Video Highlights of Niagara Falls 2018

Two months ago we visited Niagara Falls and I haven’t had a chance to write about it yet. It was an exciting trip full of little adventures all wrapped up in one amazing experience!

Two months ago we visited Niagara Falls and I haven’t had a chance to write about it yet. It was an exciting trip full of little adventures all wrapped up in one amazing experience! Check out the highlights below, I will write a proper blog post about it ASAP! Stay tuned.

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Helicopter Ride Over Niagara Falls (Video)

On my 26th birthday I got to make my helicopter flying dream come true! On August 6th, we took a trip to one of my bucket list locations, Niagara Falls, and we did an amazing 12-minute flight over one of the worlds most spectacular waterfalls!

On my 26th birthday I got to make my helicopter flying dream come true! On August 6th, we took a trip to one of my bucket list locations, Niagara Falls, and we did an amazing 12-minute flight over one of the worlds most spectacular waterfalls! I was nervous until the moment we took off. The noise and windiness felt from outside the helicopter were gone once we were inside, and we didn’t even need headphones for the smooth, exhilarating ride! Check out our experience in the video below:

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Mealworm Mondays: Cooking Insects From Livin Farm’s Hive

This week’s Mealworm Monday features cooking insects harvested in our Hive, the world’s first edible insect desktop farm by Livin Farms! The Hive is the world’s first edible insect desktop farm that can provide 3-600 nutritious grams of mealworms every two weeks, perfect for entovegans like my husband or anyone who wants a more sustainable form of protein in their lives…

This week’s Mealworm Monday features cooking insects harvested in our Hive, the world’s first edible insect desktop farm by Livin Farms! The Hive is the world’s first edible insect desktop farm that can provide 3-600 nutritious grams of mealworms every two weeks, perfect for entovegans like my husband or anyone who wants a more sustainable form of protein in their lives. You can read more about the Hive in my past articles or on the Livin Farms website. Check out the video below!

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Go Green in NYC with Green Mountain Energy

According to Green Mountain Energy, their customers have avoided using over 69 billion pounds of CO2 which is the equivalent of planting over 8 million trees. You can see the climbing numbers on their website. By the time you check it out for yourself, it’ll be over 70 billion and we can only hope that it keeps climbing!

Green Mountain Energy had a booth by the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and they got our attention for waving a $5 discount coupon for the store we were about to shop at. We decided to listen to what they had to say, and ten minutes later we were signing up to change from coal to renewable energy.

The company boasts being the longest serving renewable energy retailer. They offer competitively-priced electricity products that use wind and solar power. According to their website, the traditional production of electricity from fossil fuels is the largest source of industrial air pollution in the U.S. This fact is supported by the EIA – the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Changing over was very easy, we just needed to find our Consolidated Edison identification number and fill out an online form. Con Ed has a monopoly on providing electricity to New York City and they offer the option for using green energy instead of coal. We didn’t know about this so we never thought of changing it. Since coal is the cheapest and easiest for them to provide, that is the automatic option.

The change to Green Mountain Energy will cost us just a few dollars each month for the service fee, but the actual rates are basically the same – for electricity. We also ended up switching to a sustainable gas source as well, which is supposed to reduce our gas bill and cancel out the extra electricity costs. Basically, going green is going to be free and changing it was the easiest thing in the world.

Like so many of you, Isaac and I do so much to try and minimize our footprint on this planet but we were missing this vital step that will make more of a difference than saying no to a bag at the store! If you would like to make the change but need more information, call your electricity provider today. It can be scary signing papers handed out by strangers, go through your provider directly for peace of mind.

We’ll be receiving our first utilities bills this week, so we still can’t confirm that this change was practically free. But we only have one Earth, so even if it costs us the price of a coffee or two to reduce just a little of the damage that’s being done to the planet, then we’re willing to pay it.

According to Green Mountain Energy, their customers have avoided using over 69 billion pounds of CO2 which is the equivalent of planting over 8 million trees. You can see the climbing numbers on their website. By the time you check it out for yourself, it’ll be over 70 billion and we can only hope that it keeps climbing!

 

 

 

 

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Best Vegan Food in China Town, NYC: Bodhi Kosher

On our way in I saw sashimi in the display window and I was disappointed that we weren’t in an all-vegan restaurant. It turned out that the sashimi was vegan too! Another customer who had lived in New York her whole life told us that it was her favorite place in the city.

It was hard to find a vegan restaurant in China Town. Just kidding… it was hard picking one of the dozens of restaurants all claiming to have the “best vegan food in New York City.”

When we lived in Shanghai, China, the concept of veganism was not something that was understood by local people. Although it was easy to avoid animal products by ordering veggie side dishes in local restaurants, there was only one exclusively vegan expat restaurant. So even though we knew that New York is extremely vegan-friendly, we had no idea that China Town was in on the hype.

After a quick search on Google we picked a restaurant based on distance from where we were. It was raining and it would have taken an hour to go through all the options… so we walking for two minutes and found ourselves at the end of a long line outside of Buddha Bodai, supposedly the best vegan restaurant in the city.

Isaac used his Mandarin skills to eves-drop on the staff who mentioned a 45 minute waiting list. We considered waiting since the place had such great reviews, but we ended up finding another place nearby and it didn’t have a line. Bodhi Kosher Vegetarian Restaurant was barely a block away from Buddha Bodai.

On our way in I saw sashimi in the display window and I was disappointed that we weren’t in an all-vegan restaurant, because I was excited to browse the menu without having to check what I could and couldn’t eat. It turned out that the sashimi was vegan too! Everything in the restaurant was, and this place also claimed to be the best all-vegan restaurant in the city. Plus, another customer who had lived in New York her whole life told us that it was her favorite place.

The list of items on the menu was overwhelming. There was sushi, dim sum, all sorts of traditional dishes made out with mock meat. Like pulled pork, duck and a meat platter all made of mushrooms, stain and other plant-based ingredients that I couldn’t identify.

Unfortunately we came about three hours after dim sum happy hour, which makes every meal a dollar cheaper! Not that Bodhi Kosher Vegetarian Restaurant is expensive… we spent just over $35 on a giant meat plate, a sushi platter, steamed dumplings, fried dumplings and some dim sum. We even got fortune cookies with the bill – which is not something that happens in China by the way.

We definitely hope to go back and sample some more of their delicious menu. However there’s many other vegan places we still need to eat at in China Town. One of the best things about New York is that you could eat a different restaurant every day and it would still take you a lifetime to try it all!

What’s your favorite restaurant in New York? Leave a comment below!

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Cheap Ferries with Great Views of New York

Depending on the time and day of the week, it can be faster to take the ferry than the subway to get from lower Manhattan to Brooklyn. After a day of exploring New York a few weeks ago, we did just that. We managed to get on the last boat of the day and made it to Dumbo in less than five minutes. From there, we got to enjoy a beautiful view of the city…

As soon as we found out that we were moving to New York, we began booking weekend trips, sightseeing tours and ferry rides. We found a really cool sunset cruise that only cost $16 per person so we bought tickets, never wrote it down on our calendar and we ended up missing it… which was extremely disappointing.

Luckily, just two days later we decided to go to the beach and the subway took almost two hours to get us from Brooklyn to Rockaway in Queens. On our way back we decided to take the ferry to Manhattan with our friends. For the same price as a subway ride, just $2.75, we spent an hour on the ferry with a double rainbow behind us and the most spectacular New York skyline in front of us!

For about $10 we could have ordered a beer on the ferry too. Although that was too expensive for us, if you add $10 and $2.75, that’s still less than the $16 (+ tax and service fee) that we paid for the sunset cruise that didn’t include drinks… if it hadn’t been raining, we would have even gotten a sunset! Instead, we got to see the most beautiful rainbow.

The Manhattan Pier 11 ferry terminal is on Wall Street and it’s in a really cool area. There are places to eat right on the water, there are parks and cute streets to explore. We didn’t have enough time to stay there and look around, but next time we take the ferry, we hope to see more of the area!

Other than the completely free Staten Island ferry that I definitely recommend every New York visitor to take for great views of the Statue of Liberty, you can also take the ferry from the same Pier 11 to Dumbo, Brooklyn.

Depending on the time and day of the week, it can be faster to take the ferry than the subway to get from lower Manhattan to Brooklyn. After a day of exploring New York a few weeks ago, we did just that. We managed to get on the last boat of the day and made it to Dumbo in less than five minutes.

From there, we got to enjoy a beautiful view of the city. We ended up walking to a secluded spot right by the water where we could see the Brooklyn Bridge in the distance as well as the Manhattan skyline. Once again, this ferry only cost us $2.75!

Although we haven’t done it yet, we’ve heard rumors of a $10 ferry that circles the entire island of Manhattan that runs frequently every day. Although these cheap public ferries are a great way to explore New York, if you’re looking for a proper boat tour, that is another cheap option. Subscribe to The Travel Bug Bite for more tips and info about New York City!

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Mealworm Mondays: Noise Problem & Solution – Livin Farm’s Hive

This week’s Mealworm Monday features noise issues with the Hive, the world’s first edible insect desktop farm by Livin Farms! The Hive is the world’s first edible insect desktop farm that can provide 3-600 nutritious grams of mealworms every two weeks, perfect for entovegans like my husband or anyone who wants a more sustainable form of protein in their lives…

This week’s Mealworm Monday features noise issues with the Hive, the world’s first edible insect desktop farm by Livin Farms! The Hive is the world’s first edible insect desktop farm that can provide 3-600 nutritious grams of mealworms every two weeks, perfect for entovegans like my husband or anyone who wants a more sustainable form of protein in their lives. You can read more about the Hive in my past articles or on the Livin Farms website. Check out the video below!

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Why I’m grateful for a Bohemian perspective

With Thanksgiving and the arrival of the advent season, my social media pages are packed with posts about gratitude and getting ready for the holidays. Some posts ask practical, how-to-celebrate questions. Like the one I saw on Prague’s CrowdSauce group for expats. “Does anyone know if they sell oven cooking bags for turkeys here?” Or another, from a friend in the US, “Veg or no veg on Thanksgiving?” with the hashtag #everyonejustwantscarbs.

5 reasons to appreciate life in the Czech Republic (all year long)

With Thanksgiving and the arrival of the advent season, my social media pages are packed with posts about gratitude and getting ready for the holidays.

Some posts ask practical, how-to-celebrate questions. Like the one I saw on Prague’s CrowdSauce group for expats. “Does anyone know if they sell oven cooking bags for turkeys here?” Or another, from a friend in the US, “Veg or no veg on Thanksgiving?” with the hashtag #everyonejustwantscarbs.

Friends post images of their children baking cookies, just-out-of-the-oven pumpkin pies, and invitations to Christmas home tours. I’ve read tips on keeping holiday festivities simple, how to shift the focus from gifts to quality family time, and why fighting during the holidays means you care.

In the spirit of showing gratitude for my adopted homeland, I’d like to share a few reasons I’m glad to call the Czech Republic home.

A Czech Sense of Humor

Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate the dry, self-deprecating Czech humor. My Czech friends aren’t afraid to laugh at themselves, or to turn a criticism into a joke to deflate a tense situation. My neighbor recently damaged her car by hitting a low cement wall while pulling into her driveway, (a maneuver she does every day without incident).

Later, when we were confirming our Thanksgiving dinner menu, she texted, “If you can’t find a turkey for the Thanksgiving meal, don’t worry, I can find something to run over.” From talking with her, I knew she felt horrible about the incident. Instead of letting it get her down, she allowed herself (and her friends) to see the funny side.

Watching my Czech friends keep their sense of humor, even when life throws surprises, reminds me to do the same.

In 2005, Czechs were asked to vote for the greatest Czech of all time. Jara Cimrman, a fictitious character first introduced to the public in a satirical play in the late 1960s, won the most votes. (Unfortunately, he couldn’t receive the award because he didn’t exist). Check out Radio Prague’s full article on Cimrman to get a better picture of Czech humor.

Czech Love of Nature and Getting Outdoors

Mushrooming, walking in the woods, snow-skiing (cross-country and downhill), iceskating, road biking, mountain biking, climbing, swimming in natural ponds and rivers, trekking, tent camping, caravan camping, sleeping “pod širákem” (under the stars), rafting, canoeing, kayaking … the list goes on, and I’d be hard-pressed to find an outdoor activity, that Czechs don’t do.

In the years I’ve lived here I’ve learned (among other skills), when in doubt, pick only mushrooms with cylindrical tubes notslats – and always ask a local. Rafters and bikers greet each other by saying, “Ahoj!” Fruit hanging over fences and along country lanes is fair game for picking. Cross-country skiing is best learned when it’s not too icy, and a pub with warm drinks is nearby. Extra socks and spare underwear are essential for any kind of outdoor activity, especially when kids are involved. Czech humor is even more important than extra socks and spare underwear when learning how to cross-country ski.

A Socialized Healthcare System

For the past 13 years, whenever my children or I have been sick, injured or otherwise need the advice of an expert, we go to the doctor. Sometimes we make an appointment, other times (as in the case of sick visits to a primary care physician) we go and wait. Never have I had to worry whether insurance would cover the visit, or if I could afford to pay the doctor’s bill.

Health insurance is mandatory in the Czech Republic. The Czech state pays for children, students, and mothers on maternity leave. Working individuals make monthly health insurance contributions which are supplemented by their employers.

My family has been fortunate. We haven’t been sick much. Still, I’ve delivered two babies, had an emergency appendectomy while 34 weeks pregnant, undergone knee surgery, ridden in an ambulance with an injured infant, and mothered children with ear infections, tonsillitis, knocked out front teeth, stitches, and more.

My children have rarely received antibiotics (only for bacterial infections when needed), and I’ve been well-versed on the importance of home remedies when appropriate – honey and onions to loosen up coughs, homemade ginger tea, bed rest, and tvaroh (a fresh, curd cheese) wraps for mastitis.

Yes, there are linguistic and cultural differences. Western-style bedside manner can be hard-to-find. Sometimes, the wait is long, and the equipment is basic. Still, I’m grateful for each visit to the doctor’s (and those times when a home remedy makes a visit unnecessary).

Abundant (& Affordable) Cultural Activities for Families

From an early age, Czechs are taught to appreciate (and cultivate) a rich, creative life. From playing musical instruments and singing in choirs, to creating puppet and marionette shows and learning the art of oral recitation (as early as preschool), Czechs have a long-stranding tradition of valuing art’s contribution to society.

Even during the Communist period, Czech artists, such as film makers Karel Zeman and Jiri Trnka, presented imaginative, rule-breaking works to entertain, educate, and inspire their fellow citizens. Czechs like to go to the theater, attend classical music concerts, and watch fairy tales on television.

Many Czech cultural events (seasonal festivals, crafts markets, museum exhibitions) are offered free or at low cost. The country’s public transportation network (comprised of trams, buses, the metro, and trains) allows school groups to go on frequent field trips, families without cars to get nearly everywhere, and older children to gain a sense of independence as they explore Czech culture on their own.

My ten-year old son enjoyed his first Czech opera this fall, The Devil and Kate, performed at Prague’s National Theater. I was happy to accompany him, especially once I discovered (midway through Act I) the English captioning.

A creative life spills over into my family’s leisure time. In addition to going to the theater, my children often put on impromptu shows for us (as well as any visitors who happen to be present). We’ve had magic shows, dinosaur shows, zoo exhibitions, and guitar performances. They’ve narrated excerpts from Josef Capek’s classic, O pejskovi a kočičce (stories about a dog and a cat who keep house), and each December 5, they dress up as St. Nicholas, a devil, and an angel to celebrate Mikulas.

As a parent, I’m grateful to live in a country where planning our leisure time is not a question of what to do, but rather which option to choose.

Loyalty (Friends & Family)

As I scoured local stores this week looking for sweet potatoes (bataty in Czech), pumpkins, and fresh cranberries, I was struck by my options. Although the availability of specialty items has sky-rocketed in recent years (which makes holiday food preparation one step easier), the basic components of my family’s Thanksgiving meal haven’t changed.

For the past 12 years, my family has celebrated Thanksgiving in Prague with friends of Czech, American, Slovakian, French, and Polish descent. We serve turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, corn pudding, salads, pumpkin pies, and whatever else anyone brings to the table. We rotate houses and take turns preparing the turkey. By now, we know what to expect and how each dish should taste.

Our children put on shows, perform magic tricks, and exclaim over the different languages they hear. We are the closest thing most of us have to a family in Prague. After the years of joining together, for this one day (usually Saturday after the official Thursday holiday), we behave as family. There are arguments (who had the toy first), political discussions over wine, and maybe a tear or two.

Giving Thanks

With each passing year (and every new Thanksgiving celebration), the Czech Republic has become a place I’m increasingly grateful to call home. Not because it’s where I have my permanent residence, or because life has gotten easier for my family over the years. (Both of which are true).

Experiencing life through a Bohemian perspective has opened my eyes to a culture and a people that have taught me to laugh at myself (when I can), to get outside (as much as possible every day), to appreciate the privilege of going to the doctor (when necessary), to show my children theater and art (or let them perform it for me), and to value old friendships that feel like family.

Wishing you and your family a joyful holiday season!

(If you happen to be looking for oven roasting bags, try Makro or the DM drugstore.)

For more posts by Emily Prucha, visit her website: https://halfnhalf-life.com/

About the author:

Emily Gates Prucha teaches English and writes about raising multilingual children in the Czech Republic – the land of beer, castles, and Krtek (The Little Mole). Read more of her stories about Czech culture online at www.halfnhalf-life.com. As far as Czech traditions go, she doesn’t like being whipped at Easter but having a carp swimming in her bathtub at Christmas suits her fine.

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Visiting the 9/11 Memorial: New York, 2018

Despite feeling a pang of sadness every year when the anniversary comes around, the magnitude of the catastrophe never really resonated with me… until I visited the 9/11 Memorial and Museum on September 1st as part of my New York Sightseeing Pass. I did not expect to be as moved as I was by the display of videos, artifacts and photographs of all of the victims and the towers.

It’s been 17 years since the tragic day of September 11th, 2001, but as one of the signs in the memorial states, “No day shall erase you from the memory of time.”

The high schoolers who will learn about the event this year, will be learning about it as history. They were not alive at the time that 2,977 people lost their lives in the biggest terrorist attack that the world had ever seen. I was only nine when it happen yet I remember the day clearly. I can still picture myself playing with legos while watching the footage on every news channel while my mom called family and friends in tears.

Despite feeling a pang of sadness every year when the anniversary comes around, the magnitude of the catastrophe never really resonated with me… until I visited the 9/11 Memorial and Museum on September 1st as part of my New York Sightseeing Pass. I was curious about the museum but was mostly looking forward to going up the One World Trade Center/Freedom Tower afterwards.

I did not expect to be as moved as I was by the display of videos, artifacts and photographs of all of the victims and the towers. They displayed the metal structure that the first plane hit, twisting it out of shape. They had the motorcycle that one of the firefighters had just bought before perishing in the rescue efforts. They even had the boarding pass of one of the highjackers of Flight 77. It was fascinating and incredibly eerie at the same time.

As soon as we got through security and entered the building, a solemn mood fell over the previously boisterous crowd of tourists. There was barely any talking, except in hushed tones, as people read the timeline of events on September 11th.

The amount of information was staggering, down to the detailed minutes of the fateful day, from the phone call that a passenger made to his father from the first plane to rescuers telling people in the South tower to stay calm and return to their offices a mere half-hour before the second plane hit.

There were tissues available for viewers of a video where bystanders and survivors describing the series of events and the horrors that they witnessed. While we didn’t see anyone crying, many people were shaking their heads, holding their loved ones close and closing their eyes when things got too intense.

My favorite aspect of the memorial was the message of hope portrayed in the video about the construction of the One World Trade Center. Amidst all the horrifying footage and possessions of the victims were stories about the heroes who went above and beyond their duties to save lives and help those in need.

We spent about two hours walking around the museum and we would have spent more time there if it wasn’t so cold (the air-con was a little overdone) and if we hadn’t marched for four hours earlier during the day. There was a lot more we could have learned if we had had the energy (and a jacket).

It was a coincidence that we went to the memorial before going up to the observation deck. We were standing by the fountain and made the decision completely at random. It was so much more meaningful to go up the One Trade Center after going through the memorial and re-living the tragic event and experiencing the hope that the tower represented first-hand.

If you’re planning on visiting both the 9/11 Memorial and the One World Trade Center then we strongly recommend that you do the museum first. If you have enough time to spend an entire day there, visit the memorial in the morning followed by a lunch/coffee in the area. You can even get food to go and eat by the fountains that are located exactly where the original twin towers once stood. Please remember where you are and don’t disrespect the memorial by sitting or leaning against the names inscribed along the fountain.

End your day wowing over the views in the tower – try to time it around sunset. If you want to get drinks up on the deck, you can save some money by biding a $6/drink coupon at the ticket desk downstairs. Otherwise you can get beers for around $11, coffee for $5 and fancier wines/drinks or dinner for up to $30 per person. If you have the money to splurge, this is the place to do it.

A few facts about the 9/11 Memorial:

Construction began in 2006 and was finally opened to the public in May 2014. General admissions are $24 for adults, $44 for admission and a museum tour and $39 for admissions and a memorial tour. There are discounts for teenagers, children, students, seniors and U.S. veterans. It is also included in the New York Sightseeing Pass.

If you’re visiting New York City, this memorial is a definite must see. Just visiting the fountains won’t have the same effect . The two hours I spent here gave me a whole new appreciation of New York City. The events of 9/11 didn’t define the city. Instead, the attack united New Yorkers who went on to show the world their strength and the unbreakable spirit of this unique city.

I have so much respect for the creators of the memorial and museum, for the police officers and fire fighters who risked their lives on 9/11. Most of all, for the community that went through the world’s most horrifying terrorist attack and managed to rebuild their lives as well as their city, becoming stronger than ever before.

Rest in peace.
Never forget. 
“No day shall erase you from the memory of time.” – Virgil

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The Best View of New York City: One World Trade Center

One World Trade offers a unique view of New York’s spectacular waterfront. While you can see both the Hudson and East rivers in the distance from Top of the Rock, One World is right on the water. You can both rivers clearly merging into the Upper Bay and watch the sunset over New Jersey…

Everyone always debates between going up the Rockefeller Center‘s Top of the Rock or the Empire State Building to see the best views of New York City. My advice? Go to the One World Trade Observatory (Freedom Tower) instead.

Isaac and I travel a lot and one of the highlights of any trip that we take is going up the highest point. Nothing beats seeing a place you’ve been exploring from a new vantage point and we always try to schedule our trip around sunset to experience the city going from day to night.

Although we still haven’t seen the view from the Empire State Building, we’re confident that nothing will beat One World Trade and here are the reasons why:

1. The Waterfront

One World Trade offers a unique view of New York’s spectacular waterfront. While you can see both the Hudson and East rivers shimmering in the distance from Top of the Rock, One World is right on the water. You can both rivers clearly merging into the Upper Bay and watch the sunset over New Jersey.

2. Brooklyn Bridge

New York’s most iconic bridge, the first steel-wire suspension bridge ever constructed and finished by a woman is one of the highlights of the city. One World offers a beautiful view of not only the Brooklyn Bridge but also the Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges. Seeing the bridges light up at dusk was magical and not possible from Top of the Rock.

3. No Obstructing Construction

Construction is not an issue at night because the lights of the city drown out the many cranes. However, on our last visit to Top of the Rock during the day, the view was quite obstructed by construction – we couldn’t really see Central Park because at least three buildings are coming up in front of the park. On the other side, right next the Empire State Building, surprise, surprise, there’s more construction!

Since One World Trade is so much taller than all of the buildings surrounding it so there’s no cranes in view. The construction happening uptown is too far to interfere. Unfortunately you can’t see Central Park from the One World observatory at all, but the Top of the Rock isn’t a good place to see it anymore either.

4. Picturesque Skyline

Both One World Trade and Top of the Rock offer great opportunities for photos. On our visit to Top of the Rock we saw a couple getting their wedding photos taken. There are a few big differences between the views. Top of the Rock offers the best possible close-up shot of the Empire State Building and you can even take a selfie with it.

From the One World Trade observatory, you can see Empire State but from a distance. You can take beautiful shots of the entire city with Empire State, Top of the Rock and all of the other iconic sky scrapers all lined up in the distance. Seeing the entire city like that was spectacular, but you couldn’t make out any of the buildings clearly in a selfie. Enjoying a great view should be a bigger priority than the perfect selfie, but to each their own…

5. Floor-Length Windows

When you’re standing up against the floor-length windows in the One World Trade tower, you can see all the way down and feel like you’re flying above the city. With so many people touching the glass and leaning their greasy foreheads against the windows (like I did) create unsightly smudges and reflections that interfere with the view and with photos. But having windows also makes it weatherproof, which gets me to #6….

6. Weatherproof Views

Top of the Rock is outside which is great on a breezy sunny day, but I’ve been there twice in the middle of winter which was less pleasant. Sure, there’s something to be said about the crisp night air, but if it’s raining a lot or if there’s a storm, the observatory is closed. You can visit One World Trade whenever you want and enjoy a (slightly too strongly) air-conditioned space.

7. Tallest Observatory Deck

Size doesn’t matter, but when it comes to views, height makes a difference. One World Trade is significantly taller than Top of the Rock and was actually the tallest building in the USA (if you count the height of the antenna). As I previously mentioned, it’s height puts it over ugly construction on nearby buildings and it just makes it more excited to be as high off the ground as possible.

8. The WOW Factor

This might be an unfair category since the Top of the Rock was built almost a hundred years ago and opened to the public in 1933… but I can’t not mention the cool extras that the One World Trade Center offered that made the experience more special. The elevator that took us up took only 45 seconds and shows us a video of New York as it changed (and grew) in the past 300+ years. It was unexpected and beautiful!

Next we were waiting in line watching yet another movie about the building. It wasn’t boring but staring at screens gets old when you’re itching to see the real thing. The video ended with the screens lifting to reveal our first glance of the bay from (almost) the top of the building! Everyone was so genuinely surprised that we wowed and clapped. Sorry for spoiling the surprise…

Conclusion:

The two buildings offer completely different view of the city. If you can only do one, I’d say go to One World Trade. If you get the chance to do both, it’s definitely worth going to Top of the Rock too. They charge you extra for going around sunset so if you do both, go to Top of the Rock during the day and then do One World Trade for sunset to save a few dollars. Or get the New York Sightseeing Pass and save a lot of money on visiting various attractions in New York.

Both buildings have a fascinating history – if you do One World Trade I’d recommend visiting the 9/11 Memorial first to truly appreciate what a symbol of hope the Freedom Tower was in the light of the terrible attack on the Twin Towers. It’s a somber experience that made sure to emphasize the One World Trade Center’s part in New York’s healing process.

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