Weekend trips are a great way to travel and visit new places you might have always wanted to see, while at the same time staying relatively close to home and campus so as to quickly get back to studying without the hassle of flight connections, passports, jet lag and excess baggage fees. Just grab a backpack and fill it with as many clothes as you can, and that is all you need to start rollin’ down the road. Fall is the perfect time to take a break, especially after finishing midterms, so why not take a bus and head to the big city? That’s what I decided to do last weekend. Here are some of the tips I can share with you from my experience as a tourist in New York City:
- Getting there: Priceline.com offers really good deals if you are not in a hurry (you can even bid for flight tickets by “naming your price” with the condition that you cannot pick a specific time to fly but only the date you expect to do it). I really wanted to make the most out of my time though, so I decided to travel by bus overnight: I just boarded, sat in my seat, closed my eyes, and when I opened them again I was waking up in the city that never sleeps!
- Accommodations: Even though New York has a lot of hotels and hostels to accommodate the thousands of tourists that usually visit the city, it can sometimes be tricky to find a place to spend your weekend, and even trickier if, like me, you did not plan your trip with much time in advance. Luckily, there are people willing to rent their furnished apartments in great locations for only a few days at incredible prices. Sites like Airbnb.com allow you to get in touch with them and assure a safe experience to both owners and visitors.
- Shopping: New York City has a wide variety of shops to offer, from large renowned stores to small independent vintage-style shops. I was traveling with my girlfriend, so I can assure you – I have visited most of them (if not all).
- Instagram it! If there is a place to take cool pictures with vintage effects, it is New York City. The views from Top of the Rock and the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, and the bridges are some of the photos you MUST take and share with your friends and relatives, so prepare your camera and create an account for any social network you like.
- Art, art, art: I spent three days in the city, and one of them was dedicated solely to art. It all started at the Museum of Modern Art (they offer free visits on the first Friday of the month), with a lucky and unexpected viewing of the Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec exhibit (in place until March 2015). Then I continued to the Guggenheim (with a building that is a work of art itself), and concluded with a visit to the New York Comic Con (the greatest comic and entertainment expo in the world). Whatever type of art you are most excited about, New York will have a gallery or museum to engage you.
- Eat and drink: There are plenty of bars and restaurants to visit in New York, and most of them can be found in any travel guide, but there is a place I discovered that you will probably not read about unless someone tells you about it. It is a bar called 230 FIFTH (named for its location at 230 Fifth Avenue) and it is located on the rooftop of a building with a perfect view of the city. Either for a brunch at noon or an evening drink, this place will make you feel you are actually on top of the world. There are no signs outside so just walk into the building, head to the elevator and press the rooftop button!
- Getting around: Fall is a wonderful time to visit New York, whether you enjoy strolling through colorful parks or heading inside to warm up to some vibrant entertainment. But whatever you choose, you will definitely need to be prepared to walk. Even though the city has an affordable and convenient transportation service (with extensive subway and bus systems), it will sometimes be quicker for you to just travel around using your feet, and it will also allow you to get to know the city better. Another option for those who are more adventurous is to hop onto a bike and cruise along the many bike routes the city has.
All in all, I enjoyed traveling to this marvelous and exciting city. Although I was really tired after the weekend and really wanted to get back to good old Rochester, I must say I had a great time there and had the chance to discover very nice places and people (New Yorkers are one-of-a-kind, friendly, open-minded and humorous). The beauty of the buildings and parks appealed to me. I was touched by my visit to the 9/11 Memorial Museum and could not avoid thinking how much more beautiful it would have looked if the towers were still there. New York is definitely a place to visit and luckily, it is very close to Rochester!
– Agustin Baretto ’15 (MS)