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Boundless and Beyond: A Magical Day

Today was nothing short of magical as we embraced the vibrant energy of New York City, trying to fit in as much as we could. Still a little jet-lagged, we both woke up around 4 am local time, which gave us plenty of time to explore.

Morning: Breakfast and Brooklyn Bridge

Our Airbnb is located in Union City on the New Jersey side. With a 15-minute bus ride straight into Port Authority and Times Square, it might be the best location I have stayed in while visiting NYC. Once on the island of Manhattan, we took the subway to Brooklyn, where we kicked off our day with a delicious breakfast at DUMBO Cafe

The plant-based options were great, and the staff were sweet. We spent a quiet and slow moment enjoying avocado toast and morning smoothies while writing postcards. With full bellies and happy hearts, we took a leisurely stroll across the iconic Brooklyn Bridge

The panoramic views from the bridge were stunning, and the sun gave us her  biggest smile today, setting the perfect tone for our day of exploration.

Mid-Morning: Battery Park & Staten Island Ferry

After crossing the bridge, we hopped on the subway to Battery Park. After walking quite a few kilometers, Luna needed a playground break, and the one by Battery Park might be one of the nicest around. Great slides for big girls (me) and small girls. It was lush and green, which was nice on a warm and sunny day like today. Luna had an absolute blast at the playground, her laughter echoing through the park.

Next, we boarded the Staten Island Ferry for a free ride to see the Statue of Liberty a little closer. For some reason, the ferry was escorted by police boats, which was unexpected but added to the fun. Luna waved to them the whole way. The round-trip takes about an hour and is a free way to experience the famous landmark. The free commuter ferry offers stunning views of the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline.

Late Morning: Harry Potter Store

We then headed to the Harry Potter Store for a browse. Luna is magic personified, which is probably why she finds Harry so enticing. I have to admit that we are not die-hard Potter fans, but she's been wanting a magic wand for a while. I'm just scared that she'll be disappointed that she can't get it to work, so I asked Santa NOT to bring one last year. Better she keeps her mind focused on believing instead of practicing spells.

Lunch: PLNT Burger and Madison Square Park

By now, we both had very tired feet and empty stomachs, so we made our way to PLNT Burger near Madison Square Park. We sat there for a while, eating delicious plant-based burgers and herb fries, feeling really proud and excited about the variety of people that came in to have their lunch there. It was the perfect spot to unwind, people-watch, and charge the phone, all while soaking up the vibrant atmosphere of the city and the mantra of the place: "Eat the change you want to see in the world." That might be my new life slogan!

Afternoon: Broadway and Central Park

After lunch, we headed to Times Square to snag some last-minute tickets for the Aladdin show at the New Amsterdam Theater. With tickets in hand, we treated ourselves to some vegan ice cream from a nearby shop. It was a sweet delight that made our walk down to Central Park even more enjoyable. We spent a delightful two hours at a charming playground, where Luna made new friends and played to her heart's content.

Evening: Broadway Show - Aladdin

We got pretty much front-row tickets for only $52 each - on Broadway! Might be the best price I've ever gotten for tickets. Not to mention that Aladdin, without a doubt, made it to my 'top three musicals' list that I've seen in my life. And trust me, I've seen many! If you ever get a chance to see Genie in action, don't miss it—he was out to steal the show! Oh, and the magic carpet deserves a special mention too. The imaginative designers behind it did an incredible job, creating a scene of pure wonder, shimmers, sparkling and magic.  

After the show, we jumped on our bus back to Union City, feeling like part of the working and commuting New Yorkers who lined up to get the 159 bus back home. Just gotta love that feeling.

Travel Tips for New York on a Budget

  1. Use public transport: Each metro ride costs $2.90 (local) and you can easily pay by tapping your credit card when entering the bus or subway. It's a fun way to experience New York like the locals, and it's adaptable and easy.

  2. Staten Island - Statue of Liberty sightseeing: A free (!!!) way of enjoying the iconic landmark as well as the Manhattan and Brooklyn skyline. I've never been on Ellis Island, but I can imagine you see the Statue of Liberty better from the water. Want a guided tour to get the history? Ask Google, as Luna would say.

  3. Last-minute musical tickets: If you're open-minded about what show you want to see, be at the TKTS Times Square office to ask for last-minute deals. It's economical, fun, and you never know where you will end up.

  4. Use the NYC playgrounds: Of the ones we saw today, don't miss the Battery Park playground as well as the Heckscher playground in Central Park. On a warm and sunny day like today, it provided shade, water fun, and sand. We spent over two hours here just recharging our batteries and soaking up the moment.

  5. Balance your itinerary: A side tip to make your sightseeing days go smoothly is to do a little of what both of you want to do. Today, I set the itinerary and had a few places I wanted to experience with Luna. Along the way, Luna discovered things she wanted to explore, and I embraced those moments to maintain a balance. Often, we end up in really fun places that I never would have thought of, thanks to Moonbaby's suggestions. Today we ended up in tea shops, furniture places, playgrounds and subways. This way keeps the smiles shining and the motivation high.

Today is a normal day at a new place for me and Luna. We like to go with the flow, meet new people, places, and cultures. We talk to strangers and make them friends. We rest when we can and explore when the time calls for it. 

Stay tuned as we continue our journey towards the land of the maple leaf!

Next stop Niagara Falls

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