Friends of mine invited us to join them on a four-day bus tour to New York City. I wasn’t very keen on accepting their offer; travelling ten hours by bus from Toronto to a hotel in New Jersey and back again wasn’t very appealing. After a little arm twisting from my wife, I decided to take the plunge to go on my first ever long distance bus tour.
Some Positive Points of Touring by Bus
- Lots of stops to stretch our legs, get some food and use restrooms
- We watched an interesting documentary on the Statue of Liberty & Elis Island on the trip down
- Our route was very scenic through the rolling hills of Pennsylvania and upper New York
- Discount coupons for shopping in New York City, plus at an outlet mall on our return trip home
- Really well-organized, lots of information on things to see, handouts on train & subway lines
- Tour guide provided some fascinating facts at all the different stops (The Wall Street Bull isn’t on Wall St because of permit problems)
Biggest Negative Was I needed More Time to See the NYC Sights
- Traveling back & forth from New Jersey to Manhattan wasted 2 hours a day
- Lots of time waiting for everyone to rejoin the group at the different stops plus getting on and off the bus
- Spent too much time on sights that I wasn’t interested in and not enough time on other sights
- 10 hours by bus verses 1.5 hours by plane
- Great travelling weather but it was cloudy & raining during touring days : (
There were too many highlights to share in one post so I will only mention two that really moved me. The first was visiting Elis Island because the ship that my mother and I took from Italy stopped there before we boarded a train from New York City to Toronto. Thousands of immigrants made the same journey under much worse conditions.
The second was the One Trade Center Memorial where the names of all the people who died during 9-11 are listed. The two reverse water fountains symbolizes tears. Memorial staff remember victims’ birthdays by placing a single white rose by their names.
Some Travel Tips for NYC
- Admission tickets to popular sites have to be booked in advance (2 weeks or more)
- Popular high-profile sites have airport like security checks, give yourself some extra time
- Manhattan Streets run east-west and Avenues run north-south, impossible to get lost, or so they say
- Trains & subway lines are relatively safe and easy to use
- Expect carrying bags & backpacks to be checked even at low profile sites like at St. Patrick’s Cathedral
Now I did save money taking this bus tour but in hindsight, there are so many things to see in New York City. I think it would have been worth it to spend the extra to fly to New York and stay in a relatively cheap (for Manhattan) hotel. Either way, I highly recommend putting New York City on your bucket list.