First Time in NYC: What Not to Do

As one of the world’s most visited cities, New York City (NYC) remains an irresistible draw. Often overwhelming, it’s full of surprises at every turn. Here are some advices that will help first time visitors keep a cool head and avoid common pitfalls while discovering the best of what this magnetic metropolis has to offer.

1. Do NOT overplan your trip
We took 10 full days to see everything – and by everything I mean all tourist attractions (Empire State Building etc.) and those less known places. I had a list of all things we must see, however more things were added while there, some were skipped and we never knew more day a day in advance what we were going to do (weather in October can be unpredictable). The main rule was to do 3 things per day – sounds reasonable, right? Not so much. There were days when we did one thing and then those when we had to do five.

First Time in NYC: What Not to Do | The Cheerful Wanderer

Enchanting Brooklyn Bridge

2. Do NOT buy every attraction separately
Get CityPASS and save tons (by the way, I’m not sponsored). Just a little under $80, to be specific.

3. Do NOT skip Staten Island Ferry
It’s free, just avoid rush hour trips because the ferries are packed. Not a good time to take a leisurely ride. We caught one around 4pm and it was great. A different way to see iconic Manhattan and Jersey city skyline.

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How I fell in love with Toronto

“Excuse us, would you have any coins that we could exchange for our banknotes?” we approached a middle-aged security guy in front of some modern looking building. “We need them for the streetcar,” we explained further.  “Let me check,” he said while pulling bills out of his pocket. He went inside the building, leaving us and our overpacked backpacks waiting. “Here,” he poured the coins into my partner’s hands once he was back. “That should be enough for two tickets. Enjoy Toronto!” he smiled. The Canadian wanted nothing in return, he wouldn’t even take our bank notes. And this is how our trip in Toronto began.

How I fell in love with Toronto | The Cheerful Wanderer

Sunrise on our second day.

This is just one of many stories I can share about the kindness we experienced there. Read More

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Canada  ·  Tips

Is Niagara Falls Adventure Pass worth buying?

In October 2015, me and my boyfriend spent a little less than 24 hours in Niagara Falls, Ontario. We arrived from Toronto and spent most of the day on Canadian side, which is better in terms of the view and activities offered, although I liked American side a lot more. It’s greener and more park-like.

Since this was our first time there, we pre-ordered Niagara Falls Adventure Pass before even flying out of Europe, but you can also get it at the Welcome Center for the same price (adult $54.95, child (6-12 years) $36.95, kids 5 and under free). My recommendation would be to buy it there, so you have an option of changing your mind. You need to visit ticket booth anyway to redeem the online ticket.

Is Niagara Falls Adventure Pass worth buying? | The Cheerful Wanderer

Attractions included

Journey Behind the Falls
Hornblower Niagara Cruises
Niagara’s Fury
White Water Walk
+ 2 days of bus transportation throughout Niagara Falls
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How to pay under $50 for Broadway tickets

Visiting New York City and not seeing a show on Broadway would be just wrong, don’t you agree? However, with the city itself being so expensive, you’ll soon find yourself searching for new options to save some dollars. Or maybe you have the whole list of shows you need to see.

When I was there, I choose a comedy called A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder and it was fantastic! Jefferson Mays amazingly portrayed 9 different characters, songs were extremely catchy and the plot was ridiculous. Unfortunately, the final performance of the show on Broadway was January 17, 2016. The price we paid was $42 per person, all fees included. We bought our tickets on Goldstar, a reliable website that offers discounted tickets for various events. The discounts are typically 20-50% and they also have off-Broadway offerings. The great thing is you can buy them last minute, if still avaliable. We bought ours a day before the show.

How to pay under $50 for Broadway tickets | The Cheerful Wanderer

If you want a list of all shows currently played and you wish to know what’s the lowest price you can get, visit Broadway For Broke People. As you can see, they are mentioning “Lotery”, “SRO” (meaning standing-only) and “Rush” tickets. Many Broadway shows have implented these kind of tickets to make tickets more affordable. Let’s start with so called Lotery tickets. This means you have to go to theater earlier (read policy of the show you’re interested in for the exact amount of time, the avarage is around 2 hours before the show). Names are drawn at random and you have to physically be there to claim them, if you score. Rush tickets do not require as much luck, but you still have to be organized. They sold first come, first serve when the box office opens. Queues can get quite long, so try to google a little to see how popular the show is and when it’s the best to get there. And lastly, Standing-only tickets. There are numbered spaces that are the width of a regular seat, usually located at the back of the orchestra. The disadvantage is, they’re only sold when the show sells out, so keep that in mind. Note that all Student Rush ticket purchases require a valid and current student ID and Lottery Rush ticket purchases require a photo ID. Some theatres may not accept cards, so take some cash with you.

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Guide: NYC-Toronto-Niagara Falls-Buffalo-NYC by public transport only

When planning US trip, I discovered there are three options most people use when leaving NYC to visit Niagara Falls and Toronto; either they take a train to Buffalo, pay to a tour company or fly. Trying to avoid any more flights and wishing to spend more than just an afternoon in Toronto, I was searching for option number four. Something that would not require renting a car.

After days of research and contacting some locals, I found the solution. Keep reading to discover how you can pay less and get more. Note you’ll need to book your trip months in advance, if you want to save.

From New York, NY you take megabus to Toronto for 15 USD. You’ll spend 12 hours on the bus, which is a little tiring, so wear something comfy, take a book or your favorite magazine, and try not to forget a pillow. The bus we took was at 7.50am, but if we did it again, we’d change it for the one at 11.50pm instead. It’s a long ride and if you’re driving at night, you’ll most likely manage to catch some sleep. Not as much as you wish and sure, you won’t wake up feeling fresh, but at least you won’t throw the whole day away because of one bus ride. Tickets can be booked here. Pricing for tickets increases according to how many people have booked tickets, therefore I advise you to be quick and book yours around 2 months in advance. I know greyhound does the same route, but I am not sure about their starting price or anything else, because I’ve never used their service before. Find more information on their website.

Guide: NYC - Tonronto - Niagara Falls - Buffalo - NYC by public transport only | The Cheerful Wanderer

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