I had the fortune to visit New York in early September 2008, just before the dollar slid from highs of $2 to £1. I stayed for 4 nights, and was lucky enough to take in a lot of New York whilst I was there. ***The Empire State Building*** We arrived from Boston in the evening, and headed straight for dinner in Times Square (HardRock Cafe) and then onto the Empire State Building. We bought an excellent 'CityPass' booklet, (www.citypass.com) which cost £40 and includes admission into six attractions: Empire State Building, American Museum of Natural History, Guggenheim, Museum of Modern Art, Metropolitan Museum, & Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island. We only visited three of these, but still felt it represented good value since it allowed us to skip the queues for tickets and security, and when you're only there for 4 days, you don't want to spend 2 hours queueing. That said, when we arrived (9pm), the Empire State wasn't busy, and it took around 15 minutes from entry to get to the top. The views from the top are excellent, and aside from giving great panoramic views of the city, it also gives a profound sense of the noise that the city generates; it's only possible to appreciate the 'hum' from such a high perch. It was well worth visiting, and having been at night and during the day, I personally preferred the night time visit. ***Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island*** Having consulted the guidebook, we woke early to go to the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island, with the hope that we could secure one of the early and 'elusive' monument passes. We were lucky enough to get one, and were looking forward to getting inside the lovely lady. When we arrived, we elected to go for a guided tour of the area led by the Park Rangers. Despite trepidation, the tour turned out to be a fantastic experience, and I would wholly recommend it, particularly since its free. The disappointment came when we went to use our coveted monument pass, and found a queue around an hour long to get inside. It's hardly elusive if you have to queue for an hour. On the advice of our guide, we decided not to go inside, but we were somewhat disappointed. We moved onto Ellis Island and things started to perk up (suspiciously after pausing for a bagel). It's not the place for kids, and most would be bored out their minds, but as a geography student, I found the exhibits on migration to be very interesting. They also have a 'search for ancestors' area that people seemed to be getting some surprises from. It's worth visiting, but I could understand if some people, particularly youngsters, were a little bored by it. ***Natural History Museum*** After stumbling through the somewhat confusing central park for an hour, we managed to eventually find the Natural History Museum. It was worth the effort, and the exhibitions were varied and interesting; perhaps the biggest criticism would be a lack of seating, so be prepared to spend a lot of time on your feet. Attached to the Natural History Museum is the Rose Centre, and this provided the highlight of our visit to the Museum. In the middle of the Rose centre is a large sphere that plays host to a 3D viewing theatre, and in it we washed a very interesting an engaging presentation about 'Cosmic Collisions' - children and adults alike seemed to enjoy this. The Natural History Museum on its own is perhaps a little week, but when supplemented by the Rose centre, it's a good place to visit. ***Other Things*** We were lucky enough to get tickets to the US Open whilst it was on, and this was a very interesting experience. We watched an emotion-filled match between James Blake and Mardy Fish (Blake was due to be best man at Fish's wedding the week after), as well as a clash involving Dinara Safina. The complex was interesting and vibrant, and the frebies on offer were also pretty good! The tickets were also reasonably priced, at around £25 each. A word of caution: we stayed in a neighbourhood in which we didn't feel safe, and this marred our experience somewhat, since we were apprehensive about returning in the small hours. Despite being hard up, I wish I had spent slightly more on staying in a more salubrious area. There's plenty to do in New York, and the shopping is good, and although it's expensive, it can be done on a (relative) shoestring. We kept ourselves constantly busy from 8am till midnight everyday, and there were still things we didn't have time to do. We'll definitely visit against in the future.
New York is definitely the place for sightseeing. There are so many places that you have seen on TV or in the movies that, if you're anything like me, you are dying to see in "real life". We went for ten days so managed to pack in quite a lot of sightseeing so rather than boring you with every single thing we saw, I'll just give you my top ten must sees. *Please note* I was eight months pregnant when I went, so some attractions like skating at Rockefellar Centre we didn't get to experience, so I apologise for not being able to give an opinion on those. 10) Museum of Natural History Located just down the street from our hotel on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, this museum is home of all sorts of interesting artefacts, from the skeleton of a T-Rex to uncovered items from ancient civilisations. It's the set of the Ben Stiller movie Night At The Museum, and I'm not ashamed to say that's what appealed to me in the first place! If I'm completely honest apart from the dinosaurs section and the odd bit about the Aztecs and "The Big Bang" I found this museum a bit boring. I'm not exactly an avid scientist and I found some of the exhibits a bit dull. This makes me think that apart from the dinosaurs, it may prove a bit boring for kids. However, my husband the geek loved it, as he loves anything remotely sci-fi. So I guess it just depends what you're into. 9) Planet Hollywood As well as being a science geek, my husband is also a bit of a movie geek (just a geek in general really :-D) Having been to the Planet Hollywood in London we decided to try the on in New York. The food is pretty basic, burgers, steaks, pasta, that kind of thing, it is actually pretty good quality and for the low price (approx $50 for the two of us, including drinks) was really good value. The main attraction however, wasn't the food, it was the film memorabilia. They had hand prints from Will Smith and the likes as well as real items from the movies, such as the keyboard from Big, the mask from Predator and the clothing worn by Leo and Kate in Titanic. My husband was most excited by the clothing worn in Die Hard while I, ever the musical lover, was thrilled to see the "curtain clothes" from the Sound of Music. Definitely worth a visit, for a quick bite and a nosey at the memorabilia. 8) Empire State Building Many would be surprised that this isn't higher up the list, but I personally prefer Top of the Rock, which I shall talk about later. I had previously read Trip Advisor reviews that said to visit TOTR rather than Empire State, but considering we'd probably only be in New York once, we had to try it. We got there early to avoid the queues and it was pretty quiet, we only had to queue five minutes or so, which is good considering we heard you can wait up to three hours during peak times. The views of New York and the building itself were pretty impressive. My only criticism was it being so freaking cold! We almost got blown away on the top observation deck, but it was January and we were very high up, so what did I expect? 7) Central Park No trip to New York would be complete without a stroll through central park From the John Lennon memorial to the musicians playing their instruments, there is a lot to see and do. We went in January and I imagine it's even nicer in the Spring/Summer. We walked through central park nearly every day as we took the scenic route around the city. My only advice is to avoid going off the walkway. As it had been snowing heavily we were unable to see the path and were unsure where we were going, meaning we ended up completely lost, in the dark, with a pregnant me getting stuck up a slippery high section, telling my husband we were never going to escape and were going to end up being eaten by wolves! 6) Broadway Arguably the most famous theatre strip in the world. As I mentioned earlier I am a huge musical lover and so Broadway was a must do on my list. We decided to watch Chicago and so tootled on down to the theatre to buy tickets, presuming we'd have to book in advance. The assistant was very helpful and told us for $2 more than the lowest priced tickets we could get good seats for the matinee performance a couple of hours from then. We bought them and were hugely impressed by our seats; we were just five rows from the front, slap bang in the middle. The show itself was amazing. I'd seen Chicago before on the West End and loved it but this was something else. The whole cast were superb, they could sing and dance and looked great...I hated them all!! Even my husband enjoyed it, despite not exactly being a musical lover 5) Tiffany's Ah Tiffany's. Scene of my favourite ever film, there was no way I was going to miss out on being Holly Golightly for the day. It was cold and miserable outside and simply delightful inside. There were four floors of jewellery, each specialising in diamonds, engagement rings, gold, or silver. We took the lift up to the silver floor, the only place where there was any chance of being able to afford anything! There was even a man inside the lift to press the buttons for you! The sales assistants were lovely, not snooty and condescending as I imagined them to be. Hubby bought me a pair of earrings but to be honest I was more excited by the little Tiffany's box and bag! 4) Tribute WTC Visitor Center We came across this when we were taking a look round ground zero. It's a museum that pays tribute to those who died and those who worked to save lives. It's full of artefacts from the towers, real life stories and rather harrowingly extracts from phone calls from those who knew they weren't going to make it. To say it was moving really doesn't do it justice. It was absolutely heartbreaking. I was in floods of tears reading the stories of those who died, and the families who were left behind. One particular thing I remember was a soft toy that appeared in perfect condition, that was found amongst the rubble in the arms of a fire fighter that didn't survive. A really touching and respectful tribute. 3) Madame Tussauds Being a lover of all things celebrity I loved this! And begrudgingly so did my husband! The quality of the wax works were unbelievable. It wasn't the cheapest attraction, it cost us approximately $80 for the two of us, but we were there a couple of hours. There were a number of floors, each had a theme, from the party theme where there were wax works of Beyonce and Usher, to the historical figures such as former presidents and members of royality. I found it interesting to read abouyt the various personalirties, actually learning things about the person that I didn't previously know. Well worth a visit, after all, where else can you have your photo taken with Johnny Depp? 2) Statue of Liberty The most iconic monument in America, and arguably the world. We got there early to avoid the rush (although about 50 people had the same idea!) and bought a ticket that included both the statue and Ellis Island in the price. After going through the very tight security, it was amazing to see such an iconic monument at such a close distance. Again, it was absolutely freezing (and snowing!) but it didn't take anything away from the wow factor. The museum explaining all about the statue was very informative and interesting. The only negative was that the lift to the top of the statue was broken, and so to get up there you had to walk all the way up via the stairs. They were warning people that its not suitable for everyone, And once you started walking up you couldn't come back down. This was a huge no no for me, not only would I be claustrophobic knowing I coulkdnt turn around, at 8 months pregnant there was no way I could climb all those steps, so I feel I missed out slightly. 1) Top of the rock As I mentioned previously I found this far superior than the Empire State. The viewing decks are over three levels, the first two have a low wall with large glass screens which enable you to get great views and photographs, without getting blown away on a windy day! Unlike the ESB! The top deck however is not to be missed, it has no screens, just a wall and a fantastic view of Central Park, and the rest of Manhattan. The only negative is that you do not get an unobstructed view of the Chrysler Building, but you do get a great view of the Empire State Building, something you obviously would not get if you went up the ESB itself. By far my favourite attraction in New York, a must do for any visitor. Other places that are worth a visit but were not included in my top ten are: - Greenwich Village - Friends and Sex and the City buildings - Brooklyn Bridge - Fifth Avenue - Grand Central Station - Wall Street - United Nations And my review of New York would not be complete without a special mention to Starbucks, our little haven away from the biting cold of the streets outside. No matter where you are in New York you know you're no further than half a street away from a Starbucks!
New York is one of my favourite places in the world to visit, and already I am looking forward to my next visit. There is so much to see & do in this city, but the first thing that strikes you as you arrive is that it immediately feels familiar - obviously the city has featured so many films & TV series over the years but it really is just as you imagine it will be, even down to the smoking manhole covers! For sightseeing my number one recommendation would be the Top of the Rock experience at the Rockefeller Center - the views of Manhatten are amazing & it's really good value for money, with hardly any waiting involved. The downtown loop of the bus tour which can be picked up from Times Square is also another way to get yourself acquainted with this marvellous city, and you can get on & off as many times as you like. As far as using the subway is concerned, this does take some getting used to, and I found that the yellow cabs are a good affordable alternative. Otherwise, you cannot go to New York without visiting the magical Times Square, and seeing the Statue of Liberty - one tip I would suggest to save money & to beat the queues is to travel on the free Staten Island ferry - although this doesn't take you quite as close as the Grey Line ferry tour, it gives you some great views. As for shopping in New York, it's amazing! My personal favourites are Bloomingdales, Columbus Circle & the Apple store near Central Park - but you really can get anything & everything your heart desires! In summary - if you have never been to New York, go! And if you have, then go again!
New York is packed with sights and attractions to keep anyone busy during a stay there. The first thing I would recommend you to buy on a trip to New York is the New York Visitor Pass. This can be purchased from most of the attractions and is available as a 1 day, 2 day. 3 day or seven day pass. I would recommend going for the 2 day pass minimum as there is a lot to get around and this gives you time to see everything you have a free entry into. The way the pass works is that you pay one fee ($89 for a 2 day adult pass) and you get 'free' entry then to over 40 attractions. When you think that the Empire State Building alone is $18.00 per adult then you will soon cover the costs of the pass and more! The pass covers all the main attractions including the must see Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island (including the Circle Line Ferry Boat from Battery Park), Madam Tussauds, the Rockefeller Centre Tour, NBC Studio Tour, Central Park Zoo, New York Aquarium...the list is (almost)endless! You also get a $10 credit per person at Planet Hollywood in Times Square with the pass which is another bonus and we used this credit for a meal out. New York is a great city for sightseeing and this card really does save you money in the long run if you want to see as much as possible while you are there. For more info see the website http://www.newyorkpass.com.
Friends, Sex and the City both of those shows have a lot to answer for as it led to me really craving to visit the city that never sleeps, New York. For years I wanted to go stateside and experience all the fun things that I saw glimpses on when I watched programmes and films based in New York and for my 21st Birthday 5 years ago I had my first visit and since then I have not stopped going back it is a great city and somewhere you should definately see before you die. There is so much to see in New York it is a difficult place to write about with so much crammed into such a small place this review could go on forever, however I will try and condense it as best I can with my favourite bits of the city and my top tips to have a fantastic trip. *~*Before you Travel*~* The most important part of travelling to New York is researching what you want to do and where you want to stay. With so many airlines operating services into JFK, Newark and La Guardia getting a flight shouldn't be a problem, however when it comes to choosing accommodation this is where many people get stuck, wanting a central location in a high standard of accommodation will cost you in New York, want a view of Times Square in a 4* property then this can cost you big bucks. If you are on a budget then stay on the outskirts and use the subway to get around it is really economical and the best way to get around and see the sights. Lastminute.com has some fantastic locations I prefer to stay just off Times Square as this is where I prefer to be in the night time and although the streets are safe enough I would rather travel further in the daytime. On my last visit my usual hotel was booked up and other properties in that are were costing a small fortune and as I had decided to go with my mum we decided to stay closer to the Empire State Building and this proved to be a good place as we were close to the subway so we could travel and meet up with friends in the evening and also we could enjoy ourselves doing the sightseeing all within walking distance. The point that I am getting to is just because you want to go to the Theatre this doesn't mean you have to stay on Broadway, if you want to be in Times Square there are plenty of hotels in the surrounding area that will cost you a lot less and similarily with Central Park it is a few stops away on the Subway so save money on the hotel and spend more of it touring the fabulous city. So the next thing would be to familiarise yourself with the areas that Manhattan is made up of:- Chinatown is the place where the Gangs of New York fought their battles, plenty of shops to wander around and it is the largest Chinatown in the USA located on the Lower East Side of Manhattan offering an abundance of restaurants, fruit and fish markets and shops of knickknacks and sweets on very winding and overcrowded streets. Little Italy is great for restaurants and if you are visiting during the warmer months it is fantastic for outside dining. Visit during September and experience the Festival of San Gennaro. Lower East Side was where it all began, its' character provided by tenements and pushcarts, families squeezed into the tall, cramped buildings that filled lower Manhattan. Industrious immigrants became the Lower East Side's first business owners as they hit the streets, selling their goods from potato sacks to the thousands of local shoppers, today it has lots of entertainment and live bands if it is a nightlife that you are after during your visit then visit here! You can also pick up some bargain clothes in this area too. Midtown is where the heart of the action is with Central Park where you can ride, cycle, row, skate or walk on the 843 acres of glorious green space. Times Square to the middle with the Theatre District in one direction and the very elegant Murray Hill. Times Square was originally known as Longacre Square but was renamed in 1904 after the New York Times Building that was the cornerstone of the district located North of 42nd Street. In 1904 the New York Times held a celebration on New Year's Eve party to celebrate the renaming of this area and even today hundreds of thousands of people gather and wait for hours in the cold of a New York winter for the famous ball drop ceremony. Times Square is now known as the vibrant part of the city and is the place to be with big, bright signs you know when you have arrived there. Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Center, Madison Square Garden, and the Empire State Building, is the commercial center of Manhattan. The exclusive estate extends from 40th Street up to Central Park on 59th Street and from Third Avenue on the east side to Ninth Avenue on the west. Midtown Manhattan is the busiest commercial district in the nation hosting the majority of NYC's skyscrapers and entertainment spots can all be located in the Midtown area. When I first visited New York back in 2000 I was really taken aback with the bright lights and crowded streets of Times Square it was like nothing I had ever seen before and the streets had stalls with souvenirs for you to take home from prints of Manhattan to New York t-shirts you really could think of something and be guaranteed to find it in Times Square. The huge Virgin Megastore has played host to many celebrity visits giving you the chance to meet celebs at book launches and cd launches. On my last visit Paris Hilton was visiting later that day to launch her new book and was offering signings, I was definately a little star struck knowing that I really was that close to a celebrity. 3 floors offer you a wide selection of DVD's, books, music and much more and some of the DVD's can be at a much more competitive price compared with the UK prices. A huge Hersheys store can also be found on Times Square and you can fill yourself to the brim with the gorgeous Hershey Kisses filled with various fondants or nuts absolutely delicious!! If Sea food is your thing then make a reservation at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company for a hearty meal or if you'd rather something a little more special pre-book the meal at the Marriott Marquis hotel and dine at "The View" restaurant. Simply amazing, perched on top of a hotel, the revolving rooftop restaurant gives you an amazing 360 view from the heart of the Time Square Theatre District, witnessing the New York skyline in its most dazzling splendour. Youi can also pick up cheaper Broadway tickets here from 10am-2pm for that afternoon's matinee performances and from 3pm for the evening's performances with over 50 theatres, it is well worth checking out. Madame Tussauds is located just off 42nd Street and even if you don't meet any real life celebrities during your visit you will be guaranteed to meet their wax replicas here, when we visited they had the set up for pop idol and you could actually sing and be judged by Simon Cowell, I certainly wasn't brave enough to do this! Times Square comes alive at night with so many lights its like daylight all the time and is always busy what ever time of the day so make the time of your break to spend some of it here and experience what New York really has to offer. The Empire State Building is an iconic monument in New York located on 5th Avenue it is simply something that should not be missed. The Empire State Building is a must see sight located between 33rd and 34th Street it offers an amazing view of New York and the New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Conneticut and Massachusetts a view on a clear day of up to 80miles. I and only I could do this and forget my glasses so I had to rely on the camcorder shots that I took. A brief History of The Empire State Building. The Empire State Building was build during the depression and was the centre of attention between Walter Chrysler and John Jacob Raskob to see who could build the tallest building. In January 1930, excavation of the site where the building was to stand began, and in March of the same year the construction of the building began this was under the direction of architects Shreve, Lamb and Hammon Associates and employed a peak labour force of 3000 men. Masonry work then begain in June and was completed in the same year. In May 1931 the Empire State Building was officially opened to the public, and in May 1981, 50 years later the Building was declared as a landmark. Getting to The Empire State Building The Main Entrance is located between 33rd and 34th streets and all visitors must use this entrance, unless they require disabled access and then a separate entrance is open Mon-Fri until 6pm and this is located between the Bank of America and Hallmark Cards. As you enter the building through the main entrance proceed straight forward to escalators on the right hand side to the second floor. (Elevators are also available for disabled visitors and pushchairs) All visitors must pass through security, the security checks are those similar to those found at airports where there is a walk through scanner and baggage check system and you are limited to the size of handluggage that you can take into the observatory, I took a small handbag and my camcorder case and this was acceptable but larger baggage items are not permitted and as there are no storage areas at the Empire State Building you would have to leave items at your own risk..... never adviseable. Once you pass through security, you need to proceed to the right and join the ticket queue for your tickets, they accept all major credit cards along with cash. The Cost:- Access the Observatory Only Adults $15.50 Youth $14.50 Child $10.50 Senior $14.50 Toddlers 5 and under are permitted free of charge To access the Observatory and Skyride Adults $31.50 Youth $21.50 Child $21.50 Senior $21.50 ESB Audio Systems can be purchased for $7.50 Once you have obtained your tickets you can then join the very long queue for the Observatory elevators, now this is one of the fastest elevators I have ever been on and has a capacity of 16 people at a time and your ears are guaranteed to pop! Once you reach the 80th floora member of staff then directs you to the Tower Elevator which arrives at the 86th floor. What is the Observatory? The Observatory is located on the 86th floor at 1,050 ft (320m) accessed by high speed automatic elevators which leads you onto a glass enclosed area heated in the Winter which is cooled in the summer. The views:- Obviously there are four views on top of the Empire State Building these are North, East, South and West. The view from the North is is the Metlife building which was formely the Pan Am Building, Citicorp Buildingm GE Building and St Patrick's Cathedral. The view from the East shows the borough of Queens, to the north east you can see the United Nations head quarters you will also see the Triboro, Whitestone and Throgs Neck and Williamsburg Bridges, The view from the South shows the Wall Street buildings, the Statue of Liberty and the Verrazano Narrows bridge that joins Staten island and Brooklyn. The view from the West is dominated by the One Penn Plaza with its black spike rising above Madison Square Gardens, Jacob Javits Convention Centre and the Air and Space Museum, the views are amazing and completely out of this world and it is breathtaking. What is the New York Skyride? This is a helicopter simulator that takes you around the sites of New York and is a great experience it allows you to take in the sites on a modern simulator, the movie shows you in a helicopter flying over the sites and is fun for all ages What is the ESB Audio System? This is a revolutionary tour guide allowing you to ensure that you learn all there is to learn about the Empire State Building from Tony a life long New York Taxi Driver. Tony is a recorded tour that can be hired out for an additional cost and used as you view from the Empire State Building his friendly tone makes you feel as if you are being guided around by an old friend. There are 6 recordings split individually allowing you to stop, start and skip to suit your view. The Empire State Building is open 365 days a year opening times may vary for more information log on to www.esbnyc.com. Overall you cannot go to New York and miss the Empire State Building it is viewable from almost every street corner! There are plenty of transport links such as buses and metros but all tourist attractions are well within walking distance. Financial District Also known as Downtown, this is the most historic part of the city with Colonial buildings mixed with skyscrapers, Ground Zero attracts visitors year round as the site of where the terrorist attacks took place 6 years ago on the World Trade Center, during my last visit we decided to go underneath where the original subway line is still in tact, but the feeling in there was awful I felt so claustrophobic I ended up running out it was simply awful the feeling that I got. At Battery Park you can get the ferry over to the Statue of Liberty This time when I visited New York I made sure that I got on the ferrry passed the Statue of Liberty so I could get some pictures as the one's I had obtained last time were awful. The Statue of Liberty itself or should I say Liberty Enlightening the World as it is otherwise known. The Statue of Liberty was a gift to the United States from France in recognition of their friendship that was created during the American Revolution and on October 28th 1986 the Statue of Liberty celebrated her 100th birthday. Frederic Auguste Bartholdi designed the Statue of Liberty and that was the gift from the French to the Americans The statue was eventually completed in France in 1884 in the July and arrived at New York Harbour in June 1885. In October 1886 the statue was unveiled by President Grover Cleveland in front of spectators. The statue has now become known to symbolise freedom and democracy as well as international friendship. It is not hard to miss the famous statue with a fantastic skyline in the backdrop and incase you are wondering what the Statue looks like take a look at the pictures but to describe it is a Green coloured lady holding a torch in her right hand and a tablet in her left which reads July 4th 1776 The seven spikes in her crown are said to symbolise the seven seas and continents of the world. There are 25 windows in the crown these symbolize gems shining over the world. The height from the floor to the top of Lady Liberty's torch is 305 feet which includes the fountain and the pedestal underneath. The height of the statue itself is 151 feet. Until September 11, 2001 the statue was open to visitors who arrived on the island by ferry and were able to climb inside the statue, between September 11 and August 3 2004 the island and the statue were closed due to security concerns and to this day the statue still remains closed but visitors can once again access the island. Previously visitors had been able to access the crown and the torch but this has remained closed since July 1916. Visitors can see inside the statue through the glass ceiling and view the structure of the Lady. The Statue of Liberty is located on Liberty Island, Liberty Island is a small island in New York Harbour just off the New Jersey Coast and between 1892 and 1954 saw twelve million immigrants enter the United States. In 1965 President Lyndon Johnson announced that Liberty Island was to be part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument and was opened to the public and now receives over 2 million visitors annually. When I made my visit to New York I did not make the trip to Liberty Island I used the Staten Island Ferry which is free and sails right past the Statue Of Liberty. The ferry can be boarded from Whitehall Street in Lower Manhattan the journey takes 25 minutes and provides some magnificent views all for free! I do have to advise you though that at times the ferry can be packed, and this can have some impact on your photographs, as you may see from some of mine!! However this is a fab experience and as it is free I have to recommend that you do it as you can end up spending a hell of a lot of money in New York on sightseeing and of course shopping! The Staten Island Ferry departs every half hour from Whitehall Street the weekday ferries operate from 12am every half which is fantastic considering that this is a free service, Weekend crossings are pretty similar, however they do go every hour from 6am up to 11am. The ferry will accept only foot passengers and bicycles, they do not accept cars. I can only state that if you are looking for things to do during your visit to New York you visit the Statue of Liberty, whether it is via Staten or Liberty Island, it is a magnificent site and the Americans are very proud of it. There really is plenty to see in New York and the best thing to do is to purchase a City pass as this gives you free entry into museums and rockefellar centre and discounts at various locations. The sightseeing tour is well worth its money in gold, if you are travelling in November it can get pretty cold if you are on one of the open top buses so wrap up warm and ensure that there is plenty of battery life left in your camera and you will be able to get some superb shots of your visit. I enjoyed Madame Tussauds and got to pose with Beyonce, Madonna and the gorgeous George Clooney!! If it is shopping that you are visiting New York for then plan a day trip to Woodbury Common if it is designer bargains that you want. **What is Woodbury Common?** It is a member of the Chelsea Premium Outlets group and is a much larger version of our McArthur Glen Outlets, so if any of you have read my previous review on Cheshire Oaks you will know that I was in heaven when I read up on Woodbury Common. Claiming to have over 220 branded stores the thought of it was getting my credit card crumbling with fear! **Where is Woodbury Common?** As a visitor to New York I recommend you book a ticket with Grayline Tours you will see these dotted about throughout the streets of New York wearing red bibs with Gray line tours on they tend to ask you "Do you like shopping?" if this gets asked your on to the right people!! A ticket cost us $37.00 dollars and this got us the coach trip from the Port Authority which is located just off Times Square on 42nd Street Avenue direct to the Outlet which is a 45 minute journey there and back and a discount booklet at the Information Desk when we presented our receipt fantastic if you ask me I love bargains!! If you are brave enough to hire a car though Woodbury Common is located on Route 32 in Central Valley just 1 hour from New York City, for directions I recommend using Mapquest. I do recommend the coach for a relaxing journey but a car for the boot space that you will need. If you do want the trip on the coach pre-book at www.keithprowsetickets.com **The Shops** There are so many shops it is unbelievable so I will list the ones I managed to visit:- Adidas, Aeropostale, Anne Klein, Ashworth - Callaway Golf Banana Republic, Barneys New York Outlet, Benetton, Burberry Calvin Klein, Caroline Herrera, Chanel, Claiborne Menswear Diesel, DKNY, Dolce and Gabbana, Donna Karan Escada, Esprit Fendi, French Connection Gap, Giorgio Armani, Gucci, Guess Hugo Boss Juicy Couture Lacoste, Levi's Outlet, Liz Claiborne Miss Sixty Nautica Off 5th Saks Avenue Polo Jeans Co, Polo Ralph Lauren, Puma Reebok Tommy Hilfieger ValentinO, Versace Yves Saint Laurent There really are some amazing stores where everything is outlet price with discounts ranging from 35-75% of that price so you can snap up designer products for a fraction of the original retail price. **What did I buy?** I invested in 2 Tommy Hilfieger Sweaters with Anghora wool in the material for less that £15.00 each and it is very rare that you can find designer items as cheap as that in the UK. The Gap outlet was amazing I managed to buy my Niece a gorgeous pink sparkly dress for just £4.00 which is not available in the shops over here. I spent $70.00 in Polo Ralph Lauren Store and could of got so much more, in that I got a sweatshirt for my boyfriend a t-shirt, I got a Polo Shirt and a plain logo t-shirt for myself a real bargain! I got my boyfriend a Hugo Boss sleepset which was a t-shirt and boxers for just under $5.00! I was trying to stick to my budget and as I had finished most of my Christmas Shopping didn't need to buy all that much. The Levi's Outlet I spend $25.00 and came out with two pairs of Levi Jeans which were slight seconds but a bargain all the same. **Additional Services** There are plenty of toilets located around the shopping areas as well as Cash Machines. If you plan on taking Children there is a facility to hire a stroller for the day which saves space in the car/coach. There is also an onsite playground for when the children get fed up. Wheelchairs are also available for hire should they be required. **Summary** Woodbury Common is a must for shopper holics and cannot recommend it enough, a whole day of shopping and I came back with so many bargains, yet New York itself I saw hardly anything as low in price even at the sale in Macy's. The queues are organised and there is hardly any waiting time as there are so many tills operating you whizz through. There are a great deal of bargains and is by far one of the best places that I have ever been too. Buses run frequently form the Port Authority to Woodbury Common so you never need worry about missing the bus home. SoHo and TriBECA Literally translated means "South of Houston" and is the coolest place in New York according to the locals. Cutting edge fashion can be found here including Prada's Flagship store within the former Guggenheim Museum. Greenwich Village is great for Off Broadway Shows and Bleeker Street my absolute favourite street as it is where you can find the very rare Anna Sui store offering clothing, make up, scents and jewellery which is hard to get hold of in the UK and is my absolute favourite make up bag must have. There is so much more to New York and I feel that I have only just scratched the surface and as my pictures show I loved every minute of being in the Big Apple. Also published on ciao by myself.
Four years ago at the end of October I was celebrating my 30th birthday in The Big Apple a surprise present from my husband. We stayed at The Bentley Hotel and I have already written about this, so this review will concentrate on just some of my favourite sightseeing things we did whilst there for the short four-day break we took, as there is no way I could hope to cover all the bars/restaurants and cafe's we went to in this review. Helicopter Tour We travelled down to the Harbour by cab on our second day in this amazing city and arrived at the Helicopter Tour rank. There was a small crowd of people in the waiting area and after checking in and registering for our pre-paid trip we queued in roped off lines waiting for out turn. We had a brief safety instruction whilst waiting and then it was our turn. Luckily enough for us, my husband and I were at the front of the queue so we got to sit in the front with the pilot and there were a further three passengers in the row of seats behind. I am so pleased we got to be up front as the experience was amazing. I had never been in a helicopter before and the take off itself was fantastic, tummy lurching and adrenalin pumping. We banked over the Hudson River and began our tour of New York City birds-eye-view style. It started by travelling round the famous landmarks, like Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building, the New York Yankees Stadium and then the Twin Towers site (post 9/11). Then after flying for what seemed like ages we saw Central Park come into view. It was the most surreal view I have seen in a long time. A huge rectangle of greenery and trees, ponds and sand bunkers, slap bang in the middle of a grey concrete jungle. The contrast is startling viewed from the sky and you can really appreciate the absolute magnitude of the park. We opted for the 15-minute flight but they also offer a 7-minute flight if you are a bit unsure how your body will re-act to being in a helicopter flying over the city. Obviously this is a fairly pricey tour and we paid around £160 for our trip but it was exceptionally appealing for us and I would do it again if we ever returned. Highly recommended. Night Time Cruise On the first night we did a cruise along the Hudson River. It wasnt like an ocean liner, more a sort of barge, wider than the normal variety though. The outside decking area had seats (bench style) and you were given a running commentary as you slowly cruised along taking in the lights and sounds of night-time New York. It was a shame that the commentary was not really clear enough though, over the talking adults and chattering kids aboard and I certainly missed a few interesting history stories that I would have been keen to hear. The atmosphere was very excitable though, and I felt very touristy, sitting in my seat craning to hear the announcer. We had our photo taken just before boarding and picked it up on the way out for a souvenir. The whole trip took around 2 hours, which was a little long for me overall but may have been to do with the fact that I could not hear everything I wanted to, so became bored more easily. I would however recommend it and at £60 for a couple it doesnt break the bank, although you may think it too much for a slow amble along the river. Empire State Building The Eighth Wonder of the World We ascended the Empire State Building at night as well although it is open from 8am to midnight. If we ever returned I would certainly consider doing it again although this time it would be during the day, simply for a different outlook on the possible 80 miles of view on a clear day. When you enter the building the lobby is very royal looking, with a long pathway leading to a huge plaque on the wall, depicting the Empire State Building. Everything is decorated in gold colours making it a very metallic and shiny looking greeting for the 3.5 million tourists who step through the doors every year. We took a lift up to the 86th Floor observation deck, but needed a second, smaller lift to access the 102nd floor, as there was not one that did the whole section. We spent most of our time on the 86th floor and have to say the views were very amazing. At night you could see millions of lights from office and residential buildings just spreading out before you. Nothing seemed to be on the same level as us and everything we witnessed, happened below. We even saw a fireworks display going off and we were higher than the fireworks. That was a very strange feeling to be looking down on exploding fireworks. You can also get an audio guide in the form of headphones and a little pack that tells you the history of the building and your surroundings, depending on which observation point you are at. We did do this but found it to be awkward to communicate with each other and turned it off in the end. Overall for around $18 per adult, it was an attraction we were glad to have experienced, although the camcorder recording did not come out as the static generated from the metal fencing around the observation deck interfered with everyones picture quality. Ground Zero It was just over a year since the 9/11 atrocities had occurred and we decided to take a cab down to Ground Zero to witness it for ourselves. It was a morbid curiosity to be honest. Wanting to see the site first hand where the massive Twin Towers had once stood. It was a shocking experience and extremely humbling and emotional too. The site itself seemed eerily quiet. There were a few workmen making their way round, doing checks or whatever but other than that it was deserted. We could only view the site through huge chicken wire fences surrounding the large square that had once housed the tallest buildings in New York but this didnt seem to make it any more of a building site (which is all it was really) rather than a haunting memory of what had happened. Strangely enough the wire fence had been totally left alone by relatives of the deceased and missing, and their memories and appeals had all taken over an entire square of walls across the roads. There were literally thousands of pictures, messages and trinkets that reminded loved ones of their missing friends and relatives all placed up on these walls for every one to read. We began to walk round, reading and looking at faces but it was actually too much for us and we left with tears in our eyes. Hordes of shops around the site had been boarded over, where businesses had been wrecked and more lives disrupted forever. The complete lack of criminality really surprised me, as there was no trace of graffiti or general hooliganism on the boarded up shops or the fencing, or the vast chipboard screens that encompassed some of Ground Zero. Knowing that even yobs had some respect for the massacre comforted me and I felt a strange sense of safety surrounding me as we walked along the pathway and into the building above the Trade Centre site. Looking down on the site was just as eerie and in actual fact we only ended staying there a couple of hours in total (including the reading of the memoirs) before we felt the need to leave and give it some peace from our prying eyes. I can honestly say that no building or site has ever provoked such emotional feelings within me. I know the knowledge of what happened there, an atrocity in my day and age and not in the history of the country, was the reason but it was not expected and although it made me feel calm it was extremely upsetting at the same time and people were crying freely all around, even a year after the event. Nowadays you can expect to see a much more cleaner looking building site with the beginnings of new structures going up, promising new life and business for the devastated downtown area. Central Park This really is a beautiful place to be on an October morning, when the sun is shining. Being in a carriage drawn by a beautiful horse with a typical carriage driver who is telling you the history of The Bronx Zoo in an eerie yet compelling Goodfellows accent. We had no hope of covering the entire 843 acres that makes up Central Park, even by horse and carriage but we did spend a good few hours here, having lunch and just walking round the famous conservation area. Near the entrance to Central Park is the ice rink, Wollmans Rink, where the scene from Love Story was shot and in fact there are numerous points dotted through the park that are relevant to many famous films, like When Harry Met Sally and Kramer Vs Kramer. For me the best part of Central Park was sitting on a huge expanse of lush green grass, eating pancakes with a backdrop all around me of huge buildings growing out of the ground. It was a very strange feeling to be sitting on this grass in the middle of such a bricks and mortar place, in fact you half expect the grass to be manmade, Astroturf or something, but it is real and soft and sweet smelling and one of the most enjoyable afternoons I have spent in ages. If you are a people watcher then this is the place to come. I sat there watching families interact and kids chasing Frisbees, dogs barking and professionals reading their magazines or newspaper in their lunch hour. It was busy, yet you had your own space and were not crowded in with anyone else. It was certainly one of my favourite stops in our visit. Overall New York was like a dream for me. I had wanted to visit America for a very long time but had always envisioned myself in California or Florida, soaking up the sun or visiting Disney World. New York to me was such an eye opener about America and I was desperately sad when our short stay had to end and it was time to go home. From the moment we stepped out onto New Yorks grid of Streets and Avenues, we were greeted with welcoming nods, and assistance from complete strangers. Trying to read the map on a street corner would mean at least two people coming to our rescue, without prompting or hesitation and the service in restaurants and bars was amazing. They made you feel so at home that you did actually feel that you belonged there. They made you feel special and wanted and in turn made me want to return over and over again. The yellow cabs were every bit as crazy and impatient as they seem on the TV. Honking their horns as soon as they arrive in a traffic queue. At first this made me uneasy, knowing what sort of road rage this would incur if we were in England, but here is was the norm and horns being tooted is the musical backdrop to New York City. The shopping is amazing, as everyone knows, and we travelled light, buying extra suitcases there so we could transport all our lovely buys home. I was in my element and loved every minute of this city. There were times, late in the evening when we were on our way back to our hotel when I felt slightly uneasy. Nowhere is safe from muggers or opportunists so it is wise to be wary, but on the whole, if it was daylight I was happy and content to roam the streets, finding little treasures where I could get out my debit card again! If we ever do get to return I will be attempting to cover things we missed on the first visit due to time restrictions, like Times Square, Grand Central Station and a Broadway Show. Oh - New York New York! Would I recommend it? You bet I would, and if you go take me with you!!
I have held many occasion to visit the City but I will discuss one particular trip in this piece, the most memorable trip to NYC that I ever had. Unfortunately the memories are not good, if fact it was a nightmare of a trip, but it served to clarify some issues in my relationship with my mother's husband, who prior to this trip I called my father. We were to visit New York to meet with some of the directors of the charities and causes that our family foundation sponsors, supports, or patronizes. It involved visits to two of my favorite museums, the Met and MOMA as well as several exquisite meals, all of which my father ruined with his characteristic abuse of me. I feel as though I have been abused by my father for my entire life. Unfortunately it was not physical abuse, those injuries and scars heal, whereas he successfully endeavored to make me the laughingstock of my peers in polite society with his coarse and unrefined antics. My earliest memories that I have are of his cruelty towards me. For instance I recall going to the cinema for Star Wars back in 1977. I remember how he went out without his waistcoat and if that isn?t horrible enough he bought popping corn to eat in the cinema. And then worse yet, to further impress upon the public he proceeded to buy a gigantic soft drink which he so vulgarly decided to sip through a straw. Can you believe that sort of scandalous conduct? I missed the grandiose attack on the Death Star because I was already capable, at age 5, to feel such shame that I had to go to the washroom for a respite from his barbarous conduct. It was this manner of conduct that punctuated our four days together. It approached the disgrace of the time we were in the Hubert's luxury loge for the Yankees World Series finale and J..G..had the distaste to request groundnuts, still in their shell to eat while the host had seen fit to provide one of the best Belugas I have ever sampled. He claimed that watching baseball made him hungr y for peanuts!!!! I suppose some of the dark clouds were beyond this man?s control. For instance we were unable to fly First Class as the flight was booked. They could not even get us into Business plus. I pleaded with my father to simply charter a private flight but he refused and subjected us to the indignity of flying coach. You can not believe the rabble they let on commercial flights these days. I was scared for my life. I thought it was some bad dream out of the pages of National Geographic where they show passenger trains in Kashmir. I did not know that one has to pay for beverages in Coach and I was humiliated that they expected me to consider Stolichnaya Vodka. At least we had adequate accommodations at the St Regis. We avoided our penthouse altogether since being on a working trip we essentially needed to avoid some of our less useful neighbors lest we get wrapped up in idle chatter and drinks, although I am sure my father would have liked to play Hawes in chess and would so eloquently employ his passé Alekhine defense as he always does to my chagrin. I attempt to avoid all social intercourse with my peers when my father is around since he is so uncouth. The thing that agitates me the most is how he speaks French. Apparently rather than getting an education he studied some sort of engineering at the university and ended up in Zaire for some time while real gentlemen occupied themselves with constructive activities. It?s bad enough that the man was reduced to work for wages but he acquired the most dastardly accent that manifests itself every so often when he speaks and belies a Walloonish tint to his French rather than Parisian. I just cringe and almost vomit when I hear him speak. It has ruined many a good meal. See he hails from a well known Virginia family whose fortunes were diminished in the war and the sons have reduced themselves to sub-par educations and the proverbial "working you way to the top" ;. At least he still is registered FFV. Due to the shareholders ignorance of economic conditions and a general coup of the working people to invest in stocks he rose through the corporation as a gesture to the miserable contract employees to give the corporation a working class hero. He was able to obtain a high enough stature in the corporation to allow him to con a certain daughter of a certain CFO into marriage. The man may know how to make money and run operations but he is no gentleman. Let me give you an example. We were lunching with the director of the Met and he wore a necktie that he had worn at the Opera three months earlier with the same company. I pleaded with him to reduce himself to going and getting something of the rack at that Wal-Mart for the Nouveau Riche called Sak's which was in the neighborhood, but he refused. The anguish I felt!!! To make things far worse he requested 1999 Ciacci Piccolomini. Even the Sommelier was embarrassed for him. Everyone knows that we are not what is deemed price conscious consumers so the money was not an issue. The man actually wanted 1999 vintage. I wanted to crawl into the floor and die as I was that humiliated. I was too horrified to even cover for him and recommend the correct 2000 vintage but I couldn't. I can't imagine what our guest thought of us after that. Although I did hear that our one guest has a daughter whose husband made his money off of a company that sells those temporary tattoos with corporate logos, can you imagine anything so distasteful? My father continued his parade of scandalous conduct at the Met. He was admiring Beggar in a cloak and made a reference to having seen such a man in LeHarve. I was horrified everyone knows he was from Paris and it was Monet that was from LeHarve. I hated to see this attempt at pedantry blow up in his face. MOMA was enticing as usual. I still believe they are weak in the cubists and I have been begging mother to shed a few of our spare canvasses at our Chateau in St Croix to beef up their collection, to no avail, I believe father's displaced stinginess has infected her. I shouldn't be such a braggart but Mr. Lowry let me and pa have a quick peek at the Ansel Adams itinerary of the show that opens in July. It will be an extraordinary exhibit, probably the nest AA show put on since his demise. I hope no one tells them but I think their current Picasso Matisse exhibit was not up to standards. To me it was a hodge podge of their work with no strong central theme. We stayed at the Regis again due to their excellent spa and their delightful barber. I think it is a reasonably priced inn. I saw some clutter on my PA's desk and it was only $408 per night. I would like to recommend the restaurant called "metro". Rick Moonen is there now are he is doing a splendid job. The Lobster ravioli is fantastic. The man certainly can prepare seafood. I would not recommend taking guest there as the budget prices demean the place despite the décor. I was offended to see that men do not know what appropriate attire is anymore. We caught Salome with Al Pacino and marisa Tomei. Not exactly sure that this is what Oscar Wilde would have dreamt up but it was entertaining. I guess this Pacino fellow has been in a picture or two. They call it a minimalist production and I would say so, the best seats in the house only cost $95, I would guess that is about the price to see this Pacino fellows movies too. We say The Bavarian Radio live. I don't think Lorin Maazel's best material is Brahms. This was four pieces by Brahms. Gil Shaham was exquisite. I would like to see him perform with the NYPS or maybe with von Dohanyi conducting. I really enjoy the Carnegie, to me it is a perfect venue for strings. Well that pretty much concludes my rant about my father and his tasteless low class behavior. I believe NYC would be a great place to visit if on e could visit there with reasonable dignified people. To me they have the best selection of all the arts. If you decide to go there be sure to hire a limo ahead of time. I don't know if they have public transportation or not.
Since September 11th security has been increased at ALL tourist attractions and sports venues, everywhere you go, your items will be x-rayed and you will have to go through a metal detector, because of this increased security the queuing time at some places has increased also. Liberty & Ellis Island, home of The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Immigration Museum. Be warned we queued for over an hour (in the cold) so you could be waiting a while. The ferry costs $6-8, but this also includes admission to the 2 islands, and leaves from Battery Park. We queued for over an hour, but it didn't seem all that long as the queue was nearly always moving and there were street vendors (as there are everywhere in the city) and entertainers along the way. The ferry takes about 15-20 mins to reach Liberty Island and then another 10-15 to reach Ellis Island, an ideal opportunity to take photos of the Manhattan skyline. At the time we were there the statue was closed so we didn't bother looking round the island, we just went straight to the immigration museum on Ellis Island (the cost of entry is included in the ferry ticket) which was very interesting but we didn't get to see everything as we'd left it pretty late in the day to go. We had to miss out the film and slide shows. As well as the museum, you can search for any ancestors that entered the USA through New York, and look for them on the 'Wall of Honor' Empire State Building (350 Fifth Avenue) You can't go to New York and not go up the Empire State Building! As well as the views from the top there is also the 'Skyride' which is a virtual flying tour of the city. A joint ticket for both cost $18. We had gone in the afternoon with the idea of watching the city light up as it got dark, unfortunately it got dark whilst we were inside queuing!! (They only have 2 metal detectors/x-rays for everyone entering the building ? workers and tourists) The Skyride is fun although you wouldn't be disappointed if you missed it! The views from the top of the tower are amazing, and if I had gone in daylight I imagine I could of stayed up there for hours, although if you have no sense of direction you could get very confused as to whether you're looking at New Jersey or Brooklyn!! If you are going at night you need a decent camera, hardly any of the photos I took came out. It is also one of the best places in the city to see the Towers of Light, on the ground you either have to be very close or in an area that's not built up. Rockefellar Centre (between 5-7 Avenues, 47th-52nd Streets) Home of NBC, and if you love Friends, ER, West Wing, Cheers? there is the most amazing shop. They also do the NBC studio tour which is really interesting even though I had never heard of any of the shows except Saturday Night Live! Under the building is a selection of coffee shops and restaurants, and while we were there, there was also an Orchid exhibition, but nothing highly exciting. And as for the ice-rink, we didn't have a go? but how do they make it look so big on the TV? It's diddy! Central Park (Starts at 59th Street and goes up to 110th Street, between 5th & 8th Avenues) You need a full day (at least) to see all of the park, the ideal place to start is near one of the information centres so you can pick up a map-you'll need it. It was a pretty chilly when we were there so we didn't stay in the park as long as we'd of liked. We bought ourselves a picnic and set and people watched for a while, and although there are signs telling you not to feed the birds or squirrels, no-one has told the animals that we can't fed them, they come and help themselves. Most of the park is free, Strawberry Fields (which is near John Lennon's apartment), Belvedere castle, the reservoir and lakes, the miles and miles of walkways and cycle paths, the list goes on and o n. You can also go ice-skating or visit the zoo, yes they have a zoo slap bang in the middle of the city, and it's not bad either, Polar Bears, Otters, Monkeys, Penguins? And it only cost about $5 It's a beautiful place, when you get right in the middle of the park it?s so quiet you could forget that you're in one of the busiest cities in the world. The American Museum of Natural History (79th Street, on the edge of Central park west side) They have varying prices depending on what you want to see, they have seasonal displays you have to pay extra for, it was Pearls and Baseball when we were there. It's a huge museum although not exciting, if you've been in a natural history museum already give it a miss, there's only so much stuff in glass boxes you can look at before you get bored. I prefer interactive museums and this place is plain old fashioned! Shopping Forget Bloomingdales (3rd Ave) and Macy's (Herald Sq) the place to go in New York is Toys 'R us in Times Square. Where else can you have a go on a ferris wheel when your feet start to ache? As with everything in New York the place is huge, every time you go up a floor it seems bigger than the floor below, and it's got 4 floors. There's a Barbie house, sweet shop, Lego models and a cabbage patch, where if you're lucky (or unlucky?) you get to see a doll being born. (No I'm not kidding, you have to shout encouragement to mother cabbage too!!!) If you want labels then go to Macy's, Bloomingdales or Fifth Avenue. If you want little boutiques you want to go Downtown round Hudson st and Lafayette St, If you want to support the fire and police departments there a cool shop on Lafayette Street with t-shirts and baseball caps, which everyone seems to be wearing. If you want tacky presents for friends, there's a shop on every corner or you could go down to pier 17 for a mall full of them. Ground Zero (Liberty & Vasey Street) Believe it or not we found Ground Zero by accident, we'd decided we didn't want to go and look, and once you're there between the hundreds of people and scaffolding around the site there's not much to see, the cross they found is erected so it can be seen over the scaffolding. Having never been to New York before I've got nothing to base the site on, but what's really eerie is if you walk down some of the side streets there is still a lot the dust about. Walking The best way to see the city, we stumbled on all kinds of places because we just wandered about, Chinatown, little Italy, Greenwich. If you're walking anywhere make sure you're safe. We didn't see any trouble while we there but you never know? And you'll need comfortable shoes, even if you think you're not going to be walking far. If you are planning on doing a lot of walking the best map we found was a foldout one from WHSmiths, it's about the size of a passport and when you open it up there's a map of the subway, then each side opens up again for a small but detailed map of the city. Great if you don't want to give away you're a tourist but don't want to get lost. Grand Central Station is worth a look as is the Chrysler building, even if you only walk past them. Try to get tickets for a sports event too, even if you don't understand the rules, no-one plays sports like the Americans!
In the backstreets of the upper west side is a little second hand/ vintage clothing shop called "Allan and Suzi." This shop is one of those little gems that you don't plan on but ends up being one of the highlights of your visit. This one shop oozes pure New York. As soon as you find the little boutique you are shown how popular it is by having to ring the doorbell and wait until they can fit you into the little shop. There are alot of people who visit but to cut down on thieveing etc they only allow about six peole or your group in at one time. As soon as you step in your faced with a room that has a fantastic selection of second hand clothes that models such as Naomi cambell/kate moss etc have dropped of their once worn clothes. Now, let me tell you , don't go expecting to come back with loads of bargain because your just not. The shop is still very expensive and although i didn't but anything a little piece of that shop will stay with me forever. The owners of the shop. Allan an old man wearing hippy style sunglasses with a large grey mulllet, and his partner suzi and short stocky woman with a mahogany coloured afro about the same age, are your hosts. They show you around, let you try on stuff (if you can fit into it?!?!?) and are basically NY personified. When we all went she asked my mum if we knew the designers jeff banks and vivian westwood as if they would be our old friends.The shop is packed to the brim(literally) with fabulous and wacky clothing that you can gawp and laugh at, aswell as a HUGE collection of HUGE platform shoes! Believe me if your into fashion or not this little gem is well worth a visit for the experience alone! And if you really hate that NY luvvie scene then you can always go mullet spotting ! Allan & Suzi: 416 Amsterdam avenue, at 80th street. 724 7445 Subway 1 or 9 to 79th street. open: noon-7pm mon,tues+sat./noon-8pm wed-fri/non-6pm s un. Credit: American express, Master Card and Visa. + JCB
This city is expensive so don’t expect to save much if you’re here on the posy shopping weekend .A basic uptown hotel will cost you 40 quid a night and that’s including towels folks,bit as the locals say"forget about it" Amazingly this place is just like the movies with steaming drains and armies of Yellow cabs honking and snarling criss crossing the narrow endless grids . New York humms with life 24/7 although the climate is temperant and you may boil or freeze any time of the year. Food wise well you cant beat NY pizza at $1-00 a slice, minimal puree and lots of ingredients will keep you energized through the day ready for the cities legendary night life. Manhattan the metallic forest of glass and concrete skyscrapers kissing the clouds houses "The Village" and Soho home of a large gay and lesbian scene with clubs bars and restaurants for all creeds and persuasions although most have a minimum $10-00 cover and can be very colorful and intimidating in some spots. New York uni has some cheap beer and trendy gaffs in and around but you can image how pretentious they can get although its worth a trowel just for a sly snigger he he he. Day two one should slide through Little Italy with street side cafes and bars crawling with Mafia wannabes and probably the real thing although I suspect the real Soprano types live and breathe in less glamorous surroundings walk over to Brooklyn on the bridge that carries its name is great fun as you look down on the speeding traffic and feast on the views of the bustling Metropolis.The Empire State and World Trades center lifts offer around a half hour queue later in the day for sunset for a flat 6 bucks which in Manhattan prices is a real snip.You can stay up top until closing time to see the darkness light up the glittering metropolis ,my highlight of the week by far.You can go into the United Nations building but they sting you for a few dollars on the guided tour witch from all accounts ain’t worth it. If your still flush then the ferry will take you out to Liberty island to see the grey lady (The statue)for $6-00 and a further $8-00 to go up to the crown although the queues are long and the boats are few.We took the free ferry to Staten Island giving you a good photo opportunity of the statue and the city skyline,pssss don’t get off at Staten Island,its the kinda place Rocky Balboa hangs around bouncing his little ball. Down town have lots to do from the enormous department stores on Broadway to the bustle of Times Square which if you have been to Vegas is about as illuminated as a council house at Christmas compared to the gambling capitol but its kinda cool anyway. Madison Square Garden the infamous boxing and basketball arena is near by, well worth a nose squashed to the window and if you crank your neck up you will see the Rockefeller plaza home to the Ghostbusters movie climax. Tons of museums around the city including the excellent Guggenheim near Central Park.The Metro is cheap and safe downtown at a dollar a trip in token form. The park itself is immense with lots of free entertainment and walks, (get out before the sun sets or you will be relieved of your belongings) four miles long stretching up to the mean streets of lower Harlem, do not go further than 120th street in trendy Harlem as even Bruce Willis wouldn’t in Die Hard three, next stop the Bronx. The shows on Broadway are expensive and booked solid although you can queue for cancellations with the proletariat or if your not a show type try The Letterman show or a TV program recording in one of the studios dotted around, almost bagged a Ricky Lake you know. One more thing if you fly in via JFK its best to think twice about the Metro to Manhattan as it goes through some iffy areas and the coach is only $12-00 single.Taxis are a touch more travelers of course.