My Recent Trip To New York
New York can be a lot of things to a lot of people. To the residents, it’s a place to live and work. To people who may believe the 14 common misconceptions about NY who have never been to the United States, it’s one of the first pictures to pop into their minds, thanks to all the movies that take place in the city. To a theater kid from Southern California (or, for that matter, from anywhere else), New York City is the mothership. Last October, after years of scrimping and saving whenever I could, I finally had the opportunity to visit both my family who lives there and the city itself.
Many people who visit New York want to see all the big things: The Statue of Liberty, Central Park, the Empire State Building, and Times Square. Believe it or not, I had no interest in any of those, at least in the larger sense, but I ended up visiting, or at least seeing, all four.
I first entered New York City by train, and I arrived in the evening at Penn Station. My uncle met me there, and that’s when I got my first taste of why so many people choose not to drive in New York City. Since I was mostly there to visit family, I decided to stay with my uncle at his house in Staten Island. However, the adventure to get there was unforgettable! It boggled my mind that, in order to get from the train station in Manhattan to the suburbs in Staten Island, we needed to pass through New Jersey! Plus, there are tolls to get over every bridge, and there are bridges everywhere. Drivers and pedestrians alike are also both so aggressive that I found myself wishing everyone, even the pedestrians, would take a Defensive Driving NY course
After all that excitement, we mostly stuck around Staten Island the next day, but the day after that, it was time to go back into Manhattan! This time, I had the opportunity to learn about New York’s public transportation. My uncle and I walked to the nearest train station and took the above-ground train from his neighborhood to the Staten Island Ferry. The ferry is where I got to see Lady Liberty for the first time. For those who want to see the Statue of Liberty, but don’t want to make a day-long event of it, I highly recommend the Staten Island Ferry. On a clear day, it features gorgeous views of the statue. I felt very moved without ever needing to set foot on the island itself or climb the 377 steps to the crown.
Once we were on dry land again, we took the subway to Central Park. Like I said, Central Park as a whole wasn’t really my thing, though it is quite impressive, and so large I’m sure I could have spent my entire vacation there, if I was a more outdoorsy person. There were two things there, however, that put a visit near the top of my priorities list. First was the Central Park Zoo. True, we have a zoo in Los Angeles, but the Central Park Zoo has one very important thing we don’t have in LA: Red Pandas. All you have to do is look at one to know why I had to see one in person. The zoo isn’t large, not big enough to take up a full day, but I bought my general admission ticket and wandered around for an hour before making a beeline for my real destination. I finally saw a real live Red Panda, and I almost cried.
Next, my uncle and I meandered to the other reason I needed to visit Central Park. As previously mentioned, I’m a big fan of the theater, and one of my favorite plays is Angels in America. I kept it by my bed for years and read it countless times. Anyone who has read the play or seen the show, or the HBO miniseries will understand why I had to make my pilgrimage to the Bethesda Fountain. Luckily, my uncle was patient with me while I took a seat and simply bathed in the majesty and the beauty of the statue. After looking my fill and taking a ridiculous number of pictures, we stopped by the Strand bookstore kiosk, then took the subway back to Greenwich Village for dinner in a quirky but fun restaurant. It was getting late at that point, so we took a cab all the way back to Staten Island.
My next day in Manhattan was my last for this visit, but it was also the best. My uncle decided I should have the experience of exploring the city on my own, but he was still a bit protective, so he decided to arrange for a town car to bring me into the city and take me back when I was done. When I arrived in the city, I saw that I had several hours free, so I decided to hop on one of the double decker bus tours, after checking with the ticket seller that I would be back in plenty of time for my next event. Here’s a pro-tip for those who want to take one of those tours: don’t believe the guys who say the tour is only two hours. While I loved the tour and got to see many landmarks I would have otherwise missed, I had to beg the driver to stop and let me off early and then ran through Times Square as fast as I could to the Gershwin Theatre.
I arrived out of breath and barely in time for the highlight of my New York trip: Wicked. I had already seen the show twice in Los Angeles, but seeing it live on Broadway is an entirely different experience. If there’s any one piece of advice I have for tourists in New York, it is this: take in a Broadway show. There are plenty of ways to get tickets, and there are shows to fit almost every taste, available daily. The theaters themselves are marvels of architecture, and each one is different from all the others. There is always something new and exciting happening on Broadway, and even though I chose to just go straight for one of my favorite shows, I’m sure everything else good enough to make it on those stages would be amazing.
The trip was an incredible adventure, and I’m already stashing money away in order to eventually go back.