As I stepped out of the airport, I most seemingly said to myself, “New York, the city of all cities!”. The core of arts, the trendsetter for fashion and an architectural mesmerizer, how else could I describe the Big Apple? Exemplary? Prodigious? Or urban? Home to more than 9 million people of over 150 nationalities, this city has so much to see and do that one can barely scratch the surface on a short visit; 1 month was less for me, I don’t think even a 6 month trip would do justice.
There is ample to do in New York, from sightseeing to strolling on avenues to attending parades or simply observing New Yorkers go about their daily chores, life is so engaging there. Being compact sized and having streets full of eye candy, truly of all sorts, like quaint cafes, lively restaurants and dainty booksellers, New York is a wanderer’s absolute delight.
The best way to experience New York is to walk through the streets and take to the legendary theaters of Broadway where the galore of dancers and musicians surround you. From my experience, New York is the land of performances and believe me, if you’re thinking about it right now, it’s probably happening somewhere in the city.; be it ballet, waltz, theatre or more.
The world’s most iconic park, Central Park, the world’s best shopping streets, 5th Avenue, Madison Avenue and Soho, the world’s best restaurants, Tao, Max Brenner and Sugar Factory; all in one city!
Dining in New York could make up some of your best experiences as this place takes creativity to new heights. From gastro pubs to gourmet food trucks, there are restaurants literally growing vegetables on their rooftops.
While there are tons of unparalleled experiences for everyone here, I pick my favourites:
Times Square– Yellow cabs, neon lights with bright billboards, dazzling skyscrapers, glamorous Broadway Marquees, this is Times Square; the place where I’d go everyday. Been there or haven’t been there, you’ve got to agree that it pumps out the cliched NYC in every tourist’s mind. With the hustle & bustle as New Yorkers rushed about their errands, I stood there, mystified, wondering “wow I’m really in New York”. This avenue will always be at the top of my list of things to do in New York.
Brooklyn Bridge, DUMBO– The iconic bridge and the world’s first steel suspension bridge, the Brooklyn Bridge with its promenade overlooking the beautiful East River, is one of the best bridges in all of USA. Whether you decide to walk the bridge or cycle, it won’t fail to impress you with its view. As I walked to the other side of the bridge, I was spellbound by the vibrancy of my surroundings. The neighbourhood DUMBO was one of the most pleasant yet artsy areas I visited in New York.
Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island– One of the world’s seven wonders, Statue of Liberty is a must to visit when you’re in New York and I’m sure everyone will agree. When I stood below Statue of Liberty, I (in the literal terms) had to be pinched to realise that I could now tick another wonder of the world off my list. In the 1800s, Lady Liberty welcomed millions of immigrants and by the mid 90s, she welcomed plenty of tourists. The trip to Liberty island and Ellis Island is available via a ferry from Battery Park, south of NYC.
Central Park– There I was, in the largest park of the world, Central Park, New York. With rolling meadows, precisely lined bushes and cycling lanes, this park was a major to-go during my trip. Outdoor theaters, live performances, fountains and amazing sights to see, Central Park is always buzzing. Wondering where to begin exploring the park?- Anywhere!
Broadway Shows– There’s really something magical about sitting in a Broadway theater, with my heart pumping, I was waiting to see what it’s all actually about. As the lights dim and the production begins, it actually sinks in; it’s a Broadway show. The grandeur of the costumes, the swaying of performers and the majestic effects of the show really got a hold of me. Watching a Broadway show is an activity I strongly recommend, everyone has to experience this feeling at least one time. The tickets can be found on broadway.com
Empire State Building– A skyscraper, a sunset-viewing tower and an observatory, Empire State Building is a landmark, the kind no one fails to visit during a trip to NYC. Watch out for the video on the roof of the elevator; it sure is a surprise in itself. I loved the view of the Big Apple from the top of the Empire State. Standing on the 86th floor and watching the skyline from afar, the architectural array was enough to take my breath away. On that note, I was surprised by how the Empire State was visible from any part of the city, it’s like it never left my side.
9/11 Memorial / Ground Zero- Visiting the 9/11 Memorial is paying a tribute to the people who are remembered since that day. Hearing the story of sorrow, gaining insight to the events and then understanding the after-effects of the attack are really touching. All I could do was lay a flower in the name of the people who suffered that day.
Charging Bull/Wall Street– Commonly known as New York’s financial district, Wall Street is the place for inspiration. While it contains several landmarks to visit such as the Trinity Church, my favourite was the legendary Charging Bull. The story crafted around the bull is truly inspirational for all of us. That rout for taking a picture with the charging bull is quite a task to get through, but seriously, take a picture, it’s worth it after knowing the cost $360,000 which was paid for the statue back in 1989.
Manhattan Skyline Cruise– Sailing on this sunset skyline cruise was one of the most beautiful experiences I ever had. As I stood on the deck and witnessed the towering buildings of Manhattan, I was enthralled. When we approached the Statue of Liberty at sunset, I gasped in awe. This was one experience I would keep wanting to go back to and beholding over and over again; it can’t be expressed in words.
My most loved shopping streets-
Fifth avenue– Also known as the ‘Millionaire’s Row’ and loved for its “country air” and elegance, Fifth Avenue is my favourite shopping place in New York. Right from Urban Outfitters to Tiffany & Co. this street has everything one dreams of; branded bags & clothes, hip and trendy outfits to other items like books, electronics etc. This avenue is also home to the Trump Towers, Rockefeller Center, St Patrick’s Cathedral and the Empire State Building.
Columbus Circle- While Columbus Circle contains of several luxurious hotels to stay in and plenty of amazing restaurants, my recommendation is the exquisite shopping. The shops feature the latest in clothes, decor, technology and more. What I loved about this place was the way it was designed and executed; the statue and fountain that come to your sight when you make a turn on the circle, the way the shops follow a pattern, it was all so perfect.
Soho– Soho, short for South of Houston, is the trendiest place you will ever find yourself in. The latest fashion trend shops and the liveliness around makes up a big part of Soho. Shops like Bershka, Calvin Klein and PINK made me feel the chicness around me and local shops that sold vintage clothes, made me experience the 80s & 90s. I was just so delighted to be in Soho because it reminded me of some of my favourite movies that were shot here.
Some of the restaurants I tried and loved-
Taqueria Diana (local Mexican Joint)– I found this lively restaurant one night near Pier 81 just strolling after my cruise ended. Be sure to try the fish tacos and the green apple soda, they’re totally local.
Beauty & Essex (East Village)– This speakeasy reminded me of a classic restaurant of the earlier times. The posh architecture, the fancy dishes and beautiful ambience really attracted me. Don’t worry, you don’t need a secret password for this speakeasy.
Olio de Peu (West Village)– This was my favourite restaurant in all of New York. Being seated in a foliage yet Italian restaurant was a feeling I completely loved. The food was of a different level too; the mushroom risotto and shrimp ravioli are must trys.
Tiny Shanghai (Chinatown)– A Chinatown restaurant, the food has to be like local chinese. This place really has amazing chinese food. The teriyaki chicken and rice and sesame noodles were the best dishes I’ve tasted in chinese.
Fanelli Cafe (Soho)- A 200 year old cafe, this cafe really did date back to years ago. The food was regular fast food (burgers, fries etc.) but the atmosphere was a great different.
The Black ant (east village)– For those who would love to try grasshoppers and ants, this is the place to go. A fine dining serving tacos with grasshoppers and margaritas with black ants, for the adventurous lot, yet, for those who just want to enjoy the surroundings, options like nachos with corn soup are available.
Indian Tanpura (Amsterdam Av)- This restaurant was a local dinner place serving authentic Indian cuisine; really the best I had in New York. It’s worth a try for those who love the cuisine, you also won’t get bored here; the host of this restaurant was the most warm and entertaining person I met there!
NYC, a city which is forever vibrant would surely put you into a relationship of love with itself. This loud, crazy, expensive city is incomplete without its subways and yellow cabs, although the best experience is on foot to imbibe its energy. Really, you have not seen all of Manhattan until you’ve left ‘the city that never sleeps’ for a next time. I didn’t get over New York, I’m sure you won’t either:)