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New York City or Bust 7 things about NYC - words and images by Ray Chuss

"Officer, what's with all the Police presence?"

Replying with a smile.

"You're outside a Police station."

So my first conversation with a New Yorker I made myself look a right gimp, it was a little embarrassing. With the number of Police vehicles parked roadside I honestly thought something was kicking off... oops!

It was my first trip to New York, I've travelled around it a few times but never managed to visit, this time was different. I made the trip with my nephew, a barber and a bit of a lad, so it was definitely going to be a fun trip.

Me being a photographer it was also somewhere I needed to visit to take pictures, 20 years taking shots and never visiting one of the best places on the planet for street photography, it was a no-brainer.

So here are seven things about my trip that caught my wandering eye - enjoy.

Hoboken minus the hobo.

I'm a hotel type of guy. I like a comfy room and bed, not somewhere when you get there its an absolute pit. My nephew suggested AirBnB as hotels in Manhattan are damn expensive. It took a few clicks on Google maps to figure the best option. We managed to book in a place in an area I've never heard of 'Hoboken' its across the Hudson River from midtown Manhattan.

Old and new Manhattan.

First thing I noticed about Hoboken it's very upmarket with lots of bars and restaurants, typical New York style houses (think Sesame Street) and it felt very safe. The average house price is $725,000 an excellent way to suss the area out.

Halloween starts early in Hoboken (house next door to AirBnB)

The Airbnb itself was just perfect, a 5 min walk to the ferry across to Manhattan, only minutes to a lot of different bars and restaurants and the owner was on hand to meet us when we arrived. If like me you're an Airbnb virgin I would advise checking reviews, check the area and if all OK give it a go.

Times Square of chaos

It's a tourist trap, don't bother going!

That's what we were told before we decided to head to Times Square - to be fair it was just that, full of VERY annoying salespeople trying to sell you all sorts of things.

Thankfully I have my stare of death, and when you say you live in Los Angeles they walk away 😂

If you like things noisy, chaotic, busy AF, overhyped and packed with NYC gift shops then Times Square is for you.

It is worth the visit though - even only for 20 minutes, always good for a picture which is a bonus. I would also recommend 'Juniors' restaurant on the corner of Broadway and 45th Street, polite staff and good food.

New York is great for shopping.

One thing you can guarantee in New York, the shopping is out of this world, but you'll need a couple of thousand dollars even to touch the surface.

If you're into training shoes or the latest trends, New York has everything.

A little disappointed with Macy's which apparently is the worlds largest store, nowhere near as good as Harrods and tough to get around, took us ages to find the men's restroom (loo) located on the ninth floor.

You need to head to Soho with the cool kids, so many amazing shops to spend your hard earned cash, as I said you need a few quid if you're a shopaholic. I did manage to find a Vans jacket that as far as I'm aware you can't get here in the UK - bonus!

Back in the day, the USA was the place to head to for shopping on the cheap - not anymore, start saving if you are planning a trip at Christmas.

NYFD

9/11 Memorial and Museum - An incredible experience.

My nephew persuaded me to go, for whatever reason I didn't feel like going. Maybe it was the memory from the day itself back in 2011 or me being quite emotional about things like this, who knows.

We arrived by Ferry to lower Manhattan from Hoboken. It was perfect timing as around 10.30am the area was packed with runners for the NYFD 5km run in memory of all their deceased colleagues from 9/11.

I'll try to keep this as positive as possible when you see the thousands of names around the memorial it brings it all back. Listening to conversations around me, most were about where they were on that dreadful day, it was all very surreal but 100% worth the visit to pay my respects.

NYFD ALL HEROES

The museum itself takes it to a different level altogether, you are within the footprint of the Twin Towers 30 feet underground.

The footings of the Twin Towers

The cost is $24 and worth every penny. Very insightful with incredible exhibits showing how terrifying it must have been for all involved. If there is one place you visit in New York, 9/11 Memorial and Museum is an incredible experience.

Fun times in Central Park

Central Packed.

I had this strange little thought before heading to 'Central Park', I wanted to see the pigeon lady from the movie Home Alone, yes I'm bonkers. I did manage to see the rocks where that cheeky little chappy Macaulay Culkin bumped into her and screamed his head off - that's good enough for me.

Central Park is a busy place packed with runners, skaters, horse riders, walkers and cyclists - exactly what we decided to do. It was a brilliant few hours cycling the whole of the park, stopping for a hot dog and ice cream halfway and people watching some of New York's finest.

iPhone images from Central Park
You could walk it I suppose but that would take most of the day, next time I would definitely take a packed lunch and a few coldies as you could sit and chill for hours.

Word of advice, ignore the lucky lucky men trying to rent you bikes as you walk toward the park, I would say we were hassled by around 8 different guys within 10 minutes - wait until you get to the entrance and hire from there. It costs $18 for around 3 hours, well worth it if you're feeling energetic.

Governors Island

Creepy Governors Island a hidden gem.

Some of you may have not heard of this place, I've never heard of it until we got there.

Firstly Governors Island would make for a great film set, it probably has some time in the past, just think of Zombies - its a creepy place even in the day time. I paid $3 for the ferry across from lower Manhattan not really knowing what to expect but it was well worth it.

The island is 172 acres of amazing 360-degree views across to Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. There are quite a few things to do including walking tours, bike riding, picnicking, art installations, fairs, drone races, festivals, and concerts - it's a great place to relax and take in the views.

The Island itself is an old military base but its now abandoned, the remaining accommodation blocks are very creepy looking, the whole place looks like they all just got up and left everything exactly as it was back in the day.

A giant motorbike made out of car parts - very cool

There are quite a few art exhibits dotted around, the future it's set for redevelopment into somewhere amazing to live - big bucks I would imagine.

I would suggest visiting Governors Island on the day you fly home. If your flight is in the evening its a perfect place to spend a few hours before heading off to the airport.

New York New York

Top Tips from me which may help you when you visit.

New York is a crazy place, somewhere I've always wanted to visit, prepare for the unexpected. For us an itinerary worked best, every day was planned this worked really well in such a massive city.

Use Lyft as your preferred taxi service, it will save you a lot of money especially if you share, if you're from Bristol its compulsory to say to the driver, "busy drive?" My nephew pissed himself when I said it.

Hire City Bikes whenever you can, zipping from A to B is great fun, not very good for wheelies though. $3 for 30 minutes will get you to most places along the river.

Stay in Hoboken, in Manhattan the noise and chaos is insane unless you like that kind of thing.

A $9 ferry trip back to Hoboken is one of the most relaxing things I've ever done.

Save a fortune staying in an Airbnb, unless you have plenty of spare cash to stay in a swanky New York hotel of course.

Look for rooftop bars away from the hustle and bustle of the street, the easiest way to look for them is to look up!

If you fancy a drink, most places have some sort of happy hour from 4 pm onwards, otherwise, it it cost you around £7 a pint or £18 for a cocktail.

If you're unsure about how much to tip, just ask. New Yorkers are actually a friendly bunch.

I would love to go back at Christmas, apparently, it's magical. Fingers crossed.

Hope this helps and enjoy your trip to NYC.

Credits:

Images and words by Ray Chuss

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