It was a convenient, nine-minute walk from Hotel Elysee, located on 60 E. 54th Street in New York City, to Le Parker Meridien Hotel for our luxury tour of New York City with High Quality Tours.

Le Parker Meridien is such a gorgeous place to wait for our tour to begin!

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Upon our arrival in the lobby of the hotel, a very tall man with an overcoat and a suit and tie, called my name. Our tour guide introduced himself as “Tour Guide J”. He let us know that we will be waiting for the rest of the tourists that will be coming with us.

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He took us upstairs to the bathroom at the second level of the hotel and asked us if there was anything in particular we would want to see on the tour. As we waited for the rest of the group I was able to sit, take notes and a couple of photos.

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After everyone arrived, we were a total of 10 tourists; we headed to meet our driver Curtis. He was waiting for us in a state of the art luxury van, for our five-hour tour called, “Land and Sea NYC.”

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We started the tour by driving towards Rockefeller Center. We got to know Tour Guide J, such a funny and enthusiastic man.   This is when I realized we were all in for a treat! He is so knowledgeable about history, facts, and everything that really happened in the city.

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We made our first stop and walked to see Saint Patrick’s Cathedral and Rockefeller Center.

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We passed in front of Radio City, Times Square and saw where the “apple” drops on New Years Eve.

We then drove past Grand Central Terminal, Celsius Café in Bryan Park, and the second biggest library in America.

I learned from Tour Guide J, that Lord and Taylor is the oldest shopping department store in New York City.

Our next stop was Madison Square Park, where we learned about the Flat Iron Building, the gold top building and this is where I learned where the phrase “23 Squidoo” came from.

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We continued our tour by passing in front of Washington Park where “The Arch” is imitating the Arc De Triomphe, which is in France. We then headed towards Greenwich Village and Soho (South of Houston).

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Tour Guide J talked the entire time, and did not need to refer to any notes…absolutely amazing. He explained from where the word “skyscraper” came. He also explained that you could do your serious shopping on Cortland Street, Lafayette Street and Canal Street.

We drove through little Italy, passed Manhattan Bridge and drove under the Brooklyn Bridge.

We stopped for lunch at 55 Fulton Market where, no matter what kind of diet you have, you can eat incredible. Vegans, vegetarians, seafood lovers…. all people will find their pleasure there.

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Next, Tour Guide J went to get our boat tickets and we embarked on a one-hour boat tour. We were able to see the beautiful New York City skyline and of course the famous Statue of Liberty. The tour boat was very spacious. It was two levels so that you could be inside or out. The tour boat guide educated us on everything from the bridges, to Battery Park, to Governors Island. They did a wonderful job.

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After the boat tour, we next stopped at ground zero, where Tour Guide J told us of the story of the “miracle tree” that survived the collapse of the towers.  We were all awestruck at the 911 Memorial. The black, square shaped fountains (called the reflecting absence) were placed where the south tower and north tower had been standing. The names of the victims of the towers, the planes and the first responders, were all engraved on the edges of these pools. People put flowers and flags next to the names of their loved ones.   Tour guide J told us that most people do not know that they can go to the top of One World Trade Center, and the view is absolutely majestical.

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Another thing that I loved about the tour was the fact that while on the bus, we were provided a charger for our phones and extra gloves were also available for those that were cold. Our last stop was Battery Park before Curtis drove us back to the “Parker Meridien” Hotel.

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A stop at “Strawberry Fields” in Central Park was well worth it and mesmerizing.  I would recommend you go there when visiting the city.

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What a fantastic time High Quality Tour was. Tour guide J was so funny and terrific. He shared so many stories and facts about the city. He made the tour so interesting, as his knowledge about New York City was absolutely incredible!

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I would do this tour in a heart beat when visiting New York City.

http://highqualitytours.com