With the aviation highlight of the trip – the QSuites flight from Doha to New York – behind me, I caught the train from JFK airport to Fulton Street Station in the Financial District.
Day 1: Courtyard New York Downtown Manhattan/WTC
From there, it was just a short walk to my hotel for the next four nights, the Courtyard New York Downtown Manhattan/WTC.
I will not write a full review of the hotel, but I will note here that for the price I paid (about $90 per night) it was a perfectly fine. The room was nice, and there was even a cozy cafe on the hotel’s sixth floor.
The one unfortunate thing about it, though, was the room air conditioner’s noise which woke me up a couple of times during my four nights there.
Day 1: One World Trade Center and Brooklyn Bridge at Night
As I had no specific plans for my time in the city, after dropping my bags off and relaxing for a bit, I headed out to get some night photos (see my article about travel tripods) of One World Trade Center and the memorial pools which were just across the street from my hotel.
I also went to the adjacent Westfield shopping center which is a really impressive piece of architecture.
From the outside it looks cool, but not too large.
But, inside it is overwhelmingly large since the arch that starts above ground continues underground.
Once I was done there, I decided to walk to Brooklyn Bridge to get some night shots of it and the New York skyline.
After getting a bit lost at first, and getting under rather than on the bridge, I finally found my way and could get some photos. As I was getting tired, rather than walking the whole length, I walked to the halfway point and then turned around and started the walk back to my hotel.
Along the way, I grabbed some more photos – and then, after arriving back at the Courtyard, I called it a day.
Day 2: Financial District, Lunch, and Sleep
On my second day in New York, I was supposed to be meeting a friend that I went to university with for lunch. And, since I was expecting to be tired and sleeping in, I didn’t make any plans for the morning.
Because of jet lag, though, I woke up before 5AM – and so, after just relaxing for a bit and doing some work, I decided to head out of hotel and enjoy New York.
First, I took the Staten Island Ferry to Staten Island and back – my favorite way to see downtown Manhattan. And, one can see the Statue of Liberty from it as well. Best of all, rather than being an overpriced tourist attraction, it is a complimentary public transportation service.
On my way to the Staten Island Ferry terminal, I noticed the National Museum of the Native American Indian, and so, once I got back to Manhattan, I paid it a quick visit. While the exhibits themselves were quite interesting, I found the building that the museum is located in – Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House – to be even more impressive.
Then, after a quick stroll through Wall Street, I walked along Broadway all the way to Little Italy to meet with my friend.
A lot of talking and one large margherita at Lombardi’s – apparently America’s first pizzeria – later, I went back to the hotel where I fell asleep at 4PM, just to wake up way too early the next morning again…
Day 3: 9/11 Museum, Grand Central, and Times Square
As it was raining quite heavily on my third day in New York, I kept changing my mind as to what to do. And, eventually, I decided to go out in search of some breakfast. I had a quick sandwich at a cafe just a short walk away from my hotel – and as I was walking back to the hotel, I decided to step into the 9/11 museum for an hour…
…and that hour turned into more than three hours. All I can say is that the museum staff has made a really well thought out and designed presentation of the tragic events from 2001.
Combined with the fact that it is a museum about an event that I personally remember, it was probably the most “powerful” museum visit in my life. One of the items that I was most moved by was seeing a piece of one of the aircraft used in the attack, clearly wearing American Airlines livery.
And, it was quotes like the below that put into perspective the efforts that all the first responders put into helping the people in and around the buildings:
You could see that they knew… That it was dangerous. These people were concentrated, focused on doing their job… They were going up to their death. And, I was walking down to live.
Once I was done at the museum, I decided to go check out Grand Central Station after a friend suggested it as a nice building to see.
My last “sightseeing” stop in New York was Times Square to where I walked from Grand Central. After spending some time taking photos and looking around the M&M’s store, I got on the subway and caught a train back to my hotel.
I still had one day ahead of me – and I spent it taking photos of aircraft at JFK airport – but more on that later!