Dennis and Rosamund Knill travel to New York with a list of things to see that’s as big as the city itself.
It’s simply about being there. Art galleries, architecture and some of the world’s best shopping is what makes New York great. But what makes it even greater are the acres of neon signs, the bustling subways, the hordes of frenetic people footslogging the sidewalks while the relentless taxi horns have your heart heaving as they manoeuvre through the relentless traffic jams. This is the real deal. Welcome to New York.
After 24-long-hours since we left New Zealand we eventually land at LaGuadia Airport. With over twenty-million commuters passing through here annually we were more than a little relieved to be finally outside the terminal building. And with the sight of the famous yellow cab in full view it was only then that we knew that we had arrived in the greatest city in the world.
You don’t come to New York to relax, so be prepared to be overwhelmed. This is a city that screams with exuberance, glamour and style at such pace that the city never sleeps. For first-timers apart from eating out and serious shopping there is lots to see and do. No matter how much or how little time you have, just follow the crowds.
Times Square once home to New York Times is the epicentre of New York’s theatre district and multi-story television screens. This is where all the action is 24/7 and a good place to start exploring all the city’s treasures.
And if you haven’t been to the Empire State Building then you haven’t been to New York. On a clear day the vista from the observatory on the 86th floor is stunning. From there you can see all of New York’s boroughs as well as New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts, not forgetting Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty and the teeming millions below.
Then there’s the viewing deck on the 70th floor of the Rockefeller Centre in the heart of Midtown. The queues are noticeably shorter than the Empire State Building.
After a hearty meal, for fitness freaks try burning off those carbs with a walk through Central Park. The best views of the city are from the northern end of the Sheep Meadow. From there it’s a short walk along to Strawberry Fields, complete with a garden full of plants from all corners of the world in loving memory of John Lennon, whos’ life was so tragically taken just across the road.
Alternatively, settle for hiring a bike or a lazy 30-minute horse and carriage ride around the southern fringe. In this unashamedly capitalist city it was to our surprise that this 2083 acre rambling oasis is free for everyone.
The Staten Island Ferry is the best way to see the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and Manhattan. The return trip takes about 90 minutes.
To cover all the cities museums and art galleries you will need an extended stay. New York boasts myriad museums and art galleries. The spiral Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Guggenheim, the American Museum of Natural History and the Whitney Museum of American Art are three not to be missed.
Situated at Ground Zero is New York’s most popular attraction, the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. Here you will find the air heavy and the mood sombre. We spent the entire day there mostly in silence as we reflected on that horrible and fateful September’s day that changed the world forever.
Regardless of whether you want to shop or just sightsee, the best way to get around is a 3-day GrayLine hop-on-hop-off bus pass. For a mere $49pp you can explore the entire city at your leisure. Included are uptown, the loop and night tours, as well as across to Brooklyn. The loop ticket also gives you entry to the Empire State Observatory, a ferry trip to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty and the Liberty Museum.
Visiting New York is sure to bring out the urge to splurge and if shopping is your game a good place to start is SoHo: the perfect playing field. From major retail stores to glitzy boutiques, SoHo has it all. Then there’s Macy’s the largest department store in the world and Bloomingdale’s who each offer discount cards for international visitors .
5th Avenue is New York’s most famous shopping district, where the sidewalks are lined with “high end” designer labels. All the big names are here including Prada, Gucci, Saks and Tiffany’s. And if you have given your friendly bank manager a bit of a scare then pray for forgiveness at one of the many churches close by.
Like all great cities, New York offers excellent restaurants. For the serious ethnic foodie, Little Italy and nearby Chinatown are both worth a visit. At the end of an evening meal, for New Yorkers the night is just beginning. So if you want to join in with a bit more glitz, venture into the bar or nightclub scene, better still take in a show on Broadway.
Air New Zealand have daily flights via Los Angeles or San Francisco with onward connections by United Airlines.
Air New Zealand Holidays on 0800 747 222 or log onto their web-site www.airnewzealand.co.nz.
Work on 10% for taxis and 20% for cafés and restaurants.
Foders NYC travel guide, New York City for Dummies by Brian Silverman.
NYC Tourist Board.
Dennis and Rosamund Knill were assisted by NYCGO, GrayLine, Air New Zealand Parking and Southern Cross Travel Insurance