A little backstory: Having never been to NYC, I was really excited about going there someday. I looked into it, and found that Megabus had a great schedule, where we could arrive into NYC at 11 am, depart at midnight, and spend almost a full day in the city without having to pay for hotel. After a bit of convincing, my mom and I picked a date – June 4 – and bought the tickets the day they became available. Because of the way Megabus runs, it cost just $12.50 for both of us, round-trip!
Months after buying the tickets, finally – the day arrived. I went to work Monday, came home and got some things ready, and stayed awake all night – too excited to sleep! We got a cab to the bus station at 1 a.m., with our bus scheduled to depart for NYC at 2:45 a.m.
The bus left late – it had come from Toronto – so we didn’t get out of Buffalo till around 3:20 a.m. It was a pretty packed bus, but thankfully we didn’t have any snorers or loud talkers on the bus. Most people slept the whole way, but I couldn’t. (First of all, I was too excited! Second, I’m a very light sleeper).
We stopped twice on the way to NYC. Our first stop was at Port Byron Travel Plaza, just outside Syracuse. We stopped for about a half-hour there before getting back on the road, traveling through PA and stopping once more at a rest stop in Goldsboro, PA. After that, we went through part of New Jersey before finally arriving in New York City, at 7th Ave & 28th Street, around 11:15 a.m.
Our first stop was Trader Joe’s on 6th Avenue. We don’t have Trader Joe’s in Buffalo just yet, but my mom and I have been to locations in Pittsburgh before. The one in NYC we went to was HUGE – and very busy, even at 11 a.m., the line was insane.
We walked by the Empire State Building and stopped at several souvenir shops before stopping at Potbelly Sandwich Shop on 7th Avenue for lunch. I ended up meeting up with three of my friends (Internet friends, who I’ve known for quite a while but hadn’t met yet). The food at Potbelly was really good – of course, I was also really hungry – and priced pretty well. I’d certainly go back there again.
Next up was a stop at Madison Square Garden, home of the New York Rangers. (Sidenote: definitely coming back for a game soon!) How amazing to be able to walk around such a historic arena and see the transformations underway there. We also saw the entrances to Penn Station.
After a stop at Jack’s 99-Cent Store, we ended up at the 5th Avenue location of the New York Public Library. I’m a total library nerd, but…. WOW. This building is gorgeous, and I’m pretty sure anyone could appreciate how amazing it is. We ended up walking through parts of it, including a stop at the gift shop. We even managed to see them filming a movie across the street from the library! (That movie? “The Other Woman,” 2014.)
Located nearby is Bryant Park, where I wanted to stop purely because I’ve heard it’s beautiful – and it is. I was amazed at how open it is, and we were both amazed to find that they really DO have game sets just sitting there for public use, and that’s not just something you see on TV! From chess to backgammon to a children’s library and a carousel – wow. Purely a case of great timing, too: they happened to be filming Project Runway at the park while we were there!
Our next stop – a quick one – was a walk by the home of the New York Times. As a journalism graduate… well, it only made sense that I simply HAD to stop by there and at least see its headquarters.
Times Square was our next destination. We walked all around that area, stopping at places from the Hershey’s Store and M&M World to seeing the big Toys ‘R Us and Disney stores, the Wonka store, Forever 21 and more. We even managed to see the ‘naked’ cowboy in Times Square, a really neat “Teen Wolf” billboard that I enjoyed, lots of mascots walking around, and of course, we took the iconic “we’re in Times Square!” photo that you see at the top of this post.
Dinner was at Ruby Tuesday, located in Times Square. I know, I know, eating at a chain restaurant while in NYC…. but come on, we were hungry and it was good stuff!
After walking through Times Square for a few hours, we went to the NHL Store Powered by Reebok, located on the Avenue of the Americas. As hockey fans, both my mom and I knew we just HAD to stop there, even though we walked out without purchasing anything.
We also saw Radio City Music Hall, CBS Headquarters, and NBC – the Rockefeller Center. Finally, we stopped by the Gershwin Theatre just to SEE it… we’ll have to come back to experience a show when the finances allow it, but how amazing an experience to be able to say we were there.
Our final stop before heading to the bus stop was at Pinkberry, a frozen yogurt place we don’t have in Buffalo. Uh, YUM. The location we went to was in Hell’s Kitchen, but even after 9 pm, that part of the city was still as hopping as ever. Between the foot traffic, the yellow taxi cabs, the buildings all lit up around the city – I can definitely see why it’s the city that never sleeps.
The Megabus to Buffalo departs from across the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, so we headed there (early – too early) to wait for our bus. The bus left at midnight… but we didn’t make it barely two minutes away from the city before we had a drunk passenger causing issues (she was eventually kicked off the bus), and then a car claiming we side-swiped it. We got stuck sitting there till about 12:45, with the police taking statements from the bus driver and the car driver and photos and everything, before we were able to finally get on our way. (It was a very minor incident, by the way.) Back through New Jersey, PA and back into NY, and we finally got home around 8:20 a.m. on June 5.
About thirteen hours in the city, lots of walking, saw so many wonderful things, and got away with an amazing experience of my first time in New York City. We’ll definitely head back someday soon, because one bite of the Big Apple was simply not enough!