The weekend right before school started, mom and her friend wanted to quickly go to NYC. New York is really close by to Philly (as is DC). We decided to head out on Saturday morning and return Sunday evening.
The first option to get to NYC is to take Amtrak from the 30th street station in Philly. It takes about 1 hour 15 minutes and I believe stops at Grand Central for only 40$ one way. However, the much cheaper option is to take the chinatown bus. It’s called the chinatown bus because it takes you from chinatown of one city to chinatown of another. From Philly, the chinatown buses go to NYC or DC.
This is a much cheaper option (10$) but it’s definitely not as convenient from my place in University City. We wanted to catch the 7:00 am bus (arrive in NYC at 9:00am) so we left the house SUPER early! We had to walk 6 blocks to the Market and 40th Street station where we caught the Market line to chinatown (Market and 11th). We barely made it to chinatown on time and the bus was super packed. Apparently it’s super popular to visit NYC for a day trip. (It’s only 18$ if you buy a return ticket as well.)
After two hours on the bus, we got to New York safely. The sucky part was that we didn’t really know what to do from there. (Mom and her friend wanted to take a hop on hop off bus tour but I was too busy unpacking to figure out where the stops were or which company to use.) We ended up walking aimlessly through chinatown and finally found someone who knew where to go (the irony was that we went north and the bus stop was on the south corner of the bus station). But now I know that the M15 bus will take you uptown straight from where the Philly bus comes in.
The way that the hop on hop off bus tour for NYC works is that there are two main loops: downtown and uptown. We spent the saturday on the downtown loop and covered quite a few places including Times Square, Ground Zero, the Statue of Liberty (though we didn’t visit her island, the bus included a mini cruise that passed right by her feet). Just FYI: you need to book tickets at least THREE months in advance if you want to climb all the way to the top of her crown. It’s only 17$ but if you don’t book, you can only make it to the pedestal.
We also went through the financial district and went to the Century 21 store. Apparently they sell designer clothing for cheap, but we didn’t buy anything (they’re opening one in Philly in the next little while!) By the time we were done, it was getting quite late so we decided to try to find our hotel. It was called the Gotham hotel (after the architectural style and not Batman) and it was in midtown and very convenient to everything. Unfortunately, they only had king size beds in the room so I had to improvise with the blanket and couches. (It was like fort building all over again!)
On Sunday, we continued our tour of New York but this time travelled uptown (it was quite the adventure finding the bus ie none of the guides told us the right directions). It also started raining so we all got these yellow ponchos to wear on the top level of the bus. We got to see the Columbia campus (which mom and I want to go back to), where Yoko Ono lived, the Guggenheim, the zoo, Harlem, and many other cool things in New York. For brunch, we stopped at Lindy’s which is supposed to be famous for cheesecake. Mom and I split a breakfast because everything is soooo expensive and we also had a slice of cherry cheesecake! It was very nice =)
After that, we took the tour bus back to Chinatown and wandered around for an hour before heading back to Philly! Just a word of warning: they don’t give you a seat number or anything. So there are these giant lines of people trying to get on the bus. Quite a few people didn’t even make it and had to wait for the next one. Also, you have to be extremely careful to check what bus you’re getting on because these two girls thought it was to DC and got kicked off. Lastly, don’t sit near the back because the bathrooms smell extremely nasty.
It was a very intense weekend with no map and no idea what we were doing, but it was definitely interesting!
*You’ll have to wait for more photos since mom has them all on
my her camera.
I also saw this beautiful dress store but there was no name or way to get in (it was on the second floor). It looked like it was somebody’s workshop which was super cool!