New York City in Half a Day

Washington Square Park | Photo by +Ging Antoni 
I got an invite to +Nicole Gutierrez's graduation party so I drove to New York for the Memorial weekend with a stopover in Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) to pick up +Ging Antoni since she was flying from Lexington, KY. The drive from PHL to White Plains, NY was horrible. We drove through New Jersey's Garden State Parkway, which can be a little confusing at night and while we breezed through the toll booths thanks to E-Zpass, there were countless tolls for every few miles and on and on it seems to go.  

Grand Central Terminal | Photo by +Ging Antoni 
What happens the next day after all the festivities of last night's graduation party, after-party, playing Cards Against Humanity and singing karaoke until 5 AM? Surprisingly, all of us managed to wake up before/around noon and we decided to go to 'the city'. It was my first time traveling with a big group. Ten and a half to be exact. It was more convenient to ride the train to Grand Central regardless of how many people are traveling with you. Parking in the city is not only expensive but driving there is also a nightmare. I have only ever driven in Manhattan twice and I swear I'm not doing it again. At least not anytime soon. 

Big Bus Tours | Photo by +Ging Antoni 

One of the best ways to see any city is by riding the Big Bus Tours if it is available in the city you are visiting. It is inexpensive and actually a lot of fun when traveling with a group. We chose the 1-day downtown loop for $49 per person but we ended up paying only $42 because of Andre's military discount! The Downtown Loop have the following stops: Times Square, Empire State Building, Korea Town, Flatiron District, Union Square, Greenwich Village, NoHo, SoHo/Little Italy, Chinatown, Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall (a few blocks away from the 9/11 Memorial), Battery Park/Wall Street, Highline and Madison Square Garden. It includes a live commentary by a tour bus staff, hop-on hop-off sightseeing and if you're traveling with kid(s), a child under 5 years may travel free of charge.  

Washington Square Fountain | Photo by +Ging Antoni 

After making a loop around downtown in the Big Bus and seeing all the sights along the way, we all agreed to do another downtown loop (it's free after all) but this time we wanted to 'hop off' to Chinatown to get something to eat. +Ging Antoni wanted to hop-off at the Washington Square Park so we (+Ging Antoni, Perri and myself) stopped at the Greenwich Village and walked a few blocks to this iconic landmark while the rest of the group were on their way to Chinatown. It was already 7 PM when we got there but it was still bright and sunny in the horizon so our timing was just perfect.

Hop Kee Restaurant | Photo by +Ging Antoni 

Gerry couldn't stop talking about this Hop Kee restaurant in Chinatown. He swears they have the best Cantonese cuisine in New York. I haven't been there before so it's always an adventure trying something new every now and then. By the time me, Perri and +Ging Antoni arrived at Hop Kee, the rest of the group have already ordered from the menu. So I don't remember the names of the dishes exactly. I tried the dim sum soup with bok-choy and shrimp for starters. It was heavenly I had to have another bowl. The fried calamari was.... well it was a fried calamari, nothing too special about that. I also liked the two kinds of fried rice they ordered. Again, I wish I knew what they were called. There was the big fried flounder that was crispy on the outside but juicy on the inside. Yum! Finally the soft-shell crabs with sauce was delightful. I am absolutely coming back here. As for the interior design, it was nothing too fancy. What I found interesting were the pictures of perhaps some famous people who have dined in at Hop Kee adorned along the walls. The only picture I recognized was that of Anthony Bourdain's.   

Tip: the entrance to the Hop Kee restaurant is below street level in 21 Mott Street. They accept cash only.  

Lower Manhattan | Photo by +Thea A. 

After Chinatown, +Ging Antoni, Perri and I separated from the rest of the group who were on their way to Times Square. Thankfully, Wendy drove to Chinatown so the three of us hitched a ride to Brooklyn and we conveniently parked along the street, closer to the Brooklyn Bridge. We walked the Brooklyn Bridge halfway and stopped to take awesome pictures before walking back to her car.  

As always, safe travels!

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  1. So while it's true that the people make an event (and the people definitely made any event!) this space definitely adds a different dimension to it. Went to the live music bar nyc for an evening event and I was really impressed.

  2. Partying and enjoying with a group of friends is a great way to enjoy and make some great memories. I am also planning for a best New York city party for my friends and I hope they will like my arrangements.