(1) I visited New York City for the first time in my life! You're probably asking, "What took you so long, dude?" Well, I'd never been big on traveling until now, not to mention the fact that my wife and I chose to save up for a while in order to have the wherewithal to go on these trips. (Much like our trip to Boston last summer, vacationing in the Big Apple costs a pretty penny.) What's more, it wasn't until just a few years ago that I morphed into the biggest history nerd on the planet. Now I have a valid excuse to explore historic cities big and small, from New York City to Washington D.C. Museums, anyone?
(2) Just as my plane was landing in New York, I finished reading Ron Chernow's behemoth 730-page biography Alexander Hamilton, which inspired the hit Broadway musical. It was fitting that I completed the book when I did, for Alexander Hamilton, immigrant-turned-Founding-Father and first treasury secretary of the U.S. under George Washington, has to be one of the most famous and influential New Yorkers in U.S. history. Not only did he establish the Bank of New York in 1784, he -- along with James Madison and John Jay -- wrote The Federalist Papers, which urged New Yorkers to ratify the U.S. Constitution. While I recommend the book, I realize that not everyone has time or inclination to get through a book this voluminous. Still, I encourage everyone to read up -- even if only via a Google search -- on Hamilton's rollercoaster of a life -- from his meteoric rise to become the architect of the nation's financial system to his tragic death in a duel. We visited a bevy of historic sites and attractions that pay tribute to Hamilton, from the Museum of American Finance on Wall Street to The Grange Memorial in Harlem, the only house Hamilton ever owned.
Beyond history, we took a plethora of pictures -- 1,299 to be exact, many of the towering skyscrapers in Manhattan. (I just can't enough of the architecture in these old cities.) We paid a visit to the must-see tourist traps, including Times Square, Grand Central Station, and Central Park. Passes to get into the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island were sold out (for weeks, no less!), so we had to settle for a cruise ride that at least allowed us to snap plenty of great pictures of Lady Liberty. We also indulged on New York pizza and cheesecake -- yum! We missed out on the 9/11 memorial and didn't catch a Broadway show, but we can leave those for our next trip to NYC.
Whether you want to soak up history, catch a Broadway show, unwind in Central Park, or check out New York's nearly endless shops and restaurants, the Big Apple has something for everyone. I think everyone should visit at least once, budget permitting.
Be warned: New York City is expensive, crowded, and people walk like they're in a hurry -- no matter what time of the day it is. If you stand in the middle of the sidewalk to take a picture, expect to be trampled on or yelled at! I would never want to live amid so much hustle and bustle, but I can see myself making the trip to New York several times in my life.
Have you ever visited New York?