There’s something about New York.
When we found out we were moving to Toronto, one of the first places on our list of destinations to visit was New York. It’s only a 90 minute flight away, and we managed to go directly from Billy Bishop airport – which saved a lot of time and made the whole journey pretty smooth and effortless.
This Christmas was a strange one: my first ever away from home. We had deliberated for a long-time whether we should use our holiday to take a break back to England, or use to time to do a bit of exploring here.
When we first found out we were moving abroad, we both agreed we should use this holiday to explore this part of the world. 9 months on that decision was not so clear in my mind at least. Part of me really strongly wanted a break away from the expat lifestyle – but the pull of New York, the fact that when else would we be so close to New York, to be able to literally pop there in a couple of hours at Christmas time won the battle.
After various tips from friends in Toronto, we decided to buy the New York Pass. It is pretty pricey at $200 a pop, but after researching the attractions we would want to visit, and the cost of buying tickets for each one independently, it seemed worth the money.
What I did not realise was how unbelievably busy New York would be! I was expecting busy, busier than I have ever known before, but we really had picked the craziest week of the year to go.
Having the pass was supposed to mean we got to skip the lines at the attraction, but in reality because it was so busy, even with the pass we were still waiting hours to get into each one. Still we managed to pack in almost everything we wanted to see.
Highlights for me were definitely Top of the Rock and the Empire State Building Observations. Each offered a unique view of the city. A friend from home had advised to do one at night and one in the day time, so we did Top of the Rock at night and the ESB late afternoon. It was unplanned but we ended up eighty-something floors up at sunset which offered breath-taking views.
Also, the city was so wonderfully decorated for Christmas. In particular the area around the Rockefeller Christmas tree did not disappoint.
Another must do for me was the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island museum. One word of advice – get there early. We got up at 6.30 especially to get there for opening, and I’m so glad we did, as when we caught the ferry back from Ellis Island late morning the queue for tickets was miles long.
In hindsight, maybe I wouldn’t have bought the pass. The tourist sightseeing buses included were unreliable, so we mostly walked between attractions or caught the subway. Plus it meant you couldn’t buy tickets for attractions in advance online.
Overall however, it was a fantastic trip. You could go back again and again, and still have something new to see!