"the trusted voice of teens who travel"
February 23rd, 2014
By: Mackenzie http://www.learntravelart.com/
Last spring, I celebrated by 16th birthday in the concrete jungle with my parents. We only went to New York City for three days because I had spring break while my parents did not. I had a fabulous time in the City that Never Sleeps, and I learned so much along the way as well.
Although waking up at 4:20 a.m. to get to my airport on time wasn’t fun, experiencing international JFK airport was memorable. People from all over the world were speaking in languages I couldn’t even comprehend was an experience in itself as was taking a taxi into the city for the first time. The temperature was only 37 degrees, and the streets didn’t look as busy as they probably would have during the summer. We stayed at a Double Tree hotel near Times Square, and the street it was on looked so rustic and non-touristy that it was a respite from the bustle of the city. We then waited in line for AGES (really it was only 45 minutes, but it was so cold!!) for tickets to see Mama Mia, the award winning Broadway show. It was amazing! The energy in the Winter Garden was infectious and the voices of the actors were clear and strong. Better yet, since I had waited in line in the bitter cold (I’m from the South—don’t blame me), I had a seat only seven rows away from the main stage.
Another interesting aspect about my trip was that my family and I went to McDonalds—a lot. I know we were in NYC, famous for its hotdogs and Delis, but our hotel was nearly $200 dollars a night (which is typical for New York City) so we had to scrimp. Plus, a $1 coffee that tasted just as good as Starbucks was too good to pass up. That night, we went to John’s Pizzeria for dinner (260 W. 44th Street). Their “NO SLICES” logo was plastered everywhere, and the building looked like a newly renovated old church. There were stained glass windows and an incredibly cool ambience produced by the dim lights and “celebrity” section at the top of the winding staircase. The pizza was some of the best I have ever eaten (excluding Italy!), and I recommend this place heartily.
My birthday! Waking up to my parents playing “Birthday” by the Beatles and “New York, New York” by Frank Sinatra is something that will be branded into my memory for a long time. After eating a quick breakfast at Dunkin Donuts, we hopped on the subway (which was surprisingly clean) to MoMA, the Museum of Modern Art. I love anything to do with art and art history, so admiring Warhol’s “Soup Cans” and Picasso’s “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” on my day of birth seemed fitting. However, I felt like the Museum was more of a tourist attraction filled to the bursting point with tourists that didn’t really know/appreciate what they were looking at. But there is no denying that watching snow fall outside the window of the Monet’s “Water Lilies” room was thrilling. After another quick McDonalds break, we took a siesta in our hotel room because MoMA tired us out.
We had dinner again at John’s Pizzeria, and when it came time to sing me Happy Birthday, my waiter shouted out my name, “Mackenzie,” to the whole restaurant very loudly. Although my cheeks were probably the color of crushed cherries, I loved every single minute. We shopped along Times Square until 10 p.m., but judging by all the lights, it could have been the middle of the day.
You’re probably laughing now, but we went to McDonalds AGAIN for breakfast—so original. Because I am in love with museums, we went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the morning. The façade of the building, Greek columns with an impressive pediment, was imposing and more “high art” than MoMA had been. The works inside were simply stunning, and the galleries contained everything from ancient Greek statues to a lithograph of Chairman Mao by Warhol. After satisfying my hunger for art, we toured Grand Central Station (built by Cornelius Vanderbilt in 1871) and the Public Library. My dinky little community library couldn’t compete with this mammoth of a structure. Apparently there are 80 miles of books cloistered in the labyrinthine building. At the end the day and our trip to New York, we saw the Empire State Building at night. We waited around four hours to make it to the top (although we already had tickets), but the view at the top was worth it. (Editor’s tip: Go before the Empire State Building opens to get on line to speed up your wait.) Everything was cloaked in black but simultaneously lit up by the multitude of glowing lights. It was a sea of artificial stars, an oasis of capital and fame.
After this once-in-a-lifetime experience, we ate at, you guessed it, McDonalds. It was 11 p.m. when we ate our chicken wraps in the little second story seating area. It was probably sketchy and unsafe but I was so hungry and high off the Empire State Building view that I didn’t care. We flew home the next day, and I can’t wait to return again.