New York | The Big Apple
New York is a city girl’s dream; I however, am no city girl! I can’t stand big cities and the accompanying noise, traffic and swarms of people suffocating the streets and bashing you with their bags (mostly unintentionally) as they rush to stand packed like sweaty sardines on the Metro. No thanks! I can appreciate the allure of New York and did enjoy my time there (both times!) but I know that, unless on route to somewhere else, I don’t feel the need to return.
The first time I went to New York, it was the first stop on a trip down the East Coast, heading to South Carolina. Our flight was delayed from London (but we got a free return flight out of it – thanks Virgin!) and we arrived late around 2am. We were then up at 8am as we had just 24hrs to see New York before our next flight! We squeezed a hell of a lot in to our day and ticked off most of the major sights. It was indescribably exhausting!!
On my second trip, we had 3 days which was the perfect amount of time and it’s the amount of time (3-4 days) I would recommend for anyone heading to New York for a short break. In three days, you can see all the major attractions and sights, without feeling like you are constantly rushing from one place to another. You can, of course, spend longer and go at an even more leisurely pace but you will pay hard for the pleasure. New York is notoriously expensive! Basic 1/2* hotels will cost you £50 upwards (twin/double) per person and that’s likely to be in a location a Metro’s ride away from any of the attractions. We stayed in the Wyndham Hotel on our second stay and it was lovely – it’s a slightly pricier option but it’s 5 minutes walk from Times Square and shops, 15 from Central Park and 30 seconds from a Metro Station.
On the topic of the Metro, the system that runs through New York is pretty good. In terms of paying for your tickets, each journey costs $2.50. This is regardless of how many times you stop and change – it’s $2.50 from when you enter a station to when you leave a station. This means you can travel from one end of New York to the other for a bargain price! I’d recommend buying a travel card if you are hoping to use the Metro more than once. It works like many other pre-paid travel cards and just means you won’t have to queue up for hours on end to purchase your ticket every time you want to travel.
Food in New York is always highly rated by fellow travellers and it’s been labelled somewhat of a hub for vegan and vegetarian food. I’ve found that I’m always so busy rushing around that all of a sudden I’ll be starving and will just need to grab something from wherever is nearest – not the best tactic and often a stressful experience for a Veggie! I did stumble across a great little place where you could make your own salads and went back more than once as it was so close to the hotel. Pizza is also big in NYC – you can’t walk more than a couple of steps without coming across another pizzeria; many offering gigantic slices of oozing doughy goodness for as little as $1!
I wasn’t vegan at the time, so we also went to Max Brenner’s chocolate cafe. The menu serves everything chocolate from fondues to chocolate cocktails (I kid you not) to the best waffle fries around, dusted with spiced chocolate powder. It’s open until 2am too! We got the sharing fondue for two; tutti frutti waffle, fluffy chocolate sponge cake, banana tempura, milk & white chocolate bark, and chocolate fondue with fresh fruit and marshmallows. Served with Choco-pops and chocolate sauce on the side to pour….
In Midtown Manhattan, at one of the World’s busiest intersections, you will find Times Square. An overtly commercialised tourist haven, the streets are adorned with shops, attractions (such as Madame Tussaud’s) restaurants, bars and the notorious electronic billboards which flash their images 24 hours of every day. It also overlaps with the famous Broadway District where you can buy tickets to one of New York’s shows. It’s always extremely busy, but that’s the nature of New York! If you are in a hurry to leave, you’ll be pleased to know that more subway lines join at Times Square than anywhere else in the whole of New York!
Another well-known attraction and on the ‘to do‘ list of most NYC visitors is the Rockefeller Center and particularly the ‘Top of the Rock’ viewing platforms which gives you an amazing view across the city (see photo below). The Rockefeller Centre is surrounded by boutiques and fine dining restaurants, as well as the famous ice rink and arguably the most famous Christmas Tree in the world!
Just a 15 minute walk away from the hotel, you arrive at the outskirts of Central Park – an 843 acre park filled with ponds, gardens, Central Park Zoo, fountains, statues and even an ice rink. It’s so much bigger than I had first realised and as a result I didn’t dedicate enough time, only scratching the surface of this world-famous public park. If I did end up going back, I would definitely like to spend a little more time exploring all the different areas! Read more on what you can do in Central park here.
If you have more time, you can of course cross off some of the other well-known attractions:
– The Statue of Liberty
– Museum of Modern Art
– Hop off, Hop on bus tour (these are great but make sure you go with a reputable bus! Use your initiative and don’t buy tickets from someone who looks like they may be on their own and try and stick to main areas. My sister had a great experience with one before but we weren’t so lucky and spent hours waiting around at bus stops as well as being bundled in to a dodgy-looking minivan at one point… don’t ask!).
– Empire State Building
-9/11 Memorial Ground Zero
..and lots more!