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In the film Eat Pray Love, Julia Roberts plays writer Elizabeth Gilbert. There is a scene where she and her Swedish friend Sofi travel to Naples, Italy for the day. They are sitting down at a restaurant when Julia suddenly declares that she is having a love affair with her pizza. It was that good.
Now, Italy may have invented the dish, but I would argue that New York perfected it. It makes sense though, considering New York City’s strong Italian population and influence over the years. I can honestly say that New York pizza is, hands down, the best pizza I’ve had in my life. And yes, I too have been to Italy.
One of the perks of New York City is accessibility to everything. For many people, having your pizza delivered to you is standard, but here you can just walk down the street to pick up one. New York is also an extremely busy city. People are always on the move, which means sometimes grabbing a meal has to be quick, convenient, and considering the cost of rent here, cheap. Case in point, 99 cent pizza spots. Yes, you read that right: 99 cents per slice. It’s a financial oasis in a city that charges over $3 just to wash your clothes at the laundromat. There’s a great 99 cent pizza place on West 9th Ave in Hell’s Kitchen near the block of 53rd St. Be sure to have cash on hand though! Because these places know their customers are on the go, they have a stand on the side of the room where you can place your plate and eat there before heading out. If you’re traveling to New York and trying to save money, this is a great option for budget travelers. Now, something to also take into consideration is that cheap doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the best. If you want an exceptional slice of New York pizza it’ll be more in the $2-$3 range.
My very first meal upon arriving in New York was actually a slice of pizza. It was the perfect first meal, and easily the best pizza I’ve ever had in my life. That venue is called Koronet Pizza on Broadway in the Morningside neighborhood of Manhattan. You only need one slice though! They are huge, so one is more than enough.
New York is full of incredible food, but if you have to try one meal, it’s got to be local, New York-style pizza. Thankfully though, you can also get a lot of walking in while you are here as well. Enjoy!
In my previous blog post, I had mentioned that they stopped selling tickets on the Saturday when I made my attempt to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. I was forced to just buy a ticket for the next day, which was Easter Sunday. I was bitter, but probably not as bitter as if that had been my last day in New York. The next morning, I got myself up extra early to make the trek back down to Battery Park. I figured I was safe; It was early morning on Easter Sunday.
As luck would have it, there was still a line (go figure) but not nearly as bad as the day before, and since I already had my ticket, I only had to wait in one line. I was back amongst the pushy tourists, but I was getting on that cruise dagnabbit. I finally figured out why their system takes so long; They have airport style security. Everyone is lost in translation, and it just holds things up even more. I regret to say I lost a hat in the security line. It wasn’t stolen, I just forgot to grab it. Oops.
Now that I was finally on the boat that would take us to Liberty Island and then to Ellis Island, I made my way to the very top… and so did everyone else. We were all cramming for a sweet spot on the edge to get photos. Some folks were nicer than others about sharing the space. Hey 20-something Instagram girl, how many glamour photos do you need? This isn’t a Vogue photoshoot. Oy.
The Statue of Liberty was incredible. I got my photos in, but I really made sure to take in the moment of being there. It’s crazy how we have to actively tell ourselves to disengage from our cell phones. It’s extra hard as a travel writer though, because so much of the industry is about capturing the perfect shot. Well, I’m a writer first and foremost, and I’d rather remember actually being there.
Next, we re-boarded the boat and made our way to Ellis Island. If you’re not familiar with Ellis Island, it was a large immigration center for people moving to America. It was in operation from the late 1800s to the 1950s. My Dad’s family is from The Netherlands and although they didn’t come through Ellis Island, I could sincerely appreciate the immigration experience and the history of it.
There are several buildings on the island, but the main building is the one that is open to the public and is now a restored building and museum. There is so much history there, and it’s quite interesting to learn about it. It was also fascinating to be among people from all over the world going through this museum, and I found myself curious as to what they might think about it. The reality is that the history of U.S. immigration hasn’t always been a positive one.
Ellis Island was the last stop on the trip, and then it was back to Manhattan. I had a great time seeing these two sites and am also really glad I got them out of the way before summer. I can’t even imagine what that line will be like!
I just moved to New York.
I’m officially a New York writer and loving every second of my nerd-level Carrie Bradshaw vibes. I completely get it. New York City is the greatest city in the world. I love it. It is absolutely magical. Coming from LA, where the magic is all about Hollywood, New York has a different kind of energy. While yes, there are many artists here following their dreams, the history and symbolism of New York City is unlike no other. I couldn’t think of a better spot to visit first than the Statue of Liberty. However, it was easier said than done.
Los Angeles is full of tourists, but normally, they are confined to Hollywood Blvd, a few beach spots, and a theme park or two. Here in New York, they are everywhere. Don’t get me wrong, I love tourists and meeting people from other countries, but I'm not a fan of a big crowds. It's even worse when those crowds get pushy, and then I turn into George Costanza. I know what you might be thinking: Why did you move to one of the busiest cities in the world then? First of all, I'm complicated. Second of all, people walking about in the city is one thing, but being shoved by 6ft tall German women is not my idea of a weekend well-spent. As it turns out, the Statue of Liberty is one of the busiest tourist attractions in the world. It’s the Mount Everest of tourism. If you can make it through that crowd, you can do anything!
On the Saturday of this year’s combined Passover and Easter weekend, I made my way on the 1 train down to Battery Park where you can catch the ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. I made the mistake of not listening to my own advice and did not purchase a ticket ahead of time. I was naïve. It was a holiday weekend and a beautiful, sunny day. Crap.
I finally get there. The line just to purchase a ticket is around the building and then some. Mind you there is also a separate, super-long line once you have your ticket to get onto the ferry. I was almost to the ticket counter when I heard it; A man announced, impressively in 5 different languages, that they were no longer selling tickets for that day. I was not amused. Thankfully, I could still buy a ticket for the next day, but that would mean I would have to come back to Battery Park, and at $2.75 a train ride, it’s not exactly cheap. I bought my Statue of Liberty ticket for the following day, which would be Easter Sunday. Not wanting to waste a subway trip though, I decided to walk over to where the Staten Island Ferry is and take that over the harbor to see a bit of Staten Island. Fun fact, the State Island Ferry is free. Wahoo! Unfortunately, it seemed that everyone else who didn’t get a ticket to the Statue of Liberty had the same idea.
I was waiting near the entrance to get onto the ferry in a sea of people, pun intended. I thought I might lose my mind. First of all, it felt as though everyone near me had at least 6 inches of height over me (I’m very short). Then all of sudden the doors opened, and we started to move. But not a calm move. We were like a live reenactment of what was happening on the Titanic, only instead of looking for lifeboats, we were trying to get back on the ship. I remember saying out loud “People, calm down. It’s Staten Island, not Disneyland.” Though I don’t think anyone understood me, I figured now would be the perfect time to start becoming a tough New Yorker. Yeah, I still have a lot of work to do.
The great thing about New York is that when you take these ferries, especially on a nicer day, you get beautiful views of Manhattan and the harbor. It can get quite chilly on the top of the ferry though, so be mindful to dress extra warm.
After getting off the ferry at Staten Island, I wandered around a bit into a very low-key borough that didn’t seem to have much going on at all. In fact, it felt kind of creepy. That ferry was packed, and then all of sudden it was like "where did all the people go?". Stephen King, if you ever somehow read this blog, it might make a good book. I can totally see it: The Staten Island Disappearance. Seriously though, where did all those people go!?
Since my phone battery was low, I didn’t venture too far onto the island. Last thing I needed was to get lost in New York, battle a couple of quirky thieves, have my mom finally find me at Rockefeller Center and... Oh wait, wrong plot. OK, so all in all, the fact that the ride was free and that I can cross Staten Island off my New York bucket list made it a satisfactory day of exploration.
On the next blog post, hear about the following day when I finally made it to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island!
Jill Zwarensteyn is a television producer, writer, and comedian who has been featured on Amazon, TruTV, The New York Times, Matador Network, BUST Magazine, Tiplr, YourTango, Thought Catalog, GoMad Nomad, Mashable, The Daily Mail UK, the Cannes Film Festival, LaughFest, Women's Lifestyle Magazine, and the Funny Women Festival LA. For more info visit: http://www.jillzwarensteyn.weebly.com