Greetings, Fellow Travelers!
NOTE: With no travel over the next few months, I’m digging into my archives to
remember some travels from the past few years. This trip to New York City occurred in
September 2018. This was in conjunction with a solo work trip to Washington, DC
during my six years stationed in Germany (2013-2019).
BLUF: During a late-September 2018 work trip to Washington, DC, I took a long
weekend in New York City to wander around the city and enjoy some of the tourist sites
I had missed over the years. It was a great trip—NYC always is—and it was also the
first time I stayed in New Jersey vice Manhattan.
Today’s AAR takes us through my trip to New York City.
My first ever visit to New York City was during the summer before my junior year at the
U.S. Air Force Academy in 1991. I stay at the Soldiers’, Sailors’, Marines’, Coast
Guard, and Airmens’ Club: a dorm-style budget hotel with basic amenities and shared
bath and shower rooms. It was great for someone on a cadet’s budget, and I would
stay here two more times over the next few years.
Since then, I’ve graduated (ha!) to more upscale hotels exclusively in Manhattan.
Regardless of price, rooms in Manhattan hotels though can be small. Fine for one
person, but with two people or even a family, those room can put a damper on your trip.
A friend recommended either Brooklyn or New Jersey as a place to stay. While I really
enjoyed some side-trips to Brooklyn, I ended up in New Jersey due to the fact the PATH
train had just completed its new World Trade Center station. I wanted to check it out as
I entered and exited Manhattan.
I chose the Westin Jersey City Newport which is close to the Newport PATH station and
the Hoboken ferry terminal to Manhattan. It was also close to EWR which would be my
entry and exit airport. The Westin was a great hotel: great views, big rooms, a great
breakfast-to-go amenity for Marriott Bonvoy Titaniums (all you can carry!), and you can
never go wrong with the Westin Heavenly Bed and white tea fragrance products.
As for touring Manhattan, I narrowed down my tourist “must visit” spots to two places:
the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum and the High Line Park. The Intrepid is a former
active USN aircraft carrier which houses aviation, naval, and space exhibits. The
Intrepid is home to the Enterprise, the first U.S. space shuttle as well as a British
Airways Concorde. The USN strategic missile submarine Growler (diesel-powered!) is
also on display. As a former USAF Minuteman III Missile Launch Officer, touring the
Growler was a particular treat.
Your ticket (free from active duty military, veterans, and retirees) allows access to all the
exhibits on Intrepid’s decks, its interior, and the Enterprise shuttle enclosure (where the
amazing gift shop is). Intrepid’s placement on the banks of the Hudson River at
midtown Manhattan gives great views of New Jersey (!?!) and the Pier 84 at Hudson
River Park, a nice walking park with great views of the Intrepid. I reached the Intrepid
via the ferry from the Hoboken terminal to West 39th Street Terminal.
Some online reviews depict the Intrepid Museum as a spot meant only for grade school
field trips and unimaginative tourists, but I had a great time. Perhaps my military
background gave it special meaning—I did have a nice chat with one of the docents at
the Growler about missile launch procedures—and the free ticket price was nice too. All
and all, I’m very happy I made the Intrepid visit.
Another day of touring took me on the PATH train to the new World Trade Center
station, completely redone post-9/11 and part of the larger Oculus Mall (the Venus
flytrap-looking building) with lots of shops and restaurant. The station is all white and
looks very futuristic. The new PATH station allows easy access to the NYC subway,
and I easily headed up to the West Village and the Whitney Museum of American Art.
I had already visited the Whitney on a past trip, but just outside the museum is the south
entrance to the High Line Park. This elevated park is a refurbished train track covering
over twenty block along western Manhattan. Gardens, benches, and observation decks
are peppered throughout the park. With great views of side-walk cafes and New
Yorkers on their daily hustle, the High Line Park makes for a great afternoon.
While I hadn’t planned on walking the entire length of the park (convenient exits are
available throughout the line), the crowds weren’t too bad, and the weather was sunny
but cool. I walked the entire line and exited at the Javitz Center and 7 Line of the
subway. I took my time, and it was approx. an hour to make my way end-to-end. I did
sit and enjoy the people-watching, but at a brisk pace, the walk can be done in probably
30 minutes or so.
Still, I would encourage you, if the weather is nice, to go against the New Yorker sense
of always-be-hustling and take your time. A nice, slow walk will help build up your
appetite for a good bagel!
In sum, New York City is a city of tourist destinations. From Times Square and
Broadway to the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge, a visit to the city is a must.
While the Intrepid and the High Line Park aren’t necessarily high on “must-visit” lists, I
was very happy to have made time for them. Check them out!
Albert Guerrero, USAF, Ret.
“Let’s Travel Farther, Together!”
Follow my travels on Instagram: @albert_traveler