After celebrating our first year as a married couple in Stowe a couple of weeks ago, last weekend we celebrated the 4th of July in New York City. It was America’s birthday, but we seized the opportunity to celebrate our own respective birthdays as well—Caroline’s birthday is June 26; mine is July 6.
Lots of celebrations have been going on lately!
When I think about it, I’ve done quite some traveling, too, in the past month—in addition to the two above mentioned weekends, I spent the first two weeks of June in Belgium. I’m done traveling for more or less six weeks now though. The following month and a half, I’m going to put my head down and work my butt off.
Our upcoming ‘Euro trip’ is not going to pay for itself, after all.
Celebrating Our Two Birthdays and The 4th of July in New York City
For now, however, I’d like to talk about our weekend in New York City. It was the fourth time I’ve visited this fantastic city in the past one and a half year. The previous three times, twice with Caroline and once on my own, were focused on seeing all major attractions—places such as Times Square, Central Park, Fifth Avenue, the Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center, just to name a few.
Now that we’ve seen all of those, we started exploring some of New York City’s less visited neighborhoods. The ‘real’ New York City, in other words. The areas where people actually live, rather than areas overcrowded with tourists and hurried businessmen.
We stayed in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, at an apartment we’d booked through Airbnb. It was the first time we used this service and let me tell you that we’ll definitely use it again, probably in the very near future—in Europe, that’ll be.
The apartment was in a residential area and near bars, shops, restaurants, cafés and parks, and within easy walking distance from the L subway line, which conveniently goes straight into Manhattan.
The High Line and One World Observatory
Although I said earlier that we focused on the less touristy, more neighborhoody areas in the city, the very first place we visited, after dropping off our bags at the apartment shortly after lunchtime, was One World Trade Center.
The One World Observatory opened to the public only a couple of months ago and is the only major attraction in New York City that we weren’t yet able to do during one of our previous visits.
We purchased our tickets, which had a pre-set time on them, at the booth. I think they arranged that pretty well. Unlike the Empire State Building, for example, where you have to wait in line for hours and hours before you pay your fee and can get to the top, the One World Observatory’s system works way better—you simply buy a ticket, come back later at the earliest available time, which is shown on your ticket, and are able to go to the top almost immediately. (I think our total wait still was half an hour, but then again, it was a super-busy weekend.)
In between purchasing our tickets and hopping on the elevator, we paid a visit to The High Line, a wonderful park located on an old elevated railway in the Meatpacking District. It’s a magnificent example of repurposing an old unused urban feature. From the park, which is essentially a narrow pathway along and over railroad tracks flanked by vegetation, there are fine views of the street life below and the Midtown skyscrapers in the distance.
We then headed back to One World Trade Center, which ended up being one of the most spectacular tourist attractions I’ve visited in a long, long time. It was absolutely amazing—I’ll definitely dedicate an entire blog post on the experience later on.
Further reading: Is One World Trade Center Worth Visiting?
Flea Markets in Brooklyn and 4th of July Fireworks
On Saturday, we visited a couple of flea markets in Brooklyn, one in Bedfort-Stuyvesant and one in Williamsburg. On the way, we strolled through beautiful Brooklyn neighborhoods, such as Fort Greene and Brooklyn Heights. We also, once again, took in the great views of the Manhattan skyline from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade and Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Further reading: New York City in 20 Photos
In the evening, we headed to East River Park in Williamsburg to watch the 4th of July fireworks, backed by the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building and numerous other unnamed towers in Midtown Manhattan.
I do have to say that, although it was definitely a world-class scene, the fireworks weren’t as impressive as I expected them to be. I guess that I’m spoiled, having started my travels with the New Year’s Eve fireworks in Sydney, pretty much the world’s most breathtaking fireworks display.
Coney Island Beach
Anyway, on Sunday morning we packed our bags and headed south to Coney Island, a place that I’d never considered visiting before, but had read about in a New York City magazine. It turned out to be an extremely fascinating place, home to almost three miles (two kilometers) of beaches, rollercoasters, a bar-and-restaurant-lined beachfront promenade, a luna park and countless other attractions.
We spent a few hours enjoying the sun on the beach and even though I’m pretty sure the water wasn’t all too clean, I also went for a quick swim, just to be able to say that I swam in the ocean in New York City.
I found it so fascinating to see that this, too, was New York City.
This city must have so many other ‘hidden’ spots that I’m sure will surprise me as well.
I’m already looking forward to our next visit…