Travel to New York, marathon and beyond
Which one of you, seeing images of the river of people crossing the Verrazzano bridge at the start of the marathon, has never thought of taking part and travel to New York?
I like to run so I decided to combine the marathon with a holiday in the Big Apple and even if you are not a professional (I’m not) you can still participate, even alternating running and walking, so you can enjoy the festive atmosphere that you breathe throughout the city.
To participate in the non-professional marathon, you can contact tour operators partner of NYRR operating in your Country. This is the solution simpler and even the only one in case you want to sign up after the deadline (February).
Operators are obliged to associate a package with participation which usually consists of:
- bib + flight
- bib + hotel
- bib + flight + hotel
On the NYRR website you can see the approved run operators for different countries.
I participated with Born2Run buying the package of 4 days bib+hotel (2194 euros for 2 people, 1097 per person). It’s a simple and flexible solution but certainly not economical.
If you participate in the marathon the next day go to buy the New York Times, you will find all the names of the participants (so also yours!) with the relative times; I didn’t know it and found out too late 😔. The day after the marathon, on Monday, is The Medal Monday and you will see all the participants around the city wearing the medal proudly showing the result of so many efforts and sacrifices.
The first time in New York (actually for me it was the first time absolutely in the States!) it’s full of expectations and with some suggestions I assure you will not be disappointed.
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How to get around in New York
On holidays I always prefer to walk but distances in NY are relevant so in some cases it is useful to use public transport; metro, bus, taxi, ferry, the choice is wide and depends heavily on your needs.
The subway. In NY the subway may seem like something terrifying (25 lines and 460 stations!), it’s actually simpler and more intuitive than you might think.
First of all there are no areas like in other cities where the cost of the ticket can vary, the ticket always costs the same throughout the area of the metropolitan network.
Subway lines are identified by a number (or letter) and a color; Color refers to a group of lines that share part of the path but have different terminus. Also pay attention to express and local trains:
- A local train stops at all stations onof its own line.
- An express train stopsjust at some stations of its own line (indicated with a white dot in the map).
Trains heading north are indicated with “Uptown/Bronx” direction, those going south with “Downtown/Manhattan” direction .
When you get to the subway, you need to find the right platform, depending on whether you want the train going north or south, depending on where you need to go. There are always signs to help you.
Most stations allow you to reach both docks from each entrance.
New York public transport is based on the use of Metrocard, the New York Transportation Card. Thanks to it, you can pay single rides or a MetroCard pass.
There is a $1 fee for each new card. By refilling and reusing your MetroCard, you avoid the $1 fee.
You can buy as many rides as you want on a Pay-Per-Ride MetroCard, from $5.50 to $80. The cost of a standard ride is $2.75 (with a saving of 25 cents per ride compared to the single-ride). Each ride includes an automatic free transfer (within two hours) between subway and bus, bus and subway, or between buses.
The metrocard can be used up to 4 people. The available metro pass are as follows:
7-Day Unlimited MetroCard
Good for unlimited subway and local bus rides until midnight seven days from day of first use. It costs 33$.
30-Day Unlimited Ride MetroCard
Good for unlimited subway and local bus rides until midnight 30 days from day of first use. This card is protected against loss or theft when purchased at a vending machine with a credit or debit/ATM card. It costs 127$.
The Ulimited metrocard can be used just by one person. The other limitation is not being able to pass it twice in the same station, unless you wait 20 minutes. It’s a kind of anti-fraud maneuver.
You can buy your card at a Station Booth or a MetroCard Vending Machine by credit cards and ATMs, and in some cases by cash.
If you arrive from JFK with the Airtrain, at the same ticket offices where you pay Airtrain ticket you can also buy also your Metrocard.
The MetroCard is a magnetic stripe card. It’s quite delicate, it must not be crooked, exposed to strong light or heat sources, and kept away from magnetic sources. Otherwise it could degauss. Also try to keep it clean, otherwise it may give you troubles swiping the turnstiles. In this case, clean the black band with your fingers by removing dirt/grease etc., and try again to pass.
Public transport buses are efficient and safe and will allow you to enjoy the view of the city while traveling. Keep in mind, however, the traffic factor that leads to journey times that tend to be longer than those of the metro.
The city of New York has a grid structure so even the bus routes are quite intuitive, they proceed in a north-south direction, along the Avenues, or in an east-west direction, along the Streets. Stops are located more or less on each block, at the intersection of Avenue and Street (a round sign with a bus on it distinguishes the stop).
The bus lines are marked with letters, numbers and colors.
The letters indicate the district to which that bus operates primarily:
B – Brooklyn
Bx – Bronx
M – Manhattan
Q – Queens
S – Staten Island
When the letter X is present, it means that the bus is an express bus (these buses are born mainly to favor commuters, they work mainly between Staten Island and the Bronx and Manhattan, and are rarely used by tourists, who do not need to reach the more outlying areas).
On the website of the MTA (which manages the bus and metro service), you can download the maps with the routes.
In the buses remember that you always enter through the front doors (it will be enough to show your travel tickets to the driver) and you exit from the central or rear doors, with the same tickets and subscriptions that you use for the metro (MetroCard Pay-per-Ride, MetroCard Unlimited) or paying cash the exact amount (in coins). If you pay in cash and need to make a change you need to ask the driver for a transfer ticket to continue the journey by another means of transport.
In general I would recommend the Bus for short journeys, instead for longer journeys it is better to rely on the subway in order to avoid traffic and save valuable time for your trip to New York.
Taxi, the Yellow Cab, is one of the symbols of New York and is a fast and cheaper mode of transport than Italian fares (and even more if you share them with other passengers).
During busy hours, they can be a great alternative to using the busiest metro lines. Calling them is not difficult at all, the sign on the illuminated roof indicates that the medium is free, at this point it will be enough to raise the arm. The strategic points from which to call taxis are street corners or the vicinity of hotels.
It is also advisable tell always to the taxi driver the Street or the Avenue and the nearest intersection, and leave him a tip (usually 15% is fine).
The ferries, known as NYC Ferry, take you to and from Manhattan in a cheap and easy way. Want to visit Brooklyn or Queens? Take advantage of it to cross the East River by ferry and enjoy the views of the skyline during the journey! The ferry is a good alternative to the subway, often crowded; the waiting times can be a bit longer but it is very pleasant the boat route, for this reason I recommend to take it at least once.
Tickets for the NYC Ferry cost 2,75$ per ride and can be purchased from ticket machines at each pier. The cost of the trip by ferry is the same as that of the subway, however subway tickets can not be used for the ferry.
NYC Ferry makes six routes throughout the year: East River, Astoria, South Brooklyn, Rockaway, Lower East Side and Soundview. There are five piers in Manhattan, one at Wall Street/Pier 11, Corlears Hook, Stuyvesant Cove, East 34th Street and East 90th Street. In addition, there are various stops in Brooklyn and Queens. During the summer season, and only on weekends, there’s an extra stop, at Governors Island on the East River and South Brooklyn routes.
Manhattan, what to do and see
The journey to New York definitely starts from Manhattan, I recommend you start with a walk along the High Line, a linear park made from a disused section of the elevated railway (enter from Gasenvoort street), it’s a pleasant route in which to stop for some suggestive shots.
If you are hungry there is no problem because you can go to Chelsea Market, you will find a wide choice and ready to satisfy all tastes (Hamburger, Thai, Japanese, oysters, lobsters and so on and so forth).
Satisfied and happy you can continue the walk towards south, so you will go in Greenwich Village, the heart of Manhattan; here you can not avoid passing near the house of Carrie Bradshaw (Sex&the city, “64th Perry Street, New York, NY 10014”) or the building that housed Monica’s apartment in Friends (“90 Bedford St., New York, NY 10014”).
Unfortunately in front of the staircase of Carrie’s house was placed a chain to prevent tourists harass the tenants and additionally inside the Friends building, on the ground floor, you can’t find the famous “Central Perk” café but a bar restaurant, “The Little Own”; however, the walk in the neighborhood is worth so enjoy the tree-lined streets and stop at one of the many lovely cafes you’ll find along the way.
For your trip to New York I highly recommend to buy the City Pass, it allows access to the 6 main attractions of NY for the price of 125 euros (you can buy it online). If you are not sure and have little time available I suggest the same option that we have chosen, City Pass C3. It costs 85 euros and allows access to 3 attractions selected among the 11 available without the obligation to indicate which ones; it’s very convenient because you have the freedom and flexibility to choose where to stop.
Below are the 3 options chosen by us.
Empire State Building
It’s one of New York’s most iconic buildings and the view of the City is breathtaking; at 381 meters (443 considering also the television antenna) was the tallest building in the world from its construction, completed in 1931, until 1973, the year of construction of the Twin Towers. In 2001, after the attack on the Twin Towers, he regained the record of the tallest skyscraper in New York Until the construction of the One World Trade Center, which took the place of the Twin Towers. He remains on the podium, ranked third among the tallest skyscrapers in the United States after the One WTC and the Sears Tower in Chicago.
The list of films in which this building appears is very long but surely in everyone’s memory is strong the memory of King Kong dangling from the top dodging airplanes. On the second floor among the various exhibitions there is one dedicated to the giant ape. I also recommend exploring the lobby which is one of the few interiors in New York City to have been recognized as a historic monument. If you look up, you’ll see that there are aluminum and gold 24k leaves on the ceiling.
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
A rainy day or an extremely cold and windy one are ideal for lock you up in MoMA; be careful because it’s huge and you risk spending hours and hours without noticing it; Don’t miss the pop art section (Warhol, Haring) and the surrealists (Dali, Mirò, Maigritte, Picasso etc.).
Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
A classic; If you have planned your trip to New York well in advance you can try to buy a ticket to get on the pedestal or even better up to the top of the crown; seats are limited (you can try to buy tickets on the site). In this case, don’t include this attraction in the City Pass, choose another one because the city pass includes only the ferry to Liberty Island and Ellis Island plus the entrance to the 2 museums, the Statue of Liberty Museum (where they give some information about when and how the statue was built) and the Ellis Island Immigration Museum (it was the island where immigrants were landed to be registered and visited before entering America).
When you reach Liberty Island you will receive an audio guide that allows you to turn around admiring the various details and listening to a lot of information and information Curiosity. Did you know that the statue was not originally green?
I advise you to take the ferry to Staten Island early in the morning (at 8-9) to avoid queues and long wait. If you also stop at Ellis Island (I recommend it) you’ll be come back for lunchtime.
Wall Street and World Trade Center
Go to the Financial District take a picture with the famous Wall Street bull (Charging Bull in Bowling Green Park); do you know that touching the bull’s balls is good luck!
And finally stop to rest a little bit and eat a nice burger, I recommend Bill’s Bar and Burger, at 10 minutes by walk from where the ferry will leave you. There is also the vegan option, the Beyond Burger.
In this way you will be few steps far from the World Trade Center and the 9/11 memorial where the towers stood Twin.
If you want you can go and visit the Museum, we avoided it because it would have been very touching and we had not a mood suitable to face the visit. It is subjective, the visit to the 9/11 museum is one of the 11 attractions that you can include in the City Pass (C6 or C3).
Among the places I wanted to visit during my trip to New York there was also Little Italy, I know it may seem trivial but I was too intrigued and I considered it an obligatory stop in Manhattan. The neighborhooh is located in Lower Manhattan, on google maps you can find it easily, bordering China Town even if the latter is literally swallowing up the Italian-American neighborhood.
I do not hide the disappointment, all comes down to a few blocks full of dilapidated restaurants with dubious Italian names.
After, surfing the internet, I discovered that there is another Little Italy, more thriving and authentic, is located in the Bronx (Belmont). I haven’t been there so I don’t know if it’s worth it or not.
SoHo and TriBeCa
Disappointment soon faded by strolling SoHo and TriBeCa neighborhoods.
SoHo stands for South of Houston because it is located south of Houston Street. The neighbourhood is characteristic for typical cast-iron buildings and red-brick houses with fire-fighting stairs outside. These were my passion in New York because I remember a lot of movies and TV shows, I like them a lot!
Just for the cast-iron soHo buildings it is nicknamed “Cast Iron District”.
Some buildings date back to the late 1800s. At that time the cast iron was cheaper than the brick and was then used to decorate the facades. Along Greene Street you’ll find two iconic buildings: the King (at number 28) and the Queen (at 72/76). On the corner with Prince Street don’t miss Richard Haas’s fun trompe l’oeil, who painted a fake cast-iron facade.
The area is also packed with art galleries, cafes, shops, and boutiques, and if you’re interested in shopping most of the shops are mostly concentrated along Prince Street, Broadway, West Broadway, and Spring Street. The high fashion shops alternate with shops more affordable for everyone so it’s worth taking a walk, admiring the windows and maybe shopping.
On the border with SoHo and continuing south you will find yourself in TriBeCa which stands for “Triangle Below Canal Street”, which is the triangle under Canal Street. This is in fact the shape of one of the most fashionable neighborhoods in New York. There are no museums or special tourist attractions to see in TriBeCa: the neighborhood itself is the real attraction. A succession of quaint shops, cafes and incredible pubs, frequented by well-groomed and impeccable people. yes, TriBeCa is a VIP neighborhood.
At the intersection of North Moore Street and Varick Street you can visit the Ghostbusters firehouse (4, N Moore St, New York, NY 10013), there are also photos of the actors taken during filming, ask permission to enter and take a ride!
Central Park and Harlem
Another highly recommended walk is the one in Central Park, New York’s green lung, not only the largest urban park in New York but one of the most important in the world. It is more than 4 km long and 800 m wide, you can walk or ride it.
I was there the first time during the marathon that ended right in Central Park and a second time in an atmosphere much quiet and more relaxed, on a Saturday, after being in Harlem that is located in the northern part of Manhattan and is considered the cultural and commercial center of Afro-american community in Manhattan.
We started the day with a brunch at the Harlem tavern, a typical restaurant frequented by locals; the setting is cheerful and friendly, plus there was live jazz music. If you choose to go there on a Sunday, take advantage of a mass gospel (even on Wednesday evenings you can assist to it), the function usually starts at 11 a.m.
The four Harlem’s most famous churches are listed below:
- Abyssinian Baptist Church (132 W 138th St), one of the oldest and most famous Baptist churches in Harlem, where tourists stand in a dedicated section of the church, separated from the faithful;
- Canaan Baptist Church (132 W 116th St);
- Convent Avenue Baptist Church (420 W 145th St);
- Greater Hood Memorial AME Zion Church (160 W 146th St).
After brunch we continued the walk, skirting the Columbia University and then crossing 125th Street which is the street Harlem’s main home where the neighborhood’s true vibrancy is felt.
From there wewalked to Central Park and walked it along, a really pleasant walk, the park never tires of surprising you with its succession of fountains, roses, and gardens.
Williamsburg and its surroundings
My trip to New York ‘lasted about 10 days, from 31/10 to 10/11, the first part from 31/10 to 04/11 I was in Manhattan because I had bought the package bib + hotel, from 04/11 to 10/11 instead I was in Williamsburg (Brooklyn) in an airbnb. It’s a slightly cheaper solution that allows you to be 30 minutes from downtown (a few subway stops from Manhattan).
It’s the hipster neighborhood, an area full of trendy clubs, vintage shops, bars and restaurants of excellence and a lot of murals.
I highly recommend it, moreover, after a few days in the chaos of Manhattan, it is good to go to a slightly quieter place, you immediately notice the difference between the hectic pace of Manhattan and the quieter suburban.
Despite being a suburb, the Williamsburg neighborhood in Brooklyn is absolutely among the things to see in New York. Not forgetting that from Williamsburg you can admire spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline, thanks to numerous piers and terraces on the banks of the Hudson River.
Williamsbourg is perfect for spend an evening, among the places to drink something I recommend the Westlight, a rooftop bar with stunning views. It has a large terrace and good variety of drinks (priced at about 15-18$ per drink) and you can taste something (15-20$ each dish). When we went there was live music and we couldn’t do conversation so after taking advantage of the view and having savored a drink we preferred to continue the walk.
The neighbourhood is chock-full of bars and lovely clubs, another bar I recommend is the Hotel Delmano, a bar 1930s style, really special. Acceptable prices (cocktails at 10-12 $).
A tour of the neighborhood is also an opportunity to visit the Brooklyn Brewery. Guided tours are also organized in the evening to observe how craft beer is brewed, otherwise you can stop to taste the different types of beers (6$ each) by teasing nachos or chips.
On the last day of our trip to New York we enjoyed a brunch at Cafe Mogador (about 20 $ per person) a Moroccan kitchen (great hummus) also recommended for lunch/dinner, you enjoy a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere and the food is exquisite.
Dumbo is stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, it’s a former industrial district and you can see it from the many factory-style buildings, and the old warehouses turned into coffee shops, small shops and exclusive lofts. . DUMBO is now a neighbourhood of art galleries, boutiques and luxurious apartments.
On your trip to New York, try to carve out an afternoon for a nice walk to Brooklyn Bridge Park, which stretches for about 2 kilometers along the entire area that runs along the East River. I recommend going to Pebble Beach and waiting for the sunset, you’ll take some beautiful photos against the backdrop of the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges. Also inside Brooklyn Bridge Park, just below the Brooklyn Bridge, you’ll find Jane’s Carousel. Built in 1922 it is still in operation within a glass structure and will be a guaranteed fun for all children (sometimes even for adults!).
In our walk we stopped in a café that marries with the atmosphere of the neighborhood, Brooklyn Roasting Company; coffee is great, toasted directly on the spot, they also sell gift packs.
Following we went to the Time Out Market the rooftop bar has a crazy view (the cover photo was taken right from the rooftop of the Time Out Market)
You can then rent a bike and ride the Brooklyn bridge back to Manhattan or take the ferry (which is the same price as the subway) and return to Williamsburg as we did, it’s absolutely worth it and I highly recommend it.
My trip to New York will be etched in the memory of the smells of food in any corner, the steam from the streets of Manhattan, the constant feeling of walking in a movie set and the magic enclosed in the Manhattan skyline that slowly lights up at sunset. Every neighborhood in New York has its own personality and style, and the sore note is the short time to travel far and wide through the city.
The New York Marathon was also a fantastic experience and to make it so great are not only the scenic points that you cross during the route but especially the people who for the whole route support you, cheer for you. A city of more than 8 million people who for one day stops to celebrate with you. You want to run even if you don’t like it, I assure you!
New York was for me a wonder mixed with excitement, a city that I will always remember with a smile.