Sam’s Review of a Twin Centre New York and Washington School Trip
As part of our commitment to customer service, Sam one of our Tour Planners, had the opportunity to travel with one of our Business & Economics groups to New York and Washington. Sam provided extra support for the group as required and gained invaluable experience by being at the ‘other end’ of the tour planning process as well as gaining useful knowledge and fact-finding information on New York and Washington.
Here is Sam and below are the observations he made about the groups visits:
After arriving in NEW York and checking into the hotel the group went off to the NBC Studios.
They had an interesting tour with lots of insight into American programmes we often hear about. Students were very excited as they were rehearsing a sketch for Saturday Night Live (SNL). We saw Jason Momoa (Aquaman) and Chance the Rapper who were on SNL that evening, Chance the Rapper waved at the group which caused excitement!
The NBC studios are in the Rockefeller building so we just walked down some stairs straight to the lifts for Top of the Rock. Well worth doing these two together as they are so close and easy to get between.
At the Top of the Rock observation deck the group had an hour or so up there which was plenty. Students were getting tired by this point, but the views were great and is worth timing for the sunset.
Then had some free time in Times Square from about 7-9pm. Students went off to get food and were all excited to try some US fast food (shake shack, Chick Fil A, Taco Bell etc).
The group did a coach tour of Manhattan for the morning with a guide, they said it was excellent and one of the best they have had. Traffic was great and the guide excellent.
Next was Radio City Music Hall. The tour was interesting and not something any of the group really knew a great deal about so was a new insight into NY. The group then went off to the theatre to see Book of Mormon, which the students loved!
Set off early and got onto the subway straight down to Battery Park. Group collected their tickets and moved relatively fast to a boat – probably around 45- 60 mins from collection to boarding. The views of the city and Liberty Statue were brilliant, made better by a lovely day. Lots of photo opportunities en route.
We then got off a Liberty island and the group had 45 mins to wander around. Took some group pictures and then made their way to the boat to go to Ellis Island. Well worth stopping at Ellis Island if the group have time. We spent about 90 mins there and enjoyed an interesting audio guided tour under our own steam before boarding back to Battery Park.
The 9/11 memorial is a good visit as its nearby and if it’s just the memorial your visiting, no reservation is needed. Next the group went to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and then off to the basketball game at Maddison Square Gardens (MSG).
We got into MSG at 5 for a 6pm start. It’s worth getting there early to enjoy the pre-game entertainment and let students have a wander around/soak up the atmosphere. The game was slow to start but ended full on and exciting. The Knicks trailed all game until the 4th quarter when they got some momentum, the crowd really got going and they staged a late comeback to win in the final minutes. The students were up from their seats and really into it! Was a great atmosphere and got to see MSG at its best. They did the celebrity cam at HT and John McEnroe was in attendance.
This morning we had the UN tour – a really interesting tour and good insight into what goes on, the role the UN play and the world moving forward. One of the students wanted to work for the UN in the future so she really enjoyed the tour and found it a great insight into the organisation.
I met the group for the MSG tour in the afternoon. The tour guide was excellent! Really enthusiastic and loved his job. The tour was interesting, especially having been there the night before. We saw behind the scenes, press areas, boxes etc but could access the changing rooms as there was a game that evening.
Early evening the group had a coach transfer to Washington which was nice and comfortable. The drive into Washington DC was really nice, Georgetown was a lovely neighbourhood (very colonial) and gives off a good first impression of the city.
The group started off with a 4-hour coach tour of Washington. The guide had led the group a couple of years ago so that was nice for him and the Group Leader as they knew each other. The coach was lovely, leather seats, comfortable and perfect for the trip. They also supplied water if needed.
We stopped at the White House for some pictures before boarding for Arlington Cemetery, driving past the Pentagon on route.
We spent 90 mins at Arlington which was just enough time. The guide was brilliant and really knew his stuff and could tell how passionate he was. He kept the group engaged and knew how to keep it interesting. We saw JFK’s grave, tomb of the unknown soldier as well as other famous graves and memorials. We then watched the changing of the guard before heading back.
We then went off to the monument area, visiting the Washington memorial, Lincoln memorial, Vietnam war memorial and the Korean War Memorial – the Korean memorial was a unique and touching one to visit.
We all met and walked down to the US capitol. We were well ahead of time and arrived early. The tour was interesting and was great to see inside the iconic building which many people envision as where the president lives! There were meetings this day on the impeachment enquiry so quite a lot of press about and various rooms closed for meetings – it was still a good tour.
After this we walked to the air and space museum and spent about 90 mins there. A good museum and well worth visiting as its free. One of the students was a very keen physicist and found it interesting and really took a lot from it.
Sam’s Top Tips!
- Expect delays at NYC passport control and allow at least 3 hours from airport to hotel
- Don’t plan too much on the first evening as students will be tired by 8pm
- The earlier the better to the Liberty cruise, anything after 9.30 will make for a long day! Likewise, I wouldn’t plan anything for before 2/3pm after the cruise.
- Walking is the best way to see NYC – you can cover lots of ground and see sites along the way. However, the subway is also your friend - easy enough to understand
- The public bus is a really good option for the transfer, they were well equipped for a group, efficient and saves a lot of money for smaller groups.
- The 4-hour coach guide is a great way to see the cities, whether pressed for time or not it is worth it.
- With a twin centre visit I would suggest New York first then Washington as the quieter streets of DC are welcomed after the hustle and bustle of NYC.
- There is so much to see and do in Washington and most of it is free! The museums and sites are all walkable pretty much and you can easily fill a couple of days itinerary with them. The streets are straight forward to navigate and crowds nothing like NYC.
"Having Sam along with us was great. He found the experience useful for his work and the two times he helped out (with a room to store luggage at Hotel Pennsylvania and with collecting sports tickets), this was so helpful. He was very respectful of our role as tour leaders, was pleasant to be with and the students liked him. He knew however, to keep the right professional distance from the students and was an asset to our trip! "
Cheltenham Bournside School & Sixth Form Centre
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