Will New York City be the perfect layover?
For nearly a decade, I've lived just a 7 hour drive from New York City, one of the most popular destinations in the world. It's a destination I've never seen, a destination I've always managed to put off, promising myself I’ll go next spring, next year. I’m sure the city that never sleeps will have plenty to appeal to me, I've just never managed to make it. Until now.
Finally, I’m going to take a bite out of the Big Apple!
Nearby Newark, New Jersey is the first stop on our round-the-world trip. Our 11 hour layover offers plenty of time to have a great jaunt in neighbouring New York City!
We’re thrilled to be partnering with On Location Tours to see the city. On Location offers movie and television themed tours by bus and by foot and we've been invited to be their guest on their signature New York Movie and Television tour. This will be a great way to see the highlights of the city with a neat twist.
To make the most of our time in the city, we've researched in advance the different transportation options to and from the airport, as well as our walking route from the train station to our meeting point. Montreal bagels were also sampled, all in the name of research, so we could issue a true comprehensive report on which city rules the bagel roost!
Leaving to Chance:
Due to the unpredictable nature of air travel, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly when we’ll arrive in New York City. From our starting point of Penn Station, it’s a 30 minute to walk to our tour meetup. If all the stars align, we’ll have about 90 minutes to explore once we complete our walk, but it's more likely we’ll have 45-75 minutes of free time. We hope to grab breakfast at Ellen’s Stardust Dinner (home of the singing wait staff and self-proclaimed “best free show on Broadway.) Hopefully I’ll get to try my first Egg Cream! Otherwise, we’ll be grabbing some classic NYC bagels on the run!
Being on a bus tour for the day also solves our biggest dilemma – what to do with our bags! While we travel with just one small backpack each, 11 hours is a long time to wear something on your back and there’s no luggage storage at the airport. Being on the bus will give us a place to park our bags (and our bottoms!) during the layover.
We’ll be taking the AirTrain and NJ Transit train into the city. After researching all the ground transportation options, this is both the most economical and the most time efficient. Sometimes the train is a better choice than the bus!
Splurges and Souvenirs:
No to both! We’re not planning on any treats, aside from grabbing some traditional New York pretzels or pizza if we have the chance.
Soooo..... How Was Our Day?
The first day of our round the world trip was a resounding success! We arrived on time and sailed through Newark airport without a hitch. We were on the train to New York before 8:00 am, well ahead of my estimate.
Arriving in New York City so bright and early certainly had its advantages. Times Square was quiet and easy to navigate. Bryant Park, decorated so festively, was relaxing and mesmerizing as we watched ice skaters show off their finest skills. It was such a pretty scene and it felt like a real New York moment. Unfortunately, the nearby New York Public Library was still closed but it was still nice to see the exquisite exterior.
By 9:30 we were famished. We stuck with our plan to have breakfast at Ellen's Stardust Diner at 51st and Broadway. While we initially selected it for the convenient location next to our tour departure point, it ended up being a highlight of our trip. We were treated to the incredible musical talents of the waitstaff, who certainly live up to their reputation as the best free show on Broadway. While it sounds like the kind of thing I would normally find a bit cheesy I can honestly say we were blown away by their outstanding raw talent and it was such a fun, cheerful way to start the day.
We would rate the food at Ellen's as a solid "average-good". It didn't blow us away but delivered just want we wanted and expected - large, hot portions of tasty, standard breakfast food - corn beef hash with eggs, toast, and potato for Ryan and a New York bagel with scrambled eggs, cheese, and potato for me. I have to admit that I do prefer Montreal style bagels over the locals' favourite, I was very happy with another New York first - my first egg cream! I'm not sure if it's a drink I would have a craving for, but it was a lot of fun to try.
We had a good time of our movie and TV themed tour of the city with On Location (more about that here). It was wonderful to see New York City for the first time and I was so thrilled that we had a beautiful sunny day to enjoy it. Particular favourites of mine included seeing Washington Square Park -the fall leaves were lovely.
The day only had one disappointment. I was so looking forward to having a traditional New York pretzel and I finally got one from one of the ubiquitous Sabrett hot dog carts. Unfortunately it was a dry, tough, salty piece of bread. Ugh! I only made it a few bites before ditching it for a more palatable (if rather boring) chicken taco courtesy of the TriBeCa Taco Truck in Soho.
New York City was a perfect start to our round the world trip and I was so thrilled at the day went so smoothly. I can't wait to plan a longer visit soon!
Previous: How It All Began - Imagining Our Epic Round-the-World Trip
Related: Our review of On Location Tours.
Next Stop: PARIS! Day 2 & 3 of Our Round The World Trip
I'd love to hear from you! What would you recommend to all first time visitors to New York City?
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