New York to Niagara Falls

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My family travelled to New York City and then across state to Niagara Falls - this is what we did and what we enjoyed (and didn't!).

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Our 3 days in New York City are at an end and we're heading on, across the state of New York to Buffalo on a JetBlue flight out of JFK. From Buffalo we're hiring a 4x4 and driving first to Niagara Falls, the Canadian side. Sitting on the plane I can now reflect on our experiences in NYC. It is certainly a fast moving city with lots to do and lots of exciting experiences. I definitely enjoyed myself, particularly Central Park, the Staten Island ferry to see the Statue of Liberty, the 911 monument and the view from the Empire State Building. Not to mention the Ice Skating in Bryant Park, the NY Public Library and the experiences at Stardust Diner.

On the downside, the City is damn expensive. Almost everything is charged for and the charges are high. This is of course a function of a big city and you find similar charges in London too. But there is something about New York City that leaves me feeling a little ripped off which I haven't in other major cities such as Singapore or KL, Malaysia. Here everything has an add on. We didn't eat anywhere that didn't add a service charge of between 15% and 18% because we were 5 people eating together. And this was not 'great service' either. A service charge should never be included in my book and I would only tip 18% if I felt someone had gone the extra mile for me and my family.

Which is probably why it gets added! But if that is the case, add it to the prices and be honest. 15% on top of a $100 breakfast bill is not funny. In the worst cases the 15% was added and a line left for 'additional tip' just to make me guilty! The best value meal I got in NY was probably at the airport. It was certainly the first place I found that served coffee at less than $5! It was good food too.

The designer brand and expensive shops like Bloomingdales didn't exactly improve my mood. It is a culture I struggle with anyway and it's a strong theme in New York. Of course I can't complain too much - the rest of my family chose to drag me there and it is probably payback for the places I drag them on holidays! I am not a travel moaner and have definitely enjoyed The Big Apple. But as we drive down I-290 West towards Canada I can feel my stress levels easing and I am looking forward to the next leg of our journey and the highlight of our week - the helicopter ride over Niagara Falls!