By: LIZ GRIFFITHS
Journalist graduate Liz Griffiths recently visited New York. Here are her tips on travelling to the Big Apple.
ARRIVING IN New York feels like stepping into a film set. The Empire State building towering above the swarms of yellow cabs and hoards of people who all seem to have to be somewhere – and fast!
New York seems so familiar from the hundreds of films that have exposed the beauty of the city but the real thing is truly overwhelming. The impatient taxi drivers beeping their horns, the sky scrapers that make you strain your neck as you look up in wonderment, the diverse districts – Little Italy, Chinatown,
Greenwich village and the Upper East Side, for example, all portray just how wonderfully cosmopolitan the city really is.
Manhattan Island consists of just 22 square miles but the number of places to see in the city can be slightly overwhelming when visiting for the first time.
A good place to stay is Midtown as it is the centre of the city so getting
to and from places is a lot easier. I recommend The Vincci Avalon Hotel (16 East 32nd Street) which is just one block away from the Empire State building. It is a small hotel by New York standards so you are sure of a good night’s sleep after a long day of sightseeing.
I recommend going to the top of the Empire State building fairly early into your trip so you can enjoy the stunning views and establish the city’s districts. The view down to the
financial district and docks where the buildings making up the city’s famous skyline are situated is stunning and very moving after the events of 9/11.
A trip down to the financial district will take you to the southern tip of the Island; here you can see the famous New York stock exchange and City Hall. While you are by the docks, I highly recommend a trip on the Staten Island ferry. The trip to nearby Staten Island will
give you magnificent views of the New York skyline and the Statue of Liberty – all for free.
Just round the edge of the docklands on the east side of the city is the famous Brooklyn Bridge. This year, 125 years old, the beautiful piece of architecture connects Manhattan to Brooklyn. Get a water taxi or yellow cab over to Brooklyn and enjoy a drink at the famous River Café which is situated by the promenade next to the bridge.
Enjoy the views of Manhattan while enjoying a chilled glass of wine. For more beautiful views walk back across the Brooklyn Bridge to Manhattan, the bridge alone will get you clicking away on your camera!
When visiting New York you should take the opportunity to visit two or three museums. The architecture of the Guggenheim itself is awe inspiring and the exhibits inside
will not disappoint. Just a short walk down ‘museum mile’, you will find the Metropolitan museum situated on the edge of Central Park. As there are so many exhibits I recommend you plan ahead and organise which exhibits you want to see. The Museum of Modern Art is a must, but for anyone who isn’t keen on modern art there are original works of Monet, Van Gogh and Matisse to keep you entertained.
When sightseeing gets all too much, do as the New Yorker’s do and escape to Central Park. Walk from Fifth Avenue – with the backdrop of the Plaza hotel, the ponds and trees look picturesque and quaint. Further north of the park you will see New Yorkers jogging round the Jackie Onassis reservoir. The famous Boathouse restaurant is a short walk away and is a romantic setting where you will feel like you are on the set of a Woody Allen film.
Dining out in New York is a thrilling experience, you can more or less eat food from anywhere in the world. Little Italy is a perfect spot for a relaxed evening meal; the only reminder that you are in New York are the occasional sirens and beeps. Dine alfresco and watch New York go by at a somewhat slower pace.
I also visited a Portuguese restaurant, Alfama (551 Hudson Street) in Greenwich Village. I tried the fixed price 25 US dollars menu but the food was somewhat disappointing. However, the wine and port lists were excellent and on a Wednesday they have Fado singers which add to a wonderful atmosphere.
After a trip to New York you will be left with memories of a truly diverse and overwhelming city. Of course, you only have to turn on a Woody Allen film to feel like you are back there among the hubbub of the city that you really will miss.