Hello Readers! My name is William and I am one of New York Guest’s newest concierges. I recently got the chance to experience a double-decker bus here in the BIg Apple and boy did I have a great time. Read on for all of my inSIGHTS!
Think you know everything about New York City? Think again. Double-Deck Bus Tours are great for first time visitors to The Big Apple as well as seasoned vets! This tour is full of many different tour guides, fully loaded with knowledge about the city; each one comes with their own style and flavor, and all of them are friendly and completely approachable. Hopping on and off is convenient and highly encouraged, as it is one of the best ways to take in the local culture, which changes from neighborhood to neighborhood. Their thoughtfully designed routes ensure that you will not miss any of the breathe-taking attractions New York City has to offer its guests and its natives.
Our day started with a laid back ride on the subway into the centrally located Times Square area where we wanted to pick up the uptown loop tour. We found several City Sights helpers at the bus stop and they showed us exactly where the bus would be pulling up. A whole 2 minutes later, the bus came. After a zealous welcome from the tour guide, the exchange of passengers getting off and new ones getting on was so fast my girlfriend and I found ourselves in two plush seats before we were able to finish checking out all the fashionable clothes worn by the locals passing by. There were plenty more to gawk at as we got underway.
Cruising along up 8th Avenue to Columbus, our guide was ablaze with energy as he told us about the neighborhood we were driving through, the history behind the statue of Columbus in the circle, Central Park, and the infamous Time Warner Building which boasts some of the most expensive real estate in the world. Unlike other tours where the guide talks at you, this guide was very interactive, asking questions about some of the passengers and testing their knowledge of the city before unleashing his own fount of information. As we passed by Lincoln Center, the Dakota, and Strawberry Fields, my girlfriend remembered Zabar’s was in the area, on the corner of 80th Street and Broadway. Zabar’s is a favorite market and grocery of locals from all over the city and the outer boroughs. Our mouths began to water as we thought of their abundant variety of cheeses, meats, fresh fish and shellfish, prepared foods, and the thing that put them on the map – rye bread so fresh it’s hot when the baker hands it to you. At that moment, we knew where our first stop was.
Hoping off the bus across from the Natural History Museum, it was a short walk to the famous grocer’s market. The decision was tough, but we settled on some pork sticky buns and a buckwheat and vegetable salad lightly dressed with lemon vinaigrette. Delicious! Of course, we had to get four loaves of the famous rye; one for dad, one for grandma, and one for each of us.
Getting back on the bus at the Natural History Museum was a cinch. It pulled up to the curb just as we got there, and looking down the street a bit, I saw another one coming on. Again, we were welcomed on with open arms, and found seats right up front. As we took off, our guide once again began a flow of information. Occasionally, an inquisitive passenger sitting behind us asked a question, and the guide was able to go into great detail in her answer. Another passenger was asking where they should get off to go a certain spot she wanted to see. Realizing English was her second language, the guide began talking to her in Spanish, then she was right back up sharing her love and knowledge of the city with us.
We continued on past St. John the Divine Cathedral, the tomb of former American President Ulysses S. Grant, and Columbia University before deciding to satisfy my girlfriend’s penchant for African art and fabrics by hopping off the bus in Harlem, right in front of the Apollo Theater. Right away we found a street vendor selling scented oils, and quickly purchased a vile of the rose oil – Mmm.. Decadent. Meandering around this famous part of New York, we casually browsed other vendor stands, and stopped to chat with Ben, a local who lived a few blocks away. We asked him what some of his favorite were, and he gave us a quick breakdown of the area. Soon enough, we found ourselves in the Harlem Market. We strolled through countless booths selling all sorts of African goods; jewelry, fabric, hand carved walking sticks, tribal statues, handbags, hats – the list goes on. I was amazed at the craftsmanship! The prices were low and there was room for haggling. After we were done shopping, we hung out for a half hour or so chatting with some of the merchants.
After a quick glance at our City Sights map, we saw there was another stop for the bus right in front of the market! Awesome, no backtracking! Within 5 minutes a bus was pulling up to the curb. Larry welcomed us on board and we had plenty of seats to choose from.
Tired from all the shopping we decided to ride the bus the rest of the way around the loop. We made our way out of Harlem and onto 5th Avenue, which we followed along the east side of Central Park. We passed many of the sites we had visited often, but thanks to Larry we learned things we had never known. I know the Metropolitan is huge, but I did not know it was the largest art gallery in the world! (Really thought the Louvre had it beat) After learning the history of how the Frick Collection came to be, I was reminded that I had planned to go see it, but forgotten about it. The tour guide once again ignited my desire to check it out. He also gave a great history lesson on Grand Army Plaza which is found at the southeastern corner of Central Park. Here there was almost too much to see, but our guide pointed everything out to us; The Plaza Hotel, F.A.O. Schwartz, The Ivy Bridge in Central Park, as well as the numerous statues of South American liberators alone Central Park South.
Turning down 7th Ave, we enjoyed a pleasant drive at cruising speed as we passed Carnegie Hall and headed into the heart of New York City, Times Square. This is where we started off, so we decided to depart, and leave our tour guide, Larry, a handsome tip for all his wonderful information.
Riding the Subway home, my girlfriend and I reminisced about our day. The zany tour guide who first picked us up, and bid us, “Good eats!” as we headed to Zabar’s; the beautiful architectural work encompassing Central Park; the rich ethnicity and open-hearts of the locals in the Harlem marketplace; and the new things we learned about the things we knew everything about. City Sights is a must for first timers, and even more so for those who know so much about the city, they need to be surprised. We saw so much of our city that day, and were able to casually peruse it the way we wanted to, finding and exploring our own path to inspiration.
If it’s your first time or fifth time in New York City and you want to really see New York, give us a call.
Make sure to mention this blog post and you will recieve 10% off of City Sights vouchers now through August 31st!
We look forward to hearing from you! (212) 302-4019 or firstname.lastname@example.org