My Top 5 Favourite Things About NYC

If you read my Love & Hate blog about New York City, you’d think I extremely hate the place but I don’t. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t say ‘I left my heart in NYC’.

So here are my Top 5 favourite things about the Big Apple.

Love & Hate Relationship with the Concrete Jungle: https://belliontravels.com/2017/01/26/usa-love-hate-relationship-with-the-concrete-jungle/ 

  1. Museums:

Museum Hopping Blog:

The amount of museums the city has got is incredible. They’ve got variations of Arts, Science, History, Nature, SEX lol and many more. You can learn a lot and I wish we had this amount of institutions here in UAE.

Although Tim and I went Museum Hopping there were a lot more to learn. If I lived in NYC, I’d be hanging out in Museums a lot. In addition, if I was ever lost, you will find me in the New York Public Library.

One of my favourite place I’ve visited and really affected my mood was Ellis Island. Yes, it was depressing and disturbing but I’ve learned a lot about what the immigrants have gone through. Especially that my great granddad was one of them, I had a personal connection to it. By far my favourite place of course is Statue of Liberty.

Below are links to my blog about Museum Hopping and Ellis Island.

Visiting the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island https://belliontravels.com/2017/02/04/usa-visiting-the-statue-of-liberty-and-ellis-island/ 

Museum Hopping in New York City https://bellionstravels.com/17/02/11/usa-museum-hopping-in-new-york-city/

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2. Broadway & Time Square:

Out of all the shows that were showing on Broadway, Tim and I had to pick one because we didn’t have enough time.

After struggling on selecting a show, we finally settled for ‘The Lion King’. I don’t regret it even a bit. It was spectacular, incredible and startling. Mufasa’s death still makes me cry and I had a great time singing along to our childhood movie. Broadway is Art and I would so go back and watch other shows such as Chicago, The Phantom of the Opera and Wicked.

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3. Street Food and Food in General

New York is very similar to London and Dubai when it comes to restaurants and dining however street food is one most awesome thing about New York because its cheap, its fast service and its HALAL.

Tim and I ate a lot in New York from street food, to diners and to Asian fusion restaurants. We dined at a Japanese restaurant in Time Square and they served the best seaweed salad EVER. We also had the most delicious Ethiopian food in Harlem.

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4. Central Park

Man!! that park is HUGE. It’s so lovely too. We went for a stroll and sat on the swings and enjoyed people watching but we had to leave as soon as possible when our romantic outing turned into a nightmare when I saw a huge EFFIN RAT. I made Tim carry me on his back.

*For people who don’t know me, I’m really scared of rats.

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5. Brooklyn 

If ever I live in New York, I’d pick Brooklyn. I don’t know why but I love love loveee the ambiance and the urban hipster looking place. It’s also got awesome coffee shops everywhere to try.

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Guys, I really don’t hate New York and I do recommend you to visit it but personally it isn’t the place for me.

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USA – Museum Hopping in New York City

USA – Museum Hopping in New York City

Well I bet yall heard of island hopping but did you ever hear about Museum hopping. LOL well Tim and I dedicated a whole day just to visit museums and we achieved visiting 3 of them in a day. It was tiring but also fun. There are loads of museums in the city to see but we went to the ones which were included in the City Pass which are also the main attractions.

American Museum of Natural History

As soon as we got there, the first stop was SPACE and SCIENCE. Yup! Tim’s stuff. I felt like a Kardashian but I did make an effort to learn and allow Tim to explain space stuff to me. It was like he was Sheldon and I was Penny. It did exhaust my brain but it was worth it because it’s taught in a simple friendly way.

We later visited other sections of the museum and the best part was visiting the dinosaurs remains and fossils. I had a great time learning about nature and history of humankind

The museum is huge and there are a lot to see and as you may know the movie ‘Night at the Museum’ was filmed there. We saw a teenage girl showing the security guard and the information desk a picture of Owen Wilson and asking where was he located. They kept telling her ‘Girl, he ain’t here. He is filming in LA’ lol

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Metropolitan Museum of Art

Yup! My kind of museum. Art & Culture is what I love. It has a mix of cultural, historical and modern art. Any art lover will enjoy. So much to see and the best place for artists to be inspired.

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Guggenheim Museum

Funny story. So we had 2 options to pick either Guggenheim Museum OR Rockefeller. I really wanted to go to Rockefeller but Tim insisted for the Guggenheim. As we got there, the ticket lady informed us that half of the museum was being renovated and we can pay half the price instead of wasting the City Pass voucher. So we did as we were told and we were glad we did that because the artworks that were being displayed were not that impressive, otherwise the bldg. was amazing.

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In addition we visited Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum and Museum of Sex on a separate day.

https://www.intrepidmuseum.org/ 

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Sorry guys I can’t post more than the picture above. Visit the Museum and see it for yourself LOL.

 

 

 

USA – 4 Hours in Hoboken, New Jersey

For a change we decided to check out New Jersey. Our receptionist at the hotel advised us to check out Hoboken so we took a train that went straight there.

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Honestly, there was nothing to do and we even arrived clueless and didn’t know where to go. So instead we stopped at a starbucks and checked in on facebook. The most highly recommended place was the Hoboken Waterfront Walkway. My friend Renee commented on our check in post saying to visit Carlos Bakery so in 2 minutes, Tim took a picture of me under the Carlos’s sign.

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We didn’t do much but we walked a lot and stopped at a park and did some people watching. Tim and I have this thing of observing our surroundings and we discuss whether we would live in that place and if we did, how will we survive.

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Anyway we decided it was time to head back to New York but before I wanted to stop at a local store to buy some items. I always love collecting bracelets, earrings and necklaces from around the world and every city if possible. I stopped at this store and became friends with a girl named Wendy who worked behind the counter. Wendy is studying Architecture and told me she was interested in the Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi so I sent her some pictures. Anyway I bought a nice necklace and decided to go for a walk at the Waterfront then we decided to head back to New York City.

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Good thing we did because as soon as we left a storm began and it was pouring in New York City.

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Anyway New Jersey is a state I’d like to visit again but for sure some other city. Hoboken wasn’t exactly the right choice but CARLOS Bakery is a MUST.

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LOOK A SHISHA AKA HOOKAH STORE IN HOBOKEN

Map to Carlos’s 😉

 

USA – Visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

USA – Visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

Tim and I purchased the New York City Pass for only $100 each and managed to visit a lot of touristic attractions and one of them included the Statue of Liberty and the Ellis Island.

Now that was the highlight of our trip. I personally enjoyed it and learned a lot from it. So we started our tour by getting on a cruise to be dropped off to the lady herself. As we were approaching the statue, we took out our cameras and got ready to head to the island. The view of the city was spectacular and seeing the statue up close was surreal. You could purchase an extra ticket on the island to climb the statue and have access to the museum however Tim and I just had lunch there before heading to Ellis Island. I personally was more interested to visit that island and check out the Ellis museum.

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Here’s why I was keen to visit Ellis Island. Have you ever watched the movie Hitch by Will Smith? Well, there was this scene where Will Smith wanted to impress Eva Mendes so he took her to Ellis Island to find her great grandfathers name on the list of immigrants and she burst into tears. I told myself that hopefully someday I get to visit the island and search for my great grandfather’s name.

Here is the scene from the movie ‘Hitch’.

*Burp* We finished our lunch and got on the cruise to be dropped off to Ellis Island. Tim and I purchased the head set to learn about the history in detail. As we walked in the museum, I got Goosebumps by looking at the immigrant’s luggage’s and cases. As a child, I knew how America was built with violence and blood but I did not expect this much heartless treatment was given to immigrants and having them as slaves. The worst facts I read at the museum is how they treated the Native Americans. It is not a topic I would like to blog about because of many reasons and mainly because it’s displeasing. So Ellis Island is where the immigrants arrived to America and were given areas on where they would settle. They had the old telephones displayed in the middle of each room where you can listen to the interview of the immigrants and how nervous and unhappy they sounded.

As I approach the list of names, my heart pounded while going through it. I found lots of names that could be my great grandfather from Austria-Hungary and found Tim’s surname from France. I merely felt distressed but I managed to learn a lot about the history of America and I hope this racism does not continue there or anywhere in this world. It hurts my heart just typing this.

Nevertheless, at the end of our tour, we stopped at a souvenir shop and bought some items and in addition bought a Palestinian and British flags to have in our house.

Although the end of our trip was upsetting, we did learn a lot more about the history of immigrants in America. I hope you visit the Island too.

Hint: If you book the tour from New York City the tour will be packed with people however if you book it from New Jersey then you will have a peaceful tour with not a lot tourists.

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Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island

 

 

USA – 9/11 Tribute and Walking the Brooklyn Bridge

USA – 9/11 Tribute and Walking the Brooklyn Bridge

We happened to be in New York on 9/11 so we decided to visit the new Trade Centre Tower which is now known as the Freedom Tower. Americans are so patriotic; we saw this guy who wore the suit made cover with the US flag from head to toe and other people dressed as the Statue of Liberty. As we got there, many families and extended family and friends visited the site to pay tribute to the victims of the attack.

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As we walked to the other side of the tower, there was a memorial fountain, size of the second tower that collapsed. There is also a special tree at the location that no one is allowed to touch, it’s the only tree that stood during the attacks when everything else got destroyed.

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Tim and I later continued our journey heading to Brooklyn Bridge, we later rented a bike which made me panic a lot because I never rode a bike on the streets before. As a child I always rode my bike at the park.

Anyway after my sudden panic attack, we decided to continue by foot and I think that was a better choice because the bridge is just filled with people so riding a bike on the bridge can be a irritating. Walking the Brooklyn bridge is something you must do when you visit. It’s the perfect location to take pictures of Manhattan and once you get to Brooklyn, it gets even better to take AMAZING pictures of the city and the Manhattan Bridge.

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I fell in love with Brooklyn, its so industrial but I love it. The people, the ambience and the place is so for hipsters. I LOVE IT. I can see myself sitting there enjoying a cup of coffee while blogging. Tim and I bought some snacks and sat at Brooklyn park and enjoyed watching the people pass by.

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After enjoying the scenery, we ought to head back by taking the subway however we found an awesome market that sells handcrafted stuff and second hand items underneath the bridge. We later did our last stop at a coffee shop before heading back to Manhattan.

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Look at how cool Brooklyn looks. No wonder the Beckhams named their kid Brooklyn.

 

 

USA – Empire State VS Rockefeller

USA – Empire State VS Rockefeller

Tim and I purchased a CityPASS booklet and in that booklet included tickets to the Empire State and Rockefeller Observation Deck. We were a bit hesitant on which one to go to because we expected to see an equivalent view of the city. However, there is a difference. In this blog, I will state the Pros & Cons and accordingly you select which building you’d be interested in visiting.

Although the Empire State being an iconic building and all, we personally liked the Rockefeller. Below are my opinions of both skyscrapers.

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Empire State:

Pros:

  • Iconic & Historical New York City Tower
  • Main Deck 86th Floor & the Top Highest Deck is 102nd floor
  • Empire State has an Exhibit on the 80th floor
  • Taller than Rockefeller

Cons:

  • Queue is long
  • You’ll have to pay extra for the Top Deck – The Ticket Prices are: Main is $34 and Top Deck + Main costs $54.
  • Top Deck is a small area. So if you are claustrophobic I do not recommend the 102nd

 

Funny Incident: While waiting for the lift to get to the 102nd floor, the female guide asked us where we’re from. So this is how our conversation went

 

Female Guide: Where are you from?

Me: Dubai

Female Guide: OH WOW! AMAZING! Dubai has the tallest tower in the world. Have you been there?

Me: Yes. I actually work for the developer and I’m in the tower almost every day.

Female Guide: What’s the highest floor you’ve visited?

Me: HAHAHAHA 151st

Female Guide: OMG! What are you doing here? *Laughing Hysterically*

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Rockefeller:

Pros:

  • An amazing view of the Empire State
  • No long queue
  • $34 for the observation deck
  • Might run into Jimmy Fallon but we didn’t

Cons:

  • Located on the 70th Floor
  • Not as iconic as the Empire State

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USA- Love & Hate Relationship with the Concrete Jungle

Love & Hate Relationship with the Concrete Jungle

While listening to Charlie Puth on the plane, I got interrupted by the air-hostess announcement asking the passengers to buckle up as we will be landing to JFK shortly.

So I thought well WUHU NEW YORK HERE WE COME … my view of New York City was over the expectation so frankly speaking I wasn’t impressed by the concrete jungle. Sorry to everyone who loves New York City but that’s how I feel. Now I might sound a bit irritating but it’s just my point of view. First, sadly the airport is not well maintained and the immigration line was a chaos.

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As soon as we got out, we hopped into a van to get to our hotel located at the Upper West Side of Manhattan and on our way we passed by the Bronx and Harlem which to me looked very interesting because it’s not a part of New York that they show in Hollywood movies. The people of Harlem have the passion for arts and music. I personally did not like the Bronx, I felt a negative vibe. Of course I’m not tough enough to be able to live there but shout out to anyone who did and who are living there.

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Fortunately, and Unfortunately we arrived to NYC on Fashion Week which means the hotel rates were like triple their standard prices. Tim helped me try to look for Gigi Hadid at the fashion district and I was following her and her sister’s updates on Instagram. Anyway we didn’t manage to see her. Being half Palestinian, I’m proud that there’s a famous Palestinian celebrity who accomplished this much fame in the western world. GO GIGI

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This blog is just me typing whatever comes to my mind and about my view of the city. I was deeply upset to see how people live in New York and how lots of people struggle to be able to live. I enjoyed watching the people pass by and there’s more to that city than just Manhattan.

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If I ever want to live in New York City, I’d pick Brooklyn. Yes, it is industrial and all but for some reason my heart has chosen it. I liked the people, the area and the feel of it.

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Besides the fact that New York City is filled with homeless, aroma of pee and lots of crime. The city still has its positives such as it’s a cosmopolitan city, subway connection is reliable, lots of fascinating restaurants to try, BROAD WAY, museums, LIBRARY, BROAD WAY AGAIN, its fashion, historical touristic attraction and last but not least BROAD WAY.

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Tim and I encountered two incidents in NYC, once at  the Bronx and the other time somewhere between Harlem and the Upper Westside. We were on our way back to the hotel and took the wrong train and ended up in the Bronx. We had to get out of the subway and walk 20 minutes to the other side to get on the right train so while walking I made eye contact with one of the guys and he pulled out a gun. Thankfully nothing happened we just continued walking to the subway that had blood all over the floor. The other incident was when my childhood friend Marwah, Tim and I were having dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant and a guy who was on drugs just randomly walked in shouting and then smashed the window behind Tim and kept hitting my side of the window with a wooden board. Marwah wasn’t shocked and said things like that happens a lot. She moved to NYC after living in UAE for 20 years. Anyway so the restaurant called the cops and we had to give a statement since we knew how the attacker looked like.

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I have mix feelings of LOVE & HATE for New York City but would I visit again. Yes, I would but for a short period of time and maybe visit the New York state itself rather than just the city.

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USA – A Trip to Universal Studios Los Angeles

Although we’ve been to Universal Studios in Singapore, Tim and I agreed to skip all the theme parks in LA and experience them in other states or countries. Since Universal Studios originated in LA, we decided to compare it with Singapore’s theme park.

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So we took a tour train and Tim sat next to a crazy lady who didn’t know how to fix her phone and asked Tim to do it for her and she was very aggressive and pushy. As soon as we stopped I ran out and left Tim with her, it was hilarious. Tim walked away and we kept trying to avoid her but we just kept bumping into her. Anyway before getting the tickets, we were called by Mario Lopez (the guy from Save by the Bell) to be extras on his show EXTRA.

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As we got in, we studied the map of the park and figured they had similar rides like the ones in Singapore and extra ones too. Anyway I got extremely excited and dragged Tim to the MINIONS RIDE…IT WAS SUPER FUNNN….. We also watched a live show about the history of animation and green screen. The theme park is huge compared to the one in Singapore and the Jurassic Park ride was AWESOME…

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Here’s my comparison:

Universal Studios Singapore: Has less rides than LA and finish the theme park quite quickly. HOWEVER has more live shows which makes it more entertaining.

Universal Studio Los Angeles: Has more rides and outlets outside the studio HOWEVER not as alive as Singapore.

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We really had a great time but next adventure will be in Disneyland

 

 

USA – Grand Canyon & Native Americans

Tim was the one who suggested visiting the Grand Canyon since we would be in Vegas for few days. So I went online and searched for tour packages Grand Canyon and we finalised and decided to take the air-plane option.

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The tour started when a van filled with tourists picked us up from our hotel and headed to a local airport where they gave us an introduction on what to do in Arizona and where we will be stopping. I managed to get a seat next to the pilot so I had a better view and better experience. I was a co-pilot for an hour but on our way back I exchanged my seat with a Korean teenager to be able to take a nap lol.

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Anyway when we landed in Arizona, we took a bus around the canyon and stopped at 3 main stops and managed to take lots of pictures. It is indescribable; it is magical and much more beautiful than what you see in pictures in books or on websites. Best part of the trip was hanging out with Native Americans, I find them very beautiful and I’m in love with their culture ever since I was a child.

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Before heading back to Vegas, Tim and I bought lots of Native American items and also bought a dream catcher AND worms. YUP! WE ATE WORMS. I would love to visit again and experience another side of the canyon because IT IS HUGE and lots of areas to explore, perhaps on a helipad or walking tour which are the other tour packages.

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USA – What happens in Vegas…SHOULD stay in Vegas. LOL

Tim and I flew Virgin Airways from LA to Vegas and booked our stay at the Luxor Hotel (Pyramid Hotel). Although it is an old hotel; it is well maintained and it’s not far away from the centre of Vegas Boulevard.

The night we landed, Tim and I got dressed and walked to MGM hotel to witness the one and only DAVID COPPERFIELD. We really had a great time. Luxor had Chris Angel as their performer and exhibited human bodies and Titanic items but we didn’t manage to do any since we were flying to Arizona the next day.

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We managed to visit numerous hotels at the Boulevard and of course we spent most of our time in the Bellagio where Ocean’s Eleven was filmed. I went all fanatic telling Tim ‘that’s where the team stood to watch the fountain’ and ‘that’s the stairs Julia Roberts walked down while George Clooney and Andy Garcia waited’. Anyway moving on lol we later took a taxi and visited the old Vegas where we paid $16 each for dinner buffet and bought souvenirs for friends and families and saw butt naked Cowboys and butt naked Native Americans.

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The highlight of the trip was a homeless guy who had a bucket in front of him with a small sign sayin’ “Tip Me to Activate Me” and some random dude tipped him and he just danced like a maniac and started shaking his bum. It was funny to watch.

It was pass midnight and we decided to watch Taken 3 at a dodgy theatre. The place was empty and barely any of lights were on. The guy at the counter looked extremely high, although the whole thing seemed dodgy and weird; we still bought our tickets and watched the movie. Nearing the end of the movie, we started hearing noises and doors locking so when the movie was over and we were leaving, we noticed the lights were off and the emergency lights were on and the main entrance was locked and smelled funny. Don’t worry nothing happened, we just managed to get out from the emergency exit which was challenging to find.

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VEGAS IS JUST AWESOME AND TRULY IS THE SIN CITY

Whatever happens in Vegas SHOULD stay in Vegas…So this is what I can legitimately blog about our trip LOL

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