New York & Boston
One of the famous French writers, Simone Beauvoir had quoted, “There is something in the New York air that makes sleep useless”.
I literally ended up staying like an insomniac during my one month stay in NYC, racing against time and hectic office work to experience this beautiful and one of the craziest places I have ever been. I have a long standing sweet relationship with Amchi crazy Mumbai after my four years stay in the city and I also have sweet and sour experience of South America. But I felt nothing can really beat the craziness of NYC.
As soon as I landed at JFK Airport, I was greeted by an Indian lady at the Trolley counter with hilarious and very cute Hinglish. The stories I heard about craziness and diversity of culture was nothing compared to the real life experience after I landed in this city of dreams. Mix of people from every nook and corner of the World, happily living with each other with true brotherhood spirit, ever welcome attitude towards the new comers in the city was the most beautiful thing I loved about this place.
For the first time in my life I genuinely became a big fan of my employer when they allotted me a cozy two room studio Apartment right in the middle of Manhattan in 2nd avenue. My office was in 5th Avenue, one of the most happening areas in the whole of NYC with crazy places nearby like Times square and Rockefeller. And till today my employer thinks that I was so happy because of the new project assigned to me 😛
I was keener on experiencing the unconventional things I have heard about NYC than visiting the conventional tourist places. I have listed down some of my favorite experiences below:
Bike ride in the city
I am a huge bicycle fan but had to sacrifice this interest long back after I finished my schooling. I was on cloud 9 to see the extremely disciplined traffic of NYC and love for Bikes in the city. Merely after five minutes of reading notes in one of the Citibike stands, without thinking twice I took three day pass of Citibike paying $24 and $100 as deposit.
For entire month stay, Bike was my constant companion and I merrily hopped around the city with it. Especially, during week days, It was really fun to decked up in a business formal with high heels and ride a Bike to office and sometimes even to Client’s office in no hurry burry. For more details on bike renting you can find out here
Serenity of Hudson and elegance of Central park
Cool breeze, Beautiful sunset and spirit of merry people beside the Hudson River can transform you into a poet and a Philosopher. Every weekend I had to go for a mandatory Bike ride in Hudson River Greenway and ended up sitting there for hours.
Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
Intrepid is an American military and maritime history museum with a collection of museum ships floating on Hudson River and located very near to Hell’s Kitchen in NYC. Every Weekend it hosts lectures delivered by famous personalities on interesting topics related to innovation and Technology.
For the love of physics and maritime history I couldn’t resist the offer when one of my local friends said he has one extra ticket for a presentation on Hologram one Friday evening in Intrepid.
Yes, the tickets are absolutely free but it is first come first serve and you have to be real quick in getting them. It is definitely icing on the cake if someone does all the hard work to get the free ticket and you get to enjoy a nice Beer while seated inside a spaceship kind of environment and listen to some nerdy speech on one of your favorite ex-subjects in school.
Food and Beer
Just like the true reflection of the mixed culture of people from every nook and corner of the World, variety of Food is simply heavenly here. I couldn’t believe Food can be so authentic and make your taste buds go crazy.
First time in my life I had some really authentic Mexican Food in Rosa Mexicano which serves lip smacking fresh Guacamole prepared right in front of your eyes. I ended up visiting this place twice.
Queen of Sheba is the place where I had delicious Ethiopian dish with super soft Injera.
I obviously tried Indian food too in New Jersey once and many a times in Manhattan. Ironically, I didn’t like the Indian Food in a Punjabi Restaurant in New Jersey which was in a locality full of Indians and ended up loving Indikitch located in Manhattan.
I also got a chance to visit the World famous Kati Roll joint and I now know why the hell is this insanely tasty Rolls are World famous.
Another worth mentioning cuisine was the amazing Chinese cuisine in Xi’an Famous Foods. Interestingly, I was never a fan of Chinese cuisine and never knew what the authentic Chinese food is like till I tasted the mouthwatering Cold Noodles and lamb soup in this place. NYC is also heaven for vegans.
Note: I actually prefer homemade food and I don’t mind cooking to avoid regular eating out. Especially, when I am abroad I prefer to cook myself. But the food in NYC made me crazy and I never ever felt like cooking even once during my stay.
I was never a Beer Fan. But a lot of people insisted me to not give a miss on trying out NYC Beer. I still thank those friends who insisted me for trying out Beer in NYC. I am inflicted with a very funny side effect after this Beer incident. I have started brewery hopping in my current city, trying to find out the kind of Beer I tasted in NYC.
One of the cheapest and with great collection of Beer is Rudy’s Bar in Hell’s Kitchen.
Broadway, struggle for a cheap ticket
I think NYC experience is never going to be complete without Broadway in the list. And I am sure even if Theater don’t interest you, Broadway musical is not worth a miss when you are there.
For almost two weeks I tried figuring out various ways to grab some discounted tickets and also to get a ticket for the famous shows around.
But my Jugadu Indian nature didn’t turn out much of help in this case. Finally, I did manage to get a ticket for “An American in Paris”, which was not exactly discounted but it was one of my best experiences while in the city.
Let me tell you my Broadway story. Localites suggested me some random things like following the lottery process to get discounted tickets, but obviously, it is not practical for a temporary visitor like me. Finally, one of my friends suggested me to stand in the que in TKTS Booth near Times Square. I wanted to watch then famous show, Hamilton. It had 3 months waiting period. Anyways, I stood in the TKTS que and got a ticket for “An American in Paris” for $75. I thought I got some good deal for the ticket. When I went inside the theater I found out my seat was located in 4th or 5th row from the end. I got bit doubtful and tried searching for online tickets when I got back home. It turned out that I could have bought a hassle free ticket from any online website without standing in the que for almost the same price. I tried delving into the whole TKTS booking system more and my doubt was proved correct that this booth serves only as a tourists gimmick and it is not necessary to stand in the Que. You can get it in the theatre counter itself or buy online ticket for the same price. You can read a pretty informative piece here regarding TKTS booking.
Super crazy Times Square
New York is already a crazy place and Time Square in the middle of mid-town is crazier than the entire city itself. I actually felt giddy seeing the crowd there in front of glittering light and extremely intimidating skyscrapers. Nevertheless, notorious silent stalker inside me decided to sit quietly in the top of “stairway to nowhere” and stalk people and make a story out of the curious expressions of mixed people from around the World.
Three Indian ladies decked in beautiful Sarees sitting with mixed expressions on their face caught my attention. I tried figuring out whether they were missing India, checking out fashionable girls, getting nostalgic about something blah blah and ended up clicking their pictures. I am sure they started cursing me after this stint as I saw a stag of people queuing up after me to click pics of these decked up pretty ladies.
Rooftop Bar at Rockefeller
Rockefeller Centre is a large complex with around 19 high rise commercial buildings. To catch a glimpse of mesmerizing and glittering view of Manhattan’s skyscraper while sipping some old good wine is a beautiful experience.
I caught up with an old college friend at Bar 65 located in the 65th floor of 30 Rockefeller plaza catching beautiful glimpse of lit up Chrysler building, Empire state building and the beautiful city.
Speakeasy Bar is a very interesting marketing concept which is derived from Prohibition era in United States (1920-1933) when anything related to alcoholic beverages were illegal throughout the US. It still markets with this concept keeping in mind the fact that people love exciting experiences of doing something secretly
Some say it is over-hyped but some of them still manages to give best of experiences. It is not easy to get an access to some of the popular ones. We managed to grab 5 seats in one of the most famous speak easy bars in east Village, PDT (Please don’t tell) which goes by no-sign outside the Bar and has a telephone booth as a disguised entrance to the bar. All thanks to one of my very smart clients who was blessed with awesome networking skills. She made us felt like we achieved a lot in that evening by getting an access into a restricted place with an absolute ease. I could notice that many of the people were turned down and denied entrance into the bar.
This article gives a very good idea about speak easy bars.
Staten Island Ferry was replaced by Office Boat party
If you want to experience spectacular view of New York with a romantic feel good experience then this non-vehicular mode of transportation between Staten Island and Manhattan is one of the best experiences.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
I am a huge art fan and desperately wanted to visit Metropolitan Museum, which is one of the most famous Museum of Arts with paintings of great artists like Vincent Van Gogh and Pablo Picasso.
One of my friends had a membership and we did a very crash visit within a very short span of time of around 15-20 minutes. Even though it was a short visit I managed to enjoy it and admire a few famous paintings.
Super quick trip to Boston
The only reason I wanted to visit Boston was due to my weakness for top Universities in the World and I just wanted to feel the ground of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) once.
I booked 6:50 AM Megabus which takes around 4 hours to reach Boston and starts from 34th Street New York city. I had only one day in my hand to explore entire Boston and I wanted to make use of it to the maximum. But as usual I was late for 5 minutes and unlike my country, 5 minutes was a huge deal and I was super-duper late for my bus and ended up missing it. Thankfully, I was let to take the next bus at 9 AM without having to buy separate ticket and paying only $5 extra.
My one day Boston itinerary was very simple one. After grabbing a quick brunch in the Bus stop, South Station, I immediately bought one day pass for Bike in Boston from a Hubway stand right outside the station. Similar to Citibike in NYC, Boston has Hubway and the cost is cheaper than Citibike.
I started riding my bike from Bus stop, through China town and headed towards Boston public garden.
The weather was so cool, chilled and romantic that my philosopher inside me started budding in full swing. I was away from the hustle bustle of NYC and sat on a bench in Boston public garden for around 20 minutes enjoying the serenity and fresh air. After spending some time with myself, I headed towards MIT and decided to follow the bank of Charles River as shown in the map.
……It is a beauteous evening, calm and free,
he holy time is quiet as a Nun
Breathless with adoration; the broad sun
Is sinking down in its tranquility;
Beautiful fresh air whilst riding beside the Charles River reminded me of many Wordsworth poems. Before I could realise, I crossed the Harvard Bridge and landed up in front of this famous university, MIT which is home to top creams of the World and which nurtured some of the greatest personalities like, Andrea Wong, Kofi Annan and Michael J. Massimino. After getting a few clicks in front of the Iconic building of the Institute, I followed a map which somewhat goes in this direction as given below and ended up enjoying a bike tour of the city.
MIT —> stumbled upon Massachusetts state house by mistake —>Old North Church —> Freedom trail —> Little Italy —> Boston Harbour —> Back to Boston South Station —> Back to NYC
This article was first published in Tripoto