New York City

Natalie Alcraft on 03 January 2013
New York New York – so good I’ve been there twice!

Like so many others, New York was a must-see destination for me. The sights and sounds of a city you feel you already know because of the movies you have grown up with, or if like me, it was Chandler, Monica, Phoebe, Joey, Ross and Rachel that put New York City on your travel radar, the wonders of NYC are there to be discovered.

On both visits New York has never failed to disappoint and whether you are a first timer or NYC veteran, there is so much to be discovered both on and off the beaten track. First time you go, be a tourist, sight see and visit the attractions, but don’t be afraid to explore outside of downtown Manhattan and discover quirky bars, unique shops and local restaurants in other lesser known districts.

On both of my visits the very first thing I did was jump in a yellow cab to the Marriot Marquis Hotel on Times Square and caught the lift up to The View, a revolving bar which allows you to enjoy NYC from the skyline itself. It is a great way to open your eyes to where you will be spending your next few days. From here you can see the Empire State, The Rockefeller Centre and the Chrysler Building, and if you do this by night the views are breath-taking. The cocktails are a little pricey, but the view is priceless! I can highly recommend their Cosmopolitan (a la Carrie Bradshaw).

Warning – take comfy shoes. New York is spread out but exploring it on foot allows you to soak up the atmosphere and the diversity of each different area. Day two for me is the Empire State, if you’re up and awake early head straight there and explore this magnificent building. The audio tour is completely worth it to understand the stories of what was once the tallest building in the world. It is told by a New York cab driver and is a great way to experience the Empire State.

After the Empire State, shopping on 5th Avenue, The Rockefeller Centre and exploring the wonders of Central Park are all close by. The horse drawn carriage was completely worth it, being tucked up in a blanket with your nearest and dearest, soaking in the diversity of Central Park amidst the hullabaloo of the city’s sky scrapers is one of life’s special moments. If you are visiting at the right time of year then you may also be able to enjoy the ice skating rink and don’t worry if you don’t skate, my husband did not want to brave the ice but equally enjoyed the spectators’ view with a pretzel and mulled cider from the side-lines.

After each day you will be tired but the food in New York is to die for and worth venturing back out for in the evening. From breakfast to dinner the choice is so vast, and I am yet to be disappointed! Do your research and ask your hotel concierge to recommend restaurants but whatever you are looking for you will be spoiled for choice! Breakfast has to be a New York diner, lunch needs to be in a deli and dinner should be a special occasion every night whilst you are there! If you are there on a Sunday, ask your concierge where serves a good brunch and enjoy a late morning feast the way the New Yorkers do. If you want something a little different I can highly recommend Molyvos, a Greek restaurant within walking distance from Times Square, perfect for a pre or post theatre dinner. The food is to die for and the service is equally good.

On day three it’s off to catch the Staten Island ferry over to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. For me getting off at the statue isn’t worth it, the view you get from the ferry is fabulous enough and the skyline view of the city is equally as impressive from the ferry looking back. However, Ellis Island is a must, the history of this building is magical and the stories of those that have passed through it are well worth a listen. If you miss a guided tour the audio tour is great and allows you to explore at your own leisure. Once back on dry land it is easy to explore Wall Street and Ground Zero and they are all in walking distance from the ferry terminal. If you get the opportunity and there are any hours left in the day then walk, just walk and explore the lesser known areas like Little Italy and China Town. I have walked from the Ferry Terminal to 5th Avenue which is approximately five miles, but it was completely worth it for memories it gave me of a city which is much more than sightseeing and attractions.

Madison Square Gardens, City Hall, Broadway, St Patricks Cathedral are all well worth a visit, but you may find you don’t always have the time to do everything so don’t rush and enjoy the sights you do visit. After all, it is a great excuse to come back.

New York is everything I imagined it would be and more and the more I visit (believe me I’m not done yet) the more there is to discover and experience. It is a destination we should all escape to and experience living in the movies for a few days. Leaving New York is difficult knowing how much you haven’t yet discovered, but if like me the experiences you have will never be forgotten your memories will be fond ones and you will be certain to return.