Saturday, 25 February 2012
The moment you step off the planes, trains or automobiles you travelled on to get here it hits you...your here. The worlds most famous city. You feel it in the air as your eyes widen, you've arrived. You can see the Empire State Building on the ever incredible skyline in the distance and it looks even better then the amazing ways it is portrayed in the movies. Sizzling and scorching hot in the Summer and the truest feeling of Christmas in the white blanketed Winter. It's truly cinematic, but that's enough of the Hollywood stuff, let's save that for Los Angeles and the West-Coast. In the concrete jungle where dreams are made of it's time to get into an 'Empire State Of Mind' like Jay-Z and Alicia Keys and it's time to get down to business and see what you came to see before it's gone in a New York minute and you fail to make it here (as the saying goes).
First off your going to need a place to stay and there's plenty to pick from for all price and taste ranges from East Village to all the other small to grand, big and beautiful areas this city offers in all its nooks and crannies. From the famous, best places to stay like the Waldorf Astoria and the Hotel Pennsylvania to the hip hostels for budget backpackers (which is a great way to meet new people and fellow travellers) like the brilliant Broadway Hotel and Hostel, the cool Chelsea International (across the road from a police station for your convenience) and the wonderful, worldwide 'Hi' (Hostelling International) chains, all and more are a great stay.
Now that's out the way, what to do? What to do? With so much to see and experience the reason they named this city twice is because your going to need more then one trip to do it all in. You better be ready to never sleep either. So with one hell of a portion on your itinerary plate (and we haven't even got to eating out yet) what should you do first? Well, the world is yours but why not go straight to the core of the city and visit the hub of electricity and excitement that is Times Square? At it's best, boldest and most beautiful at night-but still amazing in the day-this is quite possibly the worlds best meeting place. As cultures collide and the big lights of the bright city align your time and photo album may all be used up here if your not careful. With great shops and interactive billboards ('Forever 21' scores twice here), quality places to eat and all-sorts of goings on this is more then the place to see, it's the place to be (especially if you could make some timeless, forever new year, New York memories here).
A more recent edition of bright red bleachers also helps for many reasons. Firstly these stairs serve as a better vantage point for photos and views of those famous, pole-to-pole billboards and there also a great place to sit and just take in the atmosphere and eerie calm of the surroundings at times while everyone else is minding their own tourist business. Still the primary reason for these steps is the scalper surviving, selling of discount theatre tickets officially that goes on underneath. A great way to see more and pay less on your trip and speaking of shows there's plenty to see on Broadway. This makes for another classic New York experience and from traditional shows like 'Jersey Boy's' to more modern adaptations of movies like 'Shrek' and music like Green Day's 'American Idiot' there's something for everyone and every weekend and weekday.
Still if you prefer something a little different and lighter why not visit those guys with clipboards (don't worry they aren't charity pushers (not that those people are bad, but come on your on holiday here) and go see a budget comedy show (like the 'Comedy Central' one) and see a range of up and coming comics and more established ones from popular T.V. shows like '30 Rock' and 'Chappelle Show' (sure we aren't talking about the stars but still some pretty hilarious dudes and dudettes). Or why not try your luck at catching a monologue rehearsal or even being a part of the live studio audience for popular N.Y. based talk shows like 'The Late Show With David Letterman', 'Late Night With Jimmy Fallon' or 'The Daily Show With Jon Stewart'. Tickets are free, but you have to win them, still you never know your luck or who you might see.
Or maybe sports is more your thing, and if so you've come to the right place. From Ice Hockey's New York Rangers to baseballs Mets, but still the cities two biggest draws are your best bets. A walking distance amount of blocks from Times Square will land you near Penn Station and Madison Square Garden, the worlds most famous arena and the mecca of basketball. The arena is old, but legendary there's nothing quite like it. It also triples up as as the Rangers home and one of the worlds most sought-after concert venues serving everyone from Bruce Springsteen to the Blue Man Group. Still, seeing a basketball game there is the best thing to do and now the New York Knicks have added superstars Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony their actually a good team, a real good team.
Still if you prefer your balls beaten with bats then why not make that trip to the Bronx and see the reason everyone wears Yankee caps for real. A baseball game at Yankee stadium is another instant vintage memory for anyone who wants to experience the real New York first-hand. Speaking of which and The Bronx, don't miss out this borough or Brooklyn, Staten Island or Queens because the magnificence of this city is more then just Manhattan on it's own.
WOW! Now this is already a lot right? We haven't even begun to sight see or even eat right? Told you to forget about sleeping, but to keep yourself going there are countless eateries around the city all with their own classic, individual character whether domestic or international. From New York's first pizzeria ('Lombardi's' since 1905) to Sushi spots, fast-food joints and health-food spas. Still our pick is the 'Metro Diner' on the Upper West Side, 2641 Broadway. Nothing more epitomises the look, feel or traditional nature of this American classic. Breakfast and dinner the portions are always more then generous and the staff genuine, especially favourite Mario who's always welcoming and full of stories and recommendations. Nothing will make you feel more at home. Then if you do sleep why not cross the road and walk a few blocks down for breakfast at 'Broadway Bagel' for the best in the city from their effortlessly efficient and kind staff?
Or if you like things a bit more cinematic, why don't you play John Cusack or Kate Beckinale and visit the iconic 'Serendipity 3' in the beautiful Little Italy? This landmark place that made for the classic rom-com 'Serendipity' offers more than great food, drink and souvenirs. It's also the home of the legendary 'Frozen Hot Chocolate' and the seriously best sundaes in the world. They're unforgettably tempting, unforgiving huge and to die for...if you can make it. From the quaint interior to the kind staff this is one New York moment that will climb your charts.
Why not continue your movie tour with a visit to everywhere from the landmark Lincoln Centre to the 'Ghostbusters' fire house in the Tribeca (one of many great traditional fire stations)? Then check out this delightful district which is home to Robert De Niro and others, from there to Soho, Hells Kitchen, the Meatpacker District and beyond N.Y.C offers even more to see with every amazing area. With beauty and originality on every corner, you will always discover something new with each trip.
Just like the bold and beautiful Highline. A former Subway line turned into a park, (with tracks still intact (no longer functional...don't worry)) which offers some of the best and most beautiful views of the city from day to night. This part of the developing Hudson area (skyscrapers will soar soon too) is now officially one of the best and most underrated tourist destinations to take a bite out of in the Big Apple.
Now time to work that all off. How about a walk in the park? We aint talking about a stroll. If you really want to take in the beauty of New York's Eden Central Park, you better walk the whole length of it until you get to Malcolm X boulevard. There's so much to take and partake in here. From the zoo to the famous ice rink, or to playing sports or simply sitting down to read in the vast middle. At the centre and heart of the city this beautiful bit of nature offers a strange, calm relief from the busiest of cities, despite being right next to it. There's no place quite like it, just imagine for a second. Be sure to pass by Strawberry Fields too and pay your respects to Beatles and music legend John Lennon.
Still if you prefer your picturesque landscapes to view the whole city why not take on any fear of heights and scale one of the cities famous sky scrapers? The big draw is obviously the enormous Empire State Building and from it's beautiful gold lobby to it's vast promise at the top it's an incredible, unforgettable experience. Still our recommendation is to go to the 'Top Of The Rock' at the Rockefeller Centre. First off you actually get a view of the amazing Empire State (rather then just being in it), plus you get an unblemished look of the vastness of Central Park, making for a dream view between the sprawl of buildings. It's hard to determine which sides best. Or what time as witnessing this view bleed from day to night is one of the most beautiful things you'll ever witness. As you look down and see all the goings on, all the people like ants and shimmers of old and chrome of taxi's taking their respective routes it's time to get back down to earth.
Make sure you take a ride in a New York cab while you can still catch one(albeit a cheap one) because their famous town cars are set to be replaced by mini-vans. Also ride the seriously 'New York' subway and their signature stations. It's all part of the cities experience and you may even catch some great, up and coming performances down there (like the incredible, 'Roosevelt Dime', a band so good and so New York and classic America you could bet your last dollar on them).
Now how about them sites? After all isn't that why your here? From the grandiose, vintage magnificence of Grand Central Station to one of the best walks you'll ever have (we've got San Fran on deck too) across the awe inspiring Brooklyn Bridge. Then why not take a boat out for an even better view of the sublime, inspiring Statue of Liberty (if you can take those Staten Island Ferry lines) and also take in the history of Ellis Island? Speaking of history then why not venture to the classic Coney Island and all it's seaside splendor?
Or you could keep your moments Manhattan and keep your skating styles on ice at the Rockefeller plaza, or take in the testament of the beautiful St. Andrews cathedral across the road. A day at the Natural History Museum is always a rewarding experience, while making an arch to Greenwich Village-the home of many celebrities and inspiration to Bob Dylan-is also enlightening. Speaking of the stars from 'Where Harry Met Sally' in Katz's Delicatessen to the 'Sex and the City' tour and the city as a whole there are famous movie locations everywhere.
It's also vital to leave your cameras at home and pay your respects at Ground Zero and then witness the development of the inspiring freedom tower. A couple of stops away lies Wall Street where you can catch a glimpse of the famous bronze bull and even a photo if you don't mind waiting...and boy will you wait. Speaking of money this is New York surely you'll want to shop right? This is definitely the place from malls to boutiques, Macy's, Bloomingdales, Hollister's and many more personal, private businesses at a drop of your shop. After you put your bags down N.Y. offers an unforgettable nightlife too. Everywhere their are unique, individual bars and clubs to suit your needs. Still, Soho and Chelsea house some of the best spots and with factory sized clubs the Meatpacking district is the place to be. Whatever your poison or plan make sure you mingle with the locals and fellow tourists, because meeting new people and sharing experiences really is what travelling is all about.
Then the next morning if you aren't nursing too bad a hangover why not see for yourself what else the city has to offer because this is just the tip of the iceberg, there's so much more. So go explore the home of thousands of stars (this was the birthplace of everyone from Robert De Niro to Michael Jordan) and movies (where so many do the city justice but most recently Matt Damon's 'The Adjustment Bureau' and Will Smith's 'Hitch' capture it best) and see exactly what everyone is so excited about. Go make your own New York memories and then tell someone else all about it. In the spring and summer it's sensational, in the autumn beautiful and New York in the fall is all about big coats & long walks, cold nights & hot coffee. So take a trip...or maybe two to a city so good they had to name it twice. Don't make me say it again. TIM DAVID HARVEY.