American Travel Diaries

On this page you will discover our American travel diaries.

American travel diaries

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Canada 2019: we visited Ontario and Quebec

After our visit to New York City, we set off on our Canadian adventure.

July 23rd

We took the flight from La Guardia airport in New York at 14.00 (more than an hour late) and landed at around 15.30. The airline of choice was Westjet, a low-cost Canadian airline. The airline of choice was Westjet, a low-cost Canadian airline. Except for the delay it was quite a comfortable flight and they even gave us a small snack.

As a first culture shock… the bus shelter at the airport bus stop with a heater. Winter must be a bit harsh.


We went straight to a relative’s house to rest a bit before going out for a walk.

In the afternoon, we spent some time strolling around as a first contact with the city. A look at the CN Tower and see the views from the Harbour Front with an iced coffee from Tim Horton’s, a Canadian chain of coffee shops like Starbucks but much cheaper that is all over Canada, in any corner, town or road, there is a Tim Horton’s there.

Harbour Front
Harbour Front

In the evening, on our way back to our accommodation, we went to the Wychwood Pub on St. Claire Ave. for dinner, which was wings night.

They were very, very good and not expensive. The waitress was very funny and we laughed a lot with her. Highly recommended but very far from the centre.

July 24th

We started the day with lots of energy by eating a hearty American breakfast at Sunset Grill on Yonge street, a franchise restaurant serving breakfast all day long.

Sunset Grill

With our stomachs full, we went in search of Nathan Phillips Square, where the city hall and the old city hall stand to one side.

In the square there is the typical giant Toronto sign to take a few photos and behind it the new city hall building. It is a very modernist building where some films have been shot, such as the second part of Resident Evil.

Next to the square is the old city hall building, a more classical construction and, to my taste, much nicer than the new one.

Old City Hall
Old City Hall
City Hall
City Hall

There must have been some kind of beauty pageant or something that day because, all of a sudden, about 50 young girls showed up to have their pictures taken by a professional photographer. Then it was time to retreat.

We took a stroll down to the lakeshore past Toronto’s skyscrapers, Union Station and the Scotia bank Arena to the ferry station to visit the Toronto Islands.

After a twenty minute ride with breathtaking views of the Toronto skyline, we disembark at Centre Island.

The island is set up as a sort of Sunday theme park, where families go to spend the day. There is a small amusement park, a farm with barnyard animals and some restaurants.

Parts of the island were closed as well as some of the surrounding islands because they were flooded. This is due to the very high water level of the lake this year.


We took a walk around the island. Some of us got our feet wet in the lake and we rested for a while lying on the grass in the shade. The truth is that in Toronto it was hot in the sun, but in the shade it was very pleasant.

Toronto Islands

At noon we took the boat back to Toronto and went to visit St. Lawrence Market.

It is the main public market in the city and on the upper floor there are many food places where you can get take-away food. You can eat sitting at tables on the terrace.

We chose some roast beef and Montreal smoked loin sandwiches that were to die for.

After a little rest we went to the Distillery District, an old whisky distillery (the largest in the world in 1860), now converted into a tourist area with little shops, cafes and places to have a drink. I’d say it’s a bit too hipster for my taste, but it’s great for a stroll.

Distillery District
what to do in Toronto

On our way back to our accommodation, we stopped for an ice cream at the Dutch Dreams ice cream parlour. It is a Dutch ice cream parlour with spectacular ice cream.

You can choose the type of cone, which they make on the spot, from a wide range of types.

They were spectacular and the small one is so big that it is a perfect substitute for a dinner.

Dutch Dreams Toronto

July 25th

The good stuff begins. Today we start our road trip through Ontario and Quebec. The first thing to do is to pick up the car at the rental office at Toronto airport. We take the direct route to Niagara Falls (123km). A coffee at Tim Horton’s and off we go.

One important note: 4 months after returning, I received a letter from the car rental company informing me that I had been charged for a toll road. It turns out that at some point we passed a stretch of electronic toll road, where there are no turnstiles and, without realising it, they take your number plate when you enter and exit. It was about 17€ (20$) between toll and the company’s management. You have to be careful.

Niagara Falls is a group of three waterfalls at the southern end of the Niagara Gorge, which straddles the border between the province of Ontario in Canada and the state of New York in the United States.

The largest, Horseshoe Falls, also known as Canadian Falls, straddles the international border of the two countries.

The other two, American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls, are within the United States. Bridal Veil Falls is separated from Horseshoe Falls by Goat Island and from American Falls by Luna Island, with both islands located in New York.

Niagara falls

As soon as we arrived we went to the “small” waterfall, which already impressed us. It was spectacular.

We went down to the boat that takes you almost under the falls. There was a long queue but it was quite fast because the boat was big.

When the boat opened, everyone ran to try to get a good spot on the top floor. But it’s better to be on the bottom floor on the left side. It’s not crowded and you have the same view.

They give you a mackintosh before you enter and you still get soaked. If you don’t come out completely wet, you haven’t got a good spot. It’s very, very fun, although it doesn’t last very long.

When we left, we went for a walk along the avenue to the big waterfalls. They are really spectacular, but if you want to take a good picture you almost have to get stuck in the crowd.

niagara falls
Niagara falls day trip
Niagara Falls

We quietly made our way up to the car, ate a small picnic lunch sitting under a tree in the shade and set off again. The destination: Tobermory on the Bruce Peninsula (383km). The accommodation was great, a charming little house in the woods on the shore of Lake Huron.


July 26th

We got up leisurely and had breakfast. We only had to cross the street to get to the small dock where the boat was leaving for Flowerpot Island.

Flowerpot Island is a small uninhabited island in Lake Huron, part of the Fathom Five National Marine Park.

Before going to the island, the boat gave us a tour of the lake, showing us a 17th century shipwreck and telling us a little of the history of the offshore islands.

Flowerpot Island

We arrive at Flowerpot Island. As soon as you get off, you are offered a rubbish bag because there are no rubbish bins on the island. It is (logically) forbidden to leave rubbish there.

We took the hiking route around the island. It is a beautiful place, very wooded. On the coast you can see rock formations in the shape of columns called flowerpots, which give the island its name.

Flowerpot Island

The entire hiking route takes about three hours to complete. You pass several points of interest such as a cave, a power station or a small museum in the lighthouse keeper’s house. At the end of the hike, a good swim in the lake, only for the brave, because even though it was the middle of July, the water was freezing cold.

Flowerpot Island

In the afternoon we get back on the boat for the return trip, which goes straight to Tobermory without any sightseeing. We get in the car and head for our next accommodation. We are in the city of Barrie (240km), near the entrance to the Algonquin Provincial Park.

Algonquin Provincial Park

There are plenty of activities to do in the park, although we focused on hiking.

The first was the Whiskey rapids trail of about 2 kilometres.

Just after entering the trail, as in almost all of them, there is a notebook where you write down your details in case you get lost.

It goes fairly quickly but has several drawbacks. The first is that in summer there are no rapids (I suppose they are formed with the thaw in spring) and the second is that the mosquitoes are a real cloud and are the size of sparrows. This was hell, neither the mosquito patches nor the liquid repellents we used were of any use. They are the ones we took to Vietnam and Japan, with great success. They got on us and on top of that they went through our clothes. To top it off, my partner had an allergic reaction and broke out in fierce hives.

Algonquin Provincial Park

A ten-minute drive from there, the two-kilometre Peck Lake Trail also awaited us. A very easy and quiet route along the Peck Lake. Luckily there were almost no mosquitoes on this one and it went very well. The trail is really beautiful.

Peck Lake

After this route we stopped for a picnic lunch at a roadside picnic area to get our strength back. I was very amused (as well as scared) to see bear-proof rubbish bins.

Algonquin Park

After the break it was time for the penultimate route: the Big Pines Trail, which was about 3 kilometres long and also quite easy. Luckily there were hardly any mosquitoes and it went very well. It goes through the deep forest where you can find gigantic and very old pine trees. I loved it.

The next one was not a hike as such, but the Algonquin Logging Museum. It is an open-air museum in the form of a mile-long trail that shows you how the region’s loggers lived and worked and the evolution of their work. It is really interesting and recommendable. It is also free, although you can leave a donation.

Algonquin Logging Museum
Algonquin Logging Museum

We finished our visit just as the museum was closing so we got back in the car and headed out of the park towards Kanata on the outskirts of Ottawa (396km from Barrie) where we had our next accommodation.

July 28th

We had to get up early again to cover the 106 km that separated us from today’s visit, Parc Omega, in the province of Quebec. It is a park of native animals in semi-freedom.

I’m not one of those who likes zoos. Neither aquariums, nor those kind of places where animals are confined for exhibition. But in this case they were local species and the enclosure where they move around is really gigantic (it took up almost the entire tank of the car).

You drive around in the car, with the radio tuned to a specific station where you are given explanations of the park and the animals come looking for you to give them some carrots that you have previously bought at the visitor centre.

Parc Omega

Halfway there is another visitor centre with souvenir shops and restaurants. There you can take a tractor-drawn shuttle to a farm with animals ideal for the little ones. There are also a couple of walking trails.

In the visitor centre there is also an exhibition of birds of prey and they also show you how the wolves live in the area.

A little further on, on the shore of a small lake, there is a picnic area where we had a picnic lunch. Then we took the trail along the edge of the lake, which is also a museum with totem poles of the indigenous people of the different regions of Canada.

Parc Omega

We spent the day at the park and had a very, very good time. It is certainly a visit that children will love, but also adults.

In the afternoon we set off desperate to find a petrol station as the car’s tank had been on reserve for some time and we still had 270 kilometres to go to our next accommodation: a charming little house very close to the lake in a village called Saint-Jean-des-Piles near the entrance to Le Mauricie National Park.

One important note: petrol in Canada is really cheap, about 0.80€ (0.97$) a litre.

We arrived in the village around 9pm. We left our stuff in the flat and went in search of a restaurant.

Nearby was the Bistro Le P’tit Canot. There we were told that the cook was ill and the kitchen was closed, which was impossible. However, there was a young man eating a plate of spaghetti at a table.


They told us that we could go to the restaurant Marina le St-Jean which closed at 10 o’clock. So we went there, by then it was almost 9.15. We asked if we could have dinner and they said yes. At that moment the cook came out barking saying that the kitchen was already cleaned and that they were no longer serving food. So we rushed to Shawinigan, the biggest town nearby, before the hypermarket that had opened closed, so we could buy something for dinner.

July 29th

Today it was time for sport. We headed for the entrance to Le Mauricie National Park.

At the visitor’s centre we were very well informed about the way to follow and what to do. The man there spoke French, English, Italian and Spanish, so he was perfect.

He told us that the people of Quebec like Spanish very much, that it is studied in school and that they love to practise it when they can. Later on we became aware of this. There we paid the corresponding fee which was 15$ (10.34€) per car.

We drove to Lake Wapizagonke. There we hired some canoes and went across the lake, 4.6km in total.

Lake Wapizagonke

When we reached the end we tied up the canoes. We smeared ourselves with mosquito repellent, as we had encountered a veritable plague of mosquitoes. Then we set off on the 3.4km hike to the Waber waterfalls. Fortunately, the higher you went, the less mosquitoes there were.

We reached the waterfalls and they were simply spectacular. Luckily they can only be reached by the method we used so there were not too many people and they are very well preserved.

There are pools in which you can get into to cool off from the oppressive humid heat and relax from the hike. Of course, the water was too cold.

Waber waterfalls

After a picnic lunch it was time to say goodbye to the waterfalls and start the long walk back. Another 3.4km of hiking and another 4.6km of canoeing back to the car.

On the way back, in the car, we stopped at the viewpoint “le passage” from where we could see an incredible panoramic view of Lake Wapizagonke and where there are explanatory panels about the formation of the area, flora, fauna etc…

Before leaving the park we had a great stroke of luck and a bear crossed in front of the car, without any hurry, so we were able to contemplate it quite calmly.

Lake Wapizagonke

July 30th

It’s time to return gradually to Toronto. First stop Ottawa. After travelling the 354 km from Saint-Jean-des-Piles we arrived in the capital of the country. We left our things in the flat in Gatineau.

Gatineau is a city located in Quebec, on the north bank of the Ottawa River, just opposite the capital of Canada.

We took the opportunity to have lunch in a nearby pub, the Brasserie Gainsbourg. A small craft beer, a poutine, fish and chips and burgers. It was all very tasty.

Now full of energy and after a downpour that seemed like the universal deluge, we headed for Parliament Hill.

Parliament Hill Ottawa

Just across the Ottawa Portage Bridge, we come to Christ Church Cathedral, Ottawa’s Anglican cathedral.

In 1824, the Reverend Amos Ansley began preaching in a school. By 1826 a small stone church was opened.

In 1841, construction began on a new church, which lasted two years until 1843, when it was consecrated and named Christ Church. By 1872 it was decided to demolish it in order to build a larger one. This was inaugurated in 1873.

On Easter Day 1897, it was formally announced that Christ Church would become the cathedral of the new diocese.

Christ Church Cathedral Ottawa

A little further on is the Supreme Court of Canada building. It was designed by Ernest Cormier and built between 1939 and 1946. It is worth noting that the foundation stone was laid by Queen Elizabeth, consort of King George VI and later known as the Queen Mother.

Next to it (more or less) is the Justice Building, designed by Thomas W. Fuller and built between 1935 and 1938.

Next to it is the Confederation Building, built between 1927 and 1931 in the Gothic style. It was designed by Richard Cotsman Wright and Thomas W. Fuller.

Confederation Building Ottawa

A little further on we come to the Canadian parliament building. Parliament is divided into three buildings. The Centre Block, opened in 1927, replacing the previous building from 1866, which went up in flames, contains the Senate and Commons chambers. At the front is the clock tower and at the rear is the library.

Canadian parliament building

The East Block (opened in 1866) and the West Block (opened in 1865) contain the offices of ministers and senators, as well as meeting rooms and other administrative spaces.

It can be visited inside by guided tours.

In the centre of the grounds is the Centennial Flame. It commemorates Canada’s centennial as a Confederation, lit on 1 January 1967.

The flame is surrounded by a fountain bearing the coats of arms of Canada’s 13 provinces and territories. The Nunavut Territory’s coat of arms was not originally there, as it was not created until 1999. Its coat of arms was installed on 13 December 2017.

We strolled around the area in peace and quiet as the days were beginning to show.

Next to Parliament Hill are the locks of the Ridau Canal. The canal connects Ottawa with Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River in Kingston. The name Rideau (French for curtain), is derived from the curtain-like appearance of the twin falls of the Rideau River where they join the Ottawa River.

Ridau Canal

The canal was opened in 1832 as a precautionary measure in case of war with the United States. Today it is used for recreational activities. The system’s locks are the oldest continuously operating locks in the Americas and open for navigation in mid-May and close in mid-October.

what to do in ottawa

Across the canal is the spectacular Château Laurier, a luxury hotel in a beautiful palatial building, designed in the French Gothic style. The hotel was inaugurated in 1912 and in 1980 was designated a national historic site.

Château Laurier Ottawa

We rested for a while and went over to the National Gallery of Canada to see the building from the outside, which was already closed. It is one of the largest art museums in North America by exhibition space.

The gallery was established in 1880 in the Second Supreme Court of Canada building. In 1911 it moved to the Victoria Memorial Museum building and in 1960 to the Lorne Building.

By 1988 it was finally moved to the current building, created by Israeli architect Moshe Safdie and built of glass and granite. The museum’s permanent collection includes more than 93,000 works by European, American, Asian, Canadian and indigenous artists. It also hosts temporary exhibitions.

National Gallery of Canada

In the square in front of the museum is The Maman statue, a sculpture of a spider by the French-American artist Louise Bourgeois, created in 1999, the same spider statue that can be found next to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, in the Tuileries Garden in Paris or in Tokyo’s Roppongi Hills.

Opposite is Notre-Dame Cathedral, a Roman Catholic basilica, the oldest and largest church in Ottawa and the seat of the city’s Catholic archbishop.

The Maman statue and Notre-Dame Cathedral in Ottawa

In 1832, the first wooden church was built on the site. It was demolished in 1841 to make way for a larger church. It was designed by Antoine Robillard and Father John Francis Cannon, who requested a neo-classical design.

In 1844 with the lower section completed, the Oblate Fathers took over the administration of the parish. They decided to redesign the church in a neo-Gothic structure, a style that was growing in popularity.

what to do in Ottawa

From there, exhausted, we strolled to ByWard Market. It is a shopping and entertainment district in the city centre. It includes the market buildings and open-air market along George, York, ByWard and William Street.

In 1827 the first market building was built along with a courthouse behind it on George Street, which were dismantled in 1842.

On Saturday 6 November 1848 two new buildings were opened. One in the Lower Town, built of timber. With space for market stalls on the ground floor and a well-lit upper floor to be used for public meetings. The one in the Upper Town became the town hall until 1878. And so various buildings evolved until the present day.


The area around the market is a place where you’ll find many restaurants and places to have a drink. This is also where the giant Ottawa sign is located for us tourists to take pictures. I found the Bywan market very hipster and touristy so we decided to have dinner in the flat and rest early.

July 31st

It’s another early start today. We had breakfast and set off for the city of Gananoque (167km). There we booked a cruise that toured the Thousand Islands, an archipelago of 1,864 islands.

It is divided by the border between Canada and the United States. It lies at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River at one end of Lake Ontario. The Canadian islands are in the province of Ontario and the US islands are in the state of New York.

The islands vary in size, ranging from 100 square kilometres for the largest, to the smallest, which contains only one small residence.

To count as one of the Thousand Islands, the island must have at least one square foot (0.093 m²) of land above water level year-round and support at least one living tree.

Hub island
Hub Island, the smallest island

We bought the two and a half hour option. It consisted of a tour around the most important islands (without disembarking on any of them) while they explained the history of the place and some curiosities.

Heart island
Heart Island

The excursion is very interesting and entertaining. The ship also has a bar where you can have a drink while you enjoy the tour.

By the time the tour was over it was a bit late so we decided to have lunch at the cruise company’s restaurant and then set off back to Toronto (290km).

August 1st

Today was a relaxing walk around Toronto. We went to Casa Loma although we decided not to go inside as it did not attract our attention.

It is a neo-Gothic style mansion and garden in downtown Toronto. It was built between 1911 and 1914 by architect E. J. Lennox, as a residence for the financier Sir Henry Pellatt.

Casa Loma

In 1924 the City of Toronto repossesses Casa Loma due to unpaid debts and taxes. Henry Pellatt goes bankrupt after the expropriation of his power companies and the decline of his real estate business. This was due to the First World War. After this, the house was abandoned for years.

In 1937 it was leased by the Kiwanis Club of West Toronto. Later, the Kiwanis Club of Casa Loma (KCCL) began to exploit the castle for tourism. They managed the house until 2011.

Casa Loma Toronto

Because of its unique architectural character in Toronto, Casa Loma has been a popular location for film and television shoots. It is also a popular location for wedding ceremonies.

After a tour of the house we went for a walk downtown past some university fraternities. We also bought some souvenirs.

On this day we ate at the Salad King restaurant, a well-known Thai restaurant, which was very good and not expensive.

With renewed strength we continue strolling through the centre until we reach Queen’s Park. It is an urban park in the city centre inaugurated in 1860 by Prince Edward of Wales. It is named after Queen Victoria.

The park is the site of the Ontario Legislative Building, which houses the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

Construction of the Ontario Legislative Assembly Building began in 1886 to the design of architect Richard A. Waite and opened in 1893. It has undergone numerous extensions, most recently in 1968 and 1969.

Ontario Legislative Building
Ontario Legislative Building

There we sat on the grass and ate some Japanese cheesecakes that we had bought, which were to die for. We bought them in a shop called Uncle Tetsu’s Japanese Cheesecake very close to Dundas square.

After the break we continued walking past several faculties of the University of Toronto until we reached Kensington market. It is a distinctive multicultural neighbourhood in the centre of Toronto, with little shops and places to eat and drink something very hipster.

There we sat down for a drink, making time to go to the CN Tower where we had dinner at its revolving restaurant.


The CN Tower is a 553-metre-high communications and observation tower. It was built between 1973 and 1976. Its name “CN” originally referred to Canadian National, the railway company that built the tower.

Today you can climb it to admire the incredible views of the city and to eat in its 360º restaurant, which slowly rotates to enjoy the view of Toronto. There are also various activities such as a walk around the outside at the top of the tower (how scary).

What can we say about the views from the CN Tower… They are simply spectacular and the sunset is amazing.

CN Tower

The dinner, apart from the view, was very, very good. It was modern cuisine but you don’t go hungry. You can choose a menu for 65$ (45€) or order from the menu, but the latter option is very expensive. The good thing is that it includes entrance to the tower.

CN Tower

After dinner we went back to the viewpoint of the tower, taking advantage of the fact that there were hardly any people around to enjoy the views for a while longer and take a good photo.

CN Tower

On leaving the tower we took a stroll around the surrounding area and took advantage of the late hour to take a photo at the Canada sign, which during the day is impossible due to the queues that form.

August 2nd

Last day in Canada. Quite exhausted from so many non-stop days, we left a little later for a last walk around Toronto. We bought the last souvenirs.

In the Art Gallery shop they gave us a collection of art books for the purchase we made. It was heavy as hell. With all that weight we continued walking around. We had breakfast at another Sunset grill (where we had breakfast on the first day) and went to look at the lake for a while at the Harbour front.


We flew back with KLM. The plane was very old and the seats were very narrow, almost no leg room. The truth is that it was a really uncomfortable flight. However, the crew was very friendly and the food was very good.

We left around 11 pm and landed in Amsterdam at 12 noon. Two hours later the flight to Bilbao was leaving. This was also a KLM plane and it was one of the small ones with only two rows of seats. Incredibly, there was much more legroom and it was much more comfortable than the previous one.

what to do in Toronto

Balance of the trip

Canada impressed me. Its spectacular landscapes, its wildlife and, above all, the great kindness and friendliness of the Canadians. What impressed me most about them is the joy and the incredible treatment they have at work, where it seems that whatever it is, they love the job.

We plan to return to the country one day and visit the other coast, which must also be spectacular.


NYC 2019: Discovering the Big Apple

This year it’s time for a new adventure: discovering the American continent. First stop: New York City (NYC).

July 18

We left Malaga on a direct flight with Delta around 8 in the morning. You arrive several hours early at the airport for boarding, go through extensive checks as a very friendly “conversation” with a company employee at the check-in counter, who writes down everything you say and asks several more serious questions such as whether you’ve been at all times with your suitcase and such.

We passed the passport control, and while waiting, a company worker approaches one of my companions and tells her that she has been randomly selected for a pre-boarding control and that she should accompany her. The rest we ship by conventional methods.

Road to New York

The plane was quite comfortable, seats relatively spacious, the crew very friendly and the food quite decent. From time to time they passed by offering you something to drink, an ice cream and things like that. Onboard entertainment quite good. The trip becomes very pleasant (considering that more than half I do it sleeping).

We arrived at JFK airport around 10:30. From what I had been told, the festival begins, the heaviness of going through the heavy controls of US airports. Nothing is further from reality. Luckily there were almost no queues at the controls, at the post: photo, fingerprints and passport. All very fast. We went out to get the luggage. Now yes, you will see the records, the questions, etc… well, again I fail. The suitcases were waiting for us, we pick them up and go directly to the terminal… is that it? That easy? Marvelous. It has been easier to enter the US than to leave Spain.

Remember to always travel with insurance. With IATI you have a 5% discount for being our reader.

So direct to the subway to go to the accommodation; an apartment in Jersey City since in New York it was very expensive and we were 6 people. After more than an hour of subway and transfer with the PATH we finally arrived. We left the suitcases and went out throwing mistos to eat that already the desire to eat was important at that time.

PATH train to Ney Jersey / New York

If you prefer to arrive more comfortably and quickly, you can do so by hiring a transfer. Here is a link to one that works great:

Transfer in New York

First acquaintance with American greasy junk food: a hamburger at a restaurant called Leftbank Burger next to the apartment.

Very good and dripping, with a strange breading that turned out to be breaded macaroni and cheese… well, like a macaroni croquette. Accompanied by ice water to mitigate the embarrassment it made. In New York they always give you cold water when you enter a restaurant.

Leftbank burger

Already with a happy stomach, we headed to Manhattan to see what’s going on there. First stop… 33rd Street st. We take a leisurely stroll around the Empire State Building, walk part of 5th Avenue to the Flatiron Building.

The Flatiron Building, originally called the Fuller Building, is a 22-story, 87-meter-high triangular building located at 175 Fifth Avenue. Designed by Daniel Burnham and Frederick Dinkelberg, it was one of the tallest buildings in the city after its completion in 1902, and one of only two “skyscrapers” north of 14th Street, the other being Metropolitan Life.

Flatiron Building
Flatiron Building

We retrace our steps to enter Macy’s to rest in the air-conditioned shoe store and see the wooden escalators.

Macy’s which was originally called R. H. Macy & Co. is an American department store chain founded in 1858 by Rowland Hussey Macy.

After resting a bit in the cool, we took a walk to the very crowded and oppressive Times Square.

Times Square is a major commercial intersection, tourist destination, and entertainment center at the intersection of Broadway and Seventh Avenue in Midtown Manhattan. Characterized by numerous billboards and giant neon signs, it stretches from West 42nd to 47th Streets.

Times Square

The truth is that it is impressive. I think it shocked me more than the first time I visited Shibuya in Tokyo. Both because of the publicity and because of the number of people who were there.

From here we went for a walk around the neighborhood until we reached Madison Square Garden. Colloquially known as The Garden, it is a multi-use indoor arena located between 7th and 8th Avenues from 31st to 33rd Streets, it is situated atop Pennsylvania Station. The arena is used for professional ice hockey and basketball, as well as boxing, concerts, ice shows, circuses, professional wrestling, and other forms of sports and entertainment.

Madison Square Garden

After a hard day, we decided to go back to Jersey to buy something for dinner and have breakfast the next day at a supermarket.

July 19

We woke up very early startled by the apartment’s fire alarm due to some toast burning in the toaster. The lack of habit of having these types of alarms. Well… early and well alert for the day of walking that was upon us.

Today it was time to indulge myself and freak out a bit, so we put the direct to the building that acts as headquarters in the ghostbusters movie (the original). I had read that there was nothing but we found out that it is a small fire station.

Ghostbusters Headquarter

For the very geeks, this one is located at 10 North Moore Street.

From here we went to Chelsea Market, an old meat processing factory converted into a grocery store, very hipster in my opinion. As it was chilly we got some iced teas and some homemade sweets in a bakery called Sarabeth’s.

After gaining strength, we left the building to go through the Higline elevated park. An elevated linear park of 2.33 km, which runs along some old abandoned New York Central Railroad tracks. It was designed between James Corner Field Operations, Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Piet Oudolf and opened in June 2009. It’s a pretty cool place with lots of shade to walk around in the heat.

Highline Elevated Park
Higline elevated park.

At the end of the park, a strange construction called The Vessel awaited us, which is a kind of viewpoint, built with the design of the British Thomas Heatherwick; and opened in March 2019. The structure is honeycomb-shaped and has 16 stories and with 154 flights of stairs, 2,500 steps and 80 landings for visitors to climb (closed from 2021).

Just opposite we find Hudson Yards, a huge shopping center that also served us to rest a bit in the cool… or cold because in NY I think they put the air conditioners at 10ºc. How cold it is everywhere.

Refreshed, we took a (long) walk along 5th avenue to the Trump tower. The tower is a 58-storey, 202-meter-high skyscraper located at 721-725 Fifth Avenue. It is a multipurpose building in which former President Donald Trump and some of his relatives also live.

We continue walking and stop to eat at a nearby place, at fresh & co. a franchise of salads and organic food that is quite good and not expensive.

Full of energy, we headed to the New York Public Library, the second largest library in the United States and one of the largest in the world, containing more than 53 million items. And as a good geek, it is the scene of the first scene of the ghostbusters.

The building is quite spectacular both inside and out. It is quite a long visit even though you can only see part of the building. That yes, it is necessary to respect because in spite of being tourist it is still a library and some rooms are visited in which there are people consulting and studying, although not everyone is civilized.

New York Public Library
New York Public Library

Already when closing the library we took another walk to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. It is a neo-gothic cathedral, seat of the archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, built between 1858 and 1878. It is considered one of the most visible symbols of the Catholic Church in the United States.

You can enter for free and the truth is that the building is quite spectacular and, in addition, it has air conditioning and you are very comfortable.

Saint Patrick's Cathedral
Saint Patrick’s Cathedral

Since it wasn’t too late when we left, we crossed the avenue to get to Rockefeller Plaza in front of Rockefeller Center, a plaza that has appeared like that in a million movies.

Saint Patrick's Cathedral.

From here we went to Chinatown to buy some souvenirs and have dinner in a restaurant. We had dinner at a place called Joe’s Ginger. We ate well and cheaply.

July 20

Today it’s time to climb the Empire State Building. Early morning, energetic breakfast and the PATH towards Manhattan.

The Empire State Building is a 102-story, 443-meter-high skyscraper designed by Shreve, Lamb & Harmon and built between 1930 and 1931 in the Art Deco style. At first it was the tallest building in the world until it was superseded by the Twin Towers in 1970. After their destruction in 2001, it was once again the tallest building in the city (not in the world) until 2012 when it was surpassed by the One World Trade Center.

Empire State Building

There were quite a few people waiting but it was going fast. As soon as you enter, they take a photo with a chroma key with the city in the background in case you want to buy it on the way out. What can we say about the views… they are spectacular.

Empire State Building

After going all the way around, it was time to go all the way up. At that moment, an employee of the building shouted that the wait for the elevator was about 35 minutes and that anyone who wanted to could go up the stairs at that time, which would take about 7 minutes. So we did. I do not understand how there are people who go up in a marathon from the bottom.

The ticket price is between $42 and $49. You can easily buy your ticket from the following link:

Empire state building tickets

That day we were on heat alert. In spite of this, we wanted to and from the Empire State Building we went to the Manhattan bridge to cross it and return through the Brooklyn bridge.

The Manhattan Bridge is a 2,089-meter suspension bridge that spans the East River connecting Lower Manhattan at Canal Street with Downtown Brooklyn at the Flatbush Avenue Extension. It was designed by Leon Moisseiff, built by The Phoenix Bridge Company, and opened to traffic on December 31, 1909.

It was so hot that it was an impossible mission, when we had been about a quarter of the bridge over, we stopped, took some photos and turned back.

Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan Bridge

We decided to come back and stop at a Chinatown bakery called Audrey Bakery And Café to freshen up a bit. The cakes were to die for. And what they had on display all looked amazing. Of course, people kept coming in to take food.

After that, we headed down Wall Street through the shade past the Supreme Court buildings. Until you reach the Stock Exchange and Federal Hall buildings. But on the way, almost arriving, we ran into a small and curious church. It is St. Paul’s Chapel. Built in 1766, it is the oldest surviving church building in Manhattan, and one of the best examples of late Georgian church architecture in the country.

St. Paul's Chapel
St. Paul’s Chapel

The chapel belongs to Trinity Church, a historic parish church in the Episcopal Diocese of New York. The building that we can see is the third to be built, between 1839 and 1846 by Richard Upjohn in the neo-Gothic style. It was the tallest building in the United States until 1869, as well as the tallest in New York City until 1890.

The Stock Exchange Building was built in the Beaux Arts style by George B. Post in 1903. The adjacent building was designed by Trowbridge & Livingston and opened in 1922. Both buildings were designated a National Historic Landmark in 1978.

Wall street
Stock Exchange Building

The Federal Hall building is a historic building located at 26 Wall Street. The first building, opened in 1703, was the first United States Capitol and the place where George Washington was inaugurated as president in 1789. This building was destroyed in the 19th century. It was replaced by the current building, which was opened in 1842 in the Greek Revival style.

In front of Federal Hall is a statue of George Washington made by sculptor John Quincy Adams Ward and placed in 1883.

Federal hall
Federal Hall building

I was very surprised at how small the place is with the Federal Hall and Stock Exchange buildings. With so many people and heat, it was also quite overwhelming to be there. So a photo of rigor, a bottle of cold water in a kiosk that was there for which they nailed us $3.50 and shooting for the statue of the Bull of Wall Street.

The Wall Street Bull is a 3,200kg bronze sculpture depicting a bull, the symbol of aggressive financial optimism and prosperity. The sculpture was created by Italian artist Arturo Di Modica in the wake of the Black Monday stock market crash of 1987. On December 14, 1989 Di Modica dropped the sculpture from a truck at the entrance to the stock exchange building . After being removed by the police, that same day it was installed in the nearby Green Bowl park.

At the statue there were about a million people queuing to take a photo rubbing the “balls” of the bull, so we stood on one side without getting in the way of the others and had a balls-taking photo.

If you wish, you can take an interesting free tour of the area, so you can always learn new information that the guides don’t tell you about.

Free walking tour of new york

As it was quite late we decided to eat something in a Subway right in front of the bull. Big mistake. The sandwich was good, but the soda machine and the two bathrooms they had had broken down. Very cool everything.

After filling the crop and as it was still very hot, we jumped to visit the 9/11 Museum that was very close. The truth is that the museum is quite impressive even considering that most of us remember exactly what happened that day and we still have the images stored in our memory. It takes a long time to visit it if you want to see it carefully. It took us about two hours.

At sunset we set out to cross the Brooklyn Bridge, a must see in New York. It was opened on May 24, 1883 and was the first to cross the East River. At the time of its opening it was the longest suspension bridge in the world at 1,825 meters long. It was also the first suspended by steel cables. Since then, it has become one of the most recognizable symbols of New York.

It was a very pleasant and relaxed walk. I don’t know if it was because it was less hot, but it was full of people. It is worth it as the views are quite spectacular. Once we reach the end of the bridge, it’s time to return to Jersey City for dinner and rest for a new day.

Brooklyn bridge
Brooklyn Bridge

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what to do in new york

July 21

We started the day getting a lot of energy by getting between chest and back an energetic American breakfast at International bagel & cafe next to the apartment in Jersey. Although it may seem incredible, the coffee was very good and they put it to go.

new york

After breakfast we head to the PATH station and take transportation to the Staten Island Ferry. A great option to see the Statue of Liberty for free. It is the ferry line that connects Manhattan with Staten Island that passes next to Liberty Island but without stopping, so you cannot go down to visit the statue but since we had no intention of going in… Apart from the statue you can also see the skyline of Manhattan and Jersey beautifully.

New york skyline

The Statue of Liberty (Liberty Enlightening the World) is a neoclassical sculpture located on Liberty Island in New York Harbor. It was designed in copper by the French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and its metal structure was built by Gustave Eiffel. The statue was dedicated on October 28, 1886, and was a gift from the French people to the United States to commemorate the centennial of the United States Declaration of Independence.

She holds a torch above her head with her right hand, and in her left hand she carries a tabula ansata inscribed JULY IV MDCCLXXVI (July 4, 1776 in Roman numbers).

St. Paul's Chapel

The Statue of Liberty is located on Liberty Island, a small uninhabited island owned by Manhattan and maintained by the National Park Service. Formerly known as Bedloe Island until 1956 it was renamed by an act of the United States Congress and was home to Fort Wood, a defensive fortification in the shape of an eleven-pointed star. The island is an exclave of the state of New York located within the territorial waters of the state of New Jersey.

From the boat we can also see Ellis Island, a small islet that was the busiest immigration inspection station in the United States. Between 1892 and 1924, nearly 12 million immigrants who arrived at the port of New York and New Jersey were processed there under federal law.

Today, it is part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument and is accessible to the public only by ferry. On the north side is the main building which is now a national immigration museum. On the south side is the old Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital and is open to the public through guided tours only.

Ellis Island
Ellis Island

Once we got to Staten Island, we got out of the boat and went back in as we went (even though there were signs saying that you couldn’t but we weren’t the only ones) and headed back to Manhattan.

If you want to get off the island and visit the Statue of Liberty, you can do so through a guided tour, which also includes a visit to Ellis Island.

Statue of liberty guided tour

Back in Manhattan and after about half an hour on the subway, we got off at 125th street in Harlem. From there we walked around the neighborhood for a bit, passing in front of the mythical Apollo Theater.

The Apollo Theater is a prominent venue for African-American entertainers, and is home to Showtime at the Apollo, a nationally syndicated television variety show that showcased new talent, from 1987 to 2008, spanning 1,093 episodes. It opened in 1914 as Hurtig & Seamon’s New Burlesque Theatre, and was designed by George Keister in the neoclassical style. It was renamed the Apollo in 1934 when it was opened to black patrons as it had previously been a white-only venue. In 1983 it was designated as a New York City Landmark.

The Apollo Theater

We continue walking to St. John the Divine Cathedral, the cathedral of the Episcopal Diocese of New York. Construction began in 1892 in the Byzantine Revival and Romanesque Revival styles and is still unfinished.

In 1909 the plan was changed and it continued in the Gothic style. The towers above the western facade, as well as the south transept and a proposed bell tower above the crossing, were never completed.

To enter the cathedral you have to pay but from the lobby you can see it quite well and save a few dollars. Although the recommended thing to see in the cathedral is the Fountain of Peace, a 12-meter-high sculpture sculpted in 1985 by Greg Wyatt.

The sculpture represents the fight of good and evil, as well as a battle between the Archangel Michael and Satan. The sculpture also contains the Sun, the Moon and different animals.

Fountain of Peace
Fountain of Peace and the cathedral in the background.

Despite the tremendous heat we went to try to go through Central Park but it was a frustrated attempt. It was hell hot. So we left and went into the American Museum of Natural History where it was cool. It is a complex of 26 interconnected buildings that house 45 permanent exhibition halls, as well as a planetarium and a library.

The museum’s collections contain more than 34 million specimens of plants, animals, fossils, minerals, rocks, meteorites, human remains, and human cultural artifacts, as well as specialized collections of frozen tissue and genomic and astrophysical data.

We entered through the side door which I had read was less crowded and it was. If you buy the ticket for $23 at the machines, you enter directly without queues, so we decided to stand in line (about half an hour) and paid the “voluntá”, which was $5 each, taking into account that there were only a couple of hours left. to close and it only gave us time to see a minimal part.

The museum is quite spectacular but it is not full, saturated with people.

New York

At 6:00 p.m. when they kicked us out, we saw that it was a good time for lunch (we were on the verge of fainting) so we had a quick (and nauseating) hamburger at a Wendy’s and running to Rockefeller center that we had tickets for the Top of the Rock viewpoint at 7:15 p.m. to see the views at sunset.

Rockefeller Center is a large shopping complex consisting of 19 buildings. Of these, 14 Art Deco buildings are originals commissioned by the Rockefeller family.

Until 1928 the land belonged to Columbia University which was leased to John D. Rockefeller Jr. and originally a new building was going to be built for the Metropolitan Opera but it could not afford it financially so they decided to build Rockefeller Center. Its construction in 1931 and the first building was opened to the public in 1933, and it was completed in 1939.

Rockefeller center
Rockefeller center

Once again, the views from the spectacular heights, even more than those of the Empire State. That yes, until the flag of people. The spectacular sunset watching how the city gradually lights up, and at night without words. From here we can see the play of lights that they make from the Empire State.

Top of the rock NYC

The times of sunrise and sunset are $10 more expensive since they are the most requested. Hiring the joint visit to the 9/11 Museum, it has the same price at any time of the day.

July 22

Last day in New York and we will have to take advantage of it. Again we take the PATH to the 9th street station to take the subway to Central Park. To do this, we cross Christopher street passing in front of the mythical Stonewall Inn bar, where the riots took place in 1969 for the liberation of the LGTBI collective.

Stonewall Inn bar

Already at the Christopher Street station we took the subway to the Columbus Circle station to walk through Central Park.

Central Park, located in the center of Manhattan, is the fifth largest park in New York with an area of more than 340 Ha. It is the most visited urban park in the entire United States with more than 40 million visitors a year.

Its construction began in 1857 with a design by landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux called the “Greensward Plan.” The first areas of the park were opened to the public in late 1858 and it was fully opened in 1876.

After a period of decline in the early 20th century for New York City parks, a program to clean up Central Park began in the 1930s on the orders of Commissioner Robert Moses. In 1980, the Central Park Conservancy was created to combat further deterioration in the late 20th century, renovating many parts of the park beginning in the 1980s.

Central Park

Taking advantage of the fact that it wasn’t too hot, we took a long walk through the park. After five days of non-stop walking we took it pretty easy and even had a good time (including a nap on my part) lying on the lawn in the shade and buying some souvenirs. Going out for an aperitif we went to Sprinkles on Lexington av. to eat some cupcakes that were to die for.

Apparently the cupcakes weren’t enough, we took the subway to Washington Square Park and, very close to the station, we decided to eat at a Fresh & Co, from the same chain where we had eaten a few days before.

After eating very calmly, we approached Washington Square Park, a public park located in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Lower Manhattan, while the sky threatened to unload heavy rain. It is one of the best-known public parks in the city and is an icon, as well as a meeting place and a center for cultural activity.

One of the highlights of the park is the Washington Square Arch, a triumphal arch built in 1889 to commemorate the centennial of George Washington’s presidency. The original was built of wood and plaster but was soon replaced by a marble one, designed by Stanford White between 1890 and 1895.

Washington Square Park
Washington Square Park

Due to the threat of rain it had to be a quick visit. A few pics and running to the subway to go to Grand Central Terminal.

For movie fans like me, Grand Central Terminal is a must see. Many movie scenes have been shot there and it also has many curiosities. The truth is that the station impresses with its size and beauty… And with the amount of people there are. It can also be even fun since on the ground floor at the entrance to the Oyster bar (which has been open since the opening of the terminal in 1913), if you speak to a column, it is perfectly heard in the column opposite.

Grand Central Terminal was opened in 1913 on the site of two predecessor stations. The largest terminal station in the world in number of platforms (44) and the third busiest train station in North America, after New York Penn Station and Toronto Union Station.

The most striking of its architecture are its brick vaults patented by Rafael Guastavino, called ‘The architect of New York’.

Grand Central Terminal
Grand Central Terminal

At the exit, the Chrysler building is practically next to it, which you cannot enter but from the outside it is a spectacular building. Inside it must be a real wonder.

The Chrysler Building is a building designed in Art Deco by the architect William van Alen. At 319 meters tall and with 77 floors, it was the tallest building in the world for eleven months, until it was surpassed by the Empire State Building in 1931. Today it is number 11 on the list of tallest buildings in New York.

Chrysler building

Our joy did not last long since at that moment it began to drizzle. So we decided to jump to Times Square to say goodbye to Manhattan thinking that with the rain there would be fewer people.

Halfway through we had to stop due to the universal deluge falling on us. It was so much that umbrellas were useless.

When it slowed down and we were able to get out of where we were stuck, we arrived at Times Square and the truth is that there were very few people, what a difference with previous days. He was walking very well until the universal deluge began to fall again and we decided to return to Jersey to have dinner and go to bed because we had to get up very early because the flight left in the morning from La Guardia airport.

Time Square

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what to do in new york

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