We sat down on a bench with a delicious cold coffee, put our feet on the water-covered floor and watched the people, who were all very friendly. New York is, even if you might not believe it, a very open and friendly city.

Highline Park is fun for old and young and a real highlight in New York.

The next stop had also been on our list for a long time: Chelsea Market. We had already visited and learned to appreciate food halls like this in other cities like Barcelona or Cape Town. But the Chelsea Market offers more than just culinary delights and has a flair all of its own that is hard to describe. It is definitely worth a visit.

Chelsea Market invites you to shop and stroll. It has a real cult factor.

From Chelsea Market we marched straight to the next metro station. At this point, something has to be said about the New York underground: It is truly very iconic - if one wants to remain amiable. Walking down the narrow and often inconspicuous steps, one gets the feeling of descending into a dark and dangerous underworld. You expect to be greeted by Cerberus at any moment. The smells, which are sometimes already subterranean above ground, intensify in the old stations, which have obviously not been renovated for many years. It suddenly gets even hotter and buying a ticket becomes a gamble and is great preparation for a later trip to Las Vegas. The ticket machines are a wonder. Yes, it is a miracle that they still work. Each machine has a display at the top and tells you whether you can only pay in cash or with a card (you have to come up with that first, too). If you think you can buy several single journeys in one purchase, you are mistaken. For each ticket you have to insert your credit card again and enter the code again. If you are in a hurry, you need patience. Once we even had to go to another station because none of the three machines worked. The metro staff are very relaxed about it all. Just don't attract attention, should be the general motto.

With a ticket in your hand, you have to pass through one of the numerous turnstiles. The trick is to swipe the magnetic strip of the ticket as quickly as possible, otherwise the turnstile will remain a standing turnstile! Once you have got an idea of the huge underground network and are waiting at the right station, you have to sweat until the train arrives. In the carriages, the air conditioning is running at full blast and you are well advised to take a thin waistcoat with you on longer journeys. This way, using the New York Metro remains a real adventure.

The exits to the New York underground take a bit of getting used to.

We ventured on this odyssey and took the A line from Chelsea Market to Cathedral Parkway station, which is at the other end of Central Park. Our plan was to walk through the green lung of New York and observe what thousands of New Yorkers do every day in their free time. I admit that we underestimated the size of the park, because the way to the other end is like a hike.

There are an incredible number of these nimble comrades in Central Park.

After an overpriced sandwich, we set off. We have never seen more squirrels in a short time than in Central Park and even a turtle crossed our path. There are many small paths through the park itself, as well as some wide roads shared by cyclists, scooters and pedestrians. At 349 hectares, the park takes up about six per cent of Manhattan's land area and is one of the largest parks in the world. Every year, around 25 million people visit this recreational area with its wooded areas, bodies of water, food stalls, playgrounds, the Shakespeare Garden and much more. Street performers are always passing by and it's great fun to sit down with an ice cream and listen to the music. Central is an absolute must on any visit to New York and it certainly wasn't the last time we were there. Our children also enjoyed it very much and forgot how many miles we had already walked that day (not to mention the ones we still had to do).

In Central Park you can take a holiday from New York in the middle of New York. Great place!

After this excursion into green New York, we made our way to the Top of the Rock observation deck at Rockefeller Center. On the way there, we passed another skyscraper that I also really wanted to see from the inside: the Trump Tower. But this visit only takes a few minutes. Click and go!

A photo in Trump Tower was a must. Without fun, every trip would be boring.

Before our first skyscraper, three we had planned, we visited the Mexican fast food chain Chipotle and toured the wonderful Grand Central Station. This old New York terminal is located at the corner of 42nd Street and Park Avenue and was inaugurated on 2 February 1913 as a terminus. Since then it has been the station with the most tracks in the world - its 67 tracks terminate at 44 platforms and the grand concourse is impressive. A must-see for our son, who is an absolute train nerd.

Grand Central Station looks much more impressive from the inside than it does from the outside.

I had great respect for the next stop. For the first time I was to go up to the observation deck of a skyscraper - and with my fear of heights. Luckily, I still had a few of my fear-of-flying tablets left over, one of which I took about an hour before the visit. The Top of the Rock platform is part of Rockefeller Center, a centrally located building complex in Manhattan that consists of a total of 20 buildings, including 19 skyscrapers. With a height of 259 metres and a total of 70 floors, the Comcast Building (formerly GE Building and RCA Building) is the tallest building in Rockefeller Center and that's exactly where we wanted to go. I felt queasy despite the tablet, but if you're ever in New York, you have to get up on a skyscraper!

There are several skyscrapers in New York that offer visitors the opportunity to see New York from higher up for an entrance fee. Besides the Comcast Building there are also:

  • SUMMIT One Vanderbilt

  • The Edge Hudson Yard

  • One World Observatory

  • Empire State Building

Located on floors 100 to 102 of One World Trade Center, the One World Observatory is the city's highest observation deck in the world's sixth tallest building. We planned to work our way up. After Top of the Rock, Summit One Vanderbilt and the One World Observatory were still on the agenda.

Before the lift ride, which like the other skyscrapers is supposed to be quite an experience, we took in the forecourt of the Comcast Building. Between countless US flags, numerous roller skaters of all ages bustled about and directly in front of the building is a funny water feature, which is especially fun in summer. I foolishly ran through the high-pressure water fountain without any consideration and was already dripping wet shortly before visiting the platform.

I tested it for you and it's true: Water makes you wet!

On the way up, we were lucky once again because there was no waiting time at all. Arriving on the 70th floor, I felt dizzy for a moment, but I didn't feel any fear, so the dizziness also disappeared as soon. Probably jumped down in desperation. The feeling of standing on the open-air platform was gigantic and the view in all directions breathtaking. The entrance fee of around 40 euros per person is worth it in any case.

Great view from the "Top of the Rock" observation deck.

After this adventure, we went to Applebees, a restaurant and bar chain, bought the children a lemonade and toasted our first full day in New York with a large and also very expensive beer. After about 35,000 steps, we fell into bed in the evening, dead tired but highly satisfied. We were already looking forward to day 2, which I will report on in our next blog, it just doesn't add up in one.

At Applebees we reviewed the day over a cold beer.

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)

Here you Get Tickets for Top of the Rock


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