The Big Apple in a Nutshell | My Family Travels
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During the week of this last Thanksgiving, my family and I went to New York City! If you love being busy and being a apart of the regular hustle and bustle, then this place is definitely for you to visit.

                To maximize our time in New York we left the Friday before the week actually started because there’s just so much to do in that wonderful city. Since we were traveling there all the way from Texas, we decided to fly there. Through all my traveling experiences, I learned that Delta and Southwest Airlines have the best rates and packages when you buy your ticket or tickets well in advanced. We actually purchased ours in July, so I recommend a good head start. It worked for us to purchase our tickets a few months in advanced because we don't like to procrastinate and scramble at this last minute.

â–º  SEMI FINALIST 2012 TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP

                We didn’t stay at a hotel or with family members, but we rented a sublet apartment rom a man who rents it himself. My mom actually found him by just searching “New York sublets” on Google. Staying in the sublet was an experience in itself. When visiting New York, you have to keep in mind that your money won’t go as far as it would in other cities and states. What do I mean by that? I mean that you have to be prepared to pay a lot of money for just a small space.  Don’t expect to get a spacious two bedroom apartment for five hundred dollars a week; instead expect to be paying at least twice that for a one bedroom apartment.

                Our apartment was in Brooklyn: Lafayette Street. Staying in that area was a culture shock. Definitely wear comfortable shoes when visiting NYC and the other boroughs. You have to walk literally almost everywhere. There’s no real department or grocery stores such as Wal Mart or Target, but there are family owned corner stores on almost every block. Definitely pack comfortable shoes to wear there or even running shoes unless you plan to be inside all day, which is very unlikely. I however, thought I should bring my very cute, but very uncomfortable boots since it would be cold the week that we were there. That was a huge mistake. After a day's worth of walking, my feet were killing me once we got back to the apartment. I would have been so much happier if I just worn sensible shoes instead. Due to all the walking, be prepared to have street vendor food as a part of your diet; such as gyros. Not many people in the United States know what gyros are besides Greek Americans like myself, but everyone in New York does. I also learned that obesity is scarce there as well: probably from the obscene amount of daily walking and the number of smokers that live there.

                There were/are so many free and fun activities to do in New York. Luckily during our visit, we got to see the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which was amazing. Besides the subway fare, it’s free to watch for the general public. Since the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is such a well-known event and New York is the number one tourist city in the United States, you get to see and meet people from all over the world. My family and I woke up at 4:30 A.M. just to start getting ready and beat the rush to the parade. Even leaving the apartment an hour later, the subways were flooded with people. Everyone was crammed into the train like sardines. Not everyone was pleasant either. You have your usual shovers in large crowds and that one outspoken person who likes to voice their concerns, but in New York, that one person is multiplied by six or seven. Once you actually get to the parade, which starts at Central Park and ends on 34thStreet at Macy’s Herald Square, you basically have to set up camp and not let anyone try to steal your spot. That may sound like a negative aspect, but it was actually fun, too. My mom, brothers, and older cousin who joined us found and open rail and sat on top of it. It was perfect because we had little ones who couldn’t see over the thousands of heads, but were too heavy to put on our shoulders. I however stayed on the ground and made my way all the way to the third row of people.  Thirty minutes into the parade, people start leaving and the crowds push you into the open hole. It was wonderful seeing all the floats, especially the classics like Snoopy, Mickey Mouse, and good ol’ Uncle Same. Then there’s also that amazing live performers who always come to sing and dance; Cilo Green was there last year. The parade also fell on one of my brother’s birthday, so he got the ultimate present.

                A couple must see cites in New York are of course the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, Grand Central Station, and Times Square. All of those places are absolutely beautiful and are some main focal points of the city. We didn’t see Lady Liberty on this trip, mainly because it was so cold, but we have before. In the spring and summers, there are always free music concerts in Central Park. Grand Central Station is a must see as well because it is a popular setting used for movies. It’s really immaculate looking and not to mention, enormous. If you love to shop and actually have the time to, you could spend hours in there. There’s so many booths and shops there, you could just get lost. We also went to Times Square during our visit in New York. This was probably the only place that we didn’t mind walking around because you would miss all there is to see otherwise. We walked all around that area and got to go into a ton of little tourist shops. We also went to the M&M factory, which was really cool to see for all ages. To top of our night, we had dinner at Ruby Tuesday’s. Even Ruby Tuesday’s was different in Times Square. It was two stories and of course, more expensive than others. Visiting Times Square was a great way to end our week in New York.

                New York is by far one of my favorite places to visit, but only visit because I learned that I wouldn’t be able to live there. It takes a really special person to understand all the train routes, deal with the weather, love all the walking, and most importantly be able to afford it. This trip really meant a lot to me because it completely changed my college plans around. Before hand, I thought I wanted to attend New York University, but after staying there just for a week, I learned that it really wasn't for me. I will visit there in the future, though!

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